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Parshas Ki Seitzei ~ Torah Gems

Ki Seitzei

I. Inner Meaning

1. ‘When you will go out to war against your enemies, and HaShem* your G-d will give them into your hand, and you will capture his captives.’ (Devorim* 21.10) We can explain the meaning of this verse according to what I have written elsewhere concerning the Rambam’s* explanation of the teaching of Chazal*: ‘The Holy One Blessed is He does not have a place in this world except in the four amos* of halacha*.’ (This appears in his introduction to the Mishnah.) My teacher [the Baal Shem Tov] explained that this refers to the idea that everything that is done in this world has a deeper inner meaning.  (See what I explained there.) With this idea we can understand the verse. ‘When you will go out to war.’ This means immediately when you go out from the house of study. You find yourself in a war ‘against your enemies.’ This is because immediately when you open your door, sin waits to entrap you. When a person understands this, [it will be that] when he goes out to do his work in this world, he [will realize that he] is in a war with his enemy; The Yetzer HaRah*.  Then he will make war with his Yetzer HaRah… Then ‘and HaShem your G-d will give them into your hand, and you will capture his captives.’ You will find the inner meaning that applies to all the external [revealed] actions. This is one’s work in the things of this world.  [You will find the inner meaning] which is hidden in the [actions that you do in the] external world. ‘And you will see among the captives a beautiful women.’ This is the inner meaning.

‘And you will desire her.’ You will have an inner desire for this [inner meaning.] [And your inner desire will] not be joined with an external desire.  [Your desire will be only to serve HaShem according to the inner meaning.] (p. 689 sefer Toldos Yakov Yosef teachings of Rebbe* Yakov Yosef of Polnoye.)

* * *

II. Remembering old Sins 2. ‘When you will go out to war against your enemies, and HaShem your G-d will give them into your hand, and you will capture his captives.’ (Devorim 21.10) We can explain this verse according to a teaching from the sefer* Yesh Nochlin. [He says that] when you will be presented with the [possibility of doing] some sin. You should consider all the sins that you have already done. From this you will be able to save yourself from falling into this sin. This is the meaning of the verse: ‘When you will go out to war against your enemies.’ The main thing is that you should desire to make war with him. Then certainly ‘[He] will give them into your hand. ‘And you will capture his captives.’ These are the captives that you have already had. [The sins which you have done in the past.] You should consider the sins that you had previously fallen into and come up with ideas [of things to do] which will keep you from falling into them again (as we see from the sefer Yesh Nochlin.) Then you will be saved from falling into the sin again. [You should always consider] that it is possible for you to fall into this sin as you had been accustomed to doing it in the past. Therefore it says ‘And you will capture his captives.’ You shall make ‘gates’ [so that you will not sin again.] (p. 69 sefer Razin D’Oraysa teachings of Rebbe Velvel of

Zabriz.)

* * *

III. Reward of the Mitzvos* 3. ‘You shall send the mother and the children you should take for you.’ (Devorim 22.7) The Talmud* tells us that there are two mitzvos for which HaShem specifically explains their reward. One is called the easiest[, the sending the mother bird.] The other is called the hardest [,the honoring your parents.] The sending of the mother bird refers to the person who is able to leave over any desire for good things that he may have in this world for the honor of HaShem. This is called the ‘easiest’. This is because every Jew is capable of doing this. [It is easy to achieve holiness and purity of intention when doing things for which he has no personal gain.] Every place where a person leaves over the good things of this world, then he becomes purified. The honor of your father refers to those mitzvos from which a person receives personal enjoyment. These are called the ‘hardest.’ That is because in the place where a person has some personal enjoyment it is very hard for him to be pure in his motivation. For this reason with regards to the sending of the mother it says first, ‘in order that it shall be good for you’ and then ‘your days will be lengthened.’ This is because here we are referring to one who has left over all enjoyment involved in that act. For that reason HaShem tells him first that ‘it shall be good with you.’ This is certain. The person himself knows that it is true and he has trust that HaShem will lengthen his days.

With regards to honoring your father it first says ‘in order to lengthen your days’ and then ‘in order that it should be good for you.’ Even though you already have enjoyment from this world it will be good for you in the future [in the world to come.] (p. 190 sefer Mi Hashiloach teachings of Rebbe Mordechai Yosef of Izbitza)

* * *

IV. Relying on HaShem

4. ‘When you will go out to war against your enemies, and HaShem your G-d will give them into your hand, and you will capture his captives.’ (Devorim 21.10) The verse says, ‘In all your ways you should know Him and he will make straight your ways.’ The meaning of this is that in all of your actions you should see to it that you join yourself to HaShem and become attached to Him [in thought] always. And through this attachment ‘He will make straight your ways.’ The reason is that it is not possible for a person to rely upon himself and his own understanding for any action that is done in the service of HaShem. [The verse says,] ‘With this you shall go into the Holy [area.’ This refers to] when you will join yourself to HaShem. And if HaShem is with you then you will certainly not be lacking in anything. The main thing is that a person should never say that ‘my strength and the strength of my hands has made me wealthy.’ Or that I have the strength to succeed in the war with the Yetzer HaRah. It says in the sefer Chovos Lavovos that the main service [of HaShem] that a person must do in this world is to prepare himself with all of his limbs so that he should always be ready to do the will of HaShem. He need only do the preparation [for the mitzvah.] To take this from being something that is contained in his thoughts and in his will and make it into a completed action requires the help of HaShem. HaShem has to help him so that he could do this good deed. The main desire of HaShem with regards to the person is concerning his preparation [to do the mitzvah.] HaShem wants him to be ready to do the will of HaShem [at all times.] The person who has attained the understanding of this idea is worthy to be called a ‘Chocham*.’ The verse says, ‘The Chocham should not praise himself with his wisdom… with this he shall praise himself, with his knowledge and understanding of Me.’ The meaning is that the person who HaShem has bestowed intelligence to understand, with a purified understanding, that everything is from HaShem. This person is worthy to be praised for his clear understanding [that everything is from HaShem. ‘Understanding of Me’ means that he understands that everything is from HaShem.] From this [understanding] he will be saved from arrogance.  This is because he has no reason to be arrogant since [he recognizes that] even his knowledge is not his own, but was bestowed on him by HaShem. This is what the verse means: ‘When you will go out to war against your enemies.’ The main thing to remember [with regards to this war] is … ‘And HaShem your G-d will give them into your hand.’ HaShem comes to the help of the soldiers. When you will understand this with a clear understanding then you will be successful in the war, ‘and you will capture his captives.’ (p. 180 sefer Avodos Yisaschar teachings of Rebbe Yisachar Ber of

Valbruz)

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Glossary:

Arizal: Hebrew initials of the words: Adoni Rabbenu Yitzchok    Zechorono LeVaracha our master Rabbi Yitzchok. Better known as    Yitzchok Luria the great 16th century Kabbalist
Chazal: Hebrew initials for: Chochmenu Zichrona Levaracha (Our sages of Blessed memory) Used to refer to Rabbis of the Talmud.
HaShem: Noun used in place of G-d. Lit. The Name
HY’D: Heb. HaShem Yimkom Domov: HaShem should avenge their blood.
Mishleh: One of the books of the Tenach, called in English Proverbs.
Mitzvah (mitzvos): One of the commandments of the Torah.
nashama: Hebrew word for soul.
peshat: A method of Biblical interpretation based on finding the simple meaning in the Torah.
Rashi: The primary commentary on the Tenach.
Rebbe: Leader of a Chassidic group or a teacher
Shabbos: Tractate in the Talmud
Shemos: Second book of the Torah. Called Exodus in English
Talmid (Talmidim): Disciples of a Rebbe.
Talmud: An ancient work of Jewish law.
Tehillim: Hebrew name for Psalms.
Torah: a. First 5 books of the Jewish Bible            b. Also refers to the whole of Jewish law            c. also common term for a chassidic teaching

Tshuva: Hebrew word for repentance

Tzaddik (Tzaddikim): lit. Righteous. Another name for a Chassidic Rebbe.
Yetzer: lit. Inclination. It is Jewish belief that every Jew has both an evil and good inclination within him, that are at ‘war’ to see which of them the person will follow.
Yetzer Tov: Heb. Good Inclination
Yetzer HaRah: Heb. Evil Inclination.
ZT’L: Hebrew initials of the words: Zechor Tzaddik LeVaracha (The memory of a Tzaddik – Righteous person is a blessing.)
ZY’A: Hebrew initials of the words: Zechiso Yagan Aleinu (His merit should protect us.)
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Parshas Shlach ~ Torah Gems

This shiur has been dedicated in honor of:                 Mr and Mrs. Yisroel Abromovitz of Baltimore, Maryland

                         by Menachem Kalwitz

Shlach

I. Getting Prayer heard 1. ‘They ascended in the south and he arrived at Chevron.’ (Bamidbar* 13.22) Rashi* explains that only Caleb went [to Chevron] to pray at the graves of the Patriarchs. There is a tradition [related to this verse] from Rebbe* Shlomoh of Karlin ZT’L that Rav* Chaim Liberzon of Chernoble heard from his father Reb* Yeshaya. [This tradition is] that if a person goes to the grave site of his ancestors or to that of a great Tzaddik*. He should stand by the gate of the Beis HaChaim* and say: ‘If the soul of the Tzaddik for whom I am coming to visit is not now by his grave, then I will light a candle at the time of prayer because of the first soul that will relate (to my ancestors or) to the Tzaddik, that I, Ploni ben Ploni* have come to pray by his grave.’

Then all the souls will hurry [to relate this.] Each one of them will desire to be the first to tell the Tzaddik who is the person who has come to his grave to pray. (p. 71 sefer Shema Shlomoh teachings of Rebbe Shlomoh of Karlin HY’D a talmid* of Rebbe Aharon of Karlin.)

[There is a well known story where Rebbe Moshe of Ohel sent a messenger to the grave of the Rebbe Reb* Elimeilech of Lizensk to pray for his son who was sick. He instructed them that when they would arrive there they should make a similar statement as is here

related.]

* * *

II. A Humble Land

2. ‘The land is very very good.’ (Bamidbar 14.7)

The midah* of humility has a strong relationship to the land of Israel. The verse says: ‘The land is very very good.’ [This can be understood] according to what Chazal* teach: ‘You should be very very humble.’ [The words ‘very very’ in both places show that there is a relationship.] The land of Israel has the quality that it brings one to the midah of ‘very very’ [i.e. humility] (p. 105 sefer Toras Avos teachings of the Rebbes of Lechovitz, Kobrin and Solonim. This is from Rebbe Mordechai of Lechovitz a talmid of Rebbe Aharon of Karlin.)

* * *

III. Serving HaShem completely

3. ‘In this desert [Heb. bamidbar] shall they be ended and there they shall die.’ (Bamidbar 14.35) Whenever a person says any holy words of Torah or prayer, he needs to enflame himself [with a desire for holiness] until he will reach the level where his soul will desire to leave his body. [There is a remez* to this in this verse. He should serve HaShem with a greater and greater desire.] Until ‘they shall be ended and there they shall

die’ because of their mesiros nefesh* in their service of HaShem*. (p. 105 sefer Toras Avos teachings of the Rebbes of Lechovitz, Kobrin and Solonim. This is from Rebbe Mordechai of Lechovitz a talmid of Rebbe Aharon of Karlin.)

* * *

IV. Freedom and the kingdom of heaven.

4. ‘You shall see them and remember…’ (Bamidbar 15.39)

The Talmud* says: See this mitzvah* and remember another mitzvah that depends on it. Which mitzvah is that? The mitzvah of Krias Shema*. As it is taught, From when is the time for the reciting of the Krias Shema? From when one can recognize the difference between the color of the blue wool and white wool [of the tzitzis*.] Another teaching: See this mitzvah and remember another mitzvah which appears near to

it. Which mitzvah is that? [The mitzvah prohibiting wearing] mixtures [of different types.] As it says, ‘Do not wear mixtures of wool and linen together. Strands you shall make [on the four corners of your garment. The two verses appear in the Torah next to each other. Right after the prohibition of ‘mixtures’ is the command to wear tzitzis. Chazal tell us this indicates that the Tzitzis can be made from ‘mixtures.’]

We can explain the simple meaning of this discussion. The main point of the mitzvah of krias shema  is to completely accept upon yourself the yoke of the kingdom of heaven. This is not possible to do unless you have first accepted upon yourself all the four types of death sentences that a beis din* is able to hand down. This is the idea of “dinah d’malchusah dinah” [The laws of the kingdom are laws.] When one completely accepts upon himself the yoke of the kingdom of heaven he enters the ‘world of freedom.’ [By being willing to give up his life he is no longer tied to this physical world. He is no longer a slave to this physical world. ]

I heard from Mori*, the Holy Rebbe Shlomoh of Karlin on the verse, ‘My beloved sent forth his hand from the portal.’ The word ‘portal’ [Heb. HaChor] is similar to ‘freedom’ [Heb. cherus My beloved refers to HaShem who sends us ‘freedom.’] It is also called ‘blue wool’ [Heb. techeilus.] This is because the ‘blue wool’ is similar in color to the ocean, and the ocean is similar in color to the heavens and the heavens to the Throne of Glory [of HaShem. Through looking at the blue wool, we have in mind these things which leads to the acceptance of the kingdom of heaven.] That is the meaning of the verse, ‘To every purpose [Heb. techlah] there is an end.’

For all [of these ideas] there is a remez in the mitzvah of tzitzis. This is because the tzitzis are supposed to have two strands of blue wool. For this reason the time of saying krias shema  is when you can distinguish between the blue wool and the white wool of the tzitzis. [All these things come about when one can distinguish the ‘blue

wool.’] Another teaching: See this mitzvah and remember another mitzvah which appears near to it. Which mitzvah is that? [The mitzvah prohibiting wearing] mixtures [of different types.] The reason for this teaching is that all things are prohibited to be made of mixtures, except the garments of the priests and tzitzis, which are allowed to be made of mixtures. This is represented by the second view in the Talmud. ‘When you can distinguish between blue wool and green wool.’ [Heb. karti. This word] ‘karti’ has the letters of the word ‘crown.’ [Heb. keser] For this reason it is allowed to have mixtures in the garments of the priests and the tzitzis. There is a remez to all of these ideas in the mitzvah of tzitzis. This is because when a person completely accepts upon himself the kingdom of heaven, as we have explained, then he can recognize the difference between blue wool and green wool. (p. 28 sefer Beis Aharon teachings of Rebbe Asher of Stolin and his son Rebbe Aharon (II) of

Karlin. This was from Rebbe Asher of Stolin the son of Rebbe Aharon of Karlin.)

* * *
V. Difficult beginnings

5. ‘Make for yourself Tzitzis’ (Bamidbar 15.38)

The Midrash* says, ‘[The verse says] “His left hand is under my head.” This refers to [the mitzvah of] Tzitzis. “And his right hand embraces me.” This refers to [the mitzvah] of tephillin. Another view: “His left hand is under my head.” This refers to [the mitzvah of] Krias Shema. “And his right hand embraces me.” This refers to [the mitzvah] of tephilah.

We need to understand how it is that ‘his right hand’ is associated with tephilin. [The Midrash should have associated tephilin with the left hand because] the tephilin are placed on the left hand. The explanation is that it is the right hand which binds the tephilin to the left hand. [This teaches us that] in all things we should include the left side [the side of stern judgement] together with the right side [the side of chesed*.] Through this we turn the left side into the right side.

The Talmud tractate Brachos*, explains [the reason why when teaching about the mitzvah of Krias Shema the Talmud first teaches about the time for the evening and then the time for morning.] One Tanna* explains that it is because the verse says ‘When you lie down, and when you rise up.’ Another explanation is that it is compared to the creation of the world. There is says, ‘And it was evening and it was morning, one day.’

Every generation starts with evening and ends with the morning. [Evening is associated with the left side, the midah of judgement, and morning with the right side, the midah of chesed.] As the verse says, ‘I will call to G-d [Heb. elokim] and HaShem will help me.’ [The name ‘G-d’ usually refers to the midah of judgement and ‘HaShem’ to the midah of chesed.] It is also written right after this, ‘Evening , morning and afternoon I pray…’ [The verse] has evening first and then morning. The explanation [for the idea of evening coming before morning] is that the word ‘evening’ [Heb. erev] has three meanings. The first is ‘mixture.’ [Heb. taruvos] The second is that it is a language meaning ‘sweeten.’ And there is also a third meaning to ‘evening.’ It is the same with everything [in this world.] First comes ‘evening’; a thing which is not good. The beginning of everything is fear. [As the verse says, ‘The beginning of wisdom is the fear of HaShem.] It is the same with regards to the life of a person. When he is born there comes to him his Yetzer HaRah*. Later the ‘morning’ comes, when he is 13 [and he gets his Yetzer Tov*.] This is what the Midrash means: ‘”His left hand is under my head.” This refers to Tzitzis.’ The reason is that Tzitzis have blue wool, which is a thing that is not as good as white wool which has no color at all and is pure and completely good. Likewise with tephilin we first bind them to the left hand, then we come to the tephilin that are placed on the head, which is the level of ‘right.’ One needs to start [ones service of HaShem] with the level of fear. Then [progress to] the level of love, which joins the two together.

Even though in things of this world it is not possible to have two things together as one. The one who has fear [of something] cannot love it at the same time. The one loves something cannot have fear of it [at the same time.] However when it comes to things that are related to the Will of HaShem it is possible to have both at one time. (p. 233 sefer Beis Aharon teachings of Rebbe Asher of Stolin and his son Rebbe Aharon (II) of Karlin. This was from Rebbe Aharon (II) of Karlin the son of Rebbe Asher of Stolin.)

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Parshas Ekev ~ Torah Gems

Ekev

I. Serving idols.

1. ‘And you turn away and serve other gods.’ (Devorim* 11.16) The meaning of this verse is that as soon as a person turns away from his attachment to HaShem* (G-d forbid) he comes to ‘serve other gods.’ (p. 100 sefer Lekutei Amorim teachings of the Rebbe Reb* Ber, the Maggid* of Mezritch [In sefer Tzvuos HaRivash, a collection of teachings of the Baal Shem Tov it is taught, ‘As soon as a person separates himself from HaShem, immediately he is worshipping idols (G-d forbid.) There is nothing in the middle.’                                 * * * II. The true fear of HaSHem. 2. ‘And now, Israel, what does HaShem your G-d ask of you except that you fear HaShem your G-d.’ (Devorim 10.12) To ‘fear HaShem your G-d.’ The meaning is that your fear should be like the fear that HaShem your G-d has. The fear that is usual for men is the fear of punishment. This is not of much value. However the fear that HaShem has is the fear of sin. HaShem is always filled with fear that a man will sin. [This is] due to the great compassion that He has for him, like a father for a son. The father is always afraid that his son will go and do evil, or that he might become sick. The same is with HaShem’s fear with regards to men, which comes from his great compassion. This is the meaning of ‘What does HaShem your G-d ask of you except that you fear HaShem your G-d.’ Your fear should also be the fear of sin just like the fear that HaShem has.  They should be the same. There is a parable: A father warned his son not to go barefoot since he could get a thorn in his foot. However his small son didn’t listen to him because of his small understanding. He went barefoot and a thorn stuck him in the foot. Even though he didn’t have much pain from this, his father was afraid that his foot would swell. What did the father do? He pulled off some of the skin around the thorn, and removed the thorn from his son’s foot. When he was removing the thorn his son had much pain, and cried bitterly. However the father understood that these pains were really what was needed to heal him. He ignored the cries and did what he had to. Another time the son wanted to go out without shoes. The father was upset at him and reminded him about the pain and suffering he had when the thorn was being removed from his foot. He warned him not to go out again barefoot since he could come to have suffering from removing a thorn. The father did not warn his son that he might step on a thorn. He didn’t feel any pain from that. The main source of his suffering was when the thorn was being removed. Therefore the father warned him with something which caused him suffering. However the truth is that the father was not afraid and worried about the removal of the thorn. He understood that this was the cure. We see that the fears of the father and the son are not the same. The meaning of this parable is as follows: The fear that HaShem has and men have are not the same. A man has fear of the suffering that the sin will bring, but not from the sin itself. But HaShem is afraid that the man might sin. However the punishment afterwards, He is not afraid of. The opposite is the case. This [punishment is a sign of] His compassion, and it is the cure. HaShem brings suffering to him in order to purify him from the sin. That is the meaning of the verse: ‘And now, Israel, what does HaShem your G-d ask of you except that you fear HaShem your G-d.’ It should be that your fear, is the same as His fear as I explained above. (p. 75b sefer Lekutim Yikorim teachings of the Rebbe Reb Ber, the maggid of Mezritch.)                                 * * * III. Forgetting 3. ‘And it will be, if forgetting, you will forget HaShem your G-d.’ (Devorim 8.19) The word ‘And it will be’ [Heb v’haya] is a language [which Chazal* tells us] implies joy. The Torah is warning us, ‘And it will be, forgetting.’ If you will become gloomy and depressed, and forget the midah* of joy. You should know that it will bring you to ‘forget HaShem your G-d.’ This is because ‘strength and joy are in His place.’ The one who is depressed is not able to appear before Him. [By not being joyful he will come to forget G-d.] Or we can say: ‘And it will be, if forgetting.’ [The meaning is] if it will be that you will be joyful that you have forgotten HaShem. It is not enough that you have forgotten HaShem. But you are also (G-d forbid) happy [with that.] This will cause you to ‘forget from HaShem your G-d’ completely. (p. 153 sefer Ner Yisroel, teachings of Rebbe* Yisroel of Rizhin and his descendants. This is from the holy Rizhiner.)                                 * * * IV. Haste and Laziness 4. ‘They will be quickly wiped out from the good land that HaShem gave to them.’  (Devorim 8.19) It is well known the great quality of the midah of haste which is the opposite of the midah of laziness. However sometimes ‘haste’ is not such a great quality. Also its opposite laziness is [at times] good. When a person has to occupy himself with physical affairs, he should not do them with haste. [He should not] grab at everything that comes into his hand, and consume all things. He should at that time act calmly, with tranquillity of mind. The reason being that if he should act with haste it is easy for him to forget that everything is under the control and observation of HaShem. Everything that belongs to him, will come to him, and no one can take it from him.  Through tranquillity of mind he can reach that level [of understanding.] This is the meaning of the verse: ‘They will be quickly wiped out from the land.’ You should see to it that you wipe out ‘quickness’ in all activities involving this physical world. ‘Good.’ What good will come to you from doing this? ‘That HaShem gave to them.’ [From doing this] you will recognize and understand that it is HaShem who gives you the strength, and a man is not responsible for it at all. (p. 154 sefer Ner Yisroel, teachings of Rebbe Yisroel of Rizhin and his descendants. This is from Rebbe Avraham Yakov of Sadigora.)                                 * * * V. Final Results 5. ‘And it will be in the end when you shall listen to these ordinances, And you will observe and do them.’ (Devorim 7.12) The verse says, ‘The sum of the matter is that everything is heard, fear G-d…’ The meaning of this verse is that a person has to always look to see what the end result will be for everything of this world and their enjoyments. This is because everything [of this world] is like nothing and worthless. The same is with the end of man. When he will look at this his heart will be humbled and he will come to the fear of HaShem. As it says, ‘The end result of humility is the fear of HaShem.’ However it is possible that from this he will consider himself far from HaShem. He will consider himself so small in his own eyes that he will be fearful, and come to hold back from doing the mitzvos* of HaShem. Certainly that is not the true way. So what can he do? The answer is that he should have the true inner fear, the higher fear. This fear brings him to more and more mitzvos. As the verse says, ‘The beginning of wisdom is the fear of HaShem.’ Through the fear of HaShem he can reach the beginning of wisdom, which is the wisdom of the Torah and the fulfilling of the mitzvos. This is the meaning of the verse: ‘And it will be in the end when you shall listen.’ i.e. ‘The sum of the matter is that everything is heard.’ By looking at what will be at the end you will come to the midos of humility and fear. But this is only on the condition that ‘You will observe and do them.’ You should reach that level of fear that causes you to want to fulfill the mitzvos and learn Torah. This is through the higher level of fear that brings you to the beginning of wisdom, as I said above. (p. 62 sefer Ner Yisroel vol 3, teachings of Rebbe Yisroel of Rizhin

and his descendants. This is from the holy Rizhiner.)

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Glossary:

Arizal: Hebrew initials of the words: Adoni Rabbenu Yitzchok    Zechorono LeVaracha our master Rabbi Yitzchok. Better known as    Yitzchok Luria the great 16th century Kabbalist
Baal Tshuva (Baalei Tshuva): Hebrew for someone who is a repentant    sinner.
Bamidbar:
Fourth book of the Torah. Called in English Numbers
Chazal: Hebrew initials for: Chochmenu Zichrona Levaracha (Our sages    of Blessed memory) Used to refer to Rabbis of the Talmud
Chesed: Hebrew word meaning acts of mercy
Drash: A method of Biblical interpretation ascribing moral or ethical    meaning to verses in the Torah.
HaShem: Noun used in place of G-d. Lit. The Name
mikvah: Hebrew word referring to a ritual bath used for purification
Mishnah: An ancient Jewish work made of specific laws.
Moshe Rabbeinu: Hebrew for Moses our teacher. A common Jewish way of referring to Moses.
Or HaChaim: Jewish Torah commentary
Rashi: The primary commentary on the Tenach.
Rebbe: Leader of a Chassidic group or a teacher
Rebbe Reb: A title added to a few special Rebbes as a sign of their   higher spiritual stature.
remez: A method of Biblical interpretation based on finding hints in the Torah for various concepts.
Rov: An official rabbi who renders legal decisions. Many of the   Rebbes were both a Rebbe of Chasidim, and the Rov of the city in which they lived.
Sanhedrin: 1. Tractate in the Talmud                  2. Name of the highest level of the Jewish court system.

sefer (seforim): A Jewish religious book.

Talmud: An ancient work of Jewish law.
Tehillim: Hebrew name for Psalms.
Torah: a. First 5 books of the Jewish Bible    b. Also refers to the whole of Jewish law    c. also common term for a chassidic teaching

Tshuva: Hebrew word for repentance

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Parshas MeKetz ~ Torah Gems

 MeKetz

I. Who to trust.

1. ‘And it was at the end of two years’ (Bereishis* 41.1) The Midrash says, “‘Praised is the man who has trusts in HaShem*’ this is Yosef.” My grandfather ZT’L (the Baal Shem Tov) has a teaching on the verse, ‘Blessed is the man who trusts in HaShem, and HaShem is what he trusts in’. He said that there are three things with regards to trusting: the person who trusts, the one he has trust in, and the action or method that his trust depends on. This is the meaning: HaShem is the one whom a person has trust in. Through Him he will get all that he needs, so long as he goes in His ways. The person who trusts is the person himself. However as to the action or method, even though he has trust that HaShem will provide for him, he nevertheless feels that there is some action he must do. He feels that the action that he is doing will cause him to have his needs met. This action can be some type of business deal or something of that nature. [He feels it is the action that brings to fruition the trust that he has in HaShem.] However this person has yet to come to the true understanding of faith.  The foundation of faith is to believe that there is HaShem and nothing else. That in truth he does not need to do any action that will cause him to gain his needs. This is because it is HaShem who brings about all the situations in life. Even if he would not occupy himself with his business deals, HaShem could provide for him his needs according to His great mercy. This is the meaning of the verse, ‘Blessed is the man who has trust in HaShem, and HaShem is what he trusts in.’ That is to say that his trust is totally in HaShem. He is the one he trusts in and there is no action that he trusts in to bring about his needs. He doesn’t need to do anything for HaShem to provide for him. Everything depends on HaShem. Even if he has something that he does for his livelihood, he does not believe that this is what supplies his needs. He has a perfect faith that it is HaShem who provides for him.  It is HaShem who wishes that he be provided for in this manner, and not that there is any real need for him to do this action. He should only trust in HaShem.  This is a very high level of service of HaShem.  (p.277 sefer Baal Shem Tov teachings of the Baal Shem Tov. This is taken from the sefer Degel Machneh Ephraim.)                                 * * * II. The nature of Tshuva* 2. ‘And the ill looking cows ate … And Pharaoh awoke’ (Bereishis 41.4) A little further in the Torah* it says that when Pharaoh retells the story of his dream to Yosef he changes it. He says that you couldn’t tell that the ill looking cows had eaten the other healthy ones. This was not mentioned when the dream was first being related by the Torah. It seems to me that all the stories in the Torah are a remez* in order to instruct us in the proper way of serving HaShem. It seems to me that the dream of Pharaoh is a remez for the person who has sinned and continued to act wickedly until his actions have caused all his seven bad midos* to swallow up the seven good midos he had. There are seven ways of serving HaShem. 1. To love Him.  2. To be in fear of Him. 3. to glorify Him. 4. to succeed in the battle with the Yetzer HaRah* for His sake. 5. To praise Him. 6.  To be attached to the Holy King. 7. To accept His Rulership over you.  The verse says ‘And G-d has created these against those’ [This indicates that for every good midah there is it’s opposite which is bad.] HaShem has created the Yetzer HaRah [as a test] in order to turn a persons attention to the foolish affairs of this world and its emptiness. To lead him on a way that is not good, so that he will love the things of this world, and to fear things other then HaShem. To beautify other things. And the same with all the other midos. The foolish person walks in darkness and follows after his Yetzer and so he causes (G-d forbid) his seven good midos to be swallowed up by the seven bad ones of the side opposing HaShem. Now when the sinner is sinning, every day he continues in his foolishness. However long he does not do Tshuva, he does not even feel that he is doing anything wrong and he weakens the power of holiness that was in him. In fact what happens is the opposite.  He thinks of himself as a great Tzaddik* who is upright, and going in the proper way. Therefore it is properly stated in this verse that he saw the cows in his dream, which is a remez to the sinner who when he sins it is like he is sleeping. It does not say anything about recognizing that the good ones having disappeared into the bad ones.  This is because the good that is in him is as if it were asleep. And he is spending his life in a dream and so it is not even possible to say that one ‘couldn’t see that they were eaten up.’ Since he is so drunk from his actions he doesn’t even know that he doesn’t know. [He can’t even see that he has lost his good midos.] However after he awakens and starts to do tshuva, he is like one awakening from sleep. He has awakened from the sleep of foolishness and he feels sorry for his actions and he does tshuva to HaShem. And he feels bad over the actions he had done because of the greatness of his sins. And his eyes become opened to the greatness of the damage he has done through his actions. And from heaven they help him to see how he should act after he has awakened from his sleep which had caused his seven bad midos to swallow up the seven midos of holiness. Also the sins that were not revealed to him he recognizes. ‘And they swallowed them up but they still appeared ill fed.’ This means that he had sinned so much that he didn’t even recognize it. [But now he sees that he had really sinned.] This is the remez of the dream and his awakening. The Baal Tshuva* when he returns and speaks to his heart about the great blindness that he had before this. He laments of the sins he had that were so bad that he didn’t realize that he had lost his good midos until he awoke. And he sighs and has a broken spirit and returns to HaShem. He accepts that from now on he will no longer sin and he will go in the paths of truth. (p. 74 sefer Avodas Yisroel, teachings of Rebbe Yisroel the Koznitzer Maggid*)                                 * * * III. The true Cause 3. ‘And they said one to his brother, surely we have sinned concerning our brother…’ (Bereishis 42.21) The Torah is giving us a remez. We should understand that if some disaster comes to a person (G-d forbid) and he does not see any sin that he did which could be the cause of it. He should assume that the reason is that he had an opportunity to instruct or help someone in serving HaShem, or to do some good thing and he was lazy and did not do it. This is what the verse says. ‘Surely we have sinned concerning our brother in that we saw his soul’s anguish when and he begged our help.’ We should have strengthen him in serving HaShem and save him from the anguish of his soul and from the difficult trials he was going through. But ‘We did not listen, therefore this trouble has come upon us.’ [Because we did not listen to help him to serve HaShem, this disaster has come upon us.] (p. 31 Sefer Divrei Emunah vol 2 teachings of Rebbe Avraham Yitzchok, Admor* m’Toldos Aharon ZT’L)                                 * * * IV. Faith 4. I would like to end this week with a little piece from one of the many letters written by the Toldos Aharon Rebbe ZT’L (whose Yortzheit is during Channukah) to his Chasidim. The main thing is not to give up hope no matter what happens, because it is written, ‘I am HaShem and I do not change.’ HaShem watches over every single person in every single act. No one can hurt even a small finger in this world if it has not been decreed from above. It can be compared to water where if you look into it your face sees another face. So it is that according to the strength with which one is attached by his faith to Hashem, and in His providence, so will Hashem guide him in his life. By having simple faith in HaShem one is able to bring on himself all kinds of blessings even outside of the normal order of things. This is what Chazal* say, ‘even a wicked person who has faith in HaShem His mercy surrounds him.’ (#136b sefer Asefos Meksuvim part 1, letters from Rebbe Avraham Yitzchok, Admor

m’Toldos Aharon ZT’L)

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Glossary:

Arizal: Hebrew initials of the words: Adoni Rabbenu Yitzchok    Zechorono LeVaracha our master Rabbi Yitzchok. Better known as    Yitzchok Luria the great 16th century Kabbalist
Baal Tshuva (Baalei Tshuva): Hebrew for someone who is a repentant    sinner.
Bamidbar:
Fourth book of the Torah. Called in English Numbers
Chazal: Hebrew initials for: Chochmenu Zichrona Levaracha (Our sages    of Blessed memory) Used to refer to Rabbis of the Talmud
Chesed: Hebrew word meaning acts of mercy
Drash: A method of Biblical interpretation ascribing moral or ethical    meaning to verses in the Torah.
HaShem: Noun used in place of G-d. Lit. The Name
mikvah: Hebrew word referring to a ritual bath used for purification
Mishnah: An ancient Jewish work made of specific laws.
Moshe Rabbeinu: Hebrew for Moses our teacher. A common Jewish way of referring to Moses.
Or HaChaim: Jewish Torah commentary
Rashi: The primary commentary on the Tenach.
Rebbe: Leader of a Chassidic group or a teacher
Rebbe Reb: A title added to a few special Rebbes as a sign of their   higher spiritual stature.
remez: A method of Biblical interpretation based on finding hints in the Torah for various concepts.
Rov: An official rabbi who renders legal decisions. Many of the   Rebbes were both a Rebbe of Chasidim, and the Rov of the city in which they lived.
Sanhedrin: 1. Tractate in the Talmud                  2. Name of the highest level of the Jewish court system.

sefer (seforim): A Jewish religious book.

Talmud: An ancient work of Jewish law.
Tehillim: Hebrew name for Psalms.
Torah: a. First 5 books of the Jewish Bible    b. Also refers to the whole of Jewish law    c. also common term for a chassidic teaching

Tshuva: Hebrew word for repentance

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Copyright (c) 1997 by Moshe Shulman ([email protected]) All rights reserved.

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Parshas Shemini ~ Torah Gems

Shemini

I. Going in the proper way.

1. ‘And it was on the eight day Moshe called…’ (V’yikra* 9.1) We can explain this verse with a teaching that appears in the sefer O’lalos Ephraim. He explained the passage in the Talmud* that says: (Eruvin* 53b) ‘Rabbi Yehoshua ben Chananyah said that once a boy triumphed over him. This happened when he once came upon a place in the road where it branched. He had a choice of going one of two ways to arrive at the city he was going to. He saw there a young boy.  He asked the boy which way leads to the city.  The boy said that they both did.  One way was short and long, and the other way was long and short.  Rabbi Yehoshua chose the way that was short and long.  He quickly arrived at the city, but the path went into thick gardens and fields.  Seeing that he couldn’t go further, he turned back.’ The idea here is that there are two paths placed before every person for him to choose. One is short and long. This is the way of the wicked, who follow the way that is easy in the beginning. It appears to them as if they are close to HaShem*. [However that is not the case.] The end of this way is suffering.  They find that there is a great expanse between them and HaShem. The second way is that of the Tzaddikim*. It is long and short. In the beginning it appears to them as if they are very far from HaShem. However in the end it is easy for them. It is easy for them to rise to the place where HaShem is [and serve him.] People want to go in the short and long way. This is because the fulfillment of ones desires for the things of this world can be attained by a person immediately.  However the rewards of the world to come ‘no eye has ever seen.’ For this reason Eve sinned when she said, ‘It [the fruit] is desirous to the eyes.’ This is because the eye only sees what is a temporary good. [They do not discern what is truly good.] So when he ‘arrives at the city’ he finds the gardens and fields separating him from the city. The desires of this world are compared to gardens and fields. They separate the person from the city and holiness.  This is because ‘your sins make a separation between you and your Father in heaven.’ Then he turned around. I.e. he did tshuva*. He carefully examined his actions so that he should not be among those who fool themselves and live in fantasies. Thinking that they are close to HaShem [when in truth they are not.] As the verse says, ‘the ways of men are good in their own eyes.’ They think that HaShem approves of them. They consider all things permitted, and everything pure.  (Until here are the words of the O’lalos Ephraim) With this we can understand the verse: ‘And it was on the eight day.’ This means: woe is to the one who does not inspire himself to do tshuva during the seven days, i.e. the 70 years of his life. Only on the eight day ‘Moshe called’. This means that it had appeared to him for his whole life that he was serving HaShem. However when he is in his old age he sees his error and does a sincere tshuva. (p. 296 sefer Toldos Yakov Yosef teachings of Rebbe* Yakov Yosef HaKohen of Polnoye)                                 * * * II. Good food. 2. ‘These are the creatures that you may eat’ (V’yikra 11.2) [The Midrash comments with regards to this verse:] “This is what the verse means, ‘To do Your will is what I desire, Your Torah* is within my stomach.’ The Jewish people are blessed [from HaShem] in that each of their limbs has been given a mitzvah*.” A man has 248 limbs. Therefore we say the blessing, ‘Who has formed man …with …  many cavities [Heb. chalulim]. The gematria* of the word ‘chalulim’ [124] doubled [as this word appears twice in the blessing] is equal to the number of limbs that a person has. [This shows us that each of the 248 limbs is for one of the 248 mitzvos. The mitzvah for] the head is ‘do not round the corners [Heb.  peyos] of your head.  For ones flesh there is the mitzvah ‘don’t make cuttings for the dead in your flesh’.  Likewise there is the mitzvah of circumcision. The truth is that every Jews desires to do the will of HaShem with learning Torah and prayer. However the Yetzer Harah* that is in him, and the desire to fill his stomach keep him back from the service of HaShem. The Yetzer HaRah causes him to follow after all his desires for food and drink. [This causes him to rebel as the verse says] ‘Yeshurim waxed and rebelled.’ This is even more true with the person who has (G-d forbid) stumbled by eating foods that are forbidden, and impure things. However the Tzaddikim are like those who go on a well lit way.  They overcome their physical desires, and don’t fill their stomachs [with all manner of foods.] Therefore their hearts [i.e. their Yetzer] are in their own hands so that they can serve HaShem with learning Torah and good deeds. This is what David said, ‘To do Your will is what I desire.’ This is certainly my desire to do Your will. However the main thing is that ‘Your Torah is within my stomach.’ I.e. to observe the Torah [laws] that deal with your stomach [i.e. the eating of only kosher* foods.] You should not allow any chance of the power of physical pleasures in your stomach to hold you back from going in the way of truth. Therefore the Midrash associates this verse with the verse ‘These are the creatures that you may eat.’ This is to warn against eating impure foods, so that your souls should not become despicable to HaShem. You should not be held back from the service of HaShem, and the love of Him. The impure foods are called ‘assur’ [forbidden], meaning that they are bound [Aramaic assur] to the Yetzer HaRah. [By eating of them you go into the power of the Yetzer HaRah.] There is no way that they can be used to serve HaShem, as it says in the sefer Tanya*. This is the meaning of what the Midrash says, ‘The Jewish people are blessed [from HaShem] in that each of their limbs has been given a mitzvah.’ The meaning is that each person should make himself holy in each of his 248 limbs by accepting upon himself the holiness of the 248 positive mitzvos [and doing them.] If he does this HaShem will be able dwell within him. (p. 153 sefer Avodas Yisroel teachings of Rebbe Yisroel of Koznitz.)                                 * * * III. Serving HaShem 3. ‘Speak to the children of Israel and tell them, These are the creatures that you may eat’ (V’yikra 11.1-2) Chazal* say that from this verse we learn that HaShem took every type of creature by the tail and showed it to Moshe and said to him these you may eat. We may say in explanation of this teaching that the tail is the end of the body. This indicates the lowest spiritual levels. This action by HaShem was a remez* to Moshe that he should raise up everything to it’s source, even those things that are on the lowest of levels. Even those that are on the very bottom he should raise up and use them in the service of HaShem. (p. 61 sefer Lekutei Shoshanim teachings of Rebbe Moshe Tzvi of Savoran)                                 * * * IV. Who is great? 4. ‘And it was on the eight day …’ (V’yikra 9.1) This refers to the eighth day of preparation for the dedication of the Mishkan*. Each day Moshe would assemble the Mishkan. Then he would disassemble it and then reassemble it again. The idea of this assembling, disassembling and then reassembling again of the Mishkan was to teach us that HaShem brings low the haughty and raises up those who are lowly. This can be understood according to what I have taught in the ‘general principles’. [His collection of Chassidic explanations of teachings of Chazal.] There is a legal principle that when ‘the Torah includes/adds something after having previously included/added, it is only to remove/subtract something which was already included.’ The meaning of this is that the more a person considers himself great in his eyes he is really becoming smaller and smaller.  [By ‘adding’ to himself he is actually subtracting. Instead of being greater he is smaller.] Likewise where they teach that when ‘the Torah removes/subtracts something after having already removed/subtracted other items, it is only in order to include/add something that would not have been included before.’ This means the more one considers himself smaller in his eyes, he is truly greater.  [By ‘removing’ his personal honor continually, he actually becomes greater.] This is what the Zohar* teaches, ‘the one who considers himself great he is small, and the one who considers himself small, he is great.’ The same can be said with regards to the learning of Torah. [We see this illustrated by] what I have taught with regards to the meaning of the verse ‘behold a ladder is resting on the earth and the top reaches to heaven.’ This is the Torah that is given in this world, but it reaches up to heaven.  This is because Torah that is learned with love and fear flies up to heaven. ‘And the angels of G-d’. These are the souls that are sent to this world to learn Torah. ‘Going up and down.’ This is the person himself. If he considers himself as if he was rising up because of his learning of Torah, then he is really going down. If he considers himself smaller then he rises up. This is the idea of the 7 days where Moshe took apart and put together the Mishkan. If the person stands up and becomes raised up in his eyes, he is really low and like the disassembled Mishkan. However if he is broken hearted, then he is raised up. (p. 45 sefer Divrei Yisroel teachings of Rebbe Yisroel of Modzitz.)                                 * * * V. Trusting in HaShem 5. ‘And Moshe said, this is the thing that HaShem commands for you to do and the glory of HaShem will be revealed to you.’ (V’yikra 9.6) We need to understand what this verse is adding to what appears in the previous verses. It appears that there is a remez here. At that time the Jewish people were at the pinnacle of perfection. They had just assembled the mishkan and they were informed that HaShem would appear to them. Moshe was the leader of the Jewish people, and Aharon was the high priest. It was a generation great in wisdom. [However] Moshe saw that there would come a time that they would not have a leader who was as great [as he was.] They wouldn’t have a mishkan, and the generation would not be on such a high level as they were [at that time. The question would be] how can a person attain perfection [in such a generation?] Therefore he told them, ‘This is the thing that HaShem commands for you to do.’ This means that no matter what condition they find themselves in, they should do the mitzvos of HaShem, and HaShem will appear to them. Even if they had sinned until then and they need to rectify their previous actions. In any case they should trust in HaShem and do the mitzvos of HaShem. That is what is meant by what Chazal say in Torah Kohanim* on this verse. ‘Moshe said to the Jewish people, “You should remove that Yetzer HaRah from your hearts…”‘ This means that they should remove from their hearts all those things they have done until now by following the Yetzer HaRah. And they should have trust in HaShem. They should improve their ways, and from now on go in the ways of HaShem and do his mitzvos. Through that ‘The glory of HaShem will be revealed to you.’ (p. 127 sefer Emunas Moshe teachings of Rebbe Yehudah Moshe of Alexander.) ———————————————————————

Glossary:

Arizal: Hebrew initials of the words: Adoni Rabbenu Yitzchok    Zechorono LeVaracha our master Rabbi Yitzchok. Better known as    Yitzchok Luria the great 16th century Kabbalist
Chazal: Hebrew initials for: Chochmenu Zichrona Levaracha (Our sages of Blessed memory) Used to refer to Rabbis of the Talmud.
HaShem: Noun used in place of G-d. Lit. The Name
HY’D: Heb. HaShem Yimkom Domov: HaShem should avenge their blood.
Mishleh: One of the books of the Tenach, called in English Proverbs.
Mitzvah (mitzvos): One of the commandments of the Torah.
nashama: Hebrew word for soul.
peshat: A method of Biblical interpretation based on finding the simple meaning in the Torah.
Rashi: The primary commentary on the Tenach.
Rebbe: Leader of a Chassidic group or a teacher
Shabbos: Tractate in the Talmud
Shemos: Second book of the Torah. Called Exodus in English
Talmid (Talmidim): Disciples of a Rebbe.
Talmud: An ancient work of Jewish law.
Tehillim: Hebrew name for Psalms.
Torah: a. First 5 books of the Jewish Bible            b. Also refers to the whole of Jewish law            c. also common term for a chassidic teaching

Tshuva: Hebrew word for repentance

Tzaddik (Tzaddikim): lit. Righteous. Another name for a Chassidic Rebbe.
Yetzer: lit. Inclination. It is Jewish belief that every Jew has both an evil and good inclination within him, that are at ‘war’ to see which of them the person will follow.
Yetzer Tov: Heb. Good Inclination
Yetzer HaRah: Heb. Evil Inclination.
ZT’L: Hebrew initials of the words: Zechor Tzaddik LeVaracha (The memory of a Tzaddik – Righteous person is a blessing.)
ZY’A: Hebrew initials of the words: Zechiso Yagan Aleinu (His merit should protect us.)
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Copyright (c) 1997 by Moshe Shulman ([email protected]) All rights reserved.

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Parshas Tezriah Metzorah ~ Torah Gems

Tezriah Metzorah

I. Humility

1. ‘This is the law of the metzorah’ (V’yikra* 14.1) A person should not say in his heart that he is greater then another or that he serves HaShem* and is closer to Him then someone else. This is because he, like every other creature, was created to serve HaShem.  HaShem gave to other people understanding just as he gave to him understanding. [Each was given a certain degree of understanding according to what HaShem wanted to require of him.] Why should he consider himself more important then a worm? The worm serves HaShem with all it’s understanding and strength. [We see that] men are also compared to a worm as the verse says, ‘I am a worm and not a man.’ If HaShem had not given to him understanding he would not be able to serve Him. He would be like a worm [serving HaShem without the understanding of a man.] Since that is the case, he is not more important in heaven then a worm, and certainly not more important then any other man.  He should consider himself on the level of a worm, and that all other small creatures are his friends in this world. All of them were created [by HaShem], and they do not have any power by themself [without Him.] They can only do what HaShem has given them the strength and understanding to do.  This should always be in your thoughts. (p. 414 sefer Baal Shem Tov, teachings of the Baal Shem Tov.)                                 * * * II. Day to day 2. ‘When a women conceives and gives birth to a boy…’ (V’yikra 12.2) It says in the verse, ‘Day to day utters speech.’ The meaning is that for those people who follow after the way of their heart’s desires, and other foolish things, there is no difference from one day to the next. The way they acted yesterday and they act today, they will act tomorrow. It is all the same. They do not gain any understanding or knowledge [that they should be improving their ways.] However that is not the case with the Tzaddikim* who go in the way of HaShem and His service. Everyday they understand more then they did on the previous day. Each day their mouths will utter new gems of wisdom and G-dly knowledge. And they will further praise Him. This is the meaning of ‘Day to Day utters [Heb y’beya] speech.’ It is compared to water that covers over [Heb t’vua] fire, like a boil [Heb avabuos] that rises up [above the skin.] The same is with Tzaddikim. Each day their sweet words rise higher and higher above what they were yesterday. This is because the holiness they achieved yesterday influences them to higher levels today, and for the day after today. It is necessary for every person to progress from level to level. He must start by correcting his bad midos* and the sins of his youth. This is called the ‘female’ principle. Then he will achieve the higher levels of holiness which is called the ‘male’ principle. He then becomes a complete vessel full of holiness. This is the meaning of the verse ‘When a women conceives.’ First he starts from the lowest levels to fix those sins he has done. Then she ‘gives birth to a boy.’ [i.e. he achieves a higher level of holiness.] ‘And she shall be impure for seven days.’ This means he should correct his failings in the seven midos. [These failings] are referred to as ‘impure’. He should look at those things that he has done to cause impurity to come on him. ‘And on the eighth day.’ Then he shall go into the level of holiness which is the eighth level. ‘And they shall circumcise his flesh.’ [He will separate from impurity.] He shall have holy thoughts and be attached to HaShem. (p. 57 sefer Noam Elimeilech teachings of the Rebbe Reb* Elimeilech of Lizensk.)                                 * * * III. Who is first? 3. ‘When a women conceives and gives birth to a boy…’ (V’yikra 12.2) Rashi* says in the name of Rabbi Simlai, ‘Just like the creation of man comes after that of all the animals and birds [i.e. man was the last thing created during the six days], so the laws that relate to him come after that of the animals and birds.’ [At the end of the previous parsha* we learned the laws of which animals are kosher and which not, here we learn what makes a person pure or impure.] There is a question on this. What kind of an answer is this? Don’t the laws with regards to kosher animals really apply to men? Also haven’t we already learned many laws that apply to men, for example, in the parsha of Mishpatim? We can understand it this way. Chazal* teach us, “Why was man created before Shabbos? So that if ‘he should begin to have thoughts of his own greatness you can say to him that a flea was created before you.'” The question is how will this help to humble his heart? We find many times that something which comes later is actually MORE important. For example: Shabbos comes after all the other days. Also it says, ‘the tenth shall be holy.’ Many times we find [stated in Chazal that], ‘the last is more important.’ To understand this we have to examine this idea. Many times we find the first is more important. The firstborn child inherits a double portion, and before the sin of the golden calf it was the firstborn who would bring sacrifices. [After the sin it was given to the tribe of Levi.] The idea is this. The Tzaddik who has never sinned his merit comes from ‘the beginning.’ But the Baal Tshuva* is the opposite. His merit comes from the ‘end’ because he has done tshuva*. Therefore before the sin of the golden calf the sacrificial service was given to the firstborn, whose merit comes to them at birth. However after they sinned, they lost their merit. Then the ‘later’ became more important because they did tshuva. Therefore the merit was taken from the firstborn, since they didn’t have this merit [from ‘first’] anymore. It is well known that tshuva was created before the world. This was because HaShem knew that a man formed from dust would sin. Therefore he created the cure of tshuva [before he made man who would sin.] With this we can understand what it says, if ‘he should begin to have thoughts of his own greatness.’ If he begins to think he is a perfect Tzaddik. You can say to him that it is not true. The proof is ‘a flea was created before you.’ Therefore there is no person who does not do some sin. Therefore the ‘end’ is more important. This is the meaning of what Rabbi Simlai said. ‘Just like the creation of man comes after that of all the animals and birds, so the laws that relate to him come after that of the animals and birds.’ This means he should be humble. If he should not be humble then he is after all the animals and birds. (p. 96 sefer Divrei Tzaddikim teachings of Rebbe* Berish of Ashpetzeen.)                                 * * * IV. Tshuva and joy 4. ‘And the Kohen* shall go outside of the camp and the kohen shall see, behold, it is healed.’ (V’yikra 12.3) The word ‘behold’ in this verse appears to be an extra word. The verse could have said, ‘the kohen shall see that it is healed.’ [What is the meaning of this extra word?] We can explain this according to the simple meaning of the text as we find explained in many sources, such as the Or HaChaim. [The Or HaChaim explains that] the healing of the Metzorah depends on his being secluded and sitting outside of the camp. This is to show him that his healing has nothing to do with the natural order of things.  The natural order is that this sickness comes to one who is depressed and in a ‘black mood’. It would then be natural that his cure should be like all others. He should take various medicines that will cheer him up, and he should sit together with other people who are cheerful.  But sitting alone causes people to be more depressed. (You should examine what he says there.) [In this case instead of being cured by being given medicines that make him ‘joyful’ he is sent to a place to be alone. Instead of this making him worse, as would be natural, he is, in fact healed.] It seems I can give a little more support to his words. It is certain that the cure for the metzorah comes from his doing tshuva completely, and forsaking all his previous sins. Certainly from following in the way of tshuva his heart will be broken from the bitterness [from his recognition] of his sins. This person will contemplate by himself and examine carefully his actions.  He will come to break his heart from true humility. This is his purification. However there is a problem with this. By breaking his heart [as I mentioned above] and bringing himself to feel broken from his sins he will cause the sickness to become greater. That is the natural order of things. But the truth is that the one who breaks his heart completely with humility before HaShem will certainly come to complete joy from this ‘depression’ as is known from the holy Zohar* on the verse ‘serve HaShem with joy.’ This level of service cannot be understood by the person alone or by any other person. Only the great Tzaddikim [can understand this]. Also if he should follow this way for a long time he will come to feel the joy from doing tshuva. This is the explanation of the verse: ‘And the Kohen shall go outside of the camp and the kohen shall see, behold.’ The word ‘behold’ only refers to something joyful as the Midrash say on the verse, ‘behold your brother Aharon… and you will have joy in your heart.’ The meaning is that he shall see the kohen and behold, i.e. the metzorah shall break his heart with humility to the point that he will have joy from doing tshuva. Then ‘and the affliction is healed’. Then certainly it will be a sign that HaShem has forgiven him of his sins, and that he has done tshuva in the correct manner. (p. 126 sefer M’Or V’Shamash teachings of Rebbe Kolonymus Kalman of Krakow)                                 * * * V. Circumcision. 5. ‘On the eighth day you shall circumcise his flesh.’ (V’yikra 12.3) We can understand this verse as teach a moral lesson as follows. The word ‘eighth’ [Heb Shemini] has the same gematria* as the word humble [Heb. shufel 410]. This is to show us that with humility one can circumcise ones heart. (p. 94 sefer Sefas Emes teachings of Rebbe Meshulim Feivish of Brazan)                                 * * * VI. Good News 6. ‘When you will enter the land of Canaan…and I will place the plague of tzaraas in your house..’ (V’yikra 14.34) Rashi says that HaShem is giving them the news that this plague is going to afflict their houses [and that this is really good news for them.] The reason is that the Amorites had hidden their money in the walls of their houses and when they will have to remove the stones they will find this treasure. We need to understand a few things with regards to this teaching of Rashi. Why would they have to close up the house for seven days and then after that remove the stones and find the treasure? Since they would see the plague they would know that there was this treasure hidden. [They should be able to immediately pull the stones and get the treasure.] This is even more the case since in the seforim* of my father ZT’L* he quotes from the Ramban* that the plague here mentioned was not something natural. It was only in order that the hidden treasures be revealed to them. [It should then have been obvious the cause of the plague and the reason for it.] So why was there the need to close up the house for seven days? With regards to the deeper purpose of the Torah* and the Mitzvos* we can have no understanding.  However it is possible to have some understand of the Torah when it gives us a remez* as to it’s purpose. We know and believe that all of what HaShem does to us, even if He should (G-d forbid) strike us [with afflictions] it is for our own good. However when we see a time like now [Warsaw ghetto 1940] when the afflictions are not just physical ones. They effect those things that distance us from HaShem. There is no Cheder* for children or a Yeshiva*. There is no shul* to pray together in or a mikvah*. It is then possible that we can have a doubt. Is it possible that this is also for our own good?  If it is good then he should afflict us only with things that effect our bodies, and not those that make it harder for us to be close to Him. Is it possible that these afflictions are those of ‘And I will cast you away…’ Therefore the Torah shows us that in the plague on the houses, where they became unclean [and they were forced to close them for seven days.] Even here it was sent for their own good. First it was unclean for seven days and then they found the hidden treasure. For this reason the Torah says that the one who sees this plague has to say, ‘it appears LIKE a plague to me.’ [Not that it is a plague.] Even if the person is a scholar, and he knows the signs and that it is a plague, he also has to say the same thing. This is because a person by himself is not able to know if it is truly a plague, only that it appears to him as if it were a plague. But the truth is that it is really good for Israel and that HaShem wants to do good for us. (p. 40 sefer Aish Kodesh teachings from the Warsaw ghetto by Rebbe

Kolonymus Kalman of Pistzina)

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Glossary:

Arizal: Hebrew initials of the words: Adoni Rabbenu Yitzchok    Zechorono LeVaracha our master Rabbi Yitzchok. Better known as    Yitzchok Luria the great 16th century Kabbalist
Chazal: Hebrew initials for: Chochmenu Zichrona Levaracha (Our sages of Blessed memory) Used to refer to Rabbis of the Talmud.
HaShem: Noun used in place of G-d. Lit. The Name
HY’D: Heb. HaShem Yimkom Domov: HaShem should avenge their blood.
Mishleh: One of the books of the Tenach, called in English Proverbs.
Mitzvah (mitzvos): One of the commandments of the Torah.
nashama: Hebrew word for soul.
peshat: A method of Biblical interpretation based on finding the simple meaning in the Torah.
Rashi: The primary commentary on the Tenach.
Rebbe: Leader of a Chassidic group or a teacher
Shabbos: Tractate in the Talmud
Shemos: Second book of the Torah. Called Exodus in English
Talmid (Talmidim): Disciples of a Rebbe.
Talmud: An ancient work of Jewish law.
Tehillim: Hebrew name for Psalms.
Torah: a. First 5 books of the Jewish Bible            b. Also refers to the whole of Jewish law            c. also common term for a chassidic teaching

Tshuva: Hebrew word for repentance

Tzaddik (Tzaddikim): lit. Righteous. Another name for a Chassidic Rebbe.
Yetzer: lit. Inclination. It is Jewish belief that every Jew has both an evil and good inclination within him, that are at ‘war’ to see which of them the person will follow.
Yetzer Tov: Heb. Good Inclination
Yetzer HaRah: Heb. Evil Inclination.
ZT’L: Hebrew initials of the words: Zechor Tzaddik LeVaracha (The memory of a Tzaddik – Righteous person is a blessing.)
ZY’A: Hebrew initials of the words: Zechiso Yagan Aleinu (His merit should protect us.)
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Copyright (c) 1997 by Moshe Shulman ([email protected]) All rights reserved.

Issur Hasugas Givilv

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Parshas Korach ~ Torah Gems

Chukas

I. Conceit

1. ‘Speak to the children of Israel, and they shall take a completely red heifer.’ (Bamidbar* 19.2) The Baal Shem Tov has taught that every mitzvah* is eternal. Even though the actual action [of doing the mitzvah] may be tied in with a specific time [which restricts when it may be done], the intellectual concepts pertaining to the mitzvah are eternal. This is because the divine Torah* is from HaShem* who is eternal [hence there is an eternal aspect and relevance to all the Torah.] All of the talmidim* of the Baal Shem Tov have related in his name that we need to find how the Torah relates to all time periods through wisdom, and understanding. From every mitzvah we need to find some remez* [dealing with it’s eternal relevance.] The Baal Shem Tov was asked with regards to the red heifer [how it relates to us] since even in the time of the Temple it was rarely performed as the Mishnah* says in tractate Parah*. Also, what is the meaning [for us now] of [what we were taught with regards to the heifer that] ‘it purifies those who are tumah [unclean] and it makes tumah [unclean] those who are pure.’ The Baal Shem Tov answered that [the remez is that] it refers to the midah* of conceit [which can be both bad and good.] When a person is going in a way that is not good and he is far from haShem, the beginning of his rectifying his situation is through ‘conceit’. Serving HaShem not for His Name’s sake, but to glorify himself, or in order that he should merit to have a place in the world to come (which is a hidden type of conceit.) [Because of his actions] he considers that he is worthy that HaShem should repay him for his deeds, and he considers that he has done something for HaShem. The truth is, however, without the strength of HaShem, what are we? How can we [say that we are worthy to] get a reward [since we need HaShem’s strength to do anything.] When one starts to serve HaShem it is not possible to achieve this level [of understanding that he can do nothing without HaShem.] And G-d forbid that he should remain on the outside [with those who are not servicing HaShem.] Therefore they have allowed him to serve HaShem with conceit. To glorify himself and to serve HaShem for reasons other then His Name’s sake in order that by serving him for an ulterior reason he may come to serve HaShem for His Name’s sake. [Later when he has passed this stage,] when he is serving HaShem for His Name’s sake it has to be pure without any conceit whatsoever. For if he mixes any conceit in his service then it will be invalid. From this we see that conceit makes pure those who are tumah, i.e. those who are far from HaShem [since it brings them later to serve HaShem for His Name’s sake] but it makes tumah those who are pure, i.e. those who are already close to HaShem [since their service will be invalid.] (p. 469 sefer Baal Shem Tov teachings of the Baal Shem Tov.) * * * II. The nashama* and the body 2. ‘These are the decrees of the Torah that HaShem commanded saying.’ (Bamidbar 19.2) In general the reasons for [what appears in] the Torah and the mitzvos are hidden from all men [and he does not know what they are.] Each person needs to do and to observe all the Torah only because HaShem commanded him to do and observe it. That is the remez of the verse, ‘these are the decrees of the Torah.’ All of the Torah and the mitzvos are only decrees to us because their reasons have not been revealed to us. The main way to perform the Torah and the mitzvos is because ‘HaShem commanded saying’ Because of the command of HaShem to us to do them we are required to do and observe them. With this we can explain why we were commanded to make the heifer in order to purify us from the uncleanliness that comes from contact with the dead. The nashama and the life force that a person has (which comes from under the throne of glory) always desires to serve HaShem without any separation, even for a second. However one’s body [and physical nature] does not let him do this. There is a constant war between the nashama and the body. If he is worthy the nashama will overcome the body and he will do the will of his nashama. The reason why the body does not want to uphold the Torah is that it cannot comprehend the reasons for the Torah and the mitzvos. For if the body would understand the reasons for the Torah and mitzvos, the body would also desire to do them. However it doesn’t understand the reasons. The nashama which comes from under the throne of glory does understand the reasons for the Torah and mitzvos. Therefore it desires to uphold the Torah and mitzvos without any break. The person who is worthy his soul overcomes his body and does the mitzvos. A person who is dead, his nashama rises above and the body remains here alone. [Because of this separation] the body becomes tumah [unclean.] For this reason the graves of Tzaddikim* do not make one tumah, since they have purified their bodies to the point that they too desire to do the Torah and mitzvos. Therefore their bodies [which have been purified so that they are like their neshamos] also do not render anyone tumah. This is the remez of ‘this is the decree of the Torah.’ Because the Torah is a decree and the reasons for the Torah are not revealed, the body does not desire to perform the Torah and mitzvos. Therefore the body becomes tumah when it dies. Therefore HaShem commanded to make the red heifer to purify from the tumah of the body which is what becomes tumah when he dies. (p. 78 sefer Kedushas Levi teachings of Rebbe* Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev.) * * * III. Proper actions 3. ‘And Edom did not allow Israel to pass its borders, and Israel turned away from near him.’ (Bamidbar 20.21) One time there came a number of people from a certain town before the Rebbe of Rizhin ZY’A with a complaint against the shochet* of their town. He was a very stingy person and would never take guests into his house [even though he could afford to.] The Rizhiner said to them, “Chazal* teach, ‘The one who is born under the sign of ‘Edom’ will be one who spills blood [Heb. Dam] of others. Rav Ashi said he will be a doctor [who lets blood], or a shochet or a mohel*.’ We see that one who is born under that sign is born with the nature to be cruel to others. If he will work with that bad midah, and use if for holy purposes, to serve HaShem, and do mitzvos and good deeds, then this bad midah will be removed from him. It will become a good midah filled with holiness. “This is the meaning of the verse ‘And Edom did not allow Israel to pass its borders.’ If the person who is on the level of Edom, i.e. he was born under the sign of ‘Edom’. ‘Will not allow Israel to pass his borders’, i.e. he will not allow them in his house to give them a place to sleep. This is a sign that ‘Israel turned away from near him.’ ‘Israel’ means those signs that have been given to recognize and to know that he is a Jew. They are: Shy, compassionate, and does deeds of mercy to others. However if he still does cruel deeds, the name of ‘Israel’ has removed from him. “We can also explain that ‘Israel turned away from near him’ means that if he acts in this cruel manner it is allowed for Jews to separate from him. To remove him from his post, and not eat of what he has slaughtered.” (p. 136 sefer Ner Yisroel teachings of Rebbe Yisroel of Rizhin and his descendants.) * * * IV. Prayer 4. ‘And Edom said to him you shall not pass through my land lest I come out and meet you with my sword’ (Bamidbar 20.18) Rashi* explains, “You [Israel] praise yourself with your ‘voice’ [of prayer] that you have inherited from your fathers. And you say that you cry out and He hears your voice. We shall go out to you with what we have inherited from our fathers, ‘You shall live by your sword.'” This is difficult to understand because it should be the opposite. [Chazal have taught] when the ‘voice is the voice of Yakov’ [i.e. they are praying and learning Torah] then there should not be ‘the hands are the hands of Esav.’ Their sword should not have any effect on them [Israel.] Here we see that they are coming with their power [of prayer] as Rashi explains, with the blessing that their father blessed them, ‘the voice is the voice of Yakov.’ We cry out and we are heard. [Yet Esav answers them with the sword.] However the idea is this. It is certainly true that the prayers of the Jewish people are very great, and HaShem always hears their prayers. Their enemies can never have any control over them. However they should not be conceited because of this strength that they have with their prayers [which they received] from the blessing that they had from their ancestors. If they have some conceit, and then they pray, that prayer is ignored and goes to waste. [In fact] the opposite is the case. [Their conceit causes that their prayer] gives strength to those that wish to do evil to them. That is what Rashi said, ‘You praise yourself with your voice…’ (p. 32 sefer Toras Shimon teachings of Rebbe Shimon of Yaroslav.) * * * V. Torah and purity. 5. ‘And put upon it living water in a vessel’ (Bamidbar 19.17) We can explain it this way. Water is a remez for the Torah as Chazal teach, ‘Water always refers to Torah.’ And ‘the vessel’ (which is an earthen vessel) is a remez for the Yetzer HaRah*; the snake whose food is earth. Also an earthen vessel becomes purified by destroying it. Chazal tell us that HaShem says, ‘I created the Yetzer HaRah and I created the Torah as a spice [that overcomes the Yetzer HaRah.] The Torah is called ‘living’, and the Yetzer Harah brings death and uncleanliness. Through the living water, which is the Torah that was given by Moshe, they would not die through the Angel of Death. We find when the Torah was given that they became free from the angel of death. They could only die by a kiss [which is a special way of dying where the Angel of Death is not involved.] Therefore there was no tumah. We also find this with the Tzaddikim, who [when they die] do not make others tumah. This is because they do not die from the Angel of Death, but through a ‘kiss’ from HaShem. That is the meaning of ‘and put upon it living water in the vessel.’ By the ‘spice’ of the Torah one nullifies the Yetzer HaRah, and one comes to purity. (p. 158 sefer Mordechai B’Shaar HaMelech teachings

of Rebbe Mordechai of Zavil.)

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Glossary:

Arizal: Hebrew initials of the words: Adoni Rabbenu Yitzchok    Zechorono LeVaracha our master Rabbi Yitzchok. Better known as    Yitzchok Luria the great 16th century Kabbalist
Baal Tshuva (Baalei Tshuva): Hebrew for someone who is a repentant    sinner.
Bamidbar:
Fourth book of the Torah. Called in English Numbers
Chazal: Hebrew initials for: Chochmenu Zichrona Levaracha (Our sages    of Blessed memory) Used to refer to Rabbis of the Talmud
Chesed: Hebrew word meaning acts of mercy
Drash: A method of Biblical interpretation ascribing moral or ethical    meaning to verses in the Torah.
HaShem: Noun used in place of G-d. Lit. The Name
mikvah: Hebrew word referring to a ritual bath used for purification
Mishnah: An ancient Jewish work made of specific laws.
Moshe Rabbeinu: Hebrew for Moses our teacher. A common Jewish way of referring to Moses.
Or HaChaim: Jewish Torah commentary
Rashi: The primary commentary on the Tenach.
Rebbe: Leader of a Chassidic group or a teacher
Rebbe Reb: A title added to a few special Rebbes as a sign of their   higher spiritual stature.
remez: A method of Biblical interpretation based on finding hints in the Torah for various concepts.
Rov: An official rabbi who renders legal decisions. Many of the   Rebbes were both a Rebbe of Chasidim, and the Rov of the city in which they lived.
Sanhedrin: 1. Tractate in the Talmud                  2. Name of the highest level of the Jewish court system.

sefer (seforim): A Jewish religious book.

Talmud: An ancient work of Jewish law.
Tehillim: Hebrew name for Psalms.
Torah: a. First 5 books of the Jewish Bible    b. Also refers to the whole of Jewish law    c. also common term for a chassidic teaching

Tshuva: Hebrew word for repentance

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Copyright (c) 1997 by Moshe Shulman ([email protected]) All rights reserved.

Issur Hasugas Givilv

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Parshas V’Eschanan ~ Torah Gems

V’Eschanan

I. The proper way of learning Torah

1. “And you shall teach them to your children” (Devorim* 6.7) I heard that it once happened that the Baal Shem Tov came to a Beis HaMedrash* and stood by the door and didn’t want to go inside. They asked him why it was that he didn’t want to enter the building. He answered that he was not able to enter because the place was so filled up with prayers and Torah learning. This caused even more wonder to the people standing there. They said to him, the opposite should be the case. In a house so holy as this that is filled with Torah and prayers it should be even more fitting to enter. He then opened their eyes and revealed to them his meaning. It is not an advantage for a house of prayer to be filled with Torah and prayers. This happens only because the prayers and the learning of Torah that the people are learning and praying is not done with fear and love of G-d. Therefore they do not rise up to heaven, and they remain here below. So every corner of this place is filled with them, and there is no room to enter. However if those who were learning and praying would do so with fear and love of HaShem*, as is proper, the prayers and Torah learning would rise up to heaven. None of them would remain below. Then this holy house would be empty and there would be room to enter. (p. 624 Sefer HaBaal Shem Tov teachings of the Baal Shem Tov. This came from the sefer* Bar Moshe, from Rebbe* Moshe Elyakim Beriah of Koznitz ZT’L* son of Rebbe Yisroel the Koznitzer Maggid* ZT’L) * * * II. Separation 2. “I stood between HaShem and you.” (Devorim 5.5) I have heard from the holy Maggid Rabbi Yechiel Mechel of Zlotchov an explanation of the verse, ‘I stood between HaShem and you.’ If a person considers himself to be on a high spiritual level, that creates a barrier of separation between him and HaShem. That is the ‘I’ [Heb anochi] The meaning being that because of his haughtiness, and his saying ‘I’ am on a high spiritual level and have many good midos*. This ‘stood between HaShem and you.’ This is what stands between HaShem and you. It is through this that there is a barrier of separation. A person has to know that he is worthless and nothing. It is only that HaShem gives him the power to do either great or small things. He gives life to all things. Therefore it is not worthy for any creature to say ‘I’. It is only worthy for HaShem to say ‘I’ since he is the one who gives life to all things. But a man if he uses the word ‘I’ is saying that he considers himself someone on a spiritual level. One who gets used to this and continues in this midah he becomes separated from HaShem. [This separation will continue] until he will fall into heresy and deny HaShem (G-d forbid). (p. 77 sefer Malchi b’Kodesh teachings of Rebbe Yechiel Mechel, the maggid of Zlotchov.) * * * III. The redemption from exile 3. ‘Ascend to the top of the mount and look to the west, the north, the south and the east, and see with your own eyes that you shall not cross this Jordan.’ (Devorim 3.27) [To explain this] I will first bring the explanation of the verse, ‘Raise up the heads of the sons of Gershon, also them, according to their father’s house, to their families. The word, ‘Gershon’, refers to those people who have lost their way, and strayed from the correct way due to their close attachment to HaShem. As the verse says, ‘They have driven me away [Heb. Gershoni] today from attaching myself to the heritage of HaShem.’ ‘Head’ [Heb. Rosh] is a language that refers to bitterness, as the verse says, ‘a root flourishing with gall [Heb. pareh rosh] and wormwood.’ This is the meaning of the verse: ‘Raise up.’ Even if it will be difficult for you to raise up the common people, you need to strengthen yourself for this and do it. Everyone needs to be raised up to HaShem [to perform His service] and to be attached to Him. This is the meaning of ‘Raise up the heads of the sons of Gershon.’ This is the bitterness of the sons of Gershon, who are those who were driven away from the heritage of HaShem. These you should also raise and bring them to attachment to HaShem. This is ‘according to their father’s house, to their families’ which also refers to attachment to HaShem. Because of what I said above, it shouldn’t bother you all the difficulties that you have [in bringing these people close,] because it is necessary to bring everything to attachment to its source Above. It is known that before Moshiach* comes it is necessary for everything to be rectified. [When Moshiach comes there will no longer be a chance to correct what was not corrected before his coming.] This is the meaning of the verse: ‘Ascend to the top [Heb. rosh] of the mount.’ This refers to those who go in a way that is not correct. They are in a bitter place and need to be raised from there. ‘And look to the west.’ [West refers to wisdom.] With your wisdom you should raise all that is in the west, north, south and east. ‘And see with your own eyes.’ [You shall see] the permanent redemption from the exile. This is because it is not possible to see the eternal redemption if our smaller brothers [i.e. those who are not going in the right way] are not with us. [By raising them up you will be able to see the redemption from exile.] This is the meaning of ‘You shall not cross.’ You shall not be able to cross over to the eternal redemption. ‘This Jordan.’ This refers to those people who are called ‘Jordan’ [Heb Yordan] who are on a level of falling [Heb yeridah]. Even if you have already corrected yourself, since they have not yet been corrected [by doing tshuva*] you will not be able to see the eternal redemption. Therefore you should raise these people up so that you will merit to see the eternal redemption. (p. 123 sefer Mevasar Tzedek teachings of Rebbe Yissachar Ber of Zlotchov.) * * * IV. Last Words 4. ‘And I implored of HaShem at that time saying, HaShem G-d.’ (Devorim 3.23) Rebbe Meir said, ‘At that time’ refers to when one needs to go into the world to come. [His prayer was that when he would leave this world] he will be able to say, ‘HaShem [is] G-d.’ (p. 70 sefer Divrei Meir teachings of Rebbe Meir of Premishlan.) * * * V. Divine Guidance 5. ‘You will serve there gods made by the hand of man, of wood and stone… And you will seek HaShem your G-d and you will find him because you searched for him with all your heart and all your soul.’ (Devorim 4.28-29) Maybe we can explain this according to the teaching of the Baal Shem Tov. He taught that even when one sins, (G-d forbid) there is also divine guidance. Only at that time it is hidden. Later when the person does tshuva then it is revealed that His guidance was hidden there. This is what the verse means: ‘You will serve there gods made by the hand of man, of wood and stone… And you will seek HaShem your G-d.’ The meaning is that even when they are doing a sin (G-d forbid) they are still able to seek there for ‘HaShem your G-d’. However this is only when they ‘Search with all your heart and all your soul.’ What I have said is sufficient to those who can understand a remez*. (p. 63 sefer Panim M’orim teachings of Rebbe Meir of Premishlan and his relatives. This is from Rebbe Yechiel Mechel of Galina, the son-in-law of Rebbe Meir.) * * * VI. Serving HaShem 6. “You should watch yourself, and watch carefully your soul, perhaps you will forget those things which your eyes have seen” (Devorim 4.6) A man should always be attached to HaShem, and consider in his thoughts the greatness of G-d, may he be blessed. He should consider the many miracles that he sees constantly. The wonders and miracles of His creation [that he sees]. The beginning step to ascend to this level of service is to consider that portion of G-d that was given to him i.e. his soul. What it is, and how many miracles are done through it as the Talmud says, ‘the soul is like the Holy One Blessed is He in 5 ways …’ However if you are not aware of yourself [i.e. your own holy soul] you are also missing knowledge of HaShem since even your own self you don’t understand. [How can you understand HaShem when you lack self understanding?] And this is the meaning, “You should watch yourself, and watch carefully your soul” [i.e. examine your own soul and the miracles done through it]. Because if you don’t do that “perhaps you will forget those things which your eyes have seen”, i.e. the greatness of HaShem that a person sees all the time with his own eyes. The miracles and the wonders that He does. Therefore a person has to watch himself always. (p. 90 Noam Elimeilech teachings of the Rebbe Reb* Elimeilech of Lizensk a talmid* of the Rebbe Reb Ber, Maggid of Mizretch.) * * * VII. Searching for HaSHem 7. ‘And you will seek HaShem your G-d and you will find him because you searched for him with all your heart and all your soul.’ (Devorim 4.29) I have many times explained this [verse in this manner.] ‘And you will seek HaShem your G-d.’ Even if you are only seeking to serve HaShem [but you have not yet begun to do so.] And you are waiting [saying,] ‘When shall I serve HaShem?’ ‘And you will find him.’ This [seeking] is sufficient for you to find him. ‘Because you searched for him with all your heart and all your soul.’ [This is because] you have truthfully searched to serve HaShem with a complete desire. (p. 6 sefer Or Yesha teachings of Rebbe Asher Yeshaya of Ropshitz.) * * * VIII. Prayer 8. ‘And I implored of HaShem…’ (Devorim 3.23) Look at the commentary of the Baal HaTurim* who notes that the word ‘implored’ [Heb. v’eschanan] has the same gematria* as the word ‘song.’ [Heb shira] He explains that this teaches us that Moshe sang before HaShem in order that his prayer should be accepted. We can explain this idea by a teaching that appears in many of the holy seforim. Every simple prayer will at times have some complaint against it [that it should not be accepted. The reason it should not be accepted is] that this person was not worthy that this particular prayer should be heard (G-d forbid.) However if this prayer is made with song and praise [of HaShem] then it will be accepted and there is nothing that can be brought as a complaint against it. Therefore it is necessary that the person who is praying should sing some of the prayer, or add some type of special praise to HaShem, and he should have in mind that his help should come to him because of this song or praise. For example: In the blessing we say, ‘Because You are G-d, King, the Faithful Healer, and Compassionate One. Blessed are You HaShem the healer of the sick of His people Israel.’ With this prayer we are praising HaShem because he usually acts in a way that [shows him to be] a ‘faithful healer and compassionate.’ It is not possible for any type of complaint to nullify this prayer. Also every general prayer that is made with song and praise to HaShem, [and which relates] that He customarily acts in a certain way, [is heard] even if we are not worthy of it. This is the meaning of the verse, ‘By day HaShem will command his mercy and by night my people sing their prayer…’ Through their making their prayer a song (therefore ‘song’ is also the same gematria as ‘prayer’) HaShem commands his mercy and help is sent to them. With this we can also understand what Chazal* have said, ‘A person should always prepare his praise for HaShem and then pray.’ This is because prayer is a connection [to HaShem] as is well known. Therefore he should first prepare his praises of HaShem. [Relating] that HaShem customarily acts in such and such a manner. Then he should join this intention to his prayer, so that he has both song and praise. With this we can understand what the Midrash* says, ‘”Leah went out….” She took with her praises, therefore there descended from her masters of praise. [Heb hoda’a] Yehuda said… And David [who was descended from Yehuda and hence Leah] said “Praise [Heb. Hodu] HaShem because he is good.” ‘ She was the cause that they should all be aware of the wonderful secret of prayer [and how it] will be protected from any type of complaint. (p. 120 sefer Sefas Emes teachings of Rebbe Fivel of Zabriz) Zechisom Yugan Aleini v’Al Kol Yisroel ———————————————————————

Glossary:

Arizal: Hebrew initials of the words: Adoni Rabbenu Yitzchok    Zechorono LeVaracha our master Rabbi Yitzchok. Better known as    Yitzchok Luria the great 16th century Kabbalist
Baal Tshuva (Baalei Tshuva): Hebrew for someone who is a repentant    sinner.
Bamidbar:
Fourth book of the Torah. Called in English Numbers
Chazal: Hebrew initials for: Chochmenu Zichrona Levaracha (Our sages    of Blessed memory) Used to refer to Rabbis of the Talmud
Chesed: Hebrew word meaning acts of mercy
Drash: A method of Biblical interpretation ascribing moral or ethical    meaning to verses in the Torah.
HaShem: Noun used in place of G-d. Lit. The Name
mikvah: Hebrew word referring to a ritual bath used for purification
Mishnah: An ancient Jewish work made of specific laws.
Moshe Rabbeinu: Hebrew for Moses our teacher. A common Jewish way of referring to Moses.
Or HaChaim: Jewish Torah commentary
Rashi: The primary commentary on the Tenach.
Rebbe: Leader of a Chassidic group or a teacher
Rebbe Reb: A title added to a few special Rebbes as a sign of their   higher spiritual stature.
remez: A method of Biblical interpretation based on finding hints in the Torah for various concepts.
Rov: An official rabbi who renders legal decisions. Many of the   Rebbes were both a Rebbe of Chasidim, and the Rov of the city in which they lived.
Sanhedrin: 1. Tractate in the Talmud                  2. Name of the highest level of the Jewish court system.

sefer (seforim): A Jewish religious book.

Talmud: An ancient work of Jewish law.
Tehillim: Hebrew name for Psalms.
Torah: a. First 5 books of the Jewish Bible    b. Also refers to the whole of Jewish law    c. also common term for a chassidic teaching

Tshuva: Hebrew word for repentance

**************************************************************
Copyright (c) 1997 by Moshe Shulman ([email protected]) All rights reserved.

Issur Hasugas Givilv

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Parshas Noach ~ Torah Gems

Noach

I. The work of a Tzaddik*

1. ‘Noach went with G-d.’ (Bereishis* 6.9)

The Alsheich* explained that this verse means that Noach didn’t try to cause the people in his time to do tshuva*. All his righteousness was for himself.  Therefore it says, ‘Noach went with G-d.’ [He went with G-d alone, and not with the people in his generation.]

*

The Midrash* says, ‘After Moshe Rabbeinu* had performed all the miracles:  the splitting of the Yom Suf*, the war with Amalek, and all the other miraculous things he had done. [Then he made the tabernacle.] And after he had made the tabernacle he sat down to rest from his work.  HaShem said to him, “Why are you sitting?  You still have a difficult job to do. You must teach the Jewish people how to perform the sacrifices.”

The meaning of this Midrash is that for a Tzaddik, performing miracles is not [their main] job. Their main ‘job is to teach the Jewish people how to serve HaShem*. Rebbe* Shlomo Karliner said, ‘The greatest of all the miracles is to be able to inspire a Jew to the point that he can say a word before HaShem.’ (p. 9 sefer Shema Shlomo a collection of teachings of Rebbe Shlomo of Karlin. This is taken from the sefer Beis Aharon from Rebbe Aharon of Karlin [the second of that name who was the grandson of Rebbe Aharon of Karlin who was the Rebbe of Rebbe Shlomo of Karlin])

* * *

II. Humility

2. ‘These are the generations of Noach, Noach was a perfect Tzaddik in his generations. Noach went with G-d.’ (Bereishis 6.9) Rashi* says that the main ‘generations’ of a Tzaddik are his good deeds. A person who serves HaShem with all his strength will merit that HaShem’s will permeates all of his works. He is referred to as the ‘generations of Noach.’ This is because from the performance of his good deeds he causes enjoyment [Heb. neechah] to HaShem. However it is important for him to understand that he must humble himself and not try to strive for levels of service that are above his abilities.  For if he does he can Chas V’Shalom* fall from the level he has attained.  Who was greater then Moshe Rabbeinu of whom it is said, ‘and he was afraid to look at G-d.’ [Which means that even he understood the limits of his abilities and what his true place was in serving HaShem.] The way one can do this is to always remember that he is a creature of flesh and blood, formed from the dirt of the earth. Therefore how could he dare to enter into the court of the King? One should learn from the nature of ‘earth’ which allows all to walk upon it [and he should never consider himself higher then others.]  Therefore he should fill himself with the midah* of humility and lower himself like the ‘earth’. That is why the verse says the word ‘Noach’ twice. The second time is to teach that even though he brought pleasure to HaShem with his good deeds he remained quiet about them and ‘rested.’ [Heb. noach] I.e. he was lowly, like the ‘earth’. That is the meaning of ‘Noach went with G-d.’ He was always afraid to look above his level. (p. 20 sefer Ner Yisroel teachings of Rebbe Yisroel of Rizhin whose Yortzheit* is 3 Cheshvon* which is in the week we read the parsha* of Noach)                                 * * * III. Good friends 3. ‘These are the generations of Noach, Noach was a perfect Tzaddik in his generations.’ (Bereishis 6.9) Rashi says, ‘[The verse says] “In his generations.” Some of our Rabbis explain this as a compliment…. Some explain this as a criticism.  i.e.  According to his generation his was a Tzaddik, if he had been in the generation of Avraham Aveinu* he would not have been considered as anything important.’ The questions on this teaching are well known. How can they explain this negatively when it is possible to explain it in a positive manner?  [Especially when the verse itself says he was a Tzaddik.] We can say: When a person finds himself in good surroundings, with friends who desire to hear the word of HaShem. We find that besides the simple advantage of joining together with others, which is helpful in serving HaShem, there is a secondary advantage. It strengthens his midah of humility. This is because when they sit together, each one can see that his friend has midos which are greater then his. And from this he becomes humbled. It is not this way when one lives in a place where people are not G-d fearing. These surroundings cause two evils. First, it is hard for him not to be inclined to follow after their evil actions.  Second, it causes him to always be filled with thoughts of his own greatness. In order to separate himself above the actions of those around him, [he is forced think of himself as being above them and their foolish actions.] Even though in this second case it would be allowed to have such thoughts, as the verse says, ‘raise your heart in the service of HaShem.’ It is still not comparable in value to serving HaShem with humility. With this we can understand what Rashi was saying: Noach, since he lived in a generation of wicked people, was forced to consider himself greater then them. [He had to] look at them as the lowliest of creatures, and unworthy of [being friends with] him. He should separate from them.  However if he had been in the generation of Avraham he would not have needed to act in this manner, and consider himself important as I explained above. [He would have had someone together with him who was worthy for Noach to join together with.] This is what Rashi means, ‘”in his generation”… some explain it as a criticism.’ This means because that generation was a wicked one, where the people did evil actions [it had a negative effect on Noach].  So Rashi says further, ‘because of the generation he was a Tzaddik.’ Since they were so wicked he had to consider himself a Tzaddik so as not to learn from their wicked deeds. Rashi continues, ‘If he had been in the generation of Avraham however he would not have considered himself as worthy in his own eyes.’ This means he would have been able to strengthen himself with the midah of humility. (p. 143 sefer Eteres Shlomo teachings of Rebbe Shlomo of Bobov ZT’L grandson of the Rebbes of Tzanz and Dzikov [whose Yortzheit is 3 Cheshvon] and grandfather of my Rebbe, Admor* of Bobov

Shlita*)

* * *

IV. Overcoming one’s nature.

4. ‘And all the fountains of the great deep were broken open’ (Bereishis 7.11) The Midrash says, “the verse uses the word ‘great’ [Heb. Rabbah] when they sinned, as it says ‘their sins were great.’ When they were punished it uses the word ‘great’ as it says ‘the fountains of the great deep were broken open’.” [The Midrash is here telling us that they were punished midah kenegid midah*. They sinned with ‘great’ and they were punished with ‘great’.] We need to explain how, according to their actions, this was considered as punishment midah kenegid midah. The people in that time were accustomed to following after whatever their eyes desired.  Through their wicked actions the world was filled with adultery. All the people followed these wicked ways. They would then try to justify their actions with foolish excuses. For example they would say that it was only their nature to act this way. In so doing their physical desires conquered them, and they had no desire to fight against these desires. They would say that everything follows after it’s ‘nature’ and one cannot do anything about it. But this is totally false, because one is required to strengthen himself against his ‘nature’ as it is taught in the Yavatz* siddur*. There, in his explanation of the meaning of the blessing we say daily, ‘who spreads out the earth over the water’, he states that HaShem makes a great wonder in that the nature of water is to rise about earth.  The earth itself is by nature hard, and hence it should sink and the water should rise above it.  However HaShem declares that the ‘earth should be spread over the water.’ From this we should learn the lesson that we should not follow after our yetzer*, but we should overcome our nature. Therefore they followed after their desires and didn’t control their yetzer, until the result was that their ways were totally degenerate. And when they gave the excuse that it was because they followed their ‘nature, HaShem went midah kenegid midah. [They would not act contrary to their inborn nature, so] he caused all the fountains of the great deep to break open.  Following it’s own nature the water below rose up and destroyed all the people (p. 3 sefer Or P’nei Yehoshua teachings of Rebbe Yehoshua Rov* of Galanta, the Rebbe of Mori* HaRav* Shmuel Kraus Z’L*) ———————————————————————

Glossary:

Arizal: Hebrew initials of the words: Adoni Rabbenu Yitzchok    Zechorono LeVaracha our master Rabbi Yitzchok. Better known as    Yitzchok Luria the great 16th century Kabbalist
Baal Tshuva (Baalei Tshuva): Hebrew for someone who is a repentant    sinner.
Bamidbar:
Fourth book of the Torah. Called in English Numbers
Chazal: Hebrew initials for: Chochmenu Zichrona Levaracha (Our sages    of Blessed memory) Used to refer to Rabbis of the Talmud
Chesed: Hebrew word meaning acts of mercy
Drash: A method of Biblical interpretation ascribing moral or ethical    meaning to verses in the Torah.
HaShem: Noun used in place of G-d. Lit. The Name
mikvah: Hebrew word referring to a ritual bath used for purification
Mishnah: An ancient Jewish work made of specific laws.
Moshe Rabbeinu: Hebrew for Moses our teacher. A common Jewish way of referring to Moses.
Or HaChaim: Jewish Torah commentary
Rashi: The primary commentary on the Tenach.
Rebbe: Leader of a Chassidic group or a teacher
Rebbe Reb: A title added to a few special Rebbes as a sign of their   higher spiritual stature.
remez: A method of Biblical interpretation based on finding hints in the Torah for various concepts.
Rov: An official rabbi who renders legal decisions. Many of the   Rebbes were both a Rebbe of Chasidim, and the Rov of the city in which they lived.
Sanhedrin: 1. Tractate in the Talmud                  2. Name of the highest level of the Jewish court system.

sefer (seforim): A Jewish religious book.

Talmud: An ancient work of Jewish law.
Tehillim: Hebrew name for Psalms.
Torah: a. First 5 books of the Jewish Bible    b. Also refers to the whole of Jewish law    c. also common term for a chassidic teaching

Tshuva: Hebrew word for repentance

**************************************************************
Copyright (c) 1997 by Moshe Shulman ([email protected]) All rights reserved.

Issur Hasugas Givilv

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Parshas Devorim – Torah Gems ~ Torah Gems

Devorim*

I. Hearing the heavenly voice

1. ‘The matter that is too difficult for you, you shall bring to me and I shall hear it.’ (Devorim 1.17) There are a number of questions with regards to this verse. First, the verse should have said ‘the matter that is difficult you shall bring to me’. What is the meaning of ‘for you.’ [These words do not add anything to the verse.] Also it should have said, ‘I will make it known.’ Why does it say, ‘I shall hear it.’ It appears to me that this verse is trying to teach us something that is very difficult for us to believe. [That is:] is it possible for us to hear the call from Above that is announced to inspire the hearts of Israel to do tshuva*, as Chazal* have taught many times with regards to this voice in the Talmud* and the Zohar*. With regards to this announcement the verse says ‘The matter that is difficult.’ [Meaning] that it is an obstruction ‘for you.’ This refers to that announcement, which is called [this] ‘matter.’ It is difficult for you to believe that this announcement can be heard by people. The obstruction is from ‘you.’ [You are the one who finds it hard to believe that it is possible.] A persons preoccupation with his physical desires will cause a wall of separation, causing him to be unable to hear this voice. This is what the verse means when it says, ‘you shall bring to me.’ They should approach to the level of Moshe. As it says [with regards to Moshe] ‘Take off the shoes from your feet’. This refers to his removing from himself all of his physical desires, in order to purify them. Then, ‘I shall hear it.’ Through attaining this level of Moshe, [separating from his physical nature,] he is able to hear [this voice.] That is the meaning ‘I will hear it.’ [Through the level of Moshe he will be able to hear this voice.] (p. 495 sefer

Baal Shem Tov teachings of the Baal Shem Tov.)

* * *

II. Blessings 2. ‘May HaShem* the G-d of your fathers add to you a thousand times yourselves and bless you as he promised.’ (Devorim 1.11) Rashi* explains that [Moshe] said to them, [‘This blessing] is from me, but He [HaShem] should bless you as He has promised’. There is a well known [and obvious] question about Rashi’s explanation. Why did Moshe have to bless them when HaShem had already given them a limitless blessing? Is it possible to add to a blessing that has no limit? We can explain this according to what I have heard from my holy Uncle, the holy grandfather Rebbe* Meshulim Zushya ZTvK’L* [of Anapoli.] He explained the verse in Tehillim*, ‘May HaShem increase you, increase you and your children.’ The question with this verse is also well known [and obvious.] If HaShem is increasing the person, then his children and grandchildren are also included. Why does the verse add ‘and your children?’ He explained this to mean that HaShem should increase ‘HaShem’ to you. The meaning being that HaShem should increase his holiness upon you and bestow upon you prophecy, Ruach HaKodesh* and the knowledge of the Torah. This blessing should also be upon your children. With this we can explain our verse. When our ancestors stood before Moshe each of them received of Moshe from his understanding [of the Torah] according to his level and the source of his soul. Moshe was the ‘power’ of HaShem to Israel. [He was in HaShem’s place and was the conduit for all of HaShem’s blessings both physical and spiritual.] This is the meaning of ‘May HaShem the G-d of your fathers add to you.’ He should add understanding, the portion of HaShem, upon them a thousand times more then they have received today. Because of this it is easy to understand how our ancestors could think that Moshe was talking about physical blessings. For this reason they asked him, ‘Why have you put a limit on the blessings from HaShem?’ [They first had no limit and now he was saying 1000 times.] Moshe answered them that they had misunderstood his intention. He was only blessing them from [what was] ‘his own’ [to give.] That means his level of understanding that he could bestow upon them. They had thought he meant the physical blessings, but Moshe’s intention was for spiritual blessings. (p. 108 sefer Menoras Zahav teachings of

Rebbe Meshulim Zushya of Anapoli.)

* * *

III. The results of ones actions 3. ‘HaShem your G-d has multiplied you and your are like the stars of heaven in greatness.’ (Devorim 1.10) The Midrash* says, “Moshe asked [of HaShem] ‘Why do you not compare them to the sun and the moon which [appear] larger then the stars?’ HaShem told him, ‘The sun and the moon will in the future be ashamed. Where do we see this? The verse says, “The moon will be humiliated and the sun will be ashamed.” But the stars will have no shame. Where do we see this? The verse says, “I am in the midst of Israel, I am HaShem your G-d and there is none other.”‘” [This Midrash is very difficult to understand. The second verse doesn’t seem to relate at all to what the Midrash is trying to teach.] The sun and the moon refer to those actions that a person does with his wisdom and his understanding. [Wisdom {Heb. Chochmah} is compared to the sun. Just as the sun has it’s own light, wisdom is a thing which comes of itself. Understanding {Heb. Binah} is compared to the moon because just as the moon has no light of it’s own, understanding involves taking one thing and seeing the consequences of it.] All those things that are based on a man’s knowledge will eventually be nullified. The stars refer to those things in which HaShem has enlightened a man, and he follows according to the light of HaShem. These will never be nullified. [This is the meaning of the second verse of the Midrash. The stars refers to that level when HaShem is among them, which can never be nullified.] (p. 173 sefer Mi HaShiloach teachings of Rebbe Mordechai Yosef of Izbitza.) * 4. ‘HaShem your G-d has multiplied you and your are like the stars of heaven in greatness. May HaShem the G-d of your fathers add to you a thousand times yourselves and bless you as he promised.’ (Devorim 1.10-11) It is explained in sefer Mi HaShiloach that the stars refer to those mitzvos* where HaShem has enlightened the person [in his performance of them. They are not done through his own knowledge, but through an enlightenment from HaShem.] This is what the Midrash say, ‘The stars will not ever be ashamed.’ [See the teaching #3] [We can further explain these verses.] With regards to the stars it says ‘Your G-d.’ This is because this enlightenment that comes upon a person is due to the merit of his actions. However with regards to the blessing of HaShem it says ‘The G-d of your fathers.’ This is the additional blessings which come from the choice that HaShem made to choose the Jewish people [from all the nations. This is not something which depends on a person’s own actions.] For this the merit of the patriarchs has to be added. (p. 52 sefer Beis Yakov teachings of Rebbe Yakov of Izbitza-Radzyn the son of Rebbe Mordechai Yosef of Izbitza.) * * * IV. Purpose of Prayer 5. ‘Enough of your circling this mountain, turn yourselves north.’ (Devorim 2.3) We can explain this verse as teaching us musar*. The main function and purpose of our prayers and service to HaShem, in this bitter exile that we find ourselves in and in which we have suffered almost 2000 years, is for His holy Shechina* which is with us in exile. As the verse says, ‘In all their sufferings He suffered.’ We need to pour out our supplications before HaShem that He should reveal the glory of His Kingship upon us immediately. And there should come a redemption [from exile] for the Shechina. And all the sins that occurred during the exile should be rectified. We should not pray in order that we should have good things [but the main prayers should be for the Shechina.] This is what the Torah wants to teach us. ‘Enough of your circling this mountain.’ The word ‘mountain’ [Heb. har] is the same gematria* as the Hebrew words for ‘Medea’, ‘Greece’, ‘Babylonia’ and ‘Rome.’ [The four exiles.] The meaning of this verse is that it has certainly been a long time that they have been going around and around in exile. [It is time that it be ended.] (p. 51b sefer Or Mala teachings of Rebbe Yisroel Tzvi of Kason HY’D. He was murdered by the Nazis on 3 Sivan 5704 – May 25 1944) ———————————————————————

Glossary:

Arizal: Hebrew initials of the words: Adoni Rabbenu Yitzchok    Zechorono LeVaracha our master Rabbi Yitzchok. Better known as    Yitzchok Luria the great 16th century Kabbalist
Baal Tshuva (Baalei Tshuva): Hebrew for someone who is a repentant    sinner.
Bamidbar:
Fourth book of the Torah. Called in English Numbers
Chazal: Hebrew initials for: Chochmenu Zichrona Levaracha (Our sages    of Blessed memory) Used to refer to Rabbis of the Talmud
Chesed: Hebrew word meaning acts of mercy
Drash: A method of Biblical interpretation ascribing moral or ethical    meaning to verses in the Torah.
HaShem: Noun used in place of G-d. Lit. The Name
mikvah: Hebrew word referring to a ritual bath used for purification
Mishnah: An ancient Jewish work made of specific laws.
Moshe Rabbeinu: Hebrew for Moses our teacher. A common Jewish way of referring to Moses.
Or HaChaim: Jewish Torah commentary
Rashi: The primary commentary on the Tenach.
Rebbe: Leader of a Chassidic group or a teacher
Rebbe Reb: A title added to a few special Rebbes as a sign of their   higher spiritual stature.
remez: A method of Biblical interpretation based on finding hints in the Torah for various concepts.
Rov: An official rabbi who renders legal decisions. Many of the   Rebbes were both a Rebbe of Chasidim, and the Rov of the city in which they lived.
Sanhedrin: 1. Tractate in the Talmud                  2. Name of the highest level of the Jewish court system.

sefer (seforim): A Jewish religious book.

Talmud: An ancient work of Jewish law.
Tehillim: Hebrew name for Psalms.
Torah: a. First 5 books of the Jewish Bible    b. Also refers to the whole of Jewish law    c. also common term for a chassidic teaching

Tshuva: Hebrew word for repentance

**************************************************************
Copyright (c) 1997 by Moshe Shulman ([email protected]) All rights reserved.

Issur Hasugas Givilv