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)
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.
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