Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Story Behind the Story, Part 2

The photograph is Rav Yissochar Dov of Belz, the father of Rav Aharon of Belz, mentioned in one of the stories brought down by the author of this article, Rav Areye Wohl, the Sudilkover Rebbe from Beit Shemesh.

True Magidim

In a letter written by Hagaon Harav Yoel Ashkenazi, z”tl, one of the elder Chassidim of Slonim in Tiveria, to the Rebbe from Toldos Aharon z”tl, the author of the Divrei Emunah, he says, “All of [my stories] I have heard from elders who stood on Har Sinai before Tzadikim upon whose merit the world is built, and who were extremely careful not to accept any story or event, unless [the one telling it over] is trustworthy.”

And therefore, in every single place there has been an exactness that all who pass down these stories be true Magidim. And on the whole, most stories were told over exactly, by Chassidim who were talmidei Chachamim, by direct oral tradition. It is like the statement which was once expressed by the holy rabbi, author of the, “Yesod Ha’avodah,” from Slonim regarding one of the “Story Tellers,” in his holy courtyard, that “if you would give him all of the wealth in the world, he would not change his stories.”

But if the exactitude is so great regarding the accuracy in telling over stories of Tzadikim, how has it happened that over the years, different traditions have been passed down, with different texts that contradict [each other in] many stories?! And as the holy Rebbe, the author of the “Shomer Emunim,” (page 28) “In truth, over the course of many years, many stories of Tzadikim have gotten switched, and they have changed, one from the other, and even the essence has changed sometimes from what originally happened.”

One of the answers given to this question is that of Hagaon Hakadosh from Satmar, z’tl, who explained: [Stories] are not like the words of the Torah, which are build into piles of Kashas and Terutzim with a clear structure and an understandable explanation. A story is a Ma’aseh Shehaya (a true life event) and it is the way of human beings to add a measure of their personal feelings into the story, to leave a little bit of the story out here, and add something somewhere else…

Compatible or Complimentary Stories?

After everything that has been said until now, it is interesting and touching to “stumble through,” each time as if it were the first through the traditions of various Chassidus’n, and through the well known stories in the different Chassidic Dynasties, which complement one another. This is as opposed to [studying] one Chassidus without any knowledge at all of the other side of the same story, passed down in the other [Chassidic] tradition.

An interesting example of this concept can be found in the following story, which is told over by the Chassidim of Belz:

In his youth, the holy Reb Aharon from Belz, z”tl, asked his father, the Rebbe Rav Yissochar Dov, z”tl, on parshas Eikev, when Moshe returns and tells the Jewish people about his ascent to Har Sinai: Moshe repeats the phrase, “Forty days and forty nights I have not eaten bread and I have not drunk water.” It would appear that this is a wondrous thing. Was this the main point of the greatness of the father of all Nevi’im?! Is not the mere fact that that he ascended into Shamayim and spoke with Hashem Yisborach face to face the most incredible and powerful [expression of] his greatness?! Why, then, does Moshe Rebbeinu put a find point on the fact that he did not eat bread or drink water?

His father answered him by saying, “You have asked a good question! And I will answer your question with a story about your great grandfather, after whom you were named, the holy Rebbe Reb Aharon from Chernobyl, z”tl.

After I got married, said the Rebbe Reb Yissochar Dov, I relied [for my sustenance] on the table of my father in law, my elder, the holy Rebbe, Rav Aharon from Chernobyl, z”tl, who, as it is know, was a person with the sweetest tongue, and an amazing story teller. One day, my father in law was sitting after Shacharis, and he began to tell stories of Tzadikim, and everyone present, and I among them, stood around him like a wall, to these secrets of the holy Serafim.

Many hours passed by, and our Rebbe was still sitting there, crowned by his Talis, and giving over these stories. The time for breakfast and lunch had already passed, and the entire crowd were still standing in place without a movement. “All flesh was still…” They drank, with thirst, his words. No one made quivered or made a move because of their great longing, and no one felt “a hunger for bread nor a thirst for water, but only to hear the words of Hashem.”

It was only when the sun began to descend low down into the sky, close to Shkia, one of the Chassidim built up his bravery and asked [your] question: Please Rebbe, teach us! What is added by Moshe Rebeinu, a”h, who said ‘bread I have not eaten, and water I have not drunk…’? The Rebbe is sitting here and is speaking to us for many hours holy stories and amazing tales, and we do not at all feel the need to eat or drink, and not one person has left. How much the more so, Moshe Rebeinu, who was benefiting from the Divine light of the Shechina, , and speaking with Hashem face to face, and receiving the Torah from the mouth of Hashem, would he possibly have had any need for food or drink???”

The holy Rebbe Reb Aharon from Chernobyl answered him also with a story:

It is known that there was a machlokes between the holy Magid, the Rebbe Reb Yechiel Michel from Zlochiv, z”tl, and the holy Rebbe Reb Pinchas Koritzer, z”tl.

One day the holy Magid from Zlochiv fell ill. His son, the holy Rebbe Reb Mordechai from Kreminetz, z”tl, sought out the face of the Tzadik from Koritz, in order that he daven to Hashem for his holy father, that he should return to his health and be healed. However, he knew, that his father would not be pleased with this trip, so he got up and traveled secretly, without asking the (customary) travelers bracha from his father.

Obviously, when he got to Koritz, he didn’t tell anyone who he or is father was. However, immediately upon his entrance into the holy [home of Rav Pinchas Koritzer], before he had even put out his had in greeting, Rav Pinchas spoke up first and said, “I know who you are, and that you have come to me because your father is sick. [This has happened because] as part of your father’s holy avodah, he has forbidden the eating of cheese to himself. Please tell him; That he should take upon himself to eat cheese, and he will get better. This is because cheese has come to Shamayim with a claim [against your father]. Since the time he stopped eating cheese, there is no Tzadik in the world who is doing the good work of bringing cheese to it’s ultimate tikun. And because of this claim against him, and this prosecution, this sickness has been decreed upon him.

Before Rav Mordechai left, the Rebbe Reb Pinchas Koritzer added one thing: “Tell your father, that I know that he holds contempt for me in his heart, because he does not see my Tefilos in Shamayim. But know; that not only does he not see my tefilos, but even the angels and Serafim, who accept tefilos do not see my tefilos, since I have paved a path for my tefilos straight to the Holy One… But I know that when you tell him this, he will not accept my words. So tell him in my name; ‘There is not thing that is not hinted to in the Torah.’ And he will forgive me if [I ask you to] open up a Gemara Sanhedrin 44a. There it is written: ‘And Pinchas davened (vayipaleil) and the plague was stopped.’ Rebbe Elazar says: It does not say, ‘vayispalel.’ Rather, it says ‘Vayipaleil.” This teaches that he made davening [only] with the Creator.” ([והכתיב] (תהילים קו) ויעמד פנחס ויפלל ותעצר המגפה ואמר ר' אלעזר ויתפלל לא נאמר אלא ויפלל מלמד שעשה פלילות עם קונו )This means that the Tefilos of Pinchas were hidden from everyone else’s eyes, and they were only visible to Hakadosh Baruch Hu, because he made the davening with his Creator, alone.”

Click here for Part 3.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Story Behind the Story, Part 1

Here is Part 1 of a translation I'm working on for A Simple Jew. It's an article written by his Rebbe, the Sudilkover Rebbe. It concerns stories about Tzadikim, and those disputes that sometimes exist between those stories and between Tzadikim. There will probably be 4 or 5 parts total to this translation.


What is the purpose of stories about Tzadikim? Does every story need to be told? How do the traditions of various Chassidic Dynasties complement one another? What is the meaning of a dispute between Tzadikim? These topics and more will be discussed in the following essay. (Rav Areye Wohl (the Sudilkover Rebbe) - July 19, 2005 - 4:36)

Our holy sages have already revealed to us the great value in telling over the praises and wonders of Tzadikim. Many purposes are given for this. One is to show their greatness and praise them, which is a mitzva. And a second reason is to become inspired by their actions and to learn from them how to ascend the path going up to the house of Hashem. Another purpose stands right before our eyes; to increase our emunah in Hashem and in His servants, the Tzadikim, in order that all people should know that there exists a G-d who judges the world.

My great-grandfather, the Degel Machaneh Ephraim, zy”a, brought down another purpose for telling over stories [of Tzadikim]. “According to what I heard from my father, my master, the BeShT, zt”l, who would tell over stories and secular observations, and with these he would serve Hashem with his clear, pure wisdom…” (Degel Machaneh Ephraim, parshas Vayeshev, “Od Yesh Lomar Sherimeiz”) And similarly, I saw in many of the seforim of the students of the holy BeShT; [regarding] the greatness of the avodah and the sweetening of judgment [that take place in telling] holy stories.

Story as Educational Tool

For these reasons, stories of Tzadikim have taken a place of honor, both at the holy tables of great men of Yisroel and in the holy sichos of the Baalei Musar, as well as on Jewish bookshelves, which greatly enrich [us] with the stories of the generations and holy ways of Tzadikim.

In general, stories of Tzadikim are used as an unending wellspring in the field of Chinuch. It is well know that the Rebbe Reb Itzik’l from Pshevorsk, z”tl, told over [the following story]; One time he asked the holy Rebbe, the Divrei Chaim of Tzantz, who taught young children, [the following question] “Do you learn words of Musar and Yiras Shamayim with the children?” After thinking about his words, he clarified: “I am referring to the stories about Reb Elimelech [of Lizensk] and the Rebbe Reb Zusha [of Anapoli].”

All generations have made generous use of stories of Tzadikim as an inseparable part of raising the youth of our flock. Every Jewish mother has a sack full of Midrashim and stories of Tzadikim, which have passed from generation to generation, and have remained a constant escort to the activites and bedtime comforts of Jewish children. Similarly, stories of Tzadikim have been a powerful tool in the hands of Magidim and great men of Chassidus, to pass over a clear message to their listeners by telling over a great story, [and thereby] giving over wisdom along with it.

As an example of a story like this, there is a story about a Chassid who went to see the holy Rebbe Reb Yisroel from Ruzhin, z”tl. This Jew had descended a little too much into the curse of “b’zeyas apecha tochal lechem.” The Tzadik told this Chassid about a Jew who was very particular not to engage in any business before noon. Until then, he sat and toiled in Torah, and he didn’t let anyone interrupt him, or distract him from this practice. After a while, he had various difficulties with is parnasa, and his store had a lot of excess merchandise worth a large amount of money, but he couldn’t find any buyers…

One day has he was heading to the Beis Hamedrash, a carriage stopped beside him, and inside was an important Poritz. He turned to the Jew and asked him if he knows a certain Jewish merchant in the town. “I’m that man,” answered the Jewish merchant. “If so, I want to buy the merchandise sitting in your store,” answered the Poritz. The Jew refused, claiming that it was his inviolate rule to only learn Torah until noon. The Poritz offered him higher than market price, but the merchant still refused. It got to the point where the Goy finally named a price twice the value of the merchandise he had in the store. However the Jew stood by his refusal, and did not agree to sell, until he finished his regular daily learning schedule. He then turned, and went to the Beis Medresh…

And with these words, the holy Rebbe from Ruzhin ended the story. The Chassid asked the Rebbe, “And what happened at the end of the story?!” The Rebbe answered him with a rebuking gaze, “The merchant in the story is not interested in how the story ends. But you [who isn’t even a Baal Davar in the story] cares how the story ends!?”

Trustworthy Stories

Sometimes we stumble upon stories that, even though they perhaps give us something to learn about the greatness of Tzadikim, raise various types of questions. It is written in the holy sefer, the Noam Elimelech (Parshas Bo “Oh Yomar Dabru”) “One should constantly tell [stories] of great Tzadikim, and always count their straight midos… But the Torah warns one who wants to cling to this midah, not to exaggerate the middos of a Tzadik…”

The holy Rebbe from Munkach, the “Minchas Elazar,” in his sefer “Divrei Torah,” and the holy Gaon, the “Divrei Yoel,” from Satmar z”tl, did much work to uproot stories that are not compatible with halacha, or are likely to cause weakness in Avodas Hashem, chas veshalom.

In the courtyards of many Chassidic Dynasties they were very careful, especially on the day of the Hillulah [of a certain Tzadik], to only tell over his good practices and his ways in Avodas Hashem, and not stories of his wonders. And I heard from one of the Tzadikim of our generation, Shlita, who heard from one of the elder Mashpi’im of Chabad in the previous generation [an explanation of the following] pasuk; “And he will give you a sign (Ose) or a wonder…” If there is a Tzadik from whom it is possible to learn even one letter (Ose) of Torah, you do not need to tell over wonders about him…

Click here for Part 2.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

It boggles the Mind

Please check out these ten pictures. Please focus on them, and try to comprehend them as best you can, then join me for the next paragraph...

I was discussing this with my wife. These are composites of many pictures from the Hubble Telescope. Just think about it for a few minutes. You and I look like dots compared with the size of the entire earth. But the earth looks like a tiny speck compared to the size of our sun, 98 million miles away. Yet our sun looks like less than a tiny speck relative to the size of our entire galaxy, made up of billions of other suns. This already boggles the mind.

Then consider that Sombrero Galaxy. It is made up of over 800 billion stars. And to go from one side of it to the other is a distance of 50,000 light years. That means that, traveling at over 186,000 every single second, it would take a beam of light 50,000 years to travel just from one end of that one galaxy to the other end of it, not to mention to get to us...

All of this makes me think; Compared to us physically, the universe is so unbelievability immense, that our minds can't begin to grasp our inability to grasp it's enormity. But if the whole point of the whole universe is the free will avodas Hashem of us here on earth, why does Hashem want to make the universe so huge? What's the point?

My wife and I were discussing ideas the other night after looking in wonderment at these pictures, and she had a thought. Knowing that the entirety of physicality, as mind-boggelingly large as it is, is still finite, and Hashem is infinite, we can realize that as mind-blowing as our universe is in it's power and greatness, it's literally nothing to Hashem. The universe isn't any "bigger," relative to Hashem than a grain of sand here on earth. Relatively speaking, anything finite is as if it were nothing.

So perhaps Hashem made the universe so "big" as a way of teaching us just how incapable we are of comprehending Hashem himself. If we can't comprehend the size of the universe, then "kal v'chomer," we realize that we can never comprehend Hashem. This adds to our Yiras Hashem and Yiras Haromemus.

If anyone has other ideas, (I'm sure there are many!) please share them.

-Dixie Yid

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Video of Rav Tzvi Meir and Rabbi Weinberger

To Be Heimish or not to be Heimish...

A rabbi I know once told over a story: He was called regarding a shiduch for a young lady whom he knows. The lady, who was the mother of the boy, called him and asked about the girl. The rabbi told him what a wonderful girl she is, how she is constantly growing and improving herself all of the time, and how her whole family is the same way, always growing and trying to become better Yiddin.

The lady then asked him, "But I heard that they're not so Heimish... Is this true?" The rabbi responded, "Do you consider your self Heimish?" She said that yes, certainly she and her family were very Heimish. He then asked her, "Are you growing?" And after some fumfering, she responded that they were basically happy with who they were.

"Well then," the rabbi responded, "I wouldn't recommend this shidduch to you. I don't think they would be a good match. After all, your happy with who you are and your Heimishkeit, while they're into growing. I don't think it would be a good match."

-Dixie Yid

Tzarfat = Tzefardeia?

Ever notice that the Hebrew word for France is Tzarfat, which would make the plural for French people, "Tzefard'im," the Hebrew word used in Parshas Vaeira, for the plague of the Frogs?

Coincedence? I think not. (I am now in the process of removing my tounge from my cheek)

-Dixie Yid

Why the tests?

When I'm in an "down" period, and I know that I am having a yerida, , I wonder how I can muster the motivation to pass the multitude of tests and temptations each day, starting with getting up when my alarm clock goes off, so that I can learn before davening.

In parshas Va'era, the Meor Einayim says that every person is tested, just like Avraham Avinu was tested with 10 tests. And what is a test? He says that it is when Hashem removes from you your feeling of connectedness from Hashem through Daas, and then puts you through the nisayon. At that point when your feeling of spirituality and connectedness (hiskashrus) is gone, all you have left is your bechira, your free choice.

If Hashem left your with your feeling of connectedness, then certainly you would remain holding on to your path. Through this process of taking away your feeling of hiskashrus, Hashem limits your Daas (though not taking it away completely) and if you remain commited and pass the test, it is because you fixed the Daas (conciousness of Hashem's presence and Hashgacha at every moment) into your heart when you were in your "up" time, your time of hiskashrus.

This made me think of what I posted here a week or two ago, when I said that Reb Tzadok taught that your measured not by how great your highs are, but by how great you are on your "lows." The higher you can remain during your low times, the more it is revealed how much you've actually acquired your madreiga.

-Dixie Yid

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Why the Anonymity?

Why do you think frum bloggers like their anonymity so much?

Check out Larry Gordon's take on it here...

-Dixie Yid

Update: A Simple Jew's answer: For me it is because words and ideas are more important than the ideas/personalities of who is writing them...

Friday, January 12, 2007

Funny yetzer Haras

Reb Tzadok Hakohen in Pri Tzakik in his 4th ma'amar on Shabbos talks about the differences between the kedusha of the different parts of Shabbos. He says about Friday nights that it's the time of "Chakal Tapuchin Kadishin," "the field of the holy apples." A field is outside. And Friday night is the time to go out, to be active, to stay up late doing holy things. As opposed to Shabbos day which is a more passive time, a time to take a nap, etc.

But during the week we need to get up early for minyan or to learn before davening before going to work. It's the time to go to bed early.

But the yetzer hara's a funny thing. During the 6 nights of the week, people have a yetzer hara to stay up. They need to do things with the family, surf the internet, read the blogs, etc. And for tovim shebanu, to learn. It's common for many people to stay up till 11:30, 12, or later at night. So the yetzer hara wants people to stay up late during the week, because it shters their ability to start off their next day the right way but getting up early for holy things.

But Friday night when there's an inyan to stay up late, to learn, to go out to a tish, etc, we can barely get ourselves to stay up 30 minutes after the end of the seuda! People who can't manage to get themselves to bed before 11:30 during the week can't stay up pask 8 PM during the winter! It's so meshunadik. It just shows that it's atzas yetzer hara.

But at least if we're in touch with that, we can start planning how to outsmart that nature, to do the right thing during the week, and on Shabbos.

Good Shabbos!

BTW, there's a nice Nesivos Shalom on parshas Shmos that quotes the Me'or Einayim that I talked about here, and expands on it.

-Dixie Yid

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Spiritual Ebb and Flow, the Sequel

I asked Rabbi Ozer Bergman the question from my previous post and he said that it was a great idea to take on something new during your "ratzo," so that you will lift up where you bottom out in your "shov," but with one azhara; Make sure that you're taking on something that you will be able to hold onto when you're lacking the motivation that you have now. If not, then giving up what you take on now can make the yerida even more destructive.

This is also similar to an idea from A Simple Jew here. HT to A Simple Jew for pointing that out to me.

-Dixie Yid

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Spiritual Ebb and Flow

Reb Nochum Chernobyler in the first piece on parshas Shmos in Meor Einayim makes reference to something he talks about often. He says that a person's chiyus, his state of being spiritually leibidig ebbs and flows. One's spiritual level is in a constant state of "Ratzo v'shov."

Rebbe Nachman in Likutei Moharan also says that one must be "Baki b'ratzo, baki b'shov." That means that just like you have to do well and accomplish a lot in your "up" times, you have to be an expert in how to navagate your spiritually down, unmotivated times as well. Because if not, you can fall very very far.

I'm feeling now like over the last few weeks generally, I'm in an "up," "ratzo," time. What I'm wondering is this: Like the Meor Einayim said, Tzadikim and beinonim will always go through up and down times. So I know the time of me feeling unmotivated and down spiritually can't be that far off. But I'd like to take on something new now for me to keep with me, as unmotivated as I might feel at that time, when I'm in the "shov" period.

Rebbe Nachman says in Likutei Moharan Tinyana 48 that when you're in the "down" period, even though you feel like you're totally not worthy, nevertheless just hold on tight to the things that you've taken on and are keeping, even if it makes you feel hypocritical. Just brace your self and hold on to what you have till that wave passes over you. So to me, each new thing I can take on for real while I'm riding that positive "ratzo" wave, will be something I'll force myself to keep with me every time I'm in the process of being washed away again.

That way, I will IY"H be washed a little less far with each yerida. One of my rebbes says in the name of Reb Tzadok Hakohen that you don't measure a person by how great he is when he's in his "ratzo" period. Rather you measure him by how great he his when he's down. The true measure of who I am is how high up I can lift that lowest point that I hit in each yerida.

So I better come up with an idea for my new point of growth soon before that yerida hits!

-Dixie Yid

Monday, January 8, 2007

Why have limitations and restrictions?

My wife and I have often discussed the idea of why anything worthwhile seems to be filled with restrictions and rules. Why does a haiku have to have exactly 17 sylables? Why can you only touch the ball with your feet in soccer? Why can you only hit the ball inside the foul lines in baseball? Why, l'havdil, do we have so many extra restrictions on Pesach of all holidays, when that's the time we celebrate freedom!? We should celebrate by having less restrictions!

My wife reminded me today that all good things come with restrictions. Even though a runner could probably round more bases if he hit the ball into the stands and therefore further from the opposing players, they don't do that. Greatness only comes when one is given certain limitations he has to work within. It is only then that he has to work extra hard and become extra skilled to succeed dispite those limitations. If you could do whatever you want, then it wouldn't take any skill to accomplish something. If you could win at baseball by doing whatever you felt like, it would be too easy to win, and there would be no point in the game. The whole point is that the difficulty imposed by the rules brings out the greatness of the player.

It's the same thing with spirituality. If you could by religious and spiritual by doing whatever you want, then it would be so easy that it would be meaningless. It's only because we're challenged to become great in learning, davening, Shabbos, Yomim Tovim, chesed within the restrictions in the way that one observes those things, that we have the capacity to be great in doing them.

When I went to youth conclaves in high school with the reform Jewish youth group, NFTY, we read Shel Silverstein poems, played guitar on Shabbat, sang Peter, Paul, and Mary songs, and rubbed our hands together to show each other warmth. All of these things made us feel very spiritual. But since whatever we felt like doing at any moment, we could define as spiritual, nothing was truly spiritual. It may have been a lot of fun, and it provided a great time between friends, but it wasn't spiritual.

Spirituality means playing the same song our grandparents and great-grandparents gave to us, but bringing our own love, spiritual gifts, and inflection to that music. It's like the difference between a musician playing Beethoven with the unique soul that he brings to it using his talent and practice on one hand, and a child banging on the piano, on the other.

May we merit that our davening, and service of Hashem through halacha shine with greatness!

-Dixie Yid

A note

Whenever I quote these pieces, please be aware that they are highly truncated. And if you want to get a fuller idea of what they're saying, you really have to learn the whole piece. That's why I link to stores where you can buy these seforim online. Happy learning!

-Dixie Yid

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Mikva Alternatives

Vayakam Melech Chadash al Mitzrayim - Parshas Shmos

Reb Nochum from Chernobyl explainded in his sefer Meor Eynayim on Parshas Shmos on the pasuk, “Vayakam melech chodosh al Mitzrayim,” (And a new king rose up over Egypt) He quotes the gemara that Rashi quotes on that pasuk, “There’s a dispute between Rav and Shmuel; One says it was literally a new king. And the other says it was the same king, but he made new decrees against the Jews.” He points out that we say, “Eilu v’eilu divrei Elokim Chayim,” “These and these are the words of the Living G-d,” But he asks, “Even though we know that it is only when Moshiach comes that we will understand how two contradictory opinions in the Torah can both be true, either one or the other actually happened. Either there was a new king literally or there wasn’t!

He answers that Rav and Shmuel are speaking on a totally different level. They are discussing the redemption of “Daas” when the Jews are redeemed from Mitzrayim. Daas, he explains, means knowing that Hashem creates and makes all of ones’s kochos and life at every moment. And when one isn’t aware of that, they’re lacking Daas. And while the Jews were in Mitzrayim, Daas was in Exile, because they weren’t on the level of conciousness where they were aware of Hashem’s connection to every movement at every second. That’s the meaning of daas being in exile in mitzrayim.

He says that the Avos had Daas Elyon. They kept the Torah before it was given. He explains that this means they knew and fulfilled the Torah on the level of it’s higher root, but not necessarily in the revealed way in which we know the Torah today. Their level of revealing the Torah was not so much brought into this world. And since the Jewish people didn’t have that Daas/conciousness of Hashem’s creation of every movement at every second, they were considered lacking Daas.

But when the Jewish people were redeemed from Egypt and they received the Torah in a revealed way in this world (not only on the Avos’ level of Daas Elyon), then they saw Hashem’s malchus (kingship) in every action of the world. That’s what it means that a new king arose over Egypt. When daas went out of exile at yetziyas mitzrayim, Hashem’s malchus was established “anew,” in the world, and it was like Hashem became king right then. That’s the meaning of “a new king being established over Mitzrayim.” And the other opinion, which doesn’t conflict is saying that this daas which was revealed in the world isn’t new, but came to maturity at that time. Just like a Katan doesn’t have daas to make kinyanim, or to be mekadeish an isha,, but when he turns 13 + 1 day he gets daas, so too the daas of the Jewish people wasn’t fully revealed in this world till yetziyas Mitzrayim. That’s the meaning of “nischadeish gezeirosav.” Hashem’s malchus became revealed and came more to fruition and revelation at that time, but it wasn’t like a completely new malchus, like the first opinion holds.

We can gain from this that we should always stirive to have “Daas,” meaning to always reflect on how Hashem creates and moves every part of me at every moment.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Ben Porat Yosef - Parshas Vayechi

The Slonimer Rebbe explains in Nesivos Shalom the meaning of the blessing when Yosef's father Yaakov blesses him with the words "Ben Poras Yosef, Ben poras alei ayin, bnos tzoados alei shur," ("A charming son is Yosef, charming on to look upon; young women climb walls to gaze at him).

He says that according to the Midrash, the young women would even fight for a place to get a good view of Yosef when he would pass by. And that they would throw jewelry at him to get his attention so that he would look at them. And he never did. He explains that Yaakov was praising Yosef for this midah, that he always guarded his eyes from seeing that which they shouldn't see. And that this is in accordance with his general trait, which is as the merkava for the mida of Yesod.

But he points out that Yosef withstood much greater trials with the wife of Potifar, and passed. Why is his father praising him for this aspect of that trait of purity?

He answers by pointing out the well known expression that "The eyes see, the heart covets, and the body sins." The eyes are the gateway to the whole person. When a person allows his eyes to serve merely as tools for his own enjoyment, then he allows the Sitra Achra, the other side, to rule over him. But one who guards over his eyes, only to look at things for purposes of Kedusha, then holiness rules over his life, rather than the opposite. This is why the pasuk says about Yosef, "Hu hashalit, hu hamashbir." He was the ruler and the sustainer (of the people of Egypt). He was the ruler over himself and that is why he merited to be the ruler over the nation of Egypt.

The fact that the way one watches his eyes is the key to his entire success in the middah of Yesod, in shmiras habris, is why Yosef's conduct with his eyes is his main reason for praise by his father Yaakov. And that is why Yaakov focuses more on praising Yosef in that area, rather than for his success in the test with the wife of Potifar.

-Dixie Yid