Sunday, March 28, 2010

Burning Away the Chometz in Our Minds - Shalosh Sheudos Torah From R. Weinberger

Rav Weinberger taught an amazing Torah from the Nesivos Shalom at Shalosh Sheudos last night. He quoted the pasuk from the beginning of Parshas Tzav, Vayikra 6:2, which said:

"צַו אֶת-אַהֲרֹן וְאֶת-בָּנָיו לֵאמֹר זֹאת תּוֹרַת הָעֹלָה הִוא הָעֹלָה עַל מוֹקְדָה עַל-הַמִּזְבֵּחַ כָּל-הַלַּיְלָה עַד-הַבֹּקֶר וְאֵשׁ הַמִּזְבֵּחַ תּוּקַד בּוֹ." Metzuda translation: "Command Aharon and his sons, saying; this is the law of the burnt-offering. It is the burnt-offering [which remains] on its pyre on the altar all night, until the morning, and the fire of the altar will be kept burning on it."

He asked why the pasuk has to say "זֹאת תּוֹרַת הָעֹלָה," this is the law of the Olah for the rule that the korban has to be burnt all night until it is fully consumed. After all, that is the rule for the burnt portion of all korbanos, not only the Olah.

He answered from the Nesivos Shalom that an Olah is different and a more difficult tikun than the other korbanos for two reasons. One is that it is mechaper, atones, for aveiros of thought, rather than action. Even when one can avoid bad actions, it is still difficult to control and stop all impure thoughts. So the Olah is coming to accomplish an especially difficult kapara. Second, the there is more of a yetzer hara not to bring an Olah because the korban costs money to bring but one can't eat any of it, and may feel that he gets less out of it because of that. Therefore, the Torah says "Tzav," "command" in this verse, which Rashi always says is a lashon "ziruz," indicating that we must work extra hard to fulfill this mitzvah because it's more difficult than other mitzvos.

In order to understand the Slonimer's first answer, that it is especially important to teach that the Olah is burned all night because it atones for aveiros of thought, he brought an amazing moshol from the Lechovitcher, from which the Slonimer dynasty comes.

The Lechovitcher brought a moshol of a man who wanted to cut down a forest in order to build a city. So he began by cutting down one tree, and then another tree, etc. But he soon realized that the forest was so large that he would probably die before he cut down all of the trees, much less built a city in their place. Therefore, he came up with an idea and set a large fire, which was successful in burning down the whole forest in one shot.

The Nesivos Shalom used that moshol here. When one is trying to drive away all impure thoughts, he may try to wage a battle against one evil thought. And then as soon as he's finished with that one, he realizes that there's another one. So he tries to get rid of that one next. By the time he finishes getting rid of that impure thought, he realizes that the first one has grown back even stronger. And then he realizes that he will die before he is ever successful in ridding himself of all of his impure thoughts.

But then the person realizes that if he can set one big fire, he can burn away all of the impure thoughts in one shot. The key is to set one's self on fire with Yiddishkeit. He has to daven mit ah bren, too learn with fire, to do his avodah with a fire. Then he'll be successful in burning all of his evil thoughts into oblivion.

That's why the pasuk says "Tzav," that he requires special alacrity to work on his thoughts. They are impure, but no one else can see them. They represent a "chisaron kis," a fault (chisaron) which is covered (lashon kisui) and that no one else can see. It is therefore a fault which is more difficult to work on, thus the lashon tzav, indicating that one needs an extra push to get working on it.

And because the Olah atones for impure thoughts, it is especially necessary to say that the korban must be burned all night, because it is only through the burning fire of passionate Yiddishkeit that that can burn away all of the impure thoughts.

Rav Weinberger lamented the fact that the schools just work on cutting down one tree and then another tree. They ban the ipods. Then the iphones, then Internet, then the iTouch, etc. etc. etc. But as soon as they ban one device, ten more take their place. We can never get rid of everything that will turn our minds and thoughts away from Hashem. There have always been things that turn people away. In one generation, it was Communism, in another generation, it was haskala, then reform, then Zionism, etc. We can never get rid of every temptation that threatens to take our and our children's minds away from Torah. The key is not to focus all of our attention on the trees. Instead, we have to do the only thing which can get rid of the whole forest of temptations, which is creating a fiery avodah that can burn them all down.

We have to create a fire within ourselves and our children. Passionate davening, passionate learning and fiery Yiddishkeit is the only thing which can burn away all of those temptations. While obviously we have to use common sense and not unnecessarily introduce temptations into our or our children's lives (see here), those things will not go anywhere near doing the job on their own.

May we be matzliach in burning away all of the chometz of our minds with the fire of biur chometz tomorrow morning!

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1 comment:

Neil Harris said...

Thanks for writing this up. Again, your Rebbe's clarity on the big picture is why he attracts so many people.
I'm currently listening to the Shabbos HaGadol