Friday, June 29, 2007

Bilvavi Video 6 now online & Mystical Paths link

You can view the 6th video shiur of the author of the Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh seforim at the site here. There's a permanent link to at as well on the right sidebar. Also, "My friend Yaakov has completed his translation of the 3rd Bilvavi video shiur. A link to that translation is now available here. It can also be found in my permanent links on the right sidebar. Enjoy! And let me know if you are benefiting from so that the author will receive chizuk thereby and hopefully produce more of these translations.

Akiva at Mystical Paths has a great story that happened to his friend here. Akiva has made an update post here. Sounds like an amazing Teshuva story beginning! HT to A Simple Jew for pointing out this post to me.

-Dixie Yid

Q/A with ASJ - Achieving Consciousness of Hashem

A Simple Jew has posted a Q and A with me again which is available here.

I'll post his question to me below. Please click there to read my answer to him about the methods of hisbonenus found in the Seforim Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh.

A Simple Jew asks:

Rabbi Tzadok Hakohen of Lublin taught that whenever you think of Hashem, He is thinking of you. Hashem thinks of you in proportion to the amount of consciousness with which you think of him.

Additionally, in the name of his grandfather, the Baal Shem Tov, the Degel Machaneh Ephraim explained that the pasuk in Tehillim 32 אַשְׁרֵי אָדָם--לֹא יַחְשֹׁב יְהוָה לוֹ עָו‍ֹן - Praiseworthy is the man to whom Hashem ascribes no sin... means that a person must be in constant state of deveykus in his thoughts to Hashem and at the very instant a person falls from this state of consciousness and does not think about Hashem it is considered as a sin.

How can people on our lowly level ever aspire to maintain such a state of consciousness when sometimes we can't even attain this level during davening?

Dixie Yid answers...

Hashem strikes down a TV :-)

A friend of mine had a TV in his house that was used during exercise on the treadmill. He didn't like its presence in the house, but he was soon relieved of its intrusion in his house. During a recent lightning storm in his neighborhood, he heard the huge boom of lightning right on the house. He found his wife and kids and they were worried because they smelt smoke. They searched the house. It wasn't until they reached the TV set in his basement that he realized the source of the burning smell. Apparantly, lightning had struck the antaenna on top of his house. The electricity had traveled through the cord to his TV set, and it had fried the internal workings of the machine. There was no other damage in the house. Amazing!

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Light of the Torah, Deveikus, and Gerim

(Picture by Rabbi Dovid Sears courtesy of
(Based on Meor Einyaim from R' Menachem Nachum from Chernobyl - Parshas Chukas)

Reb Nachum Chernobyler explains the first pasuk in Parshas Chukas (Bamidbar 19:2), " זֹאת חֻקַּת הַתּוֹרָה, אֲשֶׁר-צִוָּה יְהוָה לֵאמֹר: דַּבֵּר אֶל-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, וְיִקְחוּ אֵלֶיךָ פָרָה אֲדֻמָּה תְּמִימָה אֲשֶׁר אֵין-בָּהּ מוּם, אֲשֶׁר לֹא-עָלָה עָלֶיהָ, עֹל." He explains that this pasuk is teaching that a person must attach his life-force to the light within the Torah. Where is this idea hinted at in the pasuk? The revealed Torah, consisting of letters, vocalizations, trop and crowns are the revealed portion of the Torah that we can have some natural human comprehension of. The light within the Torah, however, is one with Hashem and cannot be grasped with the natural human mind.

It is this illumination within the Torah that the Torah refers to as "Para," heifer. Why? Chazal say (in Pesachim 112a), "יותר ממה שהעגל רוצה לינק פרה רוצה להניק ," more than the calf wants to drink, the heifer wants to nurse [the calf]. This means that the desire of a giver to give is even greater than the desire of the receiver to receive. Hashem desires to give of Himself, the greatest good there is. So, the gift of His illumination within the Torah that He so desires to give is called by the name, "Para."

Therefore, the pasuk means, "You should take to yourself the aspect of Torah called Para, the light of Hashem that is within the Torah." It is called "temima," pure, because the light of the Torah, which was hidden away for the Tzaddikim at the beginning of time, is pure and virtually untouched, since the number of Tzadikim who have merited to ascend to that level are few and far between. That light, he says (based on Psichta Eicha Raba 2) has the power to bring a person back over to the good, which is something everyone wants. Therefore, when one learns Torah, he shouldn't just have in mind to learn the revealed meaning of the Torah. He should also daven before he learns that his chiyus (life-essence) be bound with the illumination of the Torah, which is actually the light of Hashem, so that he can thus truly be daveik with Hashem and will be returned to the good.

The Meor Einyaim, in his 4th piece in Parshas Shmos, also teaches about the Ohr within the Torah. He says that one cannot access this illumination within the Torah all at once. It is only revealed to the person little by little over time. However, he says that this deepest level of connection to the Torah, which is beyond its intellectual understanding, is only accessible to Yidden who are literal descendants of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov. However, Geirei Tzedik, converts, are unable to attain that same level. This statement is fully citated in the Zohar.

Now lest anyone reading this think that I or the Meor Einyaim are "anti-convert/Ger," let me assure you that I am not. In fact, I know that this is so because I, myself, am a Ger. I was megayer when I was 18 years old. I am sharing that for the purpose of lending, unnecessarily in my view, ethos to this difficult teaching of the Meor Einayim. At first, it bothered me. Why should I or any other Ger be able to attain any less of a level than any natural born Jew?

However, after thinking about this piece and re-reading it several times over the past couple of months, I've had a couple of thoughts about it. One thought is: Who said that being an actual child of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov has no value at all? If anyone who joins the Jewish people can be the same in every single respect, then what is the value of this special status? It seems that the very existence of that special parental relationship we have with our Avos indicates that it is somehow irreplaceable.

Also, I think the whole question comes from a krum place. We live in a society that is preoccupied with relative status. Who is better? Who is lower? Who is superior? Who is inferior? It was like that when America was a sexist and racist country. But that same relative status mindset informs the opposite extreme of political correctness today. Many Americans are so concerned with egalitarianism and sameness because they are unable to fathom that there can be differences between people (even differences of "higher" and "lower" in various areas of life) that do not imply superiority or inferiority. That is why, in America, "separate but equal" is found inherently unequal. This is not so with the Torah however, There are thousands of gradations of higher and lower kedusha betweem people in all areas of life. Some people have a higher level of access to kedusha in some areas. Others might have access to higher levels in other areas. However, Hashem created everyone for a very specific reason and not everyone has to be destined for the exact same thing. If Gerim had the same tachlis in life as born-Jews, then one or the other of them was created superfluously, which is obviously not the case. At any rate, these are some of my reflections on this initially difficult part of the Meor Einyaim. May we all merit to access the light of Hashem within the Torah, each on our own level!

-Dixie Yid

(Rav Bentzion Twersky, the son of Rav Michel Twersky, goes through this piece in Meor Einayim in a very nice way on two mp3 shiurim available here and here)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Rav Tzvi Mayer Zilberberg last night- Audio, Video & Pictures

I have an inside man at Kehillas Aish Kodesh in Woodmere, NY who was at Rav Tzvi Mayer Zilberberg's Chizuk drasha last night. He has supplied me with pictures, video, and an audio recording of the whole shiur. I'm embedding the 5 videos below in this post.

For the audio to the whole (1 & 3/4 hour) shiur, Click here to download the audio. You have to click on the orange download button at the bottom right hand side of the webpage where it's hosted. You can download the entire shiur in .wav format for your computer or mp3 player for free.

You can find a couple more pictures of Rav Tzvi Mayer from the shiur at this link.

Update: More information on Rav Tzvi Mayer is available in Mishpacha Magazine. You can obtain the pdf of the article directly from Mishpacha Magazine here. HT to Izbitza.

-Dixie Yid

The Problem With Giving to Everyone Except Your Family

I wrote an answer to a question posed by A Simple Jew on the topic of being involved with every Chesed, Shul activity or kiruv opportunity but totally neglecting one's family. The posting can be found here.

I'll copy/paste A Simple Jew's question to me below.

A Simple Jew asks:

There once was a man who was the epitome of selflessness. The needs of others were paramount in his eyes and his tremendous acts of kindness remain legendary to this day. As inspiring as he was, there was one tragic aspect to his personality. Perhaps he considered his wife and children as part of himself, however for reasons that we will never know, his selflessness did not extend to them. He was always caring for others and was not able to provide the attention that his wife expected. In the end, his selfless nature cost him his marriage.

This man was certainly on a level miles above me. As I have reflected on this man's life, I am reminded of a teaching I once saw from Rabbi Chaim Vital:

"When a person faces his judgment in Olam Haba, he is not evaluated according to how much he helped other people. He may be a tremendous activist, may be constantly running from one affair to another, may be constantly involved in one project or another, but his worth is measured according to how he behaved with his wife and children. The way a person acts with his family reflects who he really is."

As with all great men, had this man devoted himself solely to his family he would not have been able to leave behind the world with all the precious gifts that he left behind. However, based on this teaching from Rabbi Chaim Vital, in your opinion should this man have followed a different path and devoted himself to his family instead?

Dixie Yid answers...

-Dixie Yid

(Painting "Waiting for Dad" courtesy of Silver Dove Gallery)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Neil Harris has a nice post on Yiddishkeit and Familiarity

You can find it here.

-Dixie Yid

(Picture is "Coming Home" by Roldan Art Studio)

Why There Is No Pain When Dying Al Kiddush Hashem

Rabbi Tal Zwecker, in his first Jewish Meditation lecture available at the very bottom of this page, says that when one is meditating on his own willingness to give up his life for Hashem, if called upon, must know that he should not imagine pain in the process of giving up one's life. He says that this is because when one does give up their life al kidush Hashem, his death will be painless. And not only will the death be painless, it will be accompanied with a feeling of ecstacy, similar to that felt by Rebbe Akiva, when his flesh was being torn from his body with iron combs. He felt no pain, but rather called out Krias Shema with complete joy, to the astonishment of his students, as it is well known. Rabbi Zwecker said that there is a supernatural and a natural explanation to this lack-of-pain phenomenon. The supernatural explanation is that Hashem takes away the pain as a Chesed. But that there can be a natural or psychological explanation as well.

This made me think of another program I heard on Radio Lab regarding the amazing power of the "Placebo Effect." You can listen to that segment of the program above. Dr. Daniel Carr explained a phenomenon that the thoughts that exist in a person's mind when they are experiencing pain can greatly effect the amount of physical pain they will feel. Soldiers in WWII who were filled with shrapnel needed only minimal morphine and at distant intervals to abate their pain. However, civilians injured in more mundane ways, like gunshot wounds when their stores were held up, experienced significantly more pain and needed much more pain medicine, with much greater frequency. This was explained, possibly, by the thoughts in each person's mind at the time of the injury.

When the soldier realizes that he's been hit with shrapnel, after he gets over the initial shock, he's thinking about the fact that he went through this for a noble reason, he's going to be honored, he'll get a medal, there will be parades, he'll get to go back home, etc. While the storekeeper is thinking, after the initial shock of the injury, "How am I going to pay my bills? What if I lose my house! Who will run the store? The landlord might evict us if we can't pay the rent, etc." The thoughts that accompany the traumatic injury greatly affect the feeling of pain due to that injury.

Perhaps on the psychological explanation side of the lack of pain when one is dying al kidush Hashem, when one has the feeling of being mevatel themselves to what is happening to them in utter subjugation of self to the Ribbono Shel Olam, there is a similar natural pain remittance on an even greater level than a soldier in war.

May we all have the strength to be willing to give up our lives al Kidush Hashem, if called upon, and may we never be called upon!

-Dixie Yid

(Painting above by William Burnheim)

Monday, June 18, 2007

Bilvavi Translation, Chassidic Tish'n, & Other Links

Heichal Hanegina has a great post from the Trisker Magid on a reason for the practice of the Chassidish Tish. It dovetails quite nicely with Rabbi Tal Zwecker's guest posting at At Simple Jew, as well.

Also, "My Friend Yaakov," has written a translation of the Bilvavi author's first video shiur, a link to which is available in my Bilvavi links on the right sidebar. That translation can be found here, at If you read and benefit from the translation, please either e-mail me or the folks at from their site, and let us know. If there is interest, he will produce more translations for you to benefit from.

Bilvavi Video 4 is now up and available here, as well as being available anytime in the Bilvavi links section on the right sidebar right here. Also, big news for those of you in Eretz Yisroel, you have the chance to spend a whole Shabbos with the author of the Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh seforim July 13-14. Click here for more information to participate in that awesome opportunity. I wish I was in E"Y now!

-Dixie Yid

Baki B'ratzo Baki B'Shov - R' Itchie Mayer Morgenstern

My friend Rabbi Reuven Boshnack, of כדאי To See Inside and Izbitza, introduced me to a piece in Yam Hachochma from 5767 (2007) on Rebbe Nachman's teaching that one must be Baki B'ratzo Baki B'Shov (Likutei Moharan 6), in order to walk in the path of Teshuva. In it, Rav Itchie Mayer Morgenstern says that the way you must be Baki B'shov is that you must cling to the aspect of the lower Yud of the letter Alef.

What does this mean? The letter alef is made up of three letters. There's a right-side-up Yud at the top of the letter. At the bottom is an upside-down and backwards Yud. And connecting the two is the letter Vav. What does it mean to connect one's self to the lower Yud? This means feeling the bizyonos and the humiliation of having failed a test and done an aveira. One is in his "Shov," retreating period at that time. When you feel humiliated at having failed and you realize that you're totally incapable of returning to Hashem and being the right kind of Jew without Hashem's help, then you're clingining to the lower Yud. The lower Yud is upside-down and backwards. It's messed up, just as one feels messed up when he's failed. (The idea of the liberatingly honest feeling of shame after failure is also hinted at in Oros Hateshuva by Rav Kook 14:24.)

When one feels this way, he can be connected and drawn up through the middle Vav, back up to Hashem to be a Tazdik the way he's supposed to be. This is also referenced in the letter Alef because the Vav is the letter of connection. In grammer, the Vav means "and." It's called the "Vav Hachibur," the Vav which connects one idea to the next, because it means "and." It's also called the "Vav Hahifuch," "Vav which transforms" because gramatically it transforms past tense to future tense and future tense to past tense, in the Chumash. In this context, the Vav within the letter Alef connects the person to the upper Point of existance, Hashem, and transforms him back to a place of Ratzo, running towards Hashem.

-Dixie Yid

Friday, June 15, 2007

Memory, Forgeting, Music and the Self

I listened to another mp3 program from's program, Radio Lab, on the topic of memory. I have three reflections on the mechanics of memory from that very informative program after listening to the fascinating story of Clive, a musician and conductor who was struck with a disease that took away his ability to remember anything more than 7 seconds in the past. It's an unbelievable story of someone with no past and no memories. All he has is the present. You can listen to that segment of the program here:

First Thought: The Scientists on the program explained memory as the creative act of rebuilding a memory, rather the mere retrieval of memories from a mental filing cabinet. This explains why memories can be added to or subtracted from as they are recalled over and over again. This got me to thinking about how that might relate to the idea of "Zikaron." When we ask Hashem on Rosh Hashana, "Ve'akeidas Yitzchok Lezaro Hayom Berachamim Tizkor!," "Remember the Akeidas Yitzchok for his children with mercy!," what are we really asking? When it says in Shmos 2:23, "וַיִּשְׁמַע אֱלֹהִים, אֶת-נַאֲקָתָם; וַיִּזְכֹּר אֱלֹהִים אֶת-בְּרִיתוֹ, אֶת-אַבְרָהָם אֶת-יִצְחָק וְאֶת-יַעֲקֹב," that Hashem remembered his covenant with our fathers, what does that mean? Can Hashem forget anything?

If, however, memory is not simply the mechanical act of retrieval, but the re-creation of the old reality, when we ask Hashem to "remember," what we're really asking is for Hashem to invoke the reality of the past and make it part of the present, but in a much realer way than the mere analogy of re-creative human memory. So when Hashem remembers the Mesiras Nefesh of Yitzchok, He is re-creating that reality now, today, according to Rav Aharon Kahn from Yeshivas Yitzchok Elchonon (pictured to the left).

My second thought about Clive, the man with no memory, is: What am I? A collection of memories? What's the real "you?" I know the neshoma is the real me, but that is such a difficult concept to get one's head around. If I can't remember any of my past Gilgulim, in what sense is that really me? (I suppose that my conscious physical brain, independent of the real me is what can't remember, but still...) If, like Clive, at every moment I felt that I didn't know who I was, where I was, where I came from, what I was doing in that place, I would feel as if I had no "self," no "I." Can anyone out there offer a way to distinguish memory from "self?"

Third: One of the only two things this man with Amnesia did remember was music and his love for music. When people speak to him normally, he knows nothing about music, his life as a conductor, or anything related. However, when they placed his former students in front of him and gave him a conductor's baton, he immediately began reading the music, conducting and leading his students as proficiently as if nothing had every happened. When the piece was over, however, he didn't even remember what had happened. It was exactly as before. What was so deep about music that is is virtually the only thing this man can remember when he can remember nothing else?

In Rav Moshe Weinberger's shiur, "The Power of Music - Tazria-Metzorah," he explains the deep place in the soul that music is connected to. It's unbelieveable but somehow, the soul is deeply connected to music, such that hearing a certain song can evoke feelings from decades ago that had long since been dormant. It can stand out in a person with no memory of anything. It's an amazing koach, and it was very interesting to hear of this Amnesia case, where music was about his only connection to his former self. It is also a mussar haskeil that we have to take very seriously the types of music we listen to and the source of the music we listen to, since it has a very deep connection to who we are.

(Artwork is "Persistence of Memory" by Salvadore Dali)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Ushpizin Director Interview

I know this is not new news, but I wanted to share an interview with the director of Ushpizin, Gidi Dar. You can click on the link on my sidebar to purchase the film. Below is a streaming audio link to that very interesting interview about the film.

-Dixie Yid

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Why Do We Sleep?

I was listening to a program from (NPR's New York City affiliate) called Radio Lab. The program was explaining various aspects of the purpose and mechanics of sleep. You can listen to that portion of the program here:

It reminded me of a conversation I had with Rabbi Pesach Krohn almost 10 years ago, when I once had the opportunity to spend Shabbos with him. He posed the following question (paraphrased):

Why did Hashem create us with the need for sleep? I can think of good reasons for almost every other part of human life. There are ways in which we can learn and grow spiritually from eating, marriage, breathing, talking, working, etc. But why sleep? It's simply 4-8 hours of time wasted. I understand that we cannot function without it, so in that sense it's productive. But why did Hashem create us with the need for sleep to begin with?

He ended up opining that the only answer he could come up with that was somewhat satisfying to him was that Hashem created sleep so that people would always have the ability to put a sense of finality on the Yesterday. We'd always be able to have a sense of closure and say, "What happened yesterday is over. Today I can start again. It's a new chance." If there were no sleep and one day just ran into the next, then we would never really feel that our past was behind us. Today would just be one long continuation of yesterday's failures. Sleep means a break and an opening for Teshuva.

One of the Scientists interviewed on Radio Lab explained one of the functions of sleep. The brain collects memories of virtually everything that happens during the day. Many of those memories are worth remembering and integrating and others are not. During sleep, the brain is very active, and neurologically dulls down and washes away most of the non-important or minor memories. The only memories left over are the stronger, more important ones which could not be washed away by the neurological waves that cleansed the person's memories throughout the night. This phenomenon explains why people sometimes work on mastering a skill or an information-set before going to bed, without mastering it, but upon awaking are surprised to find that they have made much progress. It is not so much that sleep helped him learn what was blocked to him before. Rather, it washed away all of the other memories that were getting in the way of the primary one.

This is a bit like what Rabbi Krohn suggested. As we go through our days, we build up not only unwanted memories of inconsequential events and information, but also thoughts, words and actions that are better left in the past. Just as sleep washes away the thoughts and memories that deserve to be left in the past on a neurological level, spiritually too sleep is needed to push the past into the past, so that we can move on with what is worth saving to a new day, unencumbered by yesterday's failings.

-Dixie Yid
(Picture courtesy of

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Chochma vs. Bina - Practical Manifestations - Part 6

Click here to read the introduction. (Highly Recommended!)
This is the 6th and final part of my translation of Rav Itchie Mayer Morgenstern's Kuntres, indentifying many modern movements and Tzadikim in Yiddishkeit with their root sources in Chochma and Bina.

Rav Chaim Brisker and the Chazon Ish:
One can explain the root difference in the difference in Derech Halimud between Rav Chaim Brisker and the Chazon Ish, zy"a, according to the inner essence. (Look deeply and you will find that this explanation fits perfectly in every situation where there is a dispute between them.)

Both Rav Chaim Brisker and the Chazon Ish are considered students of the GR"A. The GR"A was the aspect of Moshiach ben Yosef, who is tied to the sefira of Chochma (as we've explained elsewhere). But the father (Chochma) established the daughter (Malchus), and Rav Chaim Brisker is tied to Chochma in the way that it is Above, and the Chazon Ish is tied to Chochma in the way that it is revealed below, in the aspect of Malchus. And therefore, Rav Chaim Brisker sees every sugya with a completely new vision (since Chochma is the idea of seeing the big picture). And even though Rav Chaim sought depth and straightness of the true pshat (the aspect of the connection of Chochma to Malchus is called Pshat), in his search for Pshat, he has ascended to the root of Malchus, which is Chochma, as we mentioned before.

But the Chazon Ish views Chochma only has it is revealed down below, in the place of Malchus. Therefore, he seeks the most refined Pshat (the aspect of Chochma), but he is exceedingly exacting in the language [of the text he is studying] (the aspect of Malchus). (The Chazon Ish was Mefalpeil in the external things [since external things are discernible, like Bina], but he did not take on the way of Pilpul of building one structure on another and understanding one thing from the other, that is in the aspect of Bina. Rather, he delved deeply into the self-contained Pshat [of what he was studying]. And this is as we mentioned earlier that the light of Chochma is revealed in the place of Malchus.) (Rav Morgenstern, at this point, explained, specifically, many disputes between them [along these lines, but this is not the place to expound on that].

-Dixie Yid
Update: Avakesh has a post which supplements some of these ideas here. It's worth seeing.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Master Mussar Series - Sponsors L'zecher Nishmas Needed

I'm posting the following announcement for a friend. It is an opportunity for you to dedicate the making of a Master Mussar series of Shiurim by R' Kosman. It'll be a zechus to the rabim and an ilui neshoma for the person in whose name you dedicate it. Please consider contacting him. Thanks.

-Dixie Yid

Master Mussar Series Sponsors Opportunity & Master Mesillas Yesharim and Master Sifsei Chaim Now Available

Five Towns Chassidus has been working on a new project with HaRav Kosman, shlita, from Slabodka Yeshiva in Bnei Brak - the author of Sefer Ahavas Tzvi on Yevamos, Otzros Ktzos Hachoshen, and Otzros R' Akiva Eiger, and Maggid shiur of the Master Daf, Master Mishna, Master Mishna Berura and Master Rambam (amongst others) audio cassette and CD-Rom series. (In the "Master" series (for Mishna and Shas) every word is read in its original Hebrew and Aramaic, then translated into clear English, and explained according to the basic meaning of the text.)

We have been working with HaRav Kosman for the past year on a "Master" project for other popular sefarim, to assist in learning and finishing sefarim more quickly and to allow for easy review etc.... B"H, with the help of sponsors, we have thus far completed Mesillas Yesharim and Sifsei Chaim on Shabbos (by HaGaon R' Chaim Friedlander, Zt"l) - the Sefarim are read sentence by sentence, word by word, with every verse clearly explained in English, according to the leading commentators. Highlights from the leading Commentaries are also drawn upon. Both of these CDs are now available (email us for details on how to get a copy - $30/each).

We're looking for sponsors so that we can make more popular sefarim available. Sponsors can have the CDs dedicated in the memory of or L'kavod a loved one - the first shiur will mention the name, and it will be put on the jacket of the CDs when sold.
Our next project will be the Sefer Chovos HaLevavos. If you'd be interested in sponsoring the next project, please let us know - email at fivetownschassidus @

Bilvavi Video #3 now available - Next Shiur is Thursday

The Author of the Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh series has given a third video shiur. The permanent link can be found here. I have also added it as a permanent link in the side bar on the right side under "Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh links," for future reference on an English website, which some might prefer.

According to the website, the author will be continuing with the shiur EVERY Thursday at 1 PM Eastern Time at their Live Video page. Enjoy!

-Dixie Yid

Tying One's Self to Hashem - Meor Einayim - B'ha'aloscha

The Meor Einayim explains, in Parshas B'ha'aloscha, the meaning of "שכר מצוה מצוה," "The reward of a mitzva is a mitzva" (Avos 4:2). He says that the point of the mitzvos is to cleave one's self to Hashem through the Mitzva. And that this is the deeper meaning of the Mishna in Avos, "שכר מצוה מצוה." The reward of a mitzva is the "mitzva," from the root word meaning "tzavsa," or "rope." the purpose and deeper meaning of each mitzva is to tie one's self to Hashem through that mitzva.

This is further seen by the fact that the word mitzva also contains Hashem's name. The "vav hei" at the end of the word mitzva, are of course the last two letters of Hashem's four-letter name. But the "mem tzadik" at the beginning are equivalent to the "yud hei" of Hashem's name in the At Bash form of gematria. Why is the "yud hei" of Hashem's name encoded as "mem tzadik" in At Bash, instead of being revealed like the "vav hei?" The Chernobyler explains that each mitzva has two aspects. There's the body, the revealed part of the mitzva. That's the "vav hei" of the word mitzva. And then there's the hidden part of the mitzva, the neshoma of the mitzva, which is hidden. And therefore the letters "yud hei," which represent the neshoma, the life-essence of the mitzva, the hidden part of the mitzva, are hidden as "mem tzadik" in At Bash.

Our avoda when doing any mitzva or learning torah is not only involve ourselves in the body, the physical aspect of the mitzva by physically doing the mitzva. It is also to have kavanah to connect ourselves to the neshoma of the mitzva, its inner essence. And that inner essence of each mitzva is Hashem, Himself. When one does a mitzva, while connecting the body of the mitzva, the physical action, with the neshoma of the mitzva, Hashem, then he makes a unification between the body and the soul, and by extension creates unifications on many levels. However, if one does a mitzva with no intention at all, it is like creating a body without any soul.

That is the meaning, then, of "שכר מצוה מצוה." The reward of a mitzva is the connection with Hashem (Tzavsa), and this is hinted at in the word mitzva in another way because mitzva = Shem Hashem ("yud hei" in At Bash + "vav hei"). So the reward of a mitzva is the connection with the essence of the mitzva, which is Hashem. And there can be no greater reward than that.

-Dixie Yid

Chochma vs. Bina - Practical Manifestations - Part 5

Please read the introduction first. Highly Recommended.

Rebbe Nachman and the Shpoler Zaide:

I spoke on Purim night (5765-2005) at length about the idea of the holy Rebbe the Shpoler Zaide, zy"a. I said that fools say that he opposed Rebbe Nachman, and I repeatedly said that one who says that today is a fool. The Shpoler Zaide, zy"a, was the holiest of the holy, and never truthfully opposed Rebbe Nachman. (Perhaps his [R' Morgenstern's] intention is that even at the time, there were hidden, secret reasons why, as it were, there was an aspect of dispute superficially. However, today, it is impossible that there should even be an external understanding of the secrets that existed at that time, and therefore, one who, today, mentions the disputes of that time, is simply a fool)

I concluded [on that occasion on Purim] that when Moshiach comes, it will be revealed that the wedding ring of the redemption will be made from the apparent dispute between the Shpoler Zaide and Rebbe Nachman. As Rebbe Nachman said, in the future there will be much laughter from this matter. Meaning: It will be revealed that it [the apparent dispute between the Shpoler Zaide and Rebbe Nachman] will be was an aspect of the frolicking/fighting between the Shor Habor and the Levyoson, who fight together.

The interpretation of this is that it hints at this according to the explanation of the Kozhnitzer Magid, zy"a, regarding the pasuk "וזדים טבעת," (from Shiras Hayam- "You will sink the intentional sinners") that the Holy One will turn the intentional sins (zadonos) of the Children of Israel into merits and adornments (from the word טבעת/ring, which is spelled the same as "taba'ata.") Similarly, one can explain "v'zaidim taba'ata" that the wedding ring [of the redemption] will be made from this idea of the Shpoler Zaide's ["וזדים" hinting at the name "Zaide"] [apparent dispute with Rebbe Nachman].

On another occassion, he explained the idea of the fight between the Shor Habor and the Levyoson at length, and how it was an aspect of unifications "דבטישו" [help on this word would be appreciated] which will exist before the redemption between Moshiach ben Dovid, who is the aspect of Shor Habor and Moshiach ben Yosef, who is the aspect of the Levyoson

It is known that the Zaide, zy"a, was a direct male descendant of the Maharal from Prague, and the BeSh"T, zy"a, brought down his (the Maharal's) neshoma into this world (as is known according to the well known story). He [the BeSh"T] was his [the Shpoler Zaide's] Sandak, and he gave him the name of the Maharal from Prague, since the Maharal was the aspect of Moshiach ben Dovid in his generation, as is hinted to from the words of Rav Chaim Vital, zy"a. And even the Maharal, himself, hinted to this in one of his seforim (See, Shearis Noson page 398), and Rebbe Nachman was, at the beginning of his avoda as Moshiach ben Yosef, as I've written elsewhere.

Click here for part 6, Rav Chaim Brisker and the Chazon Ish

-Dixie Yid

Friday, June 8, 2007

Chochma vs. Bina - Practical Manifestations - Part 4

Click here to read the introduction (Highly Recommended).

Chabad and Breslov:

I will now speak about Breslov and Chabad Chassidus. We see that they have many things in common. For example, both engage in spreading the wellsprings of Chassidus (Chabad according to the well known letter of the BeSh"T, "Eimasai Ka'asi Mar, etc." and Breslov according to the will of Rav Noson, that the main involvement should be with spreading [Rebbe's Nachman's teachings]). In this last generation, both of them are involved in Kiruv Rechokim and "making" Baalei Teshuva, and both have had to tolerate much opposition. The Baal HaTanya and Rebbe Nachman were Mechutanim (co-father-in-laws). The Baal HaTanya used to call himself the (spiritual) grandson (נכד) of the BeSh"T, like Rebbe Nachman, z"l. there are other connections, but this is not the place to expound. However, the difference between them is in the aspect of Chochma and Bina, as I mentioned.

It is explained that the holy BeSh"T was the aspect of Adam Harishon, which included all levels and all aspects, in the aspect of Keser Haklali [All-Inclusive Crown] (the Chariot of Elokim, K'vayachol). After that, all of the students of the holy BeSh"T continued in his holy way. They were pipelines and vessles to draw down the holy light of the BeSh"T for generations. However, there are many disparate lines and particular traits in them, because even though all of them were tied and reached the light of the BeSh"T. Nevertheless, each one of his holy students had his own way, from some trait or aspect, to ascend to the aspect of Keser (the light of the BeSh"T).

(Even Rebbe Nachman, z"l, despite the fact that he, on one hand, revealed many new aspects, as he said explicitly, nevertheless, there is also within him the aspect that he is continuing to reveal the light of the BeSh"T, similar [to the relationship between] the Ar"i and Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai. Even though the Ar"i revealed new things, which were not expounded in the holy Zohar explicitly, nevertheless, all of the new revelations of the Ari were a revelation of the light of the Rashbi in "new vessles." Through the "new vessels of the Ar"i we merit to receive the light of the Rashbi. It is the same thing regarding the BeSh"T and Rebbe Nachman.)

We must divide up those who followed the holy BeSh"T into four principal lines: 1) Chochma, 2) Bina, 3) Chesed-Gevurah-Tiferes and 4) Netzach-Hod-Yesod-Malchus. (Despite the fact that it is known that accoridng to Kabbalah all of these aspects include all of the aspects [as sub-aspects] , which means that there are more specific divisions [to be made] , this is not the place to expound.) (At the time of the Magid [of Mizrich], these divisions did not yet exist, because the Magid, in this respect, was the aspect of the BeSh"T...) 1) The Baal Hatanya is the aspect of Chochma. (Throughout the Tanya, he refers to the sefira of Keser as "Chochma," because his way was to ascend to Keser is through "Chochma." Therefore, he established the "shita" of Chabad whose essence is the revelation of G-dly Chochma in the Torah of Chassidus.) 2) Rebbe Nachman tied his revelation to the Sefira of Bina, as Rebbe Avraham b'Reb Nachman, z"l spoke about at length in the sefer כוכבי אור. (Even though Rebbe Nachman, himself, was the aspect of Keser, nonetheless we did not merit that the aspect of Keser should be revealed in the days of Rebbe Nachman, [but he instead] revealed in himself with the garments and vessels of Bina.)

3) The Rebbe Reb Elimelech, zy"a, and his students are connected to Chesed-Gevurah-Tiferes. Therefore, they mainly involved themselves in matters of Ahava, Yirah and Deveikus. (the way of Kotzk, Pshischa, etc. was tied to Daas Tachton, which is the inner essence of Chesed-Gevrua-Tiferes) 4) The general way of Chassidus in the later generations [has been]tied to Netzach-Hod-Yesod-Malchus. (And therefore Chassidus receives light in a way of remembering the levels of the earlier generations. And so too in their practices and commitments, etc [they endeavor to do like the Zaides and Bubbes].) But here is not the place to expound [further].

Let us return to the matter of Chabad and Breslov, who are connected to Chochma and Bina, two inseperable friends. there is much in common between them. They are both involved in repairing the world and spreading the wellsprings of Chasidus to bring the redemption closer. The idea of the redemption is related to the aspect of Keser and therefore, only Chochma and Bina, the two parts of Keser (as is apparant from the physical analogy that the right brain [Moach HaChochma] and the left brain [Moach HaBina] are within the skull, which corresponds to Keser) are involved... in bringing the redemption closer through spreading the wellsprings [of Chassidus] and "making" Baalei Teshuva.

However, there is a difference between Chochma and Bina in their method of repairing the world, which is also expressed in the two different ways they express Chassidus, as mentioned above. In Chabad Chassidus, the main Kiruv Rechokim is done through the G-dly Chochma in Chassidus. This is the way of Chochma. (In the last generation, this is also done by practical mitzvos (Mivtzo'im), in the aspect of concrete actions, even without any inner thought. This is tied to that which will be explained later, that Chochma's root is in the Ancient [Atik]. And therefore, it reveals the elavatedness of Malchus [mitzvos that are purely physical], whose end is bound up in their beginning, but this is not the place to expound on this topic) And in Breslov, Kirus is mainly done through [mekuravim] learning ways of Avoda[s Hashem], Teshuva, Hisbodedus, joy, etc., because the idea of Bina is Teshuva and the service of the heart.

[Section omitted from translation] Therefore, one who learns the seforim of Chabad receives a level of the loftiness of G-d, and the greatness of Hashem until the Infinite Light, which no mind can grasp. And one who learns the seforim of Breslov receives a feeling of closeness to Hashem and a strengthening of the feeling that Hashem is with him and beside him. This is the aspect of the revelation of Keser of "Arich," which reveals that no place is empty of Him.

This is also the secret of the words of Rebbe Nachman, who said that he wants that all of his Chassidim should come to be "like me, literally." Meaning: they should come to the aspect of Arich, where the aspect "He equates the small with the great, etc." will be revealed.

Click here for part 5, Rebbe Nachman and the Shpoler Zaide.

-Dixie Yid

Update: A Simple Jew has a guest posting relating to this topic by Rabbi Dovid Sears, which can be found here. Also, Chabakuk Elisha has a guest posting at Mystical Paths on some of the commonalities between Chabad and Breslov here.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Seeking volunteer to Translate Bilvavi Video Shiurim

Many of you may have seen the shiurim that the author of the Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh seforim has begun giving. Through the efforts of Shorashim in Israel, those shiurim have been made available each Thursday afternoon Eastern time. If you've missed them, the two shiurim that have aired so far can be found at the following links:

Video 1
Video 2

If there is anyone out there who is willing to volunteer either transcribe the Bilvavi shiurim (once a week) into English or alternatively, to create an audio translation, now is your chance. The folks at have agreed to host the English transcript or audio translation. All you would have to do is create the audio or text file each week when the shiur is made public on's video page, and then e-mail it to I can give you all the information you need to do that.

It'd be a big zechus to the rabim who can't understand the shiurim of the author which are all in Hebrew. So please e-mail me at dixieyid @ if you or someone you know might be interested in volunteering.

Update: You can get information on the author's August 2007 visit to the United States here.

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of Red Oak Ridge Estates)

Ruach Shtus and the Psychology of Aveira

Please see my guest posting at A Simple Jew, and please comment if you are so inclinded. Below is the text of his question to me:

A Simple Jew observes:

There are occasions when a person does an aveira and is completely cognizant that it is wrong. Simultaneously, he believes that his action is not a brazen act of defiance against Hashem. The Gemara (Sotah 3a) states that a person does not commit an aveira unless a momentary ruach shtus (spirit of insanity) enters him. It appears to me that perhaps the convoluted mental process and cognitive dissonance described in the above scenario is an example of this. Time after time, this scenario repeats itself and we stumble once again. Sometimes it seems that even though we may attach ourselves to tzaddikim, we still remain turkey princes.

-Dixie Yid

(Engraving of Jonah awaiting the fate of Nineveh)

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Sharp insight into the Yetzer Hara on Zchus Avos

A Talmid made a great post a few days ago which can be found here. It's so true.

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of

A Simple Jew- Feet/Inches Halachic Measurement Chart

ASJ has posted his halachic measurement chart here. It's in increments familiar to Americans, so it'll be a great resource in our learning. Enjoy!

-Dixie Yid

Monday, June 4, 2007

Chochma vs. Bina - Practical Manifestations - Part 3

Please click here for the introduction to this series (highly recommended).

Chassidus and the GR"A:

We will [now] speak about the dispute between the GR"A, zy"a, and Chassidus. The explanation is that the GR"A was the aspect of Moshiach ben Yosef (as was stated by the students of the GR"A and received by the Maharil Diskin). One of the purposes of Moshiach ben Yosef is to wage war with the Klipa (husk) of the Erev Rav (other Jews in our midst who infiltrate illegitimate ideas from within) which gets stronger before the redemption. The klipa of the Erev Rav is the klipa of the Haskala (the "Enlightenment") whose roots were beginning in those days. In truth, Chassidus was the counterpart (ze leumas ze) of the Klipa of the Haskala. And the Klipa of the Erev Rav of the Haskala was related to the 50th gate of impurity, which is the aspect of Amalek, which is called "Reshis Goyim," the first of the nations (Bamidbar 24:20), (as the Ohr Hachaim Hakadosh said in parshas Shmos, that before the redemption there would be a strengthening of the 50th gate of impurity). Therefore, the Maskilim ("Englightened Ones"), may their name be blotted out, attempted to disseminate impure forms of wisdom which eminated from the 50th gate of impurity. (The wisdom of holiness is, l'havdil, a counterpoint to this, and is a revelation of the aspect of Keser, Crown, the 50th gate of holiness.) Chassidus was the cure that preceeded this disease because it was a revelation of the Yechida [the highest of the 5 "parts" of the soul], the 50th gate of holiness. Chassidus revealed the Holy Englightenment of the revelation of G-dliness in Chochma-Bina-Daas, which is the cure which preceeds the Klipa of the Haskala.

Therefore, the GR"A, who was related to the aspect of Moshiach ben Yosef, is the aspect of the Sefira of Chochma (as we said earlier). The Sefira of Chochma pushes away the Chochma of impurity in a way of waging war, because the method of clarifying between good and evil is the job of the Sefira of Chochma, "כולהו בחכמה אתברירו. (Zohar)" And therefore the GR"A had to wage war with the Klipa of the Erev Rav. But the revelation of Chassidus, which relates to Moshiach ben Dovid, the Sefira of Malchus, whose destiny was planted at the beginning in the Sefira of Keser, is the remedy to the sisease of the Wisdom of Impurity. It is a repair and a remedy by spreading the Wisdom of Holiness. When the kingdom of Moshiach ben Dovid will be in its perfect state of repair, receiving [he'ora-illumination] from Keser, then he will be able to repair the world without the use of war. [As opposed to the time of] the birthpangs of Moshiach and the wars that preceed the redemption, which relate to Moshiach ben Yosef [before] he is included [joins] with Moshiach ben Dovid, about which this is not the place to expound). [The GR"A's job was to fight against the Wisdom of Impurity with war, under the flag of Moshiach ben Yosef. Chassidus is the aspect of Moshiach ben Dovid, post war, and is the aspect of Moshiach ben Dovid.]

Due to our sins, the GR"A confused his friend for his enemy, Chassidus for the Haskala. Therefore, Tzadikim said that had the GR"A seen the face of the Baal haTanya, zy"a, he immediatly would have retracted his dispute [with him], because he would have immediately seen that he [the Baal haTanya] was not the Klipa of the Erev Rav. And in actuality, in the generations after the GR"A, the students of the GR"A (R' Yitzchak from Volozin zt'l) and the Tzemech Tzedek zy"a fought together against the Klipa of the Haskala, which was the true Klipa of the Erev Rav.

There is an aspect that had the GR"A and the Baal Hatanya met, there would have been a unification of the two Moshiachs, Moshiach ben Yosef and Moshiach ben Dovid, and the complete redemption would have been awakened. This is because the torah of Chassidus relates to the revelation of Moshiach ben dovid (and the Baal Hatanya was a direct male descendant to the Maharal from Prague, who was a direct male decendant of Dovid Hamelech). Therefore, the Satan strengthened himself to prevent that meeting between them.

In truth, the GR"A's war was a heilig war, which did bear fruits and had positive outcomes in sublimating the Klipa of the Erev Rav for generations. [This is because] even though outwardly the GR"A waged a great war with Chassidus, the holiness of that war actualized its self by sublimating the Klipa of the Erev Rav, similar to what Rebbe Nachman, zy'a, said, that in truth, no one opposes him. And those that oppose him have painted an imaginary picture of him, and it is that that they oppose. But no one opposes he, himself. Similarly, the GR"A never opposed Chassidus, only the Erev Rav. But he thought that the Klipa of the Erev Rav was found in the form of Chassidus. But in truth, he never opposed [actual] Chassidus.

A deeper explanation: The aspect of Moshiach ben Yosef relates to the Sefira of Chochma, and Moshiach ben Dovid relates to the Sefira of Bina. Therefore, the GR"A, who was the aspect of Moshiach ben Yosef, made his primary involvement with Kabbalah, which is related to Chochma. and the Baal Hatanya merited to write the Shulchan Aruch HaRav in revealed Torah and in halacha, which relates to Bina. (The GR"A never received permission from Shamayim to do this, as his children wrote in the introduction to the GR"A's explanation on Shulchan Aruch.) And just like it is received in the name of the Divrei Chaim [of Tzanz] that the GR"A was greater than the Baal Hatanya in hidden Torah, so too was the Baal Hatanya greater than the GR"A in the revealed portion [of Torah]. [remainder of paragraph omitted from translation]

Do not question, based on reality's appearence, that those who were tied to the GR"A did not study the hidden Torah, and the Chassidim did involve themselves very much in the hidden Torah. The reason is that once the unification of the two Moshiachs did not materialize, there was an aspect of shattering in Moshiach ben Yosef. Thereby, all of those tied to the GR"A distanced themselves from learning the hidden Torah. During the lifetime of the GR"A, his main involvement was with the hidden Torah, and he taught his greatest students (like the Nefesh Hachaim and the RaMa"M from Sokolov and others)the hidden Torah. After his peira, those who continued in his way stopped learning the hidden Torah, because once the two Moshiachs did not unite, there was an aspect of death in Moshiach ben Yosef. And because of this, the aspect of Moshiach ben Yosef fell from Atzilus (the highest world) to Bria-Yetzira-Asiya, the aspect of the revealed Torah. However, since at the end of the day, their root is still in Chochma, their learning in the revealed Torah is in the way of "lamdanus," which is the aspect of Sod [secret] that is within the revealed Torah.

Afterwards, even the mantle of Moshiach ben Yosef and Chochma fell upon the students of the holy BeSh"T, and the Baal Hatanya transformed into the aspect of Chochma , relative to the other students of the holy BeSh"T... [translation of remainder of paragraph omitted]

By the Chassidim it is the opposite. In truth their root is from the aspect of Bina, which is tied to learning the revealed Torah. However, since they did not go out of Atzilus, (the aspect of death is in Moshiach ben Yosef, and not Moshiach ben Dovid), they are tied to Kabbalah, since Atzilus is Kabbalah. But, they learn Kabbalah, its self, in the way of the revealed aspect of secrets. Meaning: Most chassidim learn Kabbalah in a way of [practical] Avodas Hashem (since Avodas Hashem is the aspect of Bina), the exception being Chabad, who have become the aspect of Chochma, as I mentioned earlier.

One finds in the statements of some Rebbes of great Chassidic groups that glorify the superiority of the students of the BeSh"T over the GR"A, zy"a. The reason is tied to the secret that we mentioned erlier, that the GR"A was related to the aspect of Moshiach ben Yosef, and the revelation of Chassidus was related to the aspect of Moshiach ben Dovid. Therefore, there is an idea of, and a need for, teaching and revealing that "Ben Dovid is at the head."

Click here for Part 4, Chabad and Breslov.

-Dixie Yid

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Bilvavi author video from Thursday now available online!

Click here to view the video of the meeting with the author of the Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh that took place this past Thursday at 1:15 Eastern time. Again, thank you to the folks at for bringing us the opportunity to hear from he author of these amazing seforim.

I have received word that the author of the Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh will likely be making a visit to the United States again in Elul. Stay tuned for more information.

-Dixie Yid