Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Using Physics to Explain the Process of Teshuva

At Shalosh Sheudos on Shabbos Shuva, Rav Moshe Weinberger quoted a Yerushalmi in Brachos 9:5 (68a) that gives an analogy to explain why, when we leave the Torah for one day, it goes away from us for two days.
אמר רבי שמעון בן לקיש במגילת חסידים מצאו כתיב יום תעזביני ימים אעזבך. לשנים שיצאו אחד מטבריא ואחד מציפורין ופגעו זה בזה בחדא משכנא לא הספיקו לפרוש זה מזה עד שהלך זה מיל וזה מיל נמצאו רחוקין זה מזה שני מילין.

Rav Shimon ben Lakish said in Megilas Chassidim, they found that it is written "If you abandon me for one day, I will abandon you for two." [He gives an analogy of] two [people] who left, one from Tiveria, and one from Tzipori, and met one another in an inn. When they said goodbye to one another, one walked a mil and the other one walked a mil. It comes out that [even though each one only walked one mil] they are two mil from one another.
He brought down an explanation from the sefer "L'horos Nosson" from Rav Noson Gestetner to explain how teshuva is possible if it's really true that our aveiros push us twice as far away from Hashem as we actually go due to the fact that Hashem is "moving" in the opposite direction as we are. He answers this question with the following Gemara:

The Gemara in Yuma 66a says "רבי לוי גדולה תשובה שמגעת עד כסא הכבוד שנא' (הושע יד) שובה ישראל עד ה' אלהיך." Teshuva is so great that it reaches all the way to the Throne of Glory. Rav Gestetner explained that even though when we abandon Hashem we are moving in the opposite direction Hashem is, teshuva has the power to draw Hashem, so to speak, back to us. He uses this pshat to explain the pasuk in Devarim 30:3, "וְשָׁב יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֶת-שְׁבוּתְךָ." The pasuk literally means that "Hashem your G-d will bring back those of you who are returning." But according to this alternate pshat, it would mean that Hashem will return "your returning." Meaning that Hashem will take the "returning" that we should have done, and He will do that "teshuva" for us by returning to us.

But this pshat still imagines the space that we create between ourselves and Hashem as one linear distance in one dimension. I was thinking of another pshat, based on a somewhat different reading of the Gemara in Yuma 66a about teshuva reaching the Kisei Hakavod.

Check out the video below, originally posted by Crawling Axe, to get an idea of where my thoughts are going with this:

Physics imagines the physical dimensions as lines from one dimension leading to another dimension. If one folds the points on one dimension together, he can pass from a point on one dimensional plane to a point on another dimensional plane instantaneously. For instance, if you imagine all places that exist at one time as a flat plane, you can also imagine folding that plane so that very "distant" points are touching, you can imagine how it could be possible to traverse such a large distance in just a moment by going over the folded point and skipping all of the space on the plane in between.

Reish Lakish in the Yerushalmi introduced the concept of looking at spiritual distance as if it were a physical distance. So extending that analogy, if there were a way to make a fold in the physical distance separating us from Hashem, we could get straight back to Hashem while skipping over the whole "distance" that separates us. That is what teshuva does. "teshuva reaches [over] to the Kisei Hakavod" could mean that teshuva creates a miraculous fold in the plane of space that separates us from Hashem and allows us to "skip" back to Hashem over the fold.

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Video on Shlomo Katz's New Album "Malei Olam"

Get the album HERE.

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Friday, September 25, 2009

The Humanity of Kaparos

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Rav Itchie Mayer Morgenstern on Shabbos Shuva - Excerpt & Full PDFs

Many people believe that they will accomplish great things spiritually, but when it comes to action they don’t get anything done. This is why a person must learn to unite the potential with the actual, and this is the very beginning of teshuvah—to resolve to complete that which one planned to accomplish in avodas Hashem. This is what the true tzaddikim taught us, and this is where we must begin. The entire redemption depends on this. This is what is meant when the Gemara states that in the ultimate future the shuls and batei medrash of Bavel will eventually ascend to Eretz Yisrael.[1] These “minor sanctuaries” which symbolize all of the revelations of the tzaddikim that are presently in the diaspora state, will ascend to Eretz Yisrael, to the world of thought so that one’s mind can always consider them and their application.

In general, one must realize that all true spiritual growth depends on consistency; one cannot waver in one’s mind or actions, but must instead focus his thoughts on the Divine Names as taught in the Zohar and by the Arizal and the Baal Shem Tov. And the completion of this practice is in bringing it down to the level of action, to consider the teachings of the tzaddikim and learn them in order to fulfill them. Then the beauty of the tzaddikim shines forth. Until we see their teachings in a real light, we cannot possibly appreciate their greatness—our own sins make us insensitive to their holiness. The same can be said of a person who distanced himself from the sanctity of Eretz Yisrael; he cannot possibly honor the land properly. The more that we begin to honor and appreciate Eretz Yisrael, the more we will be able to really raise her up on her rightful pedestal.

[1] Megillah 29a

To see all of Rav Morgenstern's "Toras Chochom" on Parshas Ha'azinu/Shabbos Shuva, click on one of the following links:

Toras Chochom on Ha'azinu
Toras Chochom on Parshas Ha'azinu in English

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Shabbos Shuva, Yom Kippur, Mikva & the Baal Teshuva- By Rav Zvi Leshem



Removing the Impurity of Our Transgressions

Rav Zvi Leshem

In Al Hateshuvah, Rav Soloveitchik writes that any transgression carries with it two negative repercussions - liability and impurity. Although the sinner is obviously liable to punishment, the more serious issue is the tumah, the impurity that has resulted from the sin. This is not in the technical halachic sense, but rather refers to the metaphysical aspect of the spiritual uncleanness that distances us from Hashem. Consequently, explains the Rav, Yom Kippur has two results, kapparah, atonement, and taharah, purity. Each of these is the antidote for one of the results of sin. Rabbi Yehudah Hanasi held that Yom Kippur provides atonement even if the individual does not repent. While this opinion is not accepted, it nonetheless needs to be understood.

For this reason, Rav Soloveitchik writes, "There is atonement without repentance, but there can be no purity without repentance." In other words, just as the sin has a technical ramification in the realm of punishment, so too can the special holiness of Yom Kippur together with its potent sacrifices technically remove the liability for punishment. But can this properly correct a damaged relationship? Does this relieve us of our personal need to appease Hashem? In this situation, does it give us the status of baal teshuvah, penitent, so beloved before God? Obviously not! That can only be achieved through sincere teshuvah with a broken heart!

In the Mishnah, Rabbi Akiva dramatically declares, "You are happy, O Israel! Before whom are you purified, and who purifies you? Your Father in heaven … just as the mikvah purifies the impure, so God purifies Israel!" The Rav points out that this statement was made not long after the destruction of the Second Temple. The Jews at that time were despondent. With no Temple, High Priest, incense offering, or scapegoat, how could they possibly achieve atonement? They felt doomed to lead eternal lives of spiritual tumah, with no chance of repairing their misdeeds and coming close to Hashem. Against this backdrop comes Rabbi Akiva, the eternal optimist, to remind Am Yisrael that ultimately there is only one source of forgiveness, atonement, and purity - Hashem Himself! Even a mikvah is only a mikvah because God has decreed it to be so. Since we no longer have a Temple, the answer is sincere repentance, which brings with it both atonement and purity. For this reason, Rav Soloveitchik concludes his discussion with an idea found in the Maharal and other sources, and takes the comparison between God and the mikvah quite literally. "We must enter into God, into the holiness of Yom Kippur like we enter a mikvah, with no foreign item interposing between our body and the water, with no part of our body remaining outside of the water." As long as we are holding back, as long as we aren't ready to jump in and completely immerse ourselves in Elokut, we cannot really be purified.

The Slonimer Rebbe writes in Netivot Shalom that the three forces that can purify the Jew are the mikvah, Am Yisrael and Hashem Himself. He then quotes the Beit Avraham that, "just as the mikvah only purifies if there is no interposition whatsoever, so too Am Yisrael can only purify if there is no interposition between one Jew and his fellow." This is, of course, another explanation for the halachically mandated need to appease anyone whom we may have offended before Yom Kippur, and to forgive wholeheartedly anyone who has offended us, even if they did not ask. The Netivot Shalom ultimately sees us going through a process in which the mikvah purifies the body (and one must immerse on the eve of Yom Kippur). The connection with Am Yisrael purifies the lower portions of the soul, and finally, Hashem purifies the higher levels of our souls. This is reminiscent of the Piaseczner Rebbe, who writes that to achieve spiritual unity we must first integrate our own personalities, and only then achieve Jewish unity. After that, all of Am Yisrael can finally unite with Hashem.

On Shabbat Shuvah we enter into high gear preparing for Yom Kippur, which is just a few days away. As we have learned from Rav Tzaddok Hakohen, the Shabbat before any holiday contains that holiday's essence, and in this case that is most certainly true. On Shabbat Shuvah, we can already feel the awe and joy of Yom Kippur, its holiness and beauty. Now is the time to plunge into all of the mikvaot: those of water, Am Yisrael, and ultimately that of Hashem Himself. Wash carefully; remove all particles that stand in the way. Nullify yourself to the purifying powers that surround you. Then you will be ready for a Yom Kippur that provides you not only with atonement, but with purity as well.



Before Kol Nidrei

Rav Zvi Leshem

The Rambam has a famous position that only those Jews who live in Eretz Yisrael are referred to as the tzibbur, the public community. This fact invests the Jews living in Israel with a serious responsibility for our brethren who are still in the Diaspora. The Maharil, in his Laws of Yom Kippur, quotes Mahari Segel, who asks why we have longer piyutim, liturgical prayers, regarding the goat that was offered in the Temple than we do about the scapegoat, whose power of atonement was far greater? One of the answers given is particularly interesting. The goat offered in the Temple atones for violations of the Temple's purity and holiness. Since the Temple's holiness is still in effect even when the building is destroyed, and entering the Temple Mount in a state of ritual impurity is a grievous sin, the Jews of the Diaspora ask Hashem to forgive the Jews of Israel who may have been remiss in this area. This reflects the principle that all Jews are responsible for each other. As a proof, the Maharil cites the confessional liturgy in which every Jew asks forgiveness, in the plural, for a long list of sins he may never have committed, since in fact, each of us is asking for forgiveness for every Jew. Let us take a deeper look at the mutual responsibility that every Jew has for each other.

In Chovat HaTalmidim, the Piaseczner Rebbe describes the states of yichud ilaah v'yichud tata, upper and lower unification. Lower unification takes place within Malchut, the collective body of Am Yisrael. After all of the Jews have united (lower unification), then they can collectively unite with the upper sefirot, i.e. with Hashem Himself, reaching the state of upper unification and rectifying all of reality. The Rebbe uses this idea to explain the statement made before we perform many mitzvot, "for the sake of the unity of Kudsha Brich Hu (Hashem) and the Shechinah (represented by the collective Jewish People) … in the name of all of Israel".

The Rebbe explains that this process actually has three stages. Firstly, each one of us must work to make ourselves into an integrated personality, in which the body, brain, and soul all work together to serve Hashem. We all know that when we are feeling personally "not put together" we are not in a state in which we can maintain proper relationships with other people. Secondly, each one of us must work to unite ourselves with all of Am Yisrael. Unfortunately this is easier said than done, but we must never cease in our efforts to bring authentic unity to the Jewish People. Only after these two aspects have been perfected are we, Am Yisrael, as represented by the Shechinah, able to unite with Hashem. Thus the prayer formula which discusses uniting Hashem and the Shechinah ends "in the name of all of Israel," since the higher unity of God and the Shechinah is absolutely dependent upon the prior unification of all of Israel.

The Piaseczner Rebbe further writes in Zav v'Ziruz, that if we want to make spiritual progress, we should set ourselves an annual goal. Where do I want to be one year from now? What kind of person do I want to be by next Yom Kippur? Then, throughout the year, I should measure myself by the standards of the "new person" and check periodically if I am succeeding in closing the gap between the old and the new. If at the end of the year, I am no closer than I was a year ago, then in a sense I have wasted a year of my life, God forbid. Every year we should make it our goal to work on unity, including the personal, national, and cosmic levels. If we all sincerely make this our top priority, we can, with Hashem's help really change ourselves and the world.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Posting (Almost) Live After the Uman Drive by ZEV - Part 2

Being with Rabbeinu Z"L for Rosh Hashanah was Kulo chizuk – In fact, I’d say it was even Magical. The best way I can describe my experience is that in Uman, on Rosh Hashanah, H" Yisbarach is crowned as the King, L'Maaseh, with all the majesty that a group of tens of thousands of Yidden can muster up. From the time that I walked into the Kloiz for selichos Erev Rosh Hashanah (3 am, right off of the plane..) the words "Melech," which are painted on the walls at the front of the Kloiz, served as the humbling intoduction to the soon to be coronation ceremony. Rabbenu's Tzion on Erev Rosh Hashanah was packed, with Yidden from every corner of the world, of every type, pouring out their hearts to the Ribbono Shel Olam, crying, dancing, tearing open the heavens with Tikkun Klali. The energy in Uman, and especially inside by the Tzion, could be felt by everyone there. There were tens of thousands of people there. Inside the Tzion, outside the Tzion, on the streets surrounding the Tzion. Everywhere – davening, crying, confessing in front of the Rebbe. I couldn’t help but to feel the experience deeply.

When I made my way, finally, to the Tzion, and put my head down on Rabbeinu’s matzevah, for the first time, I felt as if he was embracing me. “Rabbeinu, B”H, I’m finally here with you for Rosh HaShanah. – I’m here Rebbe!” One thing I have to say – given the massive number of people there – it was packed, but the Yidden let each other up to the matzevah. I expected to have to fight my way to the front, but it wasn’t like that at all. Everyone there seems to know that everyone else ALSO wants to touch the Rebbe’s kever, and they make it happen, B”H. I was zoche with a few chaverim (B”H, I finally got to spend Rosh HaShanah, by the Rebbe, with REB CHAIM F.!!! – after 4 years of planning it, I finally overcame the meniyos!).

Davening in the Kloiz was probably the most powerful spiritual experience I’ve ever had. I don’t know exactly how many Yidden are in the main shul of the Kloiz – I heard 10,000 with those standing. I had heard about the clapping that goes on my HaMelech, but just couldn’t have imagined the power of that moment. When “HaMelech” is said, everyone there stands up and claps, giving the Master of the World a standing ovation, for at least a minute. The feeling that I experienced at that moment can’t be put into words. It was just so powerful. 10,000 Yidden (or something like that…) clapping for our Father in Heaven. The clap was like a clap of Thunder. It just went through me. I’m not sure I can go through another Rosh HaShanah without that moment (It should be with Moshiach Tzidkeinu, by the Rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash in the coming year, B’Karov Mamash). The same Clap of Thunder took place at “HaMelech HaKadosh”.

The davening was just so amazing – like I said, Magical. I kept thinking to myself what a zchus it was to be standing there. Such a zchus to be a Ben Melech, clapping for my Father in Heaven. Hameivin Yavin. All throughout Yom Tov, I could hear the Roar coming from the different minyanim – all davening with such intensity. Screaming, clapping, dancing – Lichvod the Melech. And Tashlich … oooooh ahhhh. It was a sea of kittelach surrounding that body of water – a surreal scene of Yidden davening, doing hisbodedus, dancing – a sea of Kedushah.

Taking the charter flight back to Eretz HaKadosh was not my famous part of the trip, BUT after waiting in the airport on endless lines and checkpoints, our holy brethren were having some fun with the baffoon thug Ukrainian soldiers - one precious Yid screams really loud - SCREAMS - to the soldier standing at the head of a line of hundreds of us (the Ukrainian soldiers did their best to make us wait as long as humanly possible before being allowed into various sections of the airport), "Meeeester, Yehi Razon Milfanecha sh'anachnu, bnei malachim, maminim b’nei maminim, yeheyu Moshlim Aleichem B’Karov, BARUCH SHELO ASANI GOY, Meeeeester!!!". The soldier got angry at him, assuming he was being made fun of, and the Yiddele says to him, "MEEEEEEster, I ask you if we can take a peeeecture with you Meeeeester."

Mi K’Amcha Yisroel. I so hope you two Holy Yidden can join the kibbutz next year (in Yerushalayim of course, but if not, then in Uman)!


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Rosh HaShana through Yom Kippur: How Do You Talk To The Melech - Audio Shiur

Reb Yerachmiel has shared with us to a yesodosdik shiur on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur in which he traces through Gemaras, the Shulchan Aruch and the Mishna Berura to explain a fundamental question we should be asking ourselves every day, and especially during the Yomim Noraim: How Do You Talk To The Melech?

Click on PART ONE and PART TWO to get the shiur by either left clicking to listen to streaming audio or right clicking and pressing "Save Target As" to download.

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The Simcha of Teshuva - Audio Shiur by Rabbi Judah Mischel

Shiur by Rabbi Judah Mischel at Sha'alvim entitled, "The Simcha of Teshuva."

CLICK HERE to get the shiur.

HT Elie Mischel. Picture courtesy of Kumah. Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox or here to subscribe in Google Reader.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Monday, September 21, 2009

Post (Almost) Live on the Uman Drive by CHAIM - Part 4, Returning Home

Dearest Chevra,

We all had the most uplifting yom tov. Words can't even come close to explain the experience that one has being joined by thousands. There were people from a multitude of countries, including England, France, Canada, Israel, Spain, Africa, Australia. Russia, Ukraine. To be in a place that is so special - joined by over thirty thousand people all overcoming so many obstacles. You can talk to an array of people and hear the most amazing stories.
I would like to share one experience that we had on our trip to Sofia Park, for all those wondering what is Sofia Park it was built as a memorial for the Nobles daughter that was murdered, protecting the Jewish residence of Uman Ukraine. I was walking together with Yackov S. when Reb Yackov stopped to talk to an individual that was rather large and very tall. I joined in their conversation and I found out that the fellow was from South Africa, I asked what do you do? He replied I am a farmer. That's interesting, he then told me he came to be in Uman together with the Rebbi and all the chassidim. It turns out that he actually is responsible for funding the Security for Uman over Rosh Hashana long with the other expenses. Looking at the fellow he was wearing a safari hat a pair of worn jeans- wow who would have ever expected.

In Uman there was three massive stations set up to feed those in need of a meal. We all witnessed the Chesed in amazement - literally thousands of beautiful meals.

The Kaloz the big shull bursting at its seams. The safardi minyan down stairs didn't even have standing room nor did the main minyan. Once seated B"H we had great seats you couldn't leave - the aisles were totally crowded. If you are thinking this must be a safety hazard, the answer is to just climb over the benches.

The Tzion of the Tzadik Yisod Olam was very well attended, however the general atmosphere was so pleasant. The most beautiful part of our trip is to see how all of our jewish brethren from the most pious to the most secular. That is part of the draw because everyone feels comfortable. A special treat was that Reb Zev P. was finally able to overcome all the challenges and join us, ashren'u. This is part of the experience recognizing the chessed of Hashem. Watching the great collection of neshomas coming together to make the Kibbutz (gathering).

There were minyonim on most street corners, of course many minyonim by the Tzion itself. A group of the five towns Chassidim actually joined the safardi minyanim. At the Safardi minyan the entire tifila is sung by the peole along with the sheliach Tzibor, it is a very moving experience.

We are on our way to Berditchiv then Borisooll International airport.
A gut Yar to all.

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Beautiful Video of Children and Holy Places in Eretz Yisroel

I would like to get this video, My Land, at some point. Looks very nice.

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Friday, September 18, 2009

How to Make a Shofar & Which Horns Used - Video

Cute, funny, and informative video

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10 Bilvavi Shiurim on Rosh Hashana Available For Download

CLICK HERE to go to the page at bilvavi.net where you can download 10 different Rosh Hashana related shiurim that Rav Shwartz, the author of the Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh seforim, gave during his trip to the U.S. & Toronto over the past two weeks.

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Posting (Almost) Live on the Uman Drive by DOV - Part 3

Now I remember why last year I stopped writing after stopping in Mezzibitch by the Baal Shem Tov. When you step off the van you step off into the Olam Haemes. The first thing we did in preparation is go to the Mikvah. After cleansing our guf we went upstairs to daven maariv. We then went down to the Chader ochel to fill our guf with an incredible soup with potatoes, carrots, and barley. I think each one of us has 3 helpings. Then a plastic cup of mud coffee. We then all walked outside to spend time with the Baal Shem Tov. There are no words that can do justice. You can't understand until you go. There is no possible way for a person to walk within daled ammos of the Baal Shem Tov and not feel transformed. I read every name once again said 3 kippitel of tihillim, and then poured out my neshoma to Avinu shebashamayim. Jay and I walked around the cemetery to read the names of the kedoshim surrounding the holy mokom. As I am writing the chevrah are still trying to describe the way the feel. There was a magical calm and tranquility that we all felt in the presence of the tzaddik. Aviezer started humming a niggin and then we all joined arm in arm singing and dancing for the next half hour. A niggin is an infinite tiffilah. Its a tiffilah that surpasses all words that our guf could possible articulate. We lifted our neshomas to a new place. This is preparation for Rosh. Hashanah. We are all awakening our neshomas in preparation of greeting Hamelech tomorrow night.

Jay shared a story with all of us about an hour before we got to the Baal Shem Tov. When he stopped over in Paris there was a Yid trying to call his wife. His phone was not working so Jay offered to let him use the phone to text his wife. He then asked the Yid "aren't you on your way to Uman?" The yid replied "of course". Jay then said " and you haven't davened to Hashem for you phone to work?"." There is nothing you can't daven to Hashem for." The Yid smiled and walked to a corner and began to daven. Jay lost sigh of him as he boarded the plane the Yid still davening in the corner of his eye. When he landed in Kiev and was waiting for his luggage the yid came running over to Jay with a big smile and his cell phone in hand screaming "it works now, it works now". "See" said Jay "nothing is to small for Hashem, pray for everything."

What I haven't told you all till now and Allyson can attest to this is that I have an international phone here in the Ukraine but it has not been working. Allyson made 3 calls and spent a good half an hour with customer service trying to get the phone to work. I realized it was time to daven for my phone to work. I told the chaverim that I was inspired by Jay's story that I had to daven to hashem for my phone to work. So daven I did. "Hashem you are the manhig hakol even my phone working is completely up to you, please hashem make my phone work so that I can call my wife children and family while I'm here. My blackberry vibrated with a new message with a new trigger number from customer service. I dialed the trigger # and the phone worked. This was witnessed in full by my 4 other chaverim. Ask them the next time you see them. Daven, just daven, then when you think your done daven some more.

We are ready Hashem. We are ready to come to Uman.

Drive Leon, Drive, faster and faster, into the night as our neshomas are beginning to awaken again to connect with the Borei Olam.

Jay continues to delight us with stories of Tzadikim through the night even as I'm writing these words.

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Cutting One's Self Off From Physicality - Wow

As I was picking up Rav Itamar Shwartz, the author of the Bilvavi seforim, from his host in Woodmere on Thursday night for a full night of shiurim, the lady of the house was urging him to have some dinner before he left. The Rav eats almost nothing during the week, as I have observed myself. I also tried to convince him to eat, pointing out that we had a long night ahead of us, and that his guf needed koach for that. He had a look on his face that showed me that he very much wanted to accept her offer to eat something, but that he just couldn't get himself to eat. Although he seemed to want to acquiesse to please his host and myself, he just said "Ein li koach," "I don't have the strength [to force myself to eat something.]"

This just brought home to me that it is possible to be menateik, to cut one's self off from physicality to the extent that it takes an effort to get one's self to partake of physicality. (Cf. Tanya, first perek regarding "וְלִבִּי, חָלַל בְּקִרְבִּי") For me, it's just the opposite. My natural tendency is to eat and partake of the physical world, and it takes more "koach" just to separate myself from that a bit. (Sigh) I'll get there (or somewhere close) one day!

Video of Rav Shwartz speaking in Williamsburg, Brooklyn courtesy of me. Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox or here to subscribe in Google Reader.

Why I'm not Ready For Rosh Hashana - Audio Shiur by R' Reuven Boshnack

This shiur was given by Rabbi Boshnack yesterday at Queens College. Kedai to listen fi you can!

CLICK HERE to get the shiur.

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Posting (Almost) Live on the Uman Drive by DOV - Part 3

In the world of Hakodosh Baruch Hu and when on a mission of kirvas hashem through kirvas hatzadikim, expect the unexpected. As if the tzaddik himself called out to Hashem and said "Have these neshomas come and visit me", I asked Leon if he could stop to get some drinks and he replied "sure, we will be in Bardichiv in 5 minutes." We had no intention of stopping there originally, but knowing that Rav Lavie Yitzchak was 5 minutes away, of course we had to stop. This bais hakvoros has always amazed me. The beautiful flowers that surround these kedoshim are fascinating. Baruch Hashem we had time to say a kippitel of tihillim, light a candle, and place our left hand upon the resting place of this Tzaddik yisod olam. I was able to say the all the names that were sent to me over the last few days in this holy place. The kohanim waited patiently outside the cemetery as Jay and I got to spend a few precious and surreal moments in the tzion.

Just as we were leaving, Jay pointed out "how amazing, just the thought that we were driving along the same streets that this holy tzaddik would walk to shul, mikvah, or the bais medrash."

It is upon us to follow in the ways of the Tzadikim. For they will show us the lighted path in kirvas Elokim, kedusha and teharah. Now besides literally following the actual footsteps we must strive to reach the heights of these kedoshim. Rav Tzvi Meyer Zilberberg pointed out on his last trip to America that we have no idea how strong the kochos that hakodosh baruch hu has and continues to give us to grow in kedusha, grow in davening, grow in avodas haboreh, grow in bein adam lichavero, and growing in limud torah.

As we got back into the van all of us began to reflect on the moment and it was just a moment. But, "kieref eyen" in the blink of an eye the whole world could change. Ours just did as we departed another one of the greatest giants in chassidus the holy Kedushas Levi. It is known as a big segulah just to mention his name "Reb Lavi Yitzchak ben Sarah Sasha". Imagine laying your hand upon his kever and opening up you mind and your heart to Hashem.

Bikidusha Vitihara, on into the night to the Baal Shem Tov.

Picture of the kever of the Baal Shem Tov courtesy of ykrussia.blogspot.com. Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox or here to subscribe in Google Reader.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Yiddin Davening Slichos Erev Roshana in the Kloiz in Uman - 5 MINUTES AGO!

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Posting (Almost) Live on the Uman Drive by ZEV - Part 1

Just landed in Kiev Dixie - jut spent 3 hours singing Uman Rosh Hashanah and Mah Tov Chelkeinu with hundreds of yidden in a flying Ukrainian tin can. Maariv on the plane with hundreds of people screaming kaddish over the ocean. Its an amazing feeling of achdus, and hisorerus! Jews of all types, daatim, charedim, chasidim, all with one thing on their mind - to be Mamlich the Melech, Hakadosh Baruch Hu!! Mi K'Amacha Yisroel! It's such a zchus to be a Ben Melech. I'll write again when I arrive in Uman. Uman Uman Rosh HaShanah!!!


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Posting (Almost) Live on the Uman Drive by DOV - Part 2

We landed several hours ago and stood on line at customs for over an hour. There are actually no formal lines just 1000's of people trying to force their way to the front from all sides. Just as we reached the front of the line we were joined by our dear chaverim Shmuel and Jay. Jay joined our group to go to Mezibitch to the Baal Shem Tov and Shmuel opted to go straight to Uman.

We made immediate contact with our faithful Driver Leon and boarded the Green coach. No sooner then we got in the Ukrainian mafia hassled our driver for money, they negotiated 20 dollars out of us.

Jay shared some amazing stories with us about his great grandfather who is from the Ukraine. They had 13 children and lived on a farm. Some soldiers came to their home to round up their boys so the father hid them in large ovens in the basement. The soldiers looked everywhere for them convinced that it was impossible that there were no boys tending to a farm of this size. The soldiers told Jay's great grandfather to light the ovens. When the soldiers turned their back he picked up a log and beat them to death and buried the soldiers under their home. Needless to say the boys were saved but not for long. Pogroms hit the Ukraine and the Russians killed anyone that owned land to give it to the peasants. So they left home with the shirts on their back. Only six of thirteen children would survive the 1 year trek along the Ukraine to escape to the United States. In fact one night after the father returned with a shovel in his hands from burying one child, his wife sent him back out upon his return to bury yet another. The rest survived and built a life in the USA in the late 20's. How humbling, we worry when our AC stops working or we have a flat tire, a bad day at work, or when the first chill of winter moves in. These yidden were Moser Nefesh beyond our imagination or comprehension.

We stopped briefly on the side of the road to daven Mincha. We ate crackers, phony bologna. cheese sticks, and hearts of palm. Our faithful driver Leon presses on into the night closer and closer to the father of Chassidus, the holy Baal Shem Hakodosh.

Bisimcha Gadol,

Dov Berish

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Posting (Almost) Live on the Uman Drive by DOV - Part 1

"613"- for all of you that really know me well, have probably heard a story or two around the number "613". Well needless to say this trip started with a "613". Allyson and the children all got in the car at 6:07 and we departed for JFK. I ran through a mental check list of everything I packed. Tifillin, talis, (oops I just realized I forgot my Maczor I'll have to get one in UMAN ), pants, shirt, shampoo and soap, etc.... I realized I forgot my rain coat. Realizing that it often rains in the Ukraine I decided to turn around and go back to the house to get it. I grabbed my rain coat, got back into the car looked at the clock and there before my eyes was Hashem. "Shivisi Hashem linegdi somid" "I place hashem before my eyes always". Yes it was "613"pm. It was the Beshah tovah- the right moment that Hashem wanted me to begin my journey and preparation for Rosh Hashanah 5770. I truly don't know what I have done in my life for Hakodosh Baruch Hu to give me this opportunity a second time in my life. I remember Rav Itamar Schwartz the Mechaber of "Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh" speaking last year to a small group of bachrim, and describing his life's search for Hashem. He described to us that the first moment he realized that there was a problem was in his teens and it was Elul and he knew he was supposed to feel something and he felt nothing. Well Elul 5769 and I too felt nothing. There was a void. I knew very well that I should be feeling something, or at least that the melech was traveling and near. The zechus I have been granted once again to cut the cord and spend 48 hours in preparation for Rosh Hashanah, to visit kivrei Tzadikim, and daven with 30,000 mispallilim in an area smaller that any one of the five towns. It is a mokom of tiffilah like non other in the world. Living in America, it is not possible to make any preparations for the Yom Tov ahead of us. Life is cruel, no matter what we do Life will find some way to occupy every last moment. I would be lucky to have the 5 minute walk to shul erev Rosh Hashanah to reflect, and prepare to greet the Melech. Like everything else in life we are procrastinators. Even things that have deadlines, one way or another can be extended. So we push it off and push it off till the very last moment.

As I stated in my last email, if not for Hashem who is the Manhig al kol, my amazing and courageous wife who will be home alone this yom tov with 6 little children under the age of 8, the spark my Rebbi, Rav Weinberger lit 4 years ago describing the mesiras nefesh that the wifes of the many that travel for treasures in UMAN undergo, and the final push my chaver Chaim Freud made last year to help me cut the cord and unplug from everyday life in America.
I know that hakodosh baruch hu loves me so much as I sit here and write this email. I know he truly loves me and wants me to have every chance and opportunity to develop a deep and meaningful relationship with him. This is the tachlis of all our lifes.

I was recently learning in chelk 5 of Bilvavi about how hashem desires and loves our tiffilos. We often look at an "es tzarah"-difficult time as a punishment, when in the olam ha emes- world of truth, it is another opportunity for us do deepen our relationship with Avinu Shebashamayim. We as parents love when our children turn to us and say please. How could we possibly say no. Especially, when they are so sincere. All we hope for is that our children make good decisions in life, and conduct them selfs in an appropriate way. Listening to and watching our children read and write, and develop life skills excites us to no end. We encourage them, work with them, and applaud them along the way.

Go Dov Berish, lech lecha me artizicha umibais avicha. Travel to a foreign land, go visit kevarim of some of the holiest yiddin that walked in this world. Pour your heart out, cry out in the words od Dovid Hamelech in tihillim which contains all the tiffilos for the sufferings of klal yisroel till the end of time. I have with me 3 pages and around 10 index cards containing the names of my closest family and friends and even names of yidden I don't know. In truth when I daven for them or I daven for myself there is no difference. In klal yisroel we are one. When you pour out your heart for the needs of others you are actually davening for yourself." Kudsha brich hu, viyisroel, vioraysa, chad hu". Hashem, klal yisroel, and the torah are one. On the plane ride I am traveling with 3 holy kohanim "the cohen brothers". Aviezer- my chavrusa the gentle and steadfast nishoma, Betzalel the hammer of emes and tzidkus in klal yisroel, and Chaim Dov the tzaddik in the making.

Our brachas have new kavanah, we discuss shaylos and inyani kidusha. We prepare our selfs to greet "Hamelech"- he's here and loves everyone of us. Please hashem help us all realize the kochos - strength you have given us to reveal the kedusha within us, your kedusha that fills this world and all worlds. Help as all prepare our selfs NOW to greet the face of the melech dovid malcha meshicha this year of 5770. May we all be zocheh to spend rosh hashanah in the bais hamigdosh bemhar biyamanu.

Dov Berish

Pictures of Sophia Park in Uman courtesy of Simcha Goldberg. Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox or here to subscribe in Google Reader.

Why Do Some Who Commit To Making Aliya Ultimately Not Succeed?

I wrote once about how Rav Weinberger taught that when you make an absolute decision to do something, even when it's not within your actual abilities to do it, Hashem gives you the kochos you need to succeed.

I was thinking about how this applies to aliya. I know there are many people who make aliya who don't succeed there and either return after a couple of years or have major problems there, such as when their children do not stay on the derech to one extent or another. If people make a real decision to uproot their lives to fulfill mitzvas yishuv ha'aretz, why do some people seem to not get the kochos they need to be matzliach there?

You could answer that the people who are ultimately unsuccessful in staying in Israel did not make an "absolute" decision to make aliya, but rather had it in the back of their minds that they could always come back to America if it didn't work out. If this is the case, then you could attribute the fact that Hashem didn't give them the kochos to succeed to the fact that they did not make the absolute commitment to make aliya to begin with.

It's probably true that this is the case for many people. But I would also wager that many people who do go with the 100% intent to stay are also unsuccessful. How can this be explained?

And in general, people often decide to do various mitzvos or take on madreigos in avodas Hashem that ultimately don't work out. How can this be?

I was thinking that perhaps the way to distinguish between "hachlatos," absolute decisions that will be supported by Divine brachos for success and those decisions that will not be blessed with success is based on Ratzon Hashem. The blessing for success, the giving of the kochos for success based on an absolute decision to take something on may be contingent on the thing one decides to do being ratzon Hashem to begin with.

Perhaps some people who are not successful in the end in making aliya or taking on some madreiga were unable to make an objective assessment about whether that move is what Hashem wanted of them at that particular time. Of course everything that happened in the past is ratzon Hashem in the sense that it was hashgacha pratis that whatever happened, happened that way for a reason. But mitzad the person's perspective, perhaps if one takes on something that is inn appropriate for him for some reason, that decision will not be supported by the Divine Assistance that one who makes an absolute decision to do something that is right for him will be met with.

For instance, maybe someone's not on the level of emunah as a general matter to rely on Hashem for his parnasa if a job is not already lined up for him before he moves. Or maybe one made the decision to make aliya without properly considering whether his teenage children could adjust in a healthy way to the new culture and language. I could never speak about the emes of any particular individuals situation, but if this were the case and one decided to do mitzvas yishuv ha'aretz without fully considering whether it was really ratzon Hashem for him to do so, then perhaps that Divine koach to succeed will not be given.

This is a musing and not a final opinion of mine, and I would certainly be interested in others' thoughts...

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Photographing (Almost) Live on the Uman Drive by Simcha G. - The Eagle Has Landed!

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Posting Pictures (Almost) Live From Mezibutz on the Uman Drive by Chaim - Part 3

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Posting (Almost) Live From the Uman Drive by Chaim - Part 2

Yiden, we are working hard to include all of our families, extended families including Kehilas Bais Medrash -- Rav Dovid Speigel Shlita--- Kehilas Aish Kodesh ---Rav Chaim Moshe Weinberger Shlita--- we are all anxious to arrive at our final destination. We passed other commercial transportation including Ox driven Trucks, buses from the late 40s, wow is life so simple, the Boys brought us some water for literally pennies.

When we arrived at the mokom of the Helica Rebba Rav Zushia and the Magid of Mezrich. We mentioned why the Rebbi was called Zushia and not after his Real name Meshulem Zisel- because the Rebba was so sweet, he would constantly take the abuse of every one and any one in order to help another Yid. He was the brother of the famous Heiliga Noam Elimelech of lizensk but quite the opposite he had a very small court while his brother ran probably the largest. The Rebba Rav Zushia was by fare responsible for his holy brothers success in disguise. There we also made a Kal MalA Rachamon for the kedoshim that were murdered in the hands of the Nazis may Hashem avenge their innocent blood speedily in our days. We were able to spot the makom hashetichta because of the menorah that was erected at that place.

Now Lexi our driver no not really our driver is Leon is bringing us to Mezbuz the birthplace of chassidim as we know today. We will have a hot bowl of soup I'YH and some warm bread, a hot mikveh and a place to daven mincha. Our younger chevra is exicted to see the local wares including the mink, beaver,rabbit, skunk take out the last, hats and other home made brika brak.

Wow Leon look out for the pact of cows going home after a hard day at work. Okay we are arriving now in mezbuz. Got to go, I will I'Y'H continue on the next leg of our journey.


PS everyone here says thank you for the zechus to deliver all those tefillos

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Posting (Almost) Live From the Uman Drive - By Chaim - Part 1

Sholom chevrah,
Well B"H we left NY without any glitch, yep it really went as planed. We landed at Schipol international in the Netherlands just in time that the airport was still asleep. After gathering together we began Slechos of the third day. The terminal was so deserted, we were able to charge all our electronic devices- at the check in counter while we were davening. B"H we made the Naitz Zman. Who would ever believed that we would be able to gather in such a place and pour our hearts out to the Borah Olam. We were then asked to leave the terminal and clear european standard check in, what a joke. We waited for about 40 minutes on that ridiculous line, we all cleared security along with the Hisa chassidim that joined us on our trek to Rabbanu Hakodosh. We are now on the Ukrainian Airline aircraft and they are insisting that I shut off my device as to not delay the travelers. Catch you all later signing off.

Hi chevra,
What a difference from an american carrier to one of the ukrianians????? They made a mistake and they sat us in a plane designed for sardines, what a joy to sit next to the Six foot four Zacharia Shlomo (ZACK) well his company is the best but there is the matter of space. Oh Vay, B"H its only three hours, they gave us an alkaline breakfast,(fruit) green bananas without the banana freckles and apples with. Well we took off in a timely manner surprisingly considering there first class security (ha ha) they were abrupt with us. Perhaps they are envious of our tallasim no probably the Teffilin. We met a Jew from Pennsylvania, he was so scared to daven in the airport he felt they would rob his tallis and Teffilin. Well we are about to land, our trek will lead us through Ukraine Border control- push back- DON'T Cross the yellow line on the floor, for if one dares to disobey they shut down out of desperation (push back) we will try to receive our bags and find Leon, our limousine driver (well its actually a 1990 van) it's sure better than the donkey and wagon idea.
Signing off catch you all later I'Yh in "haditch" the mokom of the Bal HaTanya.

"Financial Assistance Needed"
Hello my dear friends,
You must be wondering about the title of this post? Alright let me explain, we arrived at the Admor Baal Hatanya (pictures on the side by Simcha Goldberg) the Rebba is surround by a wonderful compound of buildings. For those who remember from last year, ah what a memerory it is constantly there to be michazic us. The up keep of the mikveh on the compound is a true task, keeping the water so pleasant. We met a couple from Moscow there then some fellows from South Africa, talk about along trip. Now for the financial distress, beatiful tzion and bais medrash, mikveh but no electric!!!!!! coulld. It be? Unfortunitly yes and it is. B"H we had all sorts of flash lights, and we made the best of it. I was thinking how many people ever have the zechus to vist the makom tzion of such a great tzadick. Who ever learnt any of the Rebbas sichas or the Tanya itsellf can appreciate what I mean. There are tens of thousands of chasidim visiting the Ukraine each year, how many make it to Rebba the Baal Hatana. The group was in awe, we all know that Chazal taught us that after the pitirah (departing) of a Tzadick the Neshomah becomes boundless and can be "poel" yeshuos that were not possile in the life of the tzadik. We are all back in the limo on our way to vilednick, I wll keep you posted on our to shepatepska, annapooli, mezbitz, berditzov, brelov and then UMAN. Stay tuned you all are great!!!!!

Hi every one, B"H we had our meniyos (obstacles, forces that come to prevent) the being and IY"H the end. Well let's just say that things worked out very different then we expected. For starter Scott Loffman bag was lost, the phones of course weren't working, the driver changed his pickup location because of the mafia, that was just some of the issues. But we B"H learned that these challenges only prove the dire importance of our journey, for our most wonderful families and the rest of amicha yisroel. Well we fixed the phone problems, thanks Judy for stepping in to rescue Reb Simcha. I bought a new Kyvister phone with russian letters really cool. We stopped on a beautiful road to daven mincha (see picture), a corn field at that. As we began to daven shemona esrai hashem sent a very slight drizzle- perhaps a wink saying Kinderlach your doing a good job. Chazal teaches that rain is a bracha in the right time and measure. Our first journey is to thee small town of Gadich the place of the Bal Hatania. The lubabicher rebbi never carried an umbrella, he said that the rain is a bracha why should he create a chatiza(separation) between him and the bracha. We all davened B"H with Conviction feeling the droplets. Well we are off back in the limo and enjoying the view. Judy yes Zack is in shock that he didn't pass any mall as of yet 300klm later.
Keep you all posted!!! IYH
Chaim and the gang!!!

We would love for some of the chevra to cheer us on!!!!! Go chevra!!!! Any questions any requests for some special tefillos -send them,,, don't be shy!! We all will be facing our maker in the next few days-lets try too be ready!!!
Dixie Yid: If you e-mail me or leave a comment on this post with any tefillah requests or chizuk for Chaim and the rest of the Woodmere/Uman chevrah, I will be sure to pass it on to them, IY"H BL"N.

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Elul and Tefillas "Shema Koleinu" Part II – Upteitch, Uplift & Upshake - Audio Shiur

Reb Yerachmiel has treated us to his sixth audio shiur on the topic of berchas "Shema Koleinu" in Shmoneh Esrei. Still with “Elul-eyes”, Reb Yerachmiel shares with us the deeper explanations, the “Upteitch”, of this amazing bracha. Indeed, with his trademark energetic and emotional delivery, you will be’ezras Hashem see that Reb Yerachmiel’s “Upteitch” has the power to both “Uplift” and “Upshake” as we enter into the Days of Awe.

CLICK HERE to get the shiur by either left clicking to "live stream" or right click and select "Save Target As" to download.

Note: Although Part I and Part II are self-contained shiurim, you can listen to Part I here.

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Pre Slichos Kumzitz & Divrei Torah With R' Boshnack - Audio

Below is the audio from a kumzitz with some divrei Torah right before Slichos this past Motzoi Shabbos, led by Rabbi Reuven Boshnack, the campus rabbi at Brooklyn College. Enjoy!

CLICK HERE to listen.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Breslov Chassidus on Rosh Hashana - Traveling to the Tzadik - Audio Shiur

I am happy to present Rebbetzin Yehudis Golshevsky's shiur for this week on Breslov Chassidus for women. In this shiur, Rebbetzin Golshevksy discusses Likutei Moharan 188 regarding traveling to the tzaddik to find our "lost objects," our lost direction.

CLICK HERE to listen!

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Elul & Teshuva - Audio Shiur by Rabbi Eli Wolf

Ron Samet has been kind enough to share with us a shiur by R' Eli Wolf on Elul and Teshuva that connects to last week's parsha. It's kedai to listen!

CLICK HERE to listen/download.

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Elul and Tefillas "Shema Koleinu" – Upteitch and Uplift - Audio Shiur

Reb Yerachmiel has treated us to his fifth audio shiur on the topic of berchas "Shema Koleinu" in Shmoneh Esrei.

In this shiur Reb Yerachmiel, the heiliger Selichos traveler, explains the first half of berchas Shema Koleinu with “Elul-eyes”. As you’ll see, this deep, fast-paced and exciting “upteitch”, has the power to “uplift” as we enter into the Days of Awe.

CLICK HERE to get the shiur by either left clicking to listen right away or right clicking and selecting "Save Target As" to download.

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Labor (Avodah) Day Workshop With Bilvavi Author in Woodmere

This past Monday, we had a small workshop with the author of the Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh seforim, Rav Itamar Shwartz. He gave three drashos during the day, and we had time for hisbodedus, personal meeting times with the Rav, learning, and meals between the drashos. I will try to give a brief summary of what the Rav said in each of the drashos, followed by a few more pictures from the Labor Day workshop below. MP3s of the drashos from the workshop and from all of the drashos during the trip in general will be posted, IY"H, when they are available.

The Rav's main point in the first drasha was that it is possible for us to change. Dovid Hamelech said "וְלִבִּי, חָלַל בְּקִרְבִּי" (Tehilim 109:22), which Chazal say means that he was in complete control of his yetzer hara (Brachos 61b & Bava Basra 17a). The Alter Rebbe says in the first perek of Tanya that Dovid Hamelech killed his yetzer hara through fasting. Do we have emunah that we can reach this level? Do we aspire to reach this or other great levels in the coming year? What is my goal that I hope to reach by the end of my life? What kind of person do I aspire to be by that time?

You might ask, though, how can I aspire to reach such heights. It's too difficult. It's not logical to think that I could become a great tzadik. I am only human and the yetzer hara is a malach. And who is stronger... a human being or a malach? Certainly the malach is stronger! The Gemara in Kiddushin 30b even says we are unable to beat our yetzer hara on our own, "ואלמלא הקב"ה עוזרו אין יכול לו"!

But the answer lies in that Gemara in Kiddushin. It may be true that I cannot become that great tzadik by the end of the year or even by the end of my lifetime on my own, by any stretch of logic. But Hashem can cause me to reach that level as a matnas chinam, a gift. If I give up on becoming a big ba'al madreiga, a big tzadik simply because I know it is impossible to reach that level, then indeed I will never reach that level. I may not reach all the way to the levels to which I aspire, but if I don't aspire to that level, I will certainly not reach it! At least if I set high long-term goals, I will have some chance of reaching them.

But since these levels are unattainable using pure human strength, they are only attainable through Hashem's help. This means that high levels can only be reached by crying and davening b'emes to reach those levels. It may not be shiach to do the avodah necessary to reach a very high level of tzidkus right away, but we should work on two tracks. On the level of aspirations and goals, we should shoot for and daven to reach the highest heights. But on the level of "avodah," what we're actually working on, we should pick the next attainable thing, as we often hear in preperation for Rosh Hashana.

His major theme, I think, in the second Labor Day shiur, was "avodas Haratzon." As he discussed in a few pieces in his new sefer on the Yomim Norayim, The days from Elul to Yom Kippur are called "Yemei Ratzon." The simple meaning of this is that it is a time when Hashem has "more ratzon" to accept our teshuva and tefillos during this time. But Rav Shwartz teaches that this time is not only called "Yemei Ratzon" because of Hashem's part. But also because of our part. It is the time when we should be workking on clarifying and correcting our retzonos, our desires.

It is a time to sort out our multitude of desires. If I make a list, I may have 50 or 100 things that I want in life. Then, it is worth clarifying which ones of those are merely expressions, manifestations, or examples of other, deeper desires that I have in life. And of that shorter list of true desires, it is appropriate to clarify where those desires come from; the body or the neshama.

I must ask myself whether my main ratzon in life is a ratzon for kedusha or whether it is for other things. When I put on a talis and tefillin each day, am I doing this out of habit so that I can avoid feeling guilty when i do what I really want to do afterward, whether that is going to work, eating, or whatever. Am I living to do a mitzvah or to learn Torah? Or are those things obstacles on the way to doing what I really enjoy. If, as it is for me many times, the latter, then my ratzon is not in the right place. And part of my davening and work in preperation for and on Rosh Hashana, after I've clarified what the state of my ratzon currently is, is to daven for a change in ratzon from devarim chitzonim, superficial things, to devarim shel etzem, matter that relate to the actual point of life.

He said that the reason behind almost all failures is a lack of ratzon, will, and desire. We can usually attain (eventually) the things we really want. If I fail at attaining something in kedusha, it is really because I want something else more than I want that. So avodas haratzon is an essential pre-requesite to making real changes in one's level in avodas Hashem.

In the third drasha, which he gave only to men, (there was a sepperate drasha for women but, for obvious reasons, I cannot summarize that one) he discussed why learning Torah (specifically heavily analytical learning) is essential to reach high levels in avodas Hashem. He said that avodas Hashem inherently requires avodas Halev, working on and understanding one's own heart. But an avodah like this requires a very delicate and refined analytical ability. It requires the ability to make subtle distinctions and clarify the root of things, rather than only their branches. He also pointed out that this "koach he'havchana," ability to make subtle distinctions, is uniquely developed through learning Gemara in-depth.

It is possible to learn Gemara in an intellectually lazy way also. One can learn a kasha and then teretz in the gemara, and then a kasha & teretz in Tosafos, and then a kasha and teretz in the Ran, the K'tzos, the Brisker Rav and so on. Someone like this will amass a lot of information, but will not develop his own ability to use his mental capacity of Bina, to build one idea on another and be "mavein davar mitoch daver," derive one thing from another. One will generally not develop this koach through Daf Yomi, which goes too fast to develop any analytical kochos in the mind.

Rather, he said that the only way to develop the mind through learning is by being misbonen, contemplating and thinking about the sugya, and thinking in learning. After you read the gemara's kasha, stop for a moment. Think about the question and see if you can think of your own teretz. Analyze the gemara's kasha and the apparant assumptions behind it. Think of a couple of questions of your own on the Gemara's question. Then read the answer and see if it was the same as your own, if you came up with one. When reading Rashi, ask yourself why Rashi had to say that, what was he adding, and what was bothering him that required him to make the particular comment in the particular way he made it.

The same thing applies with Tosafos. He also suggested ending a seder after reading a kasha, before seeing the teretz. Think about it and think about it until you can think of an answer. But even if you can't think of an answer, or if you make a mistake and think of a wrong answer, you have still done the work that develops the mind and its analytical powers. And these powers are essential to avodas Hashem. Because without the intellectual subtelty necessary to precicely idenitfy one's own kochos hanfesh, it will be difficult to get very far in avodas Hashem, which requires avodas Halev, working on the heart.

May this brief summary help give people a couple of roshei perakim going into their preperations for Yom HaDin. IY"H, the full shiurim will be available soon. As always, I made these notes from memory almost a week after the fact, so any mistakes are mine and should not be attributed to Rav Shwartz. Kol tuv and a k'siva v'chasima tova.

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