This blog contains Torah, inspiration, and interesting, thought-provoking, or funny content. Inclusion does not necessarily imply limited or general endorsement/agreement.
Monday, April 30, 2007
Another great new picture of Rav Kook!
A Simple Jew just forwarded me a link to an ebay auction where the above picture of Rav Avraham Yitzchak Hakohen Kook and Rabbi Yaakov Meir can be purchased. It was taken at a reception for the famous Jewish High Commissioner of Palestine, Sir Herbert Samuel in the 1920's. Yasher Koach ASJ! And you can purchase this original picture at the E-bay action.
Sunday, April 29, 2007
Video: Rav A.I. Kook & Rav Y.C. Sonnenfeld
This is the best video I know of showing Rav Kook and Rav Yosef Chaim Sonenfeld.
New Pictures of R' Avraham & R' Tzvi Yehuda Kook
R' Reuven Boshnack Has a New Blog to Keep an Eye On
R' Reuven Boshnack, of Sfas Emes Project fame, has come out with a new blog where he provides a short summary of certain pieces in Chassidus and Machshava that he really likes and provides the Ma'areh Makom for the reader to look it up as well, and comment/discuss it afterwards. He just started it so there are only a few pieces up so far, but it's Kedai to keep an eye on it. And the blog is aptly named, כדאי To See Inside.
You can find it at this link!
Saturday, April 28, 2007
What's the Pillar on Which the Whole Torah Stands?
Rebbi Nosson, in the Likutei Halachos Chumash, quoting from Likutei Halachos, Hilchos Giluach 3:8, says the following:
In reference to the pasuk at the beginning of Parshas Acharei Mos, "בְּזֹאת יָבֹא אַהֲרֹן, אֶל-הַקֹּדֶשׁ," With "Zos" shall Aharon come into Holiness," (Vayikra 16:3); Rebbe Nosson says that "Zos" refers to Emunah. If you want to come into holiness, your main avodah must be real Emunah. He says that simple, small people like us have to focus on Emunah, and through that, we can come to attain G-dliness and merit to fulfill our eternal purpose. He futher says that even though a person may have a sharp intellect, and even be a big "Lamdan," and even know Shas and Poskim, and even Kabbalah and Chassidus, as long as he hasn't purified himself from the putridness of the primordeal snake, and hasn't completely broken the desires of his body, then his intellect will not be perfect either, and by studying these very deep subjects he may even come to a great michshol, and fall very far. Therefore, he says we must focus on being mechazeik ourselves with holy, simple Emunah. He points out that even people who did succeed in all of those attainments of breaking their ta'avos and physicalities made their main avodah, in the area of Emunah. This is because Emunah is the gateway to all other higher level atainments.
After learning this, my rebbe pointed out a Kli Yakar on Parshas Kedoshim on the Pasuk, "וְאָהַבְתָּ לְרֵעֲךָ כָּמוֹךָ: אֲנִי, יְהוָה," "Love your Neighbor as yourself, I am Hashem." (Vayikra 19:18) The Kli Yakar points out the Gemara in Shabbos 31a that says, "שוב מעשה בנכרי אחד שבא לפני שמאי אמר לו גיירני ע"מ שתלמדני כל התורה כולה כשאני עומד על רגל אחת דחפו באמת הבנין שבידו בא לפני הלל גייריה אמר לו דעלך סני לחברך לא תעביד זו היא כל התורה כולה ואידך פירושה הוא זיל גמור." A potential Ger Tzedek came before Hillel Hazaken and asked him to tell him the whole Torah while he's standing on one foot. And Hillel answers him with a rephrasing of the "V'ahavta l'rayacha" pasuk, and tells him that this is the foundation of the Torah, and that the rest of it is an outgrowth from there, and he must now go and learn the rest. The Kli Yakar explains that he was not really asking Hillel to teach literally the whole Torah while the Ger was literally standing on one foot. Rather, it was an expression to mean that he wanted to know one, single principal on which the whole Torah is based. One Klal Gadol baTorah, within which he could frame his understanding of all Torah. Hillel told him that the foundational pasuk of all Mitzvos between man and man; "וְאָהַבְתָּ לְרֵעֲךָ כָּמוֹךָ."
The Kli Yakar asks a great Kasha (not that he needs my haskama). What about the Gemara in Makos 24a (that's frequently quoted by the Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh): "בא חבקוק והעמידן על אחת שנאמר (Chavakuk 2:4) וצדיק באמונתו יחיה." Chavakuk (the Navi) came and placed the whole Torah on one pillar, "A Tzadik lives with his Emunah." This means that the foundational point, out of which all the rest grows, is Emunah, faith in Hashem. How does this shtim with what Hillel Hazakein said, that the foundation of the Torah is Jews loving one another?
He answers that part of the Ger's question to Hillel was whether Ahavas Re'im or Emunah in Hashem are the foundation of the Torah. Is it the relationships between people, or between us an Hashem that is the center of the Torah. And the Kli Yakar answers that Hillel is really answering that there is no contradition. Because, certainly when Hillel quoted the pasuk, he quoted the end of the pauk as well, "Ani Hashem." You must love other Jews because I am Hashem. Your Emunah in Hashem is also the source for why you must love your fellow Yiddin, because each one is a child of Hashem, just as you are, and he possesses a "Chelek Elokah Mi'ma'al," "a 'piece' of the Living G-d," just as you do.
May we be enlightened by these two teachings and merit to work on improving our palpable consciousness of Hashem's presence and love for us in our daily lives!
(Picture courtesy of Hillel.ca)
Friday, April 27, 2007
Guest Posting: Ma'aseh W/R' Aharon Karliner & Parshas Kedoshim
Guest Posting by "A Hidden Tzadik:"
I heard a story from my chumash Rebbi, Rabbi ______, and it ties right in with this week’s Parsha, Parsha’s Kedoshim in a beautiful way. The story is as follows. There was a young man named Moshe who grew up in a nice frum Jewish home. Afterwhile, for whatever reason Moshe lost interest in yiddishkite and found other things to be much more stimulating and exciting. Moshe eventually ended up meeting a non-Jewish girl named Kristina who was from Catholic family. Moshe never revealed his Jewish identity to Kristina for Moshe had no reason to. One Friday Shabbos Night when Moshe and Kristina were walking and talking about all the nonsense and the filth of this world (like they normally did) they all of a sudden heard a mixture of loud cries and singing.
Moshe and Kristina started walking closer and closer to the cries and the singing wondering where they could be coming from and who could be letting out such intense cries? The cries and the singing got louder and louder and Moshe suddenly began to recognize these cries that he and Kristina were hearing. The cries and the singing were coming from the shul of Rav Ahron Karlin and all his chassdim who were singing and crying out to Hashem with great fever. Kristina’s curiousity got the best of her and she told Moshe she wanted to go in to the Shul to check out what was going on. Moshe agreed and told Kristina that she must go to the women section for he was Jewish and he remembered that Jews kept the Men and Women separate. Moshe went into the Men’s section and sat in the back corner close to the door none of the Chassidim noticed that he was there for they were all singing the holy song of “Kaw Echsof Noam Shabbos” which was composed by Rav Ahron of Karlin and they were all crying out to Hashem with their eyes closed reaching very high and lofty spiritual heights.
After the singing and crying was finished, Rav Ahron Karlin got up to speak and Rav Ahron Karlin spoke about the first four pasukim of this week’s Parsha, Parsha’s Kedoshim. He said as follows, “Hashem spoke to Moshe, saying: (at this point Moshe started to listen closely) Speak to the entire assembly of the Children of Israel and say to them: You Shall be Holy, for Holy am I, Hashem, your God. Rav Ahron Karlin paused and then said that this pasuk is talking to the group of yidden who are known as the “Kedoshim”. Rav Ahron continued on to the next pasuk, “Every man: Your father and mother shall you fear and My Shabbos shall you observe – I am Hashem, your God. Rav Aharon Karlin paused a second time and said that this pasuk is talking about the yidden who keep the major Mitzvos but their lacking that fire in their “Avodas Hashem”. The last pasuk said Rav Aharon says, “Do not turn to the idols, and molten gods shall you not make for yourselves – I am Hashem, your God. Rav Aharon of Karlin concluded and said that this pasuk is talking about the yidden that have fallen very away from Hashem. Know said Rav Aharon, that when the pasuk says I am Hashem your God it means that even if you fall away from Hashem in to the lowest depths – it doesn’t matter because I am Hashem your God means that Hashem love’s you even at this low place and even you can still come back to Hashem! As Kristina waited outside the Karlin Shul she eventually grew tired of waiting and left Moshe in Karlin forever!
The truth is Every Jew is like this Moshe in this story and we all want to just stop whatever distractions were caught up in and run to a Shul and starting singing and crying out to the Holy Shabbos and here words of Divrei Chizuk from our Rebbi. But the problem is that every Jew (on their own individual level) has their “Kristina”, has their yetzer hara that they get mixed up with which distracts them from their real tachlis and ultimate purpose in life. And just like in the beginning of the story Moshe didn’t tell Kristina that he was Jewish, so to with us if we don’t tell our “Kristina” who we really are and our true “kochos” then God forbid we can end up living with “Kristina” instead of living with the “Rebono Shel Olam”. But when we reveal to our yetzer hara who we really are (like Moshe eventually did) then “Kristina” will try to come into shul with us and even try to distract us there but eventually she’ll get fed up with us and leave us in Karlin forever! When we remember that the Hashem loves us and we constantly remind ourselves of this unconditional love that Hashem has for us then we are able to conquer our “Kristina” and come back to Hashem out of love, which is the best type of T’shuvah.
May Hashem help all of us whether were struggling to be “Kedoshim” or were struggling to get back that fire into our mitzvos and our Avodas Hashem or were struggling just not to fall any further into all the idolatry and garbage of today’s time. May Hashem direct us to our own inner “Karlin Shul’s” and to attach ourselves to the True Tzaddikim in order so we can come back to Hashem singing and crying in full T’shuvah mamish! May we all be zocheh to see the Masiach tzidkaynu Bmhayrah Byamanu. Amen!
Have A Great Shabbos With Hashem!!!
(The picture is of the Karliner Shul in Tiveria, built by R' Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk in the late 1700s, courtesy of JewishGen.org)
R' Dovid'l From Tolna & Judicial Economy
Yitz at Heichal Hanegina has a great post here regarding R' Dovid'l from Tolna, son of the Meor Einayim, R' Nachum Chernobyler. You should read the post at that link before you read what I write, as I'm commenting on his post.
This piece has a lot of great stuff, both about the ideal Beis Din, and about the comparisons with the secular legal system. As a law student in the evenings after work, I'm interested in both. So I wanted to add a couple of things, in no particular order.
The dispute in the Tolner Rebbe's story between the Lion and the Wolf is exactly parallel to the first case every law student studies in his 1st year Property course, Pierson v. Post, from 1805 in New York. That was a case of a fox hunter (Post) who was in hot pursuit of a fox and, using his hounds (here, the fox didn't get to be the judge!) almost had it when and a Johnny-come-lately interloper, (Pierson), swoops in and kills the fox before Post can finish it off. Based on this case, the common law became that one acquires the animal when one captures or mortally wounds it, not merely chases it for a long time, so the Lion should have gotten the whole sheep, and shouldn't have had to split it, as the fox ruled. That case predated the Tolna rebbe's story by almost 40 years, but apparently the fox didn't follow the British/American Common law precedent!
Also, regarding the dispute between the Chassid and the Poritz, relating to the enforcement of a verbal contract for the sale of land; The Statute of Frauds was passed in 1677 and says that certain types of contracts have to be in writing to be enforceable in a court of law. One type of contract that must be in writing to be enforceable is that of an interest in land. Here, the Chassid is buying a section of forest for the purpose of lumbering, so it is an interest in land. Therefore, it would be within the Statute of Frauds, and would have to be in writing to be enforcable according to British/American common law. Here, the civil courts in Tolna must have had a similar law because the story said that the Poritz knew he wouldn't be able to enforce the contract in civil court.
With regard to the Rebbe's mashal, which teaches us how the Beis Din is far superior to secular courts partially because the cost of litigation is so much less, and the awards aren't eaten away by those pesky lawyers; There was an interesting article from 2 days ago at Law.com about a little employment law case that got so bitter and drawn out, that at the end one side sued the other for $150,000 in attorney's fees for a simple overtime dispute!
Thank you Yitz for a great post at Heichal Hanegina!
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Recommendation for the Bilvavi.net site
I also spoke to my rebbe about the Bilvavi.net site's English translation of the first volume of the Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh series of seforim by the hidden Tzadik in E"Y. I sent my rebbe a print-out of a few pages of the translation and he said that it is very good, and doesn't depart from the meaning or intent of the sefer. He recommends it as a source for the English translation of the Bilvavi sefer.
The quality of the translation is explained by an anonymous source, who is familiar with the creators of the website. He contacted me after my first post about this website here. He said that the translator is in communication with the author of the Bilvavi seforim and was able to get different nekodos clarified for the purposes of his translation.
So please check out the Bilvavi.net site!
Dixie Yid will remain
Just so that people out there don't think I'm not keeping my word with what I wrote here, regarding the question of whether I should continue this blog, I'm posting this update.
Basically, I sent my rebbe a print-out of some of my recent posts along with a print-out of the post I just linked, explaining why I started the blog. I wanted his input both as to whether I should be doing this blog at all, and also as to the content I was putting up and it's quality and propriety. So we discussed it and he feels that what I'm writing about here is good, appropriate, up-beat, and he seemed to appreciate it. Certainly, that advice is unique to me and every person is different and others should consult their own rebbeim to find out if what they're doing on the internet is okay for them.
So IY"H, I'll continue sharing Torahs, stories, and insights in this venue!
Friday, April 20, 2007
A Ma'aseh Re: The Ohev Yisroel and Adding Holiness
I heard the following shiur as it relates to Parshas Tazria. It connects three parallel disputes about whether the main avodah for a person is mainly to completely and directly remove the bad from within himself, or focus mainly on being mosif kedusha, adding holiness instead.
The first of these three dichotomies arises out of the beginning of the parsha, which relates to a woman’s nida status after giving birth. Consider the difference between a nida and a zava; A nida’s purification can be after only seven days from the time her nida status begins. She continually removes and removes the source of the tumah, the dam, until immediately after the 7 days, on the night of the 8th day, she immerses and is puified. The entire process is one of removing the source of the tuma, and nothing else. On the other hand, a zava, in addition to her days of removing the tuma, always has 7 clean days, 7 days of purity/tahara following the tuma. The zava, then, represents the idea of overcoming tuma by being mosif tahara, adding holiness. That is the significance of her 7 days of tahara/purity. We’ll come back to this at the end.
The second example of the okair tuma v. mosif kedusha dispute can be found in relation to the days of sefira that we find ourselves in at this time. During this time, we mourn the deaths of the 24,000 talmidim of Rebbi Akiva. They died in a plague because “מפני שלא נהגו כבוד זה לזה,” they didn’t accord each other the requisite honor (Yevamos 62b). Rav Moshe Wolfson explains, based on the words of the Ari Z”L, that these 12,000 pairs of students were the gilgulei neshamos, reincarnations, of the 24,000+ members of the tribe of Shimon who sinned with the daughters of Midian. When Moshe Rabbeinu was about to judge them, Zimri, the nasi/prince of the tribe of Shimon, intervened, arguing that Moshe was like an interloper judging them. Rather, he, Zimri ben Salu, should judge them himself. Because of this attribute of ga’avah, arrogance, one thing led to another until Zimri himself was mezaneh publicly with the Midianite princess, Cosby bas Tzur, necessitating the intervention of Pinchas. The students of Rebbi Akiva, these gedolei Tana’im, wanted to be mesakain, repair this trait of ga’avah/arrogance from within themselves as a result of the fact that they were gilgulim of these members of the tribe of Shimon who also suffered from ga’avah. To do that, they all made a pact with each other that they would not treat each other with even an ounce of honor, in order to make themselves humble and thereby accomplish the tikun to their neshamos’ sin of ga’avah. However, perhaps due to their being spread out all over Eretz Yisroel, they perhaps took their approach too far and thereby suffered the plague. This represents the danger of this very direct, to the heart, approach to uprooting evil directly, as opposed to being mosif kedusha, focusing on adding holiness.
The 3rd example of this dichotomy: There is a ma’aseh regarding the Ohev Yisroel of Apt and the Kotzker. The Ohev Yisroel put together a Bais Din to judge whether or not they should place the Kotzker in Cherem for the way he was conducting his Chassidim. The Kotzker did not come to this hearing, but some of his talmidim did, including the Chidushei Harim. After the hearing, the Ohev Yisroel told the Chidushei Harim that he was not going to put his Rebbe into Cherem, but that when he becomes Rebbe, he shouldn't conduct the Chassidim the way his rebbe, the Kotzker does. And how did the Kotzker conduct his Chassidim that was so problematic in the eyes of the Ohev Yisroel? They were so committed to obliterating ga'avah from within themselves and from within their midst, that they went to exteme lengths to take the bull by the horns, and remove ga'avah in all of it's forms. Two examples: They would all stand up out of respect for anyone they considered a true anav, humble person, even if that person was ignorant, poor, and without Yichus, in order honor anava, and break their own egos. Also, if anyone came into the Bais Medresh wearing fancy clothing, they would take it away from him, and embarass him with words, as a tough-love way of oliterating ga'avah. This direct approach was not approved-of by the Ohev Yisroel, who felt that it was too sharp and direct a form of avodah for our generation.
The Ohev Yisroel held that the avoda of our generation is not so much to focus on attacking the evil within us. Often times that approach has disasterous side effects in the form of giving up, depression, and internal separation. The proper approach is to pile onto ourselves so much good, kedusha, avoda, tefilla, mitzvos, and hosafas kedusha, that the evil within us will "be batel me'eilav," nullified automatically. This can be compared to "חמץ שנפלה עליו מפולת הרי הוא כמבוער," Chametz on which a building has fallen, is considered destroyed automatically [thereby exempting a person from destroying it directly] (Pesachim 31b). When a person piles on so much kedusha, the evil within him is simply crushed under it's weight and is nullified in that way.
Returning to Nida/Zava; Perhaps that is why we are noheg b'zman hazeh Dirabanan, that all women are machmir to be metaher like a Zava, adding 7 days of tahara, purity, onto the D'oraisa 7 day requirement. As explained above, that is a reflection of the avoda of our generation, which is to focus more on adding kedusha, than on obliterating the bad within us in a direct way, which most of us are not ready for.
May Hashem help us add kedusha, mitzvos, Torah, tefilla, and Avoda, and thereby wipe out the evil within us automatically!
Artwork: "The Utterance" by Yorem Ra'anan
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
A Tzadekes in my Daughter's School
My daughter's in second grade and her birthday party is this coming Sunday. Besides giving out invitations on Monday (today's Wednesday) to her entire class, she also wanted to give one to her friend from the school bus. The only problem is that this friend is in the 8th grade. I have heard a lot about this young lady from my daughter, and it really sounds like she has taken my daughter in under her wing, like a little sister. She means a lot to my daughter and she's a great role model for her, especially on days when my daughter can't find anyone else to sit next to on the bus. This young woman always makes my daughter feel welcome.
My wife and I explained to our daughter that her older friend would probably not be able to come, since she's in the 8th grade, and the birthday party is geared towards our daughter's second grade class. She said that she understood, but undeterred, she insisted that she was still going to invite her 8th grade friend who she likes so much, which she did on Monday.
Last night my wife gets a phone call from this eighth grade girl. She wanted to tell my wife that she would love to come to the party, but that her gradmother's birthday party (age 91!) is at the same time. She said that she knew it meant a lot to our daughter, so she had baked a cake for her birthday (!) which she would give to my daughter in school today.
I was floored by such chesed and sensitivity by an 8th grader towards a little kid in her school. I saw this girl's mother when I was dropping off my girls for carpool this morning, and told her what an amazing daughter she has. So that's why I had to share that story!
Update: She gave our daughter the cake on this bus on the way home from school today, and they shared the cake with the whole bus. So they shared the wealth and a good time was had by all.
Great Seforim Website referred by A Simple Jew
I just found this great site for seforim sets that was referred to me by A Simple Jew. I'm adding it to my permanent links. Thank you ASJ!
Here's the link to SeforimSets.com.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
R' Dovid Werdyger was saved by the Nazis by a song
Yitz at Heichal Hanegina has an amazing post with a story about R' Dovid Werdyger, and how he was saved by the Nazis (y"sh) by emunah, tefillah, and a niggun.
The post can be found here.
Sunday, April 15, 2007
Protecting yourself on the internet- Buddy System Alternative
Shimon at A Jewish Blog has researched another solution to the problem that I brought up here about the spiritual dangers on the internet for Yidden who must use the internet.
The results of his research and experience can be found on his post here. I think this issue must be addressed by anyone who uses the internet. The gemara says "Ain Apotropos l'arayos." No one can guarantee about himself that he will not engage in problems relating to Gilui Arayos, shmiras ha'einayim, or hirhur aveira. Therefore, we must all find aitzos that do not rely on our own self-control to stem this problem. If you use a filter like Shimon suggests, then someone else (your wife, mother, whatever) should have the password to control it's access. Not you/your children, etc.
Here's the link to Shimon's post on this subject.
A Shpoler Zaide ma'aseh and the deeper meanings of minhagim
I saw the following ma'aseh in Sipurei Chassidim by Rabbi Shlomo Yosef Zevin. It really struck me because shortly after I read it, I came home from the seder on the second night of Pesach and my 4 year old daughter did exaclty what was talked about in this ma'aseh with the Shpoler Zayde.
For time immemorial, there has been a minhag that Melamdim would teach the children a peirush to say on each part of the Hagada (Kadesh, Urchatz, etc) as they announced each section. For Kadesh, the children would say, "When the father comes home from Shul on the night of Pesach, he needs to make Kiddush right away so that they children don't fall asleep."
One time at the seder of the Shpoler Zaide, his son made that declaration at Kadeish, but left out the explanation, "so that the children won't fall asleep." His father asked him why he left out the last part. And he answered that his rebbe didn't teach that part. So the Shpoler Zeide taught his son that part.
Unfortunately for the melamed, he was one of the guests at the Shpoler Zaide's meal the following afternoon. The Zaide asked him why he doesn't teach that part, as it's always been taught. The melamed answered him that it didn't seem like such a good reason for making kiddush right away, because the din of making kiddush quickly after ariving back at home applies even when there are no children in the house. Therefore, he decided not to teach the children that explanation.
The Shpoler Zaide got very angry and rebuked the melamed for his arrogance at fooling with ancient minhagim, and for thinking that he was smarter than all of the other melamdim through the generations. There are much deeper meanings to this minhag than you have known about.
The rebbe then proceeded to explain the deeper meaning of why our forefathers instituted that introduction that the children say into the seder: In the Zohar on Parshas Emor (Page 95a) it states that Rebbi Chiya opened wit h the pasuk from Shir Hashirim 5:2 "אֲנִי יְשֵׁנָה, וְלִבִּי עֵר," "I am sleeping but my heart is awake." The Jewish people say, "I am sleeping in my exile." The Shpoler Zaide continued that this Zohar teaches that while the Jewish people are in exile, they are in a state of sleep and a lack of tranquil thinking (histalkus hamochin) because galus brings with it all kinds of pressures, persecutions, poverties, and expulsions. Therefore, our fathers instituted that the children open up the seder and introduce it just like Rebbi Chiya's introduction in the Zohar. And the meaning is like this: When the children say "When father comes home from Shul," it means that when our Father in Shamayim returns after Maariv Pesach night from Shul back to Shamayim and he has just seen that even though every Jew is tired and worn from the pressures of life in galus, from work, and from the labor of preparing for Pesach, nevertheless, when they are in Shul they daven Ma'ariv, they say Halel with fiery enthusiasm, and they pour out their hearts before Hashem in tefillah, each one according to his level, then; "He needs to make kiddush right away," meaning: He must immediately renew his Kiddushin (marriage) with the Jewish people (like the pasuk in Hoshea 2:21, "וְאֵרַשְׂתִּיךְ לִי, לְעוֹלָם," I will betrothe you to Me..." This is "in order that the children not fall asleep," meaning: that he should redeem us from galus so that His children, the Jewish people, not fall asleep, G-d forbid, in the deep sleep of the exile and give up hope from ever being redeemed.
When the Shpoler Zayde finished this explanation, he cried out, "Abba, our Father in Heaven! Redeem us quickly from our exile! Just a little bit longer and it will no longer be, "I am asleep but my heart is awake," but we will completely fall asleep in this Galus, Chalila!"
I was really taken with this ma'aseh when I read it, so later on when my 4 year old ran over to me as I walked into the house for the second seder and said, "Daddy, take off your coat and make kiddish, so the children don't fall asleep!" I was so impressed. I guess they really do still teach that traditional explanation of Kadeish for the children to say at the Seder!
Saturday, April 14, 2007
Nadav and Avihu - According to Likutei Halachos
Rebbe Noson speaks about the true meaning of the sin of Nadav and Avihu, when they brought the strange fire of Ketores in Parshas Shemini. I got this from Likutei Halachos Piriya V'riviya 3:6 and 2, as quoted in the Likutei Halachos Chumash published by Ha'aish Sheli Tukad Ad Bias Hamoshiach. (Avakesh has an interesting methodology to learning this sugya here)
Rebbe Noson brings down the Zohar that says that the underlying reason why their offering of Ketores/incense was not accepted as being because, "D'lo insivu," they weren't married. The reason why they didn't get married was not because they were wild bachelors, but rather because they were great, exceedingly holy, and awesome Tzadikim, and they wanted to be in constant deveikus with Hashem. And this is somewhat difficult when one is married and has to care for his family, drive carpool, and pick up groceries.
He explains that the deeper meaning of getting married is going down into the depths of the physicality of daily life and sadness, and lift it up to the joy of avodas Hashem. This is the deeper meaning of marriage. It is also the deeper meaning of Ketores/incense. Ketores is the holiest of all of the korbanos because it ascends up to Shamayim. But the only reason it is able to do that is because it contains the Cheblena, the foul smelling spice that represents those Jewish people who are low and lacking mitzvos and ma'asim tovim. It is able to rise up to Hashem specifically because it lowers it's self down to pick up and include within the the Chelbena, which represents the lowest of the Jewish people, and bring them along with the rest of the sweet-smelling spices up to Hashem in a holy fire.
Therefore, Nadav and Avihu who never got married because they didn't want to step down for a minute to bring others up to Hashem with them, were unequipped to attain the closeness with Hashem that comes as part of offering the Ketores, since they did not possess the mida of the Ketores, which is to descend to the depths to bring up those who are low, closer to Hashem together with them.
May you and I merit to learn the lessons of this parsha and not only strive to get closer to Hashem ourselves, but not be selfish, and bring our wives, children, and friends with us, in a way of sweetness.
Why do We Love?
Reb Nachum Chernobyler in Meor Einayim says on Parshas Shemini:
Hashem created the world and infused it with 7 midos, the 7 lower sefiros, Chesed, Gevurah, Tiferes, Netzach, Hod, Yesod, and Malchus. He explains how the sole reason Hashem created those midos was for us to use them in the proper way to serve Him. In this piece, the Meor Einayim goes into depth of the first two midos and explains how they're meant to be used, and how they get enclothed in a crooked, misapplied version by people here on earth.
He says that Chesed's application is meant to be Ahava, love; specifically love of Hashem. That is the true essense of Ahava, only Ahavas Hashem. But in order that we on earth have the ability to access this highest/true level of love, He created in us the ahava of ta'anugim (physical pleasures like eating, sports, recreational music, etc). However, those loves that we feel are only garmets enclothing within them through many tzimtzumim (concealments) the love of Hashem, the true and alive form of love.
The other forms of love are called "mais," dead. They are not meant to be an end unto themselves, but rather only a doorway allowing us easier access to the shoresh of love that is within them, Ahavas Hashem. Therefore, Reb Nachum quotes the famous pasuk in Koheles 9:9, "רְאֵה חַיִּים עִם-אִשָּׁה אֲשֶׁר-אָהַבְתָּ," "See life with the woman whom you love." He explains that Shlomo Hamelech is using the love of a woman which is the greatest form of worldly love that exists as the paradigmatic example of all worldly loves. Shlomo is saying to "See life," meaning to see the living/true/real love of Ahavas Hashem within your love for the woman whom you love.
When we do not use our love of the things of this world as an opening to the Ahavas Hashem that is the real love enclothed within them, then we are merely using the ahava nafula, the fallen/lower love of this world, the "dead" love instead of the living/true love of Ahavas Hashem.
Similarly, he says by the second mida of Gevura, that is synonamous with Yirah and Pachad of Hashem. He says that those with Chochma will realize the unbelievable and immeasurable greatness of Hashem and will be in fear and awe because of that recognition. But he says that most of us are not able to tolerate such a consciousness and therefore Hashem, in His kindness, has provided for us another way to access that Yiras Hashem. He actually scares us with the various forms of fear in our lives (fear of not making parnasa, fear of criminals, fear of animals, etc.) The purpose of this is to bring the mida of fear into our lives (which wouldn't exist otherwise if we don't already have Yiras Hashem) as a reminder to channel that fear towards Yiras Hashem. If we do that through contemplation about the things that scare us, then the things we are afraid of will not have to come to pass, because we'd have fulfilled their purpose already.
However, if we're cruel to ourselves and are merely afraid without channeling that fear to it's source, then the things that we're afraid of will actually come to pass.
He continues briefly with the other midos: We're supposed to use the mida of Tiferes to give honor and glory to Hashem (and not to ourselves, the Tiferes nafula). We should use Netzach to be menatzeiach (victorious) over our Yetzer Hara (not over other people in the office, in learning, in arguments, in our homes, etc.). We should use Hod to beautify the Torah (not ourselves, our homes, cars, etc.). We should use Yesod to tie together all of the other positive manifestations of these midos and channel them on to Malchus, which is the mida of applying those midos to our lives practically speaking.
May we all merit to connect to the true love and fear, which is of Hashem, and not merely their lower applications in physical terms!
Thursday, April 5, 2007
Something to think about when life seems too hard to bear...
Here's a very nice post at Beyond BT by a rabbi from Aish Hatorah on the subject.
The Shpoler Zayde
Of course, the Shpoler Zaide is most known for the famous "Hop Cossack!" story, where he outdancing the cossack while wearing the bear skin costume, which can be found here at Heichal Hanegina.
If you think you have a bad environment at work...
I saw the following story in the sefer Sipurei Chassidim by Rav Shlomo Yosef Zevin in the Shir Hashirim section on Pesach.
Shir Hashirim 2:2: "K'shoshana bain hachochim, kain rayasi bain habanos." "Like a rose among the thorns, so too is my beloved among the nations"
There was a ma'aseh with the Shpoler Zaide. One of his Chassidim had to make his living working in a tavern. He came to the rebbe for guidance.
"Every day I have see drunks and low-lifes behaving like animals and talking about the most disgusting things. I'm really worried that this will affect my mindset and will lower me to be more like them. What can I do?"
The Shpoler Zayde answered him: "It sounds to me like you think that if you had enough money to live on without having to work, and you had beautiful cloths, plenty to eat, and a beautiful clean Bais Medresh full of seforim to learn in, then you could really serve Hashem. But that you can't really be a kadosh, a tahor, and an eved Hashem in the environment you have to me in now.
Well let me tell you, Hashem already has tens upon tens of thousands of malachim serving him up in shamayim like that already. If He needed one more of those, you would have been created as a malach. Hashem put you in that place of tumah right now so that you would long to be close to Hashem, and look forward the whole day to those few holy words you can utter before your Creator. That longing and desire and purity and holiness of the mind that you can have in the midst of that tavern of yours is more precious to Hashem that the service of all of those malachim up in Shamayim.
The words of the Shpoler Zeide are more important for us now than ever, as we are surrounded at work and on the streets (and those of us who bring TV and internet into our homes; there too) with nivul peh, pritzus, and base conversations. May Hashem help us be mechazaik ourselves to hope and live for the moments of avodas Hashem that He grants us!
Bilvavi Mishan Evneh is online in Hebrew and English
Perhaps this discovery is not new to others but I wanted to share a link to a website that has the text of the various seforim of Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh online. It even has a lot of chelek alef translated into English. I'm making a permanent link to them as well. Enjoy!
Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh - Building a sanctuary in your heart
Update: I sent my rebbe several pages of the translation to Bilvavi from this website. He wanted see it to see if he should reccomend it to people. Even though y'all don't know who he is, suffice it to say that he is someone whose opinion I value immensely. He said that he is very happy with the translation there and would definitely reccomend the site to people.
Sunday, April 1, 2007
The Only Difference Between Chametz and Matza is a "Mashehu"
The Meor Einayim from Chernobyl says the following pshat in Parshas Tzav regarding the fact that chametz is asur even b'mashehu (and isn't batul even 1 in a thousand):
The letters in the words "chametz" and "matza" are almost exactly the same. Two out of the three letters in each word (in Hebrew) are the same: mem and tzadi. The only difference is that Chametz has a Ches. And Matza has a "hay." And the only difference between those two letter is just a little line connecting the vertical line to the horizonal line on the top left side of the letter. That little line, that mashehu of a line is so small that you would think it wouldn't matter. But that mashehu makes all the difference between the word being "chametz," or "matza." That is why chametz is asur even b'mashehu.
The yetzer hara doesn't usually try to get us to do aveiros that are open and obvious to us as aveiros. First, it tries to blur the distinction between them by making the aveira seem to us to be a mitzva. That is how it tricks us. And often the distinctions can be very slight (outwardly) (only a mashehu) but that mashehu makes the difference between aveira and mitzva, between chametz and matza.
May be be zoche to be makpid on that mashehu seeminly small difference between the yetzer tov and the yetzer hara, and may we be zoche to be meva'air and mevatel all of our inner chametz!
Ma'aseh with the Imrei Yosef and the Chometz/Yetzer Hara
On years when Pesach falls out Motzoi Shabbos, even Chassidim daven Shacharis Shabbos morning very early. It was one such year by the Imrei Yosef of Spinka. When the Chassidim finished davening early Shabbos morning, it was time for them to go home for the sedua and bitul chametz.
But the Rebbe suggested to the Chassidim that instead of having their seuda at home, they should have a tish right there in Shul. Although many of the chassidim were nervous about having all that chometz around then, they went ahead and made a tish then with singing. After benching, the Chassidim were ready to go home, but the Rebbe said they should all do "Kol Chamira v'chamia" together as a tzibur. Although this is not usually done obviously, everyone did it together.
After the powerful "kol chamira," there was one Litvak there who was a guest who was thinking to himself how strange these chassidim are getting. They're turning this halachic activity into some sort of davar shebekedusha, for which you need a minyan!
The Rebbe called over this man and said, "I know what your thinking, and don't worry. I know one doesn't need a minyan for bitul chametz. But you know when we're mevatel the chametz, we're really trying to beat and be mevatel our yetzer hara. And it's so hard to beat the yetzer hara. You need to do it together. Each person needs chizuk from his chaverim it overcoming the yetzer hara. And I've always wanted to do the bitul chametz together for that reason, but usually people are so busy erev Pesach, there's no chance for people to do it together. But this year, where erev Pesach is Shabbos and people aren't in such a rush, this was the perfect opportunity to be mevatel the chametz together."
May we all merit to destroy our chametz and be zoche to mechazeik each other in fighting our yetzer haras!
(The picture is of the Chakal Yitzchak, the son of the Imrei Yosef of Spinka - courtesy of wikipedia)
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