Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Vital Video Shiur by R' Lazer Brody on Shmiras HaBris

One Must Destroy in Order to Build- Part II

This post is a continuation of a similar theme in this post.
In the the 15th perek of Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh Vol 2, the author writes about the concept in Mishlei 24:16, "כִּי שֶׁבַע, יִפּוֹל צַדִּיק וָקָם," that the Tzadik must fall seven times and then get up. He brings down the concept that those failures (whether in thought, wanting, speech, or action) are not an obstacle to growth, but an integral part of the process.

He illustrates this with a startling ma'aseh about the GR"A and his Talmid, Rav Chaim Volozhiner. He says that the GR"A put himself through a self-imposed exile for a period of time. When he returned, his talmid Rav Chaim asked him whether or not he should also engage in that same avodah of self-imposed exile. The GR"A responded that, "I did it, but now I regret it." (Ostensibly the trials of exile disturbed his Torah learning, but the author doesn't go into the reasons he regreted it.) Rav Chaim, his student, responded, "Then I will do as you did. I will go into exile and then I will regret it."

The ma'aseh seems almost incomprehensible at first glance. Shouldn't Rav Chaim have learned from his rebbe's mistakes and not repeated them? However, the purpose of the ma'aseh is to teach this counter-intuitive yesod: We grow into the bigger Jews not by continuous successes in avodas Hashem, but specifically because of the failures.

I saw this illustrated in another way through a Tosafos in Avoda Zara 34a. The Gemara is discussing how clay vessels that are lined with not-fully-"cooked" glass (according to Tosafos) can never be kashered (if they were used for hot non-kosher food). Tosafos ask on this that we see from another gemara that a clay vessel can be kashered by re-firing it in the kiln! He answers that though it is true that the vessel would become usable that way, it is not because the vessel is called "kashered." It is because when it emerges from the kiln, it is considered a totally new vessel, not a kashered old vessel. "Kashering" a non-kosher clay vessel is impossible.

I see this as an expression/mashal of this same yesod on a physical level, when it comes to absorbtion of traif food in clay vessels. "For [we are like] clay in the hands of the Potter." We are also compaired to clay vessels. We also cannot fully give up what is not-kosher about ourselves without going into the fire and nullifying the "self" so that when we come out, we will be new Jews, able to ascend to the next level, unencumbered by past failures. But it is only through destruction/failure, that we can be a new vessel again to receive the Divine light.

-Dixie Yid

(Picture is courtesy of YellowLeaf.org)

Monday, July 30, 2007

ASJ's post with music clip of Erez Levanon, HY"D

Please read and listen to the music in this post by A Simple Jew with his reflection and translation of the music of Erez Levanon, HY"D, who gave his life al Kidush Hashem at the hands of Arab murderers.

See also this beautiful post by R' Lazer Brody about his gift of the painting below by Baruch Becker to the widow of Erez Levanon back in March.

-Dixie Yid

(Top picture courtesy of Gush Etziyon)

Friday, July 27, 2007

What's the origin of the name Klonymous?

In this post at HirHurim, R' Gil Student referred to a Rishon with the name "R. Samuel b. Qalonymus he-Hasid of Spires." I had always assumed it was a Yiddish name, since I only know the name because of R' Klonymous Kalaman Shapira of Piaseczna. Does anyone out there know the meaning/language/origin of this name?

-Dixie Yid

The Piaseczna on Mind Over Body- Practice Makes Perfect

When I'm not eating on Tisha B'Av, it makes me think about how fragile and delicate we in America are. One day without eating, and we're all lying down and plotzing for some food or a drink Tisha B'Av afternoon. It's a sad statement on people like me. This thought reminds me that it's a ma'aleh in kedusha to be in control of your simple, mutar ta'avos.

The Rebbe Reb Klonymous Kalaman of Piaseczna, the Aish Kodesh, wrote in his sefer, Bnei Machshava Tova, about the Ta'anis HaRitva. In this kind of ta'anis, rather than not eating, you pick one meal a day, twice a week, once a week or whatever, and you only eat half the amount you usually eat. i.e. Stop eating even while you still have room for more food, even though you would still like to eat. For many, including me, this is almost harder than not eating at all.

The idea is that you should not always be a slave to your desires, to what you want to do. The only way to break your body's hold over you is by getting actual practrice in not listening to it. There are many things you can do to this. If you want a snack because you will enjoy it, and you're not really hungry, just don't eat it. Use 1 sugar instead of 3 in your coffee. Like the Ritva said, eat half as much as you would like. The Piaseczna suggests not getting your favorite dish on the table, but only your second favorite.

Without practicing self-control, you don't have any self control. Sometimes I feel like saying to myself, "I don't have to always do what I feel like doing. I can control myself when I want to. I just don't want to." This is like the alcoholic or the smoker who says, "I can quit whenever I want to, I just don't want to." This reminds me of the story of the Ba'al Mussar, whose name I can't remember, who once woke up early in the morning, desiring a glass of water. He was suddenly frozen with indecision. If he got the water, he'd be giving into his ta'ava for a drink (assuming he didn't really neeed it right then). If he didn't he'd be giveing into his laziness by not getting out of bed. His solution? He got out of bed and went to the sink but didn't get a drink. He was really focused on not being a slave to his desires. He wanted to live a life of decisions and not of desires.

May Hashem give us the strength to do one or more of these exercises in self-control each week in order to be people who are rulers over their body, and not people whose bodies rule over them.

-Dixie Yid

Thursday, July 26, 2007

How the Yetzer Hara Tries to Dry Us Out

I was introduced to a piece in a sefer called Darchei Noam, דרכי נועם. It gave over a heart-rending pshat on the famous gemara in Kiddushin 30b, "ואמר ר"ש בן לוי יצרו של אדם מתגבר עליו בכל יום ומבקש המיתו," that one's Yetzer Hara renews its fight against you every day and tries to kill you. He asked what the part of the Gemara that says that it tries to kill you is really coming to teach. If it means that it is trying to physically kill you, then that is not truly the role of the Yetzer Hara. It is the role of the Malach Hamaves. (And even though they are one in the same, it doesn't kill physically when its wearing the "Yetzer Hara Hat," only when it's wearing its "Malach Mamaves hat.")

He goes on to explain that its effort to kill the person along the lines of the Yerushalmi that learns that a dried out Lulav is pasul (unfit) for the mitzva of Lulav and Esrog from the pasuk, "לא המתים יהללו י-ה," "The dead cannot praise Hashem." In other words, something that is dried out is called "dead" by the pasuk. Therefore, when the Gemara in Kiddusin is saying that the Yetzer Hara is trying to kill you every day, it means that it is trying to make your Yiddishkeit dry. The Yetzer Hara knows it cannot get you to do out-and-out aveiros every single day (although it can do this with many). It always tries to say to you, "Listen, you can keep the halacha, but let's keep it at that. If you get too into it, you'll just look silly to other people and you're probably faking it anyway. Just do what you have to do and get on to the next thing."

The yetzer hara tries to make Yiddishkeit dry and tasteless, merely something for me to get through till I can get onto things I really enjoy in life. Chassidus comes to inject warmth and Chiyus into my Avodas Hashem, so that it isn't dry and without feeling.

May Hashem help you and me do the mitzvos with feeling and excitement, and not out of habit and cold dryness!

-Dixie Yid

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Beat the Rush - Advice by the Piaseczna for Davening

I saw a piece of advice that is highly worthy of repeating and being misbonein upon at length.

In Hachsharas Ha'Avreichim, Rav Klonimus Kalmish Shapira of Piaseczna, the Aish Kodesh, gave the following piece of direction. He was speaking about what to do when you find that you are davening and your thoughts are flying from one thing to another during davening and you can't get yourself to think about the davening. He said that if you try to, by force, make yourself stop thinking about anything except the words of the tefillah, then it is a major doubt whether this will be successful.

Instead, it applies a fundamental eitza that he uses in many places. He says that the pasuk in Shema says, "V'ibad'tem meheira." This means that one must destroy (v'ibadetem) the practice of rushing (meheira). One always feels that he has to keep moving and to go fast. When you're in davening, the feeling is that you have to keep going. You can't stop and you must finish at the same time or earlier than everyone else. The trick is to break that feeling. Rather than trying to force yourself to have more kavana while you keep davening... STOP! Stop davening. If it's a time when it's mutar, then sit down. If not, then lean on something and relax for a moment. Think and trace back where that rush of different thoughts arose from all the way back to the first strange thought. After this contemplation, you will have broken the flow of that confusing train of thought. Then you can go back to davening and you will be able to do so with greater concentration.

The key to this is to give up on the desire to keep going, going, going. Destroy the desire to rush (v'ibadetem meheira).

-Dixie Yid

Monday, July 23, 2007

One Must Destroy in Order to Build

I was reading a recent post at Beyond BT that's worth seeing. In it, Katrin told the story of the great tragedies in the life of a Rabbi Shaul Rosenblatt. The tragedies he endured in his life and story of the death of his wife at the age of about 30, reminded me that sometimes Hashem knows that the only way to allow people to grow to a greater level is by first destroying them.

This is a great truth that we must accept if we want to grow into bigger Jews. One must destroy who he is now (including the good parts) if he wants to attain a new, higher and more exalted level than before. A greater self cannot be built on a lesser self. The lesser self must first be obliterated. There are many places where one sees this universal truth.

In hilchos Shabbos, destroying is not forbidden unless it is done in order to build. Tearing is only proscribed when it is along a seam in order to re-sew another garment. This indicates that the true purpose of "destroying" is as a "constructive" force, when it is used in the purpose of building something greater in its place. Therefore, when one is mevatel and he obliterates his current self, it cannot be done in a destructive way, but rather it must be a destruction similar to the dismantling and tearing in hilchos Shabbos, which is done in a constructive way, to build something greater in its place.

Even the neshoma after Geheinom, which is delighting in a sublimity of Divine revelation that we, who are still confined to human form, cannot fathom, must go through a type of destruction in order to ascend to higher levels of Gan Eden. When a neshoma is enjoying pleasures of the Divine Presence that we cannot contemplate in Gan Eden Tachton (lower Gan Eden), it cannot fathom the even greater Divine light of Gan Eden Elyon (upper Gan Eden). In order for that neshoma to ascend to the higher level of Gan Eden, it must first immerse in the Nahar Dinur, the "River of Fire." This Geheinom-like process of suffering and destruction is necessary in order to attain the higher level of Gan Eden Elyon.

Why is the necessary to destroy one's lower level in order to attain a higher level? To not do so would be comparable to pouring fine wine into a vessel with the remnants of cheap wine still in it. The greater level of the finer wine will be nullified by the presence of the cheap wine. To reach a qualitatively different level, the old level must be destroyed so it does not ruin and nullify the effect of the higher level.

A friend of mine offered another moshel. We know that everything in the world is moshol for the true spiritual reality so this concept is found in the physical world in innumerable ways. My friend pointed out that when one want to build his muscles, it is not enough to build them by working them out through exercise and lifing weights. The muscles must be worked so hard to the point of becoming ripped in many places. It is only through the rebuilding of the muscles after ripping that they can achieve the bulk the bodybuilder desires.

This is why Hashem decreed that we go through hundreds of years of slavery and exile in Egypt. He intended to make us feel so broken and cut-off from Him, that our entire relationship with Hashem that had been built up by the Avos was destroyed. It was only after this cutting-off and destroying in the Kur Habarzel (Nesira) that we could re-create our relationship with Hashem as one of Panim b'Panim and not Achor b'Achor (intimate love similar to that of husband and wife and not cool love similar to that of parent and child) through the miracles and the Sinai experience.

This is also why every single peshat that you will hear or read from a rabbi or friend is preceded by a Kasha, a question on your existing understanding of some pasuk/gemara/mishna/halacha. Even if the kasha is weak, people always start off by asking one. This is because of this unconsciously known general truth. Only when there's something you don't understand and your previously conceived understanding of some text is nullified by a kasha can you then be opened up to hear the new pshat. People never just start a speech by saying a new peshat on a text without first asking a kasha on some other understanding of that text.

There are countless other examples of this. I am actually somewhat uncomfortable writing this post without citing any sources. I don't like to do that at all because no one knows whether I am saying things that come from my own imagination or are based on some true source (except those that already know what I'm saying). However, I really don't remember which seforim or shiurim I've learned many of these examples and ideas from specifically. It's more of just a compilation of some of the ideas I know in this topic so I apologize for readers who have nothing to look to that I can cite to double-check the accuracy of what I've written.

May Hashem give us the bravery and strength not to be afraid to be mevatel our current selves in order to build greater selves.

-Dixie Yid

P.S. Passionate Life quoted this piece in his blog, Passionate Life, in a very interesting post of his own on why Emunah in Hashem's Torah is vital to the marital relationship.

Friday, July 20, 2007

New Video About the Piaseczner Rebbe, the Aish Kodesh

-Dixie Yid

Statements by Chazal about Gerim

-When the Jewish people do Hashem's will, He scouers the world, and when he sees a Tzadik among the nations of the world, he brings him and attaches him to the Jewish poeple [as a Ger]. Yerushalmi Brachos 2.

-Hashem only dispersed the Jewish people among the nations in order to add onto them Gerim. Pesachim 87b.

-Three [types of people] love one another: Gerim, slaves, and guarentors. Pesachim 113b.

-When the Gerim come in the world to come, Antoninus will come at the head. Yerushalmi Megillah 1.

-Whether a male converts [to marry a Jewish] woman, or a woman who converts [to marry a Jewish] man... they are not [valid] Gerim. Yevamos 24b.

-There is an advantage that exisits between Yisroel and Gerim. Whereas by Yisroel, the pasuk says 'I shall be to them a G-d and they shall be to me, a nation,' by Gerim it is written, 'Who is this whose heart guarentees him to approach me?' [a more intimate level than just being His nation] Kiddushin 70b.

Perhaps I will cover more ma'amarei Chazel later, but this is a small sampling. Some sound superficially negative but I feel that I cannot quote these without greater explanation, which I will perhaps get to another time.

-Dixie Yid

(See also my recent post at Beyond BT)

(Picture courtesy of Mikvah.org - picture is of Mikvah is Las Vegas, NV)

(I found these sources using אוצר האגדה, Otzar Ha'agada)

(This post also appears at Mystical Paths)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Being a BT and a Ger - At Beyond BT

I have contributed a guest post at Beyond BT which relates a little bit of my story, which has the properties of being a BT and of being a Ger. Please read!

-Dixie Yid

(Picture is courtesy of Chabad.org)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Great opportunity- Breslov Shabbaton in Ramat Beit Shemesh

Please read Rabbi Tal Zwecker's post about a Shabbaton with many of the great teachers in Breslov today this Shabbos in Ramat Beit Shemesh. It sounds like a great opportunity for those of you who live in Eretz Yisroel!

-Dixie Yid

Why the 3 Weeks are best time for Kirvas Hashem

My friend who is, for the rest of the week, in the armpit of Dixie, pointed out a great Ohr Gedaliyahu on parshas Matos Ma'asei that relates to the Shabbosim of the 3 Weeks.

Rav Gedaliya Shor says over the well-known vort about the 3 Weeks from Rav Ber (?)on the pasuk (Eicha 1:3), "כָּל-רֹדְפֶיהָ הִשִּׂיגוּהָ, בֵּין הַמְּצָרִים." He says that the pasuk should be read that "All who pursue Hashem [yud hei], will reach Him Bein Hametzarim [in the 3 Weeks]. Why is the 3 Weeks such an opportune time to get closer to Hashem? Rav Ber explains that it is analogous to a King who is traveling. When the King is at home in the palace, it is difficult for anyone to have access to him. However, when the King is traveling, even simple people can meet the King. So too, during the 3 Weeks, when the Shechina is in Galus, it is easier for simple people like us to connect to Hashem.

He told over another explanation as to why it is easier to connect to Hashem during the 3 Weeks, and especially during the Shabbosim of the 3 Weeks. He says, in the name of Rav Simcha Bunim of Peshischa, that it is similar to Shabbos at mincha time. Usually Mincha time is a time of Din (Yitzchak/Mincha). However, since Shabbos is Rachamim, Shabbos reveals the deepest Ahava and rachamim during the time of mincha. That is why Mincha is the holiest part of Shabbos, Ra'ava D'ra'avon. Similarly, Rav Simcha Bunim says that the 3 weeks are a time of dinim. This indicates that he greatest rachamim is hidden within that time. So when the Shabbosim of the 3 Weeks come (keeping in mind that Shabbos=rachamim as mentioned above) those whole Shabbosim reveal the love and rachamim within the 3 weeks, which makes them a great time of potential closeness with Hashem. And mincha time of the Shabbosim of the 3 Weeks is the biggest of all.

May Hashem reveal how this time is a time of closeness and not a time of suffering, soon in our days!

-Dixie Yid

Monday, July 16, 2007

When a Tzadik Says "No," Does He Mean "No"?

This posting can also be found at Mystical Paths, where I'll be making some guest posts for the next couple of weeks, while R' Akiva and R' Nati work on perfecting their new podcasts. Well worth the listen!

I saw a very interesting and somewhat troubling ma'aseh in Rav Shlomo Yosef Zevin's sefer, "Sipurei Chassidim," on parshas Matos, relating to the seriousness of oaths.

There was a Chassid of the Shpoler Zaide who was unable to have children. He tried appealing to his holy rebbe many times to intercede with Hashem so that he and his wife could have a child. Every time, the Shpoler Zaide would push him off and find some reason not to accede to his request. On one occassion, the Chassid was at his wits end and made the decision that come-what-may, he was going to go over to his rebbe and was not going to leave him alone until the Tzadik would decree that he would be saved from his tzaros.

When he got there, the Shpoler Zaide was immersed in his thoughts and was involved with the higher worlds. He asked the Chassid to please leave him alone right then, because he was involved in matters involving the whole Jewish people and the time was not right for being involved with the problems of the individual. The Chassid felt like this was the perfect time of Hashem's willingness, so he continued to pester his Rebbe to give him a child without letting up. The Shpoler Zaide begged him to stop, because he was unable to concentrate with all of the commotion the Chassid was making. Eventually, the Tzadik could not longer take it, and he yelled at the Chassid, "I swear to you that you will never have children!"

The Chassid was extremely shaken and frightened by the rebbe's words and he said, "If so, I see that my root soul has no place here," he said "Shalom," to the tzadik and left.

After some time, he found himself in Koritz on business. After davening one morning there, he saw Rav Pinchas of Koritz, before the time when R' Pinchas was known as a tzadik. He was a sharp minded though and he could see that there was something very special about this Jew, even though no one else showed him any special deference. It was a few days before Pesach and after watching R' Pinchas daven, he was sure that this man was a very special tzadik, so he came up with a plan to see if R' Pinchas could help relieve him of his childless state. He went to R' Pinchas' house and asked his wife what they had for Pesach. She said that they were very poor, and unfortunately they had absolutely nothing. Therefore, he told her that he would provide them with everything they needed for Pesach and asked that he be their guest over Yuntif. She agreed.

The whole erev Pesach, he supplied them with a new table, chairs, all of the money she would need to buy Matzos, wine, fish, and meat for the Yomim Tovim and Sedorim. The whole day he went back to their house many times to check and see what they were still lacking and he supplied it in generous supply. Reb Pinchas knew nothing of this because he was immersed in his learning and avoda all day. He was actually suprised that his wife had not called him home to provide for the needs of the seder, since he knew they had nothing. He was happy, however, that he was able to devote all of his attention to the avoda of the day.

When he got home that night for the seder, he was astonished to find everything provided for in such a way. He asked his wife who was responsible for all of that and she introduced him to the Chassid. He greeted the guest but asked him nothing else. After the first two kosos of the Seder, he asked the Chassid, "What brings you here and what is your request?" He told R' Pinchas everything that had happened and the story with the Shpoler Zaide and the oath. He asked Rav Pinchas to find a way around the Shpoler Zaide's oath in order that he have health living children. R' Pinchas answered, "If I have some merit in shamayim, I swear to you that this year, your wife will have a son." And that is exactly what happened.

When Rav Yisroel of Ruzhin told this story, he added that there was a big dispute in Shamayim. Whose oath should give way to whose? The oaths of both Tzadikim are mutually exclusive. It was eventually decided that whichever Tzadik had never made an oath in his entire life, even a true one, would have his oath fulfilled. Since R' Pinchas Koritzer had made no oath his entire life, the Shpoler Zaide's oath had to make way for R' PInchas Koritzer's oath. However, such a thing does not happen without consequences, and that son that was borne of R' Pinchas' oath turned out to be a Rasha and a Moser.

Ad kan is the story. I have many questions that I want to leave you with. Why did the Shpoler Zaide push off the Chassid's request so many times before that fatefull day of the oath? I heard another story which is very similar about the Baal Shem Tov where he was hesitant to give a bracha for a child because of the avreiros that child would do. If that was the case here too, then perhaps the Shpoler Zaide had very good reason not to want this man to have a child... Relatedly, what is the dividing line between when you insist on help from a Tzadik despite his efforts to push you off, because those obstacles are merely a test, and when should a person listen to the Tzadik to stop trying? Please ponder!

-Dixie Yid

P.S. The picture is "Old Jew from Jaffa," courtesy of gwu.edu.

Ironies of Anonymous Blogging

I answered A Simple Jew's question about anonymous blogging. Here's his question:

A Simple Jew asks:

One of the advantages of being an anonymous blogger is the freedom to write one's inner thoughts and thereby give the reader a glimpse into the private thoughts within one's mind. Routinely, we share thoughts we would never share with someone who knew our identity.

Yet, as time elapses and we gain regular readers, we instinctively become more guarded with what we write. It is almost as if we are afraid that our words will reveal a divergence between our written words and our online personas.

As another anonymous blogger, do you have any thoughts on this phenomenon?

Click here for my answer.

-Dixie Yid

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Bilvavi Video 8 now available online!

Please click here to view the eighth video in the series given at the Shorashim center in Tel Aviv.

-Dixie Yid

P.S. This blog hit 5,000 visitors last night!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh Author Available to Speak

The Author of the Seforim, Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh will be in the New York area Sunday-Thursday, August 26-30, 2007. The flyer above is being distributed and you may contact the guy there to arrange to have the author of the Bilvavi seforim speak at your Shul, organization, or yeshiva. As you know if you've seen the videos (links to them are available in the Bilvavi links section of the right sidebar), he will be speaking in easy Hebrew.

For those of you who have not learned the seforim or watched the video shiurim yet, the Rav has an amazing ability to explain the depth within the simplest truths and open up a path to make them accesible to people like us. I highly recommend that you forward the flyer I've scanned above to anyone who might be interested in having him speak. It is a rare opportunity that people will have to connect to the Tzaddik during that week that he will be in the New York area.

Update: Here's the schedule.

-Dixie Yid

Monday, July 9, 2007

Guide to Labeling Orthodox Jews

FFB: (Frum From Birth)

FFBWL: Frum From Birth With Lapses- "My yeshiva had the best weed..."

FFBOOH: Frum From Birth Out Of Habit

BT: Ba'al Teshuva

IBT: Integrated Ba'al Teshuva- "You're a Ba'al Teshuva?!"

NIBT: Non-Integrated Ba'al Teshuva- Q: "Can I help you find the pages during the service?" A: "I'm okay, thanks."

BTNOOH: Ba'al Teshuva Now Out Of Habit


-Dixie Yid (card-carrying Underconstructionist)

Friday, July 6, 2007

Bilvavi Video shiur #7 is now available online!

The seventh video shiur by the author of the Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh seforim is now available online at Shorashim.info on a permanent link.

-Dixie Yid

Why do we work? Important Video Shiur - Must see!

There is the most amazing video shiur that I am posting below. It will put your whole attitude towards how and why you work into perspective. It is truly eye opening and I highly recommend it! Please watch and be misbonein!

-Dixie Yid

Pinchas, Kehuna, Reb Tzadok, and Spiritual Actions

The following is based on a shiur.

There are two basic lines of interpretation of the pasuk in Parshas Pinchas (Bamidbar 25:12) " הִנְנִי נֹתֵן לוֹ אֶת-בְּרִיתִי, שָׁלוֹם." One says that because Pinchas did an act of making peace between Bnei Yisroel and the Ribbono Shel Olam, he is rewarded, mida keneged mida, with the "covenant of peace." Meaning that since Kohanim also have the duty of helping the Jewish people come closer to Hashem, they also make peace between Hashem and the Jewish people. Therefore, Pinchas, for making peace, is rewarded with the covenant of peace, Kehuna.

The other line of interpretation says that even though Pinchas' killing of Zimri and Kozbi was a mitzvah, since it involved an act of cruelty, which could affect him detrimentally by making Pinchas more cruel, he is given the Kehuna (i.e. the covenant of peace) to counteract that natural tendency whereby acts of cruelty make one more cruel.

Reb Tzadok Hakohen of Lublin teaches in Resisei Laila that when one is doing a ma'aseh Ruchani, a spiritual act, it does not have the natural physical result that one would normally expect. For instance, it is obvious that when one gives tzedaka, he becomes poorer. If you give $10,000, there is $10,000 less in your bank account. Yet since giving tzedakah is not a naturalistic act, but a ma'aseh ruchani, the Gemara in Ta'anis 9a darshens the pasuk in Devarim 14:22 עשר תעשר to mean עשר בשביל שתתעשר. When ones gives tzedakah, he not only doesn't becomes poorer, he get's more wealthy!

The Rav from whom I heard the shiur suggested that one could use this interpretation to create a synthesis of the two ways of understanding Hashem's gift of Shalom/Kehuna to Pinchas. One interpretation was that his act was an act of peace. The other side said that it was not an act of peace, even though it was a mitzva and therefore required the Kehuna as a tikun for the possible negative effect of the act on Pinchas. According to this yesod of Reb Tzadok, it is possible that since the killing of Zimri was a ma'aseh ruchani, a spiritual act, despite the fact that it would naturally lead to an internalization of the mida of achzarius, cruelty, it does exactly the opposite because of its character as a ma'aseh ruchani. Since it was a spiritual act, the killing of Zimri and Kozbi naturally had the opposite of the natural effect, i.e. that it gave Pinchas a greater level of compassion and peace. Therefore, he was rewarded mida k'neged mida with the covenant of Peace, Kehuna.

May we all merit that our physical actions be acts of ruchnius and that they always make us more ruchani people and not, cv"s, the opposite.

-Dixie Yid

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Amazing Ohr Hachaim Biography on Heichal Hanegina

Please read these stories of the Ohr Hachaim Hakadosh on Yitz's blog, Heichal Haneginah here. It's worth the read!

-Dixie Yid

Monday, July 2, 2007

Funny Anonymous Blogging Story

Perhaps this is only funny in a you-had-to-be-there sort of way, but I just had to share this little story. A Simple Jew told me once he would get a big kick out of it if he was in Shul somewhere and he heard people talking about the "A Simple Jew" blog in front of him. What happened wasn't quite that good but it was quite amusing so I wanted to share it.

When I initially announced that the author of the Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh seforim was going to being giving his first live video shiur I, as Dixie Yid, sent out an e-mail to many people letting them know about it. One of the recipients was a friend of mine (in real life) who feels that the seforim are life-changing for him. He did not know, however, that "Dixie Yid" was someone he knows in "real life." Apparantly he missed the shiur and was very upset about that, but e-mailed Dixie Yid to see if he had any pictures online that he could forward. I obliged by sending him several screen shots I'd taken during that first shiur. Later that day I received an e-mail from this same guy on my person e-mail account sending the-real-life-me those pictures he'd just received from Dixie Yid, but whithout saying where he got them. He just knew the "real me" would appreciate it. I decided to play around with him a little bit so I thanked him for the pictures and asked him where he got them. He responded later that he got them from "a chaver."

A bit later, I got another e-mail from my friend on my Dixie Yid e-mail account, asking me how I'd gotten into the Bilvavi seforim. I told him about it and other seforim I (as Dixie Yid) was learning. Apparantly what I wrote about struck a chord, because he continued to ask me more questions about who I was and where I was from, since he has other friends that learn the same seforim. I didn't answer with my identity but just enjoyed cooresponding with my friend about the seforim we have a mutual interest in, as two different people. At some point I decided to reveal who I was to him and stop playing around so at the end of one of my e-mails as Dixie Yid, I asked him, "Why don't you tell (my real life name) who your chaver was who sent you the pictures of the Bilvavi author?" After a few laughs, we kept talking after I'd been "unmasked."

The funny part doesn't end there however. I received an instant message the other day from a friend I haven't seen or talked to in a very long time. Let's call him "Shloime Shpader". He told me that he was working with a Rav that my aforementioned friend coordinates shiurim with from time to time. I asked "Shloime" if he knew my friend and he said that not only did he know who he was, they were currently cooresponding by e-mail to coordinate a shiur. He then copy/pasted the latest e-mail he'd received from my friend and IMed it to me. I then e-mailed my friend (as the real me) and asked him if he knew "Shloime" from that Rav's office. He wasn't sure he recognized the name so I e-mailed him the text of the e-mail he'd just sent "Shloime" earlier that day. He wrote me back totally confused and asked, "Don't tell me you're 'Shloime Shpader' too!?"

We had another good laugh and I clarified that no, "Dixie Yid," was my only alternate personality. So anonymous blogging can be funny sometimes!

-Dixie Yid