Friday, May 11, 2018

4 Video Shiurim on Bechukosai

Ramchal beautiful explanation of why the verse begins with Hashem's bris with Yaakov and only then mentions the other avos; Why it says, Avos and the significance of Hashem remembering the land ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Komarna Story sfas emes, chidushei harim; the greatness of these inyanim; Komarna on how we become a new creation through keeping mitzvos ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Rav Nosson: Hashem will never abandon us since we are filled with longing for Him; Yesod means connection and we bring this out by longing for Hashem ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Rav Tzaddok: Curses in Bechukosai and Ki Savo; Why one is in singluar and one is plural; why we read this every year two shabosim before Shavuos and Ki Savo two shabosim before Rosh Hashanah P.s. in the shiur I mention that there is no Zohar on Bechukosai and a comprehensive exploration of the avodah of the Klalos is available in Ramad Valie's masterful discussion. This was an error since there is a short Zohar on Bechukosai (Ki Savo has no regular Zohar on it). Yet the point stands, since it does not deal with the klalos (expect the encouragement mentioned in the piece on Rav Nossn and why the tochacha is called divrei habris and a bit more.) So if you want to understand the avodah aspect, you need Ramad Valie.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Connecting to Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai

Lag Baomer shiur: The word "Shimon" forms "Mash Avon"--"depart sins";Alludes to really hearing and internalizing as in Shema Yisrael; the greatness of Rebbe Shimon

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Video Shiurim Vayikra and Parshas Hachodesh

Rav Tzaddok on Parshas Hachodesh: The avodah of Rosh Chodesh, accessing the light of redemption especially available during this during Nissan Connection of above piece to Parshas Vayikra: Based on Rashi and Maharal on upper and lower water Komarna on Parshas VAyikra: Deeper dimension of sacrifice. Preparing for Pesach and About Rav Tzadok: About Rav Tzaddok and preparing for Pesach Rav Tzaddok on Parshas Vayikra: That Hashem calls all of us and we need Him to fill us with the light of Torah Rav Nosson on Parshas Vaykra: restoring what we put out of place due to sin

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Rav Tzadok on Vayakel and Para; Komarna on Vayakel; Rav Nosson on Pikudei

Rav Tzaddok on Vayakel and Pikudei: Do not make a fire on Shabbos also alludes to the fire of jealousy, desire and honor; Three of the four parshios fix each of these aspects respectively while hachodesh enables a deep sense of renewal Komarna on Vayakel: Not making fire o motzei Shabbos before kidusha d'sidra and havdalah; making clarifications during the six days of the week Rav Nosson on Pikudei: why the Mishkan traveled through the desert; we reveal the Mishkan through holy longing

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Rav Nosson on Ki Sisa: People are harder to deal with than the yetzer hara; patience with ourselves and others no matter what Komarna: Accepting the light of Shabbos and keeping it during the six weekdays; the detrimental effects of chilul Shabbos; the nature of Shabbos and the Jewish people's bond to the Jewish people Rav Tzaddok: The providence of Hashem: what we can understand and what we cannot; Only retroactively can we sometimes see the advantage of suffering like after we left Egypt

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Komarna, Rav Tzaddok and Rav Nosson on Purim

1) Komarna: : I go with this avodah each Purim and it never fails to helps focus on getting into and experiencing Purin; Profound but very powerful. Never fails to deepen and enhance one's Purim experience; Pesachya all gates open on Purim; How to access the elusive light of Purim 2) 4 minute Purim Shiur: Power of prayer on Purim and Chasidus behind Hamentashin 3) Rav Tzaddok on Purim:: we learn holy chutzah from Amalek; the avodah of Purim 4) Rav Nosson on Purim Part I: 5) Rav Nossno on Purim part II All beginnings were from Pesach but now are from Purim (Rebbe Nachman) what this means; why we drink? How Purim is a preparation for the avodah of Pesach; giving life to one's own sparks of holiness that is trapped in materialism A Freilichin Upliftin' Purim!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Short Shiurim on Titzvaveh, Zachor and Tanis Ester

Rav Tzaddok and Rav Nosson Parshas Zachor Who is Amalek? Can one renege on being Amalek? What it means that Amalek cooled us on the derech, way. Holy and unholy derech and how to overcome Amalek Komarna on Parshas Titzaveh and Mekor Chaim on Tanis Ester: eating and fasting as atonement; the avodah of eating as a sacrifice; what it means that the kohain eats and atones for us; how is the fast of Ester different from other fasts? Rav Tzaddok on Parshas Titzvaveh: Moshe and this Parshah; What the Bigdei Kehunah, kohanim and shemen hamishcha, the sanctifying oil had in common; Why do we need kohanim? The avodah of ketores Rav Nosson on Titzvaveh: The Menorah's oil alludes that we need to shine with holiness, especially when we are engaged in them; And the good point that must be actualized by focusing on it

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Rav Tzaddok and Chidushei Harim on Month of Adar

What is the avodah of the month of Adar? Adar=Aleph the Primal Cause dwells with us so Aleph reid that is G-d comes down to us especially during this month; the joy of Adar Determent of lack of joy

Friday, February 16, 2018

Rav Tzaddok, Komarna and Rav Nosson on Terumah

Rav Tzaddok: The Aron; never giving up; the more desperation, the more inspiration, the harder the challenges the greater the person Komrana Mikdash is the same gemarria as midos (without the vav) since this is the avodah of the mikdash Rav Nosson: making a mishkan

Friday, February 9, 2018

Rav Tzaddok, and Komarna on Mishpatim; Rav Noson on Shekalim

Rav Tzaddok Rav Tzadok: Tefilah and Dveykus in the parsha; Using all days and that a b'aal teshuvah will restore all his lost days; shovevim and mishpatim; mishpatim begins with slaves to teach that even a person enslaved to his desires will be redeemed; even if he wants to stay a slave he will also be redeemed Komrana: Not to hurt a convert with word's or monetarily--one who does so limits divine bounty on the world Rav Nosson on Shekalim: Mishkal means weigh, we need to learn to constrict the light to serve Hashem in a balanced way

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Komarna, Rav Tzaddok and Rav Nosson on Parshas Beshalach

Komarna: Emunah in G-d and Moshe: Living Emunah that everything is from Hashem thereby sweetening judgments Rav Tzaddok: Emunah-Dveykus stories relating to Komarna shiur; Why it tells us that Pharoh sent the Jewish people away; Why this week is called "Shabbos Shira"; The main Avodah of Shovavim is on his Shabbos Rav Nosson: Crying out to G-d--Practical Advice for Sweetening Judgments 1) Finding the positive in our situation so we open our mind and focus, coming to joy and transforming anguish and worry to joy; 2) Arousing good desire to overcome the negative desires that enable painful situations

Friday, November 3, 2017

Rav Nosson, Rav Tzaddok and Komarna Video and a write up of Shem Mishmuel:, "I am Dirt and Ashes"

I must apologize that the person who posted mistakenly labeled three of these videos. They are on Vayera and present some powerful Torah that are short and sweet.
Rav Nosson Vayera 1
Ayeh and the Akeida
Rav Nosson on Vayera 2
Zohar on Anar, Eshkol and. Mamre; The Chamber of Exchanges

Rav Tzadok Kometz Hamincha on Vayera
Lott, his wife; redeeming soul of Moshiach through his daughters' pure intentions

Komara
The joy of Avraham during the Akeida; the Greatness of the Akeida; The Avodah of the Akeidah

The Anavah of Avraham
The Shem MiShmuel, zt”l, offers a brilliant explanation of a Mishnah in Bava Kama 21. “We find in the mishnah that if a dog or goat jumped from the roof and broke vessels, the owner pays full damage since it is mua’d, expected for this animal to act in this manner. The Kabbalists reveal that this mishnah alludes to Kayin and Hevel. We can explain this in light of how we have explained elsewhere that the very name, Kayin and Hevel allude to their essence. ‘Kayin’ means kinyan, acquisition, since he was full of himself and felt he was a real acquisition for the world. ‘Hevel,’ means breath or nothingness, since that is how Hevel felt about himself. He did not have the audacity to bring a sacrifice on his own, only after he saw that Kayin brought his.
“Each of these character traits has an important place in avodah. Surely, one must feel important and understand that what he does makes an indelible impression on the world to be successful. As our sages revealed in Avos, one must be as bold as a lion in his Divine service. He must ‘uplift his heart in avodas Hashem,’ as we find in the verse. We all must say that the world was created solely for me, as our sages tell us in Sanhedrin. This is why Chava called him Kayin, saying, ‘I have acquired a man with Hashem.’ She meant that he use this faculty of kinyan for avodas Hashem. In such matters, one must feel that he is a real acquisition and have immense self-confidence.
“Similarly, the character trait of Hevel is imperative for sincere avodah. Avrohom declared that he was dust and ashes and Moshe and Aharon said, ‘V’nachnu mah?’—‘What are we?’ Whatever wisdom has to crown its head, humility uses to adorn its heel. Yet one must beware the danger of inappropriate humility that leads to great despair, indolence and coolness in avodas Hashem. 
“This is why the mishnah tells us that they leaped from the roof. These character traits must be used in proper balance as appropriate. If one misuses one, he jumps from the roof of his potential to the lowest point, since misusing these character traits causes deep, great falls. Hashem should protect us and show us the right way to serve Him sincerely!”
[Shem MiShmuel, Chanukah, p. 208]

Friday, October 27, 2017

Videos of Rav Nosson and Komarna; Write Up of Rav Tzaddok on Lech Lecha

Here is the first video: Rav Nosson on Lech Lecha
The Seven Nations were in Israel before Yisrael to reveal deep divine kindness. This is also why we leave the arla seven days before doing a bris milah
Here is the second: Komarna on Lech Lecha
The common denominator between Kayin, Korach and Sedom: Justice without Mercy

Never Despair!

Rav Tzaddok Hakohein of Lublin, zt”l, explains that one should never despair. “We may wonder why the Exodus is such a central part of the Jewish experience. It is the foundation of every holiday and we are supposed to feel this in the deepest part of our heart. What is the lesson from these numerous halachos?
“The answer is that in Egypt we were in the lowest possible place, the forty-ninth level of defilement. One would have thought that our situation was hopeless but Hashem delivered us from bondage and made us His nation. Our very first lesson at the inception of our peoplehood was that one should never despair, no matter what. G-d took us out then, and He can deliver us from any spiritual bondage no matter how hopeless it seems. No matter how depraved a Jew may be, what he has done or where he has been, it is never too late. He is definitely not as depraved as the hopeless slaves in Egypt. We need to know completely that Hashem will definitely deliver us, just like He delivered them!
"This was one of the lessons of Avraham's actions in Parshas Lech Lecha. There we find that Avraham pursued the powerful armies of the four kings with only three hundred and eighteen men. It seemed that he was doomed to lose, yet somehow he prevailed. This happened to Avraham, the father of the Jewish people to teach an important lesson. The quintessential character of a Jew is that we never give up, no matter what the odds. It is certainly singular that the numerical value of yiush, the Hebrew word for despair is 318, the number of men Avraham took on this seemingly hopeless quest. ”
(Pri TzaddikParshas Mishpatim)

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Shor tshiurim on Nitzavi-Vayelech

Komarna Parshas Nitzavim
Chassam Sofer: what is in our power: How bechirah works; Torah is the secret of Teshuvah
Rav Nosson Pashras Vayelech
Ayeh, the search for Hashem; How to get through difficult times

Friday, July 7, 2017

Torah in 10 Rav Tzadok on Parshas Balak

Rav Tzadok on Balak
Nevuah of Bilam; the Cheshbon of Balak; the soul source of Jews who are distant from Hashem; All Jews are intrinsically connected to Hashem and the Torah; all distance is solely on the outside

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Torah in Ten Minutes: Likutei Halachos Parshas Vayakhel

Dealing with negative thoughts; Can we think two thoughts at once? What is the best way to attain purity of thought? Thoughts come one at a time like a train or a ticking clock; On Shabbos we cease creative labor; We cease harmful thoughts by redirecting our train of thought and thinking about somerthing else Parshas Vayakhel shiur

Friday, February 26, 2016

Torah in Ten, Likutei Halachos Parshas Ki Sisa

Machtzis Hashekel--the Fiery Half-Shekel; tempering enthusiasm so the flame endures; everyone has a contribution to make; shekel means weight; weighing nad measuring our actions; balancing accceptance and action Shiur here enjoy and have a great Shabbos kodesh! p.s. hopefully other shiurim will resume next week.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Komarna, Rav Tzaddok, Zohar on Parshas Terumah

Komarna: Why are there two accounts of building the Mishkan? Where did the Jewish people reach at Sinai? Was it good that we insisted on hearing from Moshe instead of G-d? Rav Tzadok: What can we give the Creator? The Mishkan compared to Shabbos Zohar: The world is sustained by the light that was created on the first day was hidden for the righteous; How to access this light shiur Enjoy and check out the new "Torah in Ten" shiur on a piece of Likutei Halachos on the parshah, in the post below. In that short space of time Rav Nosson explains that: Every good point is eternal; Every person has an essential contribution to make to the Mishkan through his or her good points; Through every good deed, word or desire we generate our reward in the ultimate future

Torah in Ten--Likutei Halachos on Parshas Terumah

sorry abou tthe hiatus. The shiurim were given same as always but could not go up for technical reasons. First, this new series called "Torah in Ten," are powerful shiurim just ten minutes long. Here is a piece of likutei halachos on the parshah: Torah in Ten Parshas Terumah

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Shofar and the Sap of Tu B'Shvat

On Tu B'shvat the sap rises in the trees. The word for Sap is Sraf. It is spelled shin reish fei. The same letters spell shofar, since the influence of Rosh Hashanah is what empowers trees to grow. It is also Reshef, which alludes to negative spiritual forces. We must chose our way in this life. Will we be like the holy shofar which sounds and sweetens judgements or like those who loudly cry out in a way that is not positive? This is one reason we pray for an esrog on Tu B'shvat. Our sages likened the esrog to our heart. Everything depends on what we do with our heart. When Rav Nosson spoke about the heartiness of Avrohom Avinu, someone demurred. "But he had such a special heart!" "You also have a special heart," retorted Rav Nosson. "But you do not yet use it correctly." Hashem should help us find our heart and use it correctly from this day on! [This piece was inspired by Rav Yitzchak Moshe Ehrlinger, shlita. Today in shiur when asked about Tu B'Shvat he said, "I know nothing at all. Just that the letter seraf spell shofar and Reshef..." This is some of what I understood.]

New Year of the Tree

Rosh Hashonah 14 discusses the argument between Beis Shammai and Beis Hillel regarding the exact date of the new year for trees. According to Beis Shammai it is on the first of Shevat. Beis Hillel disagrees. They hold that Tu B’shvat is the Rosh Hashonah for trees. The Chiddushei HaRim, zt’l, teaches the deep significance of their dispute even today. “On Tu B’shevat the seraf or sap rises in the trees. The word seraf is an acronym for shishim ribo pirushim, six hundred thousand explanations. On Tu B’shevat we draw down the ability to say chiddushei Torah for the entire year. The Avnei Nezer, zt”l, adds, “Although the halachoh follows Beis Hillel, Beis Shammai is also correct regarding special people who serve Hashem in an aspect of the middas hadin. They draw down this special influx from the first day of the month of Shevat.” Rav Tzadok Hakohein of Lublin, zt”l, explains why it is customary to eat fruit on Tu B’Shevat. “Tu B’Shevat is a day when we fix the sin of Adam and Chavah partaking of the Eitz Hada'as and lowering the entire world. We eat fruit and can draw such great holiness in our food that we fix every time we ate improperly for the entire year.” [Chidushei HaRim; Pri Tzaddik]

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Komarna, Rav Tzaddok and Zohar on Parshas Beshalach--Video Shiur

Parshas Beshalach Shiur Parshas Beshalach: Rav Tzadok: The deeper meaning of Hashem not taking us through the Plishtim; Why this week in particular is called Parshas Shirah while Yisro is not known as "Parhsas Matan Torah?"; Why not call it "Parshas HaMan"? The common denominator between Shabbos Shuva, Hagadol, Nachamu and Shira; The main Avodah of Shovavim--Tikun Habris is internalizing our intrinsic connection to Hashem Komarna: Plishtim are mockers; Avoiding wasting time; The problem with politics is we forget Hashem Zohar: The power of the Shira; Torah study nullifies decrees

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Parshas Bo

Parsha Shiur Rav Tzaddok: Plague of hail; Mitzvah to sanctify the new Month; do we sanctify Shabbos? Komarna: Parable of the Baal Shem Tov from Degel Machaneh Efraim; Why Moshe pleaded with the Jews to take the wealth of Egypt Zohar: Chometz and Matza

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Parshas Vaeira Shiur

Parhsas Vaeira Shiur It begins with the Komarna on what it means to know Hashem. He wonders why we learn deeper concepts since the true essence of G-d is not graspable. He also explains that when we internalize our knowledge of Hashem, we are able to leave the staits of spiritual or material Mitzrayim, Egypt. Pri Tzaddok explains the first seven plagues in a deep way. I expanded on it, but perhaps it is deeper than it should have been. Zohar teaches techiyas hameisim from the staff that transformed into a serpent. Enjoy and see the new Spirit of the concluding Chapter 1 of the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch. Have a joyous and illuminating Shabbos Kodesh!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Spirit of the Law, Kitzur I: 5-6

Spirit of the Law Video Shiur I: 5: Why we should not recite verses-written Torah by heart; Rav Nosson explains the essence of Torah written on parchment and the oral law I: 6: The immense spiritual repucussions of a brochah and the negative effects of a brochah said in vain

Friday, January 1, 2016

Shemos-Shovavim Parshah Shiur

Parshas Shemos-Shovavim Komarna: Using the delight of dveykut, cleaving to the Creator to trascend pain and bitterness; We are the Staff--Snake; The seven aspects of life: Chessed--Kindness, expansiveness, Gevurah--Might, constriction, Tiferet--Truth, Torah; Netzach--Victory, the Capacity to win; Hod--Gratitude, Praise, Yesod--Foundation, what I do counts, Malchut--Kingship, Making Creator King when things are Difficult; Remembering we are G-d children in every aspect of our existence; Proper Balance of Body and Soul Rav Tzaddok: Shemot begins Shovavim; When is the best time to work on purity during Shovavim? Attaining Genuine Brit; Purity is only thorugh Positivity; Kushios, hard questions are for halachic works, not people Zohar: The Power of Tears; Why is there a gate of tears if tears open all gates? The Tikkun of Childlessness; A Segulah for having Kids Enjoy and have a great Shabbos!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Parshas Vayechi, Komarna, Rav Tzaddok and Zohar

Parsha shiur Komarna: The power of Hope; The power of a minyan Rav Tzaddok: The essence of each tribe Zohar and Chessed L'Avraham: Vayechi Yaakov

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Spirit of the Law, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch I: 5 Video Shiur

Spirit of the Law: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch I:5: Chatzos, a time of deep connection and bliss with Hashem; One hour after Chatzos is like several during the day; When to stay in bed; Mishnah fixes our Nesahama, soul; Is it better to be up Chatzos or Vatikin.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Writeup Spirit of the Law Chanukah Part II, KItzur 6-10

(Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 139:6) “The custom in our country is to do as the ‘mehadrin l’mehadrin’—in the most scrupulous way. Everyone lights. On the first night, we light one candle, and on the second night tw,o and we add each night until we have all lit eight candles.”
Reb Nosson of Breslov writes in his Likutei Halachos that the flame of the Chanukah candles represent the fire of yiras shomayim—fear of heaven. Although fear normally diminishes one’s life, the fear of Hashem is different. As the verse says: “The fear of G-d adds to one’s days.” (Mishlei 10:27) This echoes the Vilna Gaon’s commentary on the verse. For this reason, if one’s fear of Hashem leads to worry and despair, it is a clear sign that this is not true fear of G-d. True yiras Hashem is called yirah l’chaim—“awe that enhances one’s life and spiritual vitality.”
This means that it brings one to feel joy. We can obtain this type by focusing on the good and not the bad. If one learns the importance of not talking slander, he can worry about it all day or he can thank Hashem for each time he didn’t speak slander and realize that the main purpose for the warnings against the habit is to encourage us to refrain. This is by our realizing that if doing it is so bad, refraining from it is that much more important and worthy of joy.
We light a new candle every day to teach that we must increase our devotion and longing every day. This is true yirah l’chaim. Through this, one is full of life and vitality. “The fear of G-d adds to one’s days!”


(Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 139:7) “The mitzvah of Chanukah is to light the menorah in the doorway closest to the public domain in order to publicize the miracle. This was the custom during the time of the sages. Nowadays, since we dwell among the non-Jews, we light inside. One should light at their window if they have one.” [In Israel, the custom of most is to light outside].
This halachah can be understood in the light of the Likutei Halachos. The Greeks and Hellenists tried to overcome us with tremendous brazenness. The Chashmonaim had to have even more chutzpah to challenge the strongest army of ancient times with a miniscule fraction of their strength. This is always how it is. The inner and outer forces of evil try to overcome the good with incredible brazenness and we need even stronger chutzpah to overcome them. This is what the miracle of the Chanukah lights represent.
And this is why it is best to light it in the most visible place available. We are not ashamed before anyone. Unless there is an actual danger, we should light in the most publicly visible manner. Rebbe Nachman, zt”l, writes that one achieves holy chutzpah through happiness. Happiness is not only inside. If one is truly happy, it will show on the outside. Someone who seems gloomy really is in a bad frame of mind—the inner and outer states are connected. Our happiness and joy should overflow into the lives of our families, friends, and everyone with whom we come into contact. This is also something we learn from placing the Chanukah lights in the most noticeable place. The light of our holy joy which enables us to have true chutzpah when it comes to opposing our evil inclination should uplift everyone who come into contact with us!

(Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 139:8) “It is a mitzvah to place the lights above three tefachim and below ten. If one placed them above ten tefachim, he nevertheless fulfills his obligation.”
Reb Nosson writes in his Likutei Halachos that Chanukah draws down an illumination from the future times of Moshiach every year to encourage even the most distant Jew. This light is to be discovered in the teachings of the tzaddikim, and by learning their works, even the most distant Jew is encouraged to trust in Hashem, start fresh, and keep trying until he merits true holiness and joy. This explains why it is a mitzvah to arrange his lights at a height between three and ten tefachim.
The truth is that anyone who wishes can draw incredible encouragement from the miracle of Chanukah itself. At the time of the miracle, we were not in the healthiest spiritual condition as a people. Even so, Hashem delivered us from our enemies and made the menorah burn for eight days to demonstrate that, no matter what our spiritual state may be, if we only wish to we can begin again and achieve closeness with Hashem. Since the candles represent Hashem helping even those who are spiritually weak, they should be set up below ten tefachim. Our Rabbis teach that the Shechinah never descended to the final ten tefachim of airspace above the earth. Those ten tefachim represent all of the places to which people fall, where they feel exiled from the nourishing and illuminating influence of the Divine presence. When the candles are lit there, those “places” receive an infusion of Hashem’s light.
Even so, the lights must be at least three tefachim off the ground. This symbolizes a fresh start. This represents a commitment to not “lying down” and giving up completely. At the very least, one must have the minimal “three tefachim” of motivation to make a fresh start. When we do what we can, Hashem draws the light of Chanukah upon us and we bask in His warmth.
(Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 139:9) “One should separate the candles so that they not melt down from their own heat. If one filled a bowl with oil and placed wicks in it, and if he covered it with a vessel, each wick counts like one candle. If one did not cover it with a vessel, it cannot count as even a single candle since this will surely become a conflagration.”
The Zohar Hakadosh writes that a raging fire represents evil. This is because one who does evil often cannot contend with his evil urge, which is similar to a blazing fire. This is why we cannot use a hearth fire or the like for Chanukah. Rebbe Nachman, zt”l, taught that there are two types of light. One is called me’orei eish, which means “illuminating bodies of fire,” or the raging fire associated with evil. The other is called me’orei ohr, or “illuminating bodies of light”—a  balanced and holy illumination. We must yearn to achieve the holy and reject the unholy. All our troubles are caused by our lack of true understanding. We can achieve understanding through having a connection to someone who does possess true understanding. This is why having a connection to someone without fear of heaven is so detrimental—he is a detour from arriving at true understanding!
The Gemara writes that for one with da’as or holy awareness, it is as though the Beis Hamikdash has already been rebuilt. One who has the true balance of holy illumination acts in a deliberate and considered way. Even if he makes a mistake, he will immediately repent and start again. He knows that we are here for a limited time only and that we have a purpose. One who lacks this balanced perspective is always falling and rarely repents; he is far from embarking on the path to change.
For this same reason we may not place the candles too close together. If they melt down in a blaze we have not discharged our obligation. If our Chanukah lights converge into me’orei eish—by becoming a conflagration—they represent the unholy burning for materialism or honor without any higher goal. We light individual candles to represent the balanced illumination of a light which does not damage but illuminates—the light of true understanding. (Based on Mekor Chaim and Likutey Halachos) 

(Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 139:10) “One lights the menorah at nightfall and not later.”
Reb Nosson of Breslov writes in his Likutei Halachos that the time when the me’orei eish (see Spirit of the Law: Chanukah #9) dominate is the night. This is because the night represents lack of clarity and confusion. How we feel and behave at times of uncertainly tell us a lot about where we are really holding. One who is truly internalizing and deepening his connection to Hashem will find that what used to be an insurmountable test will stop being a challenge. This is a sure sign that we are increasing our connection to holy illumination and moving away from unholiness. This is a balance; the more understanding we have, the more we slowly are distanced from unholy thoughts and deeds. Since the me’orei eish are associated with “dark times,” we do not light before the sun sets. (This is only if we have a choice. On erev Shabbos we light early since we have no choice, but we must place enough oil in the vessel to last until half an hour after dark. This is symbolic of the fact that the great descending light of erev Shabbos affords us an opportunity to “light the darkness” ahead of time and perform the proper rectification for the night that is to come.)


Sunday, December 6, 2015

Write up of Spirit of the Law: Chanukah part I

Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, Laws of Chanukah 139:1-4

1) “…One should give an abundance of charity on Chanukah because these days are propitious for rectifying blemishes on one’s soul through charity, especially if one gives to poor people who learn Torah.”

Through giving charity, it is possible for a person to break his unhealthy desire for money. This avariciousness, which has the power when unchecked to overwhelm a person completely, is actually symbolized by the ancient Greeks. We can see this alluded to in the verse, “Tavati b’yavein metzulah”—“I have sunk into a deep mire.”[1] The word yavein (the mire of the lust for money) can also be read Yavan (Greece).[2] Although this world is full of many beautiful things, as soon as a person places a coin or his hand in front of his eye, he isn’t able to see anything at all. Similarly, if a person’s entire existence is focused on pursuing money or ego-driven pleasure, he cannot see the light of spirituality and holiness.[3]
In addition, giving charity draws down the light of Providence upon the giver, and it happens middah k’neged middah—measure for measure. The giver demonstrates his trust in Hashem to provide for his needs despite the fact that he is sharing some of his material wealth. This reliance on Providence draws the light of Providence down upon the giver. This is one way to understand the significance of the light of the menorah—it represents the light of Providence. Especially when things are dark and we cannot fathom the ways of Hashem, the illumination of Providence lights up the darkness. The miracle of the menorah fills us with the vision that especially when things are difficult, during the depth of a spiritual winter, Hashem is always right here with each and every one of us.[4]
2) “We do not fast on Chanukah…”
The Mekor Chaim, zt”l, explains that the main purpose in fasting is to overcome one’s base physical nature, since this is the source of all evil. On Chanukah, however, the negative within us is subdued when we are open to receive the spiritual illumination that descends. Since the negativity inside of us has already been mitigated, there is no point in fasting. If, on the other hand, a person is not open to the illumination of Chanukah, then fasting is a waste of time in any case. As Rebbe Nachman, zt”l, explains, such fasting could be compared to carefully scrubbing a torn sack. Although it may get clean, the holes will remain and prevent its proper use.[5] If one wishes to achieve holiness during Chanukah, he will accomplish far more by focusing on the supernal influx that flows down during those precious days. Reb Nosson, zt”l, writes that the days of Chanukah (and Purim) were established to strengthen those who are so spiritually ill that they lack the energy to accomplish anything at all. Similarly, during the long winter of our exile we sometimes feel that we are making no progress spiritually. Through the light of Chanukah, Hashem shines into each of us individually to help us understand that we should not give up trying because everything we do is precious in the eyes of the Creator. This is one reason why the custom among Ashkenazim is for everyone to light their own menorahs—because the light shines into us all. At the root of the concept, this certainly includes women and girls. The Chasam Sofer zt”l, explains why it is that we do not find that in our time women and girls light for themselves. When the sages originally made the enactment to light, it included women. Since the original mitzvah was to light outside, however, no woman tried to do this mitzvah l’mehadrin; it was not considered befitting honor of a woman to go out in the early evening. Even in our time when most people light indoors, the custom has remained the same.[6] The Maharshal and the Elya Rabba explain the reason differently. Since most get married and the original enactment was for a man and his wife to light one candle, there is no reason for a girl under the age of bas mitzvah to light, since eventually she will not need to light. It was never customary for girls to light for themselves between the age of bas mitzvah and marriage, since they tended to marry young in any case. Even though in our times many women marry later than they used to, the custom hasn’t changed.[7]
3) “Although it is permitted to perform work on Chanukah, the custom is that women do no work while the candles are lit (that is, the minimum obligation of time—half an hour)… The reason why women in particular are strict about this is because of the decrees of the Greeks specifically about women… Also, the miracle of redemption happened through a woman…”
The Mekor Chaim, zt”l, explains why the Greeks enacted decrees specifically against women, and why the miracle of redemption happened specifically through a woman.
We find in the Zohar Hakadosh that the kingship of Antiochus represents the concept of orlah, the foreskin, which is cut away during circumcision. The orlah acts as a filter that prevents a man from grasping holiness. For this reason, a Jewish man who maintains his foreskin and does not submit to circumcision is liable to the Divine punishment of kares. His orlah keeps him powerfully tied to worldly pleasure that lacks a connection to the Source.[8]
This is why the Greeks forbade circumcision, the observance of Shabbos, and the declaration of the new month. These three mitzvos are diametrically opposed to the concept of orlah. Shabbos is the opposite of orlah because on Shabbos we delight in worldly pleasures for the sake of heaven. The truth is that there is no mitzvah to overeat on Shabbos, as the Shelah Hakadosh writes. However, the Arizal explains that even if a person overindulges on Shabbos, the food is still elevated to the Source. Rosh Chodesh is also the opposite of orlah since it is a time of arousal to the spiritual renewal found in sincere repentance. This is the opposite of the orlah’s power to blind a person from the holiness that is to be discovered within the physical world. And circumcision itself is, of course, the complete eradication of the orlah.
The Jewish woman represents the Shechinah, the Divine presence, which is the opposite of the orlah and its deadening effect on one’s spiritual existence. This is why it is only through marriage that a man can come to true completion. The orlah is a blemish that distances one from completion. This is why the Greeks made decrees to destroy the sanctity of Jewish marriage (the removal of the possibility of privacy), and this is also why the miracle was specifically through a woman. Yehudis subdued those who represent the klippah of orlah just as marriage to a G-d-fearing woman subdues this force of negativity within a man. Jewish marriage is how one comes to overcome the seemingly grossly material reality that we live in by discovering the true spiritual identity of all that is material. Reb Nosson explains further that as long as a Jewish man is connected spiritually through marriage to a Jewish woman, it is clear that he will not fall completely![9]
All oils may be used for the Chanukah lights. However, olive oil is the preferred way to do this mitzvah since that is the oil with which the miracle occurred in the Beis Hamikdash.”
What is the significance of the miracle occurring through olive oil? Reb Nosson of Breslov writes in his Likutei Halachos that just as oil is the “splendor” of the olive—the highest expression of its innate qualities—so too are the Jewish people the splendor of creation. Hashem takes pleasure in the Jewish people above all His works. The Greeks felt that they were the chosen people. For this reason, they wanted to obscure our special status as the Am Hanivchar by polluting us spiritually. Through the intervention of the righteous Matisyahu and his followers who are similar to the flask of oil which remained protected from being polluted by the evil influences of the Greeks, the splendor which Hashem takes from every Jew was revealed and the Greeks were defeated. This is one way to understand why the miracle occurred specifically with the oil. The “small flask” of those who are faithful to Torah and mitzvos will miraculously endure forever as the chosen people.
Although Hashem takes pride, so to speak, in the Jewish people no matter what, generally this pride only lasts as long as we are at least connected to those who remain unpolluted with false beliefs. Such a connection prevents us from falling away from Torah-true beliefs entirely. One who is exposed to false beliefs and won over to them, however, forfeits his status as a part of the chosen people. The reason for this that Hashem takes pride in each and every Jew only as long as he or she feels exalted by being Jewish. This is not some sort of ethnic or cultural pride. One must be proud to be a member of the chosen nation, gifted by G-d with a unique mission, responsibility, and the means to accomplish it. One who doesn't feel this pride is very disconnected from the essence of the Jewish people. As we say in the blessings of the Torah: “He who has chosen us from among all the nations...” Let us take pride in our Jewish identity so that Hashem will take pride in us!



Spirit of the Law: Chanukah #5

(Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, Hilchos Chanukah 139:5)
“If one lights in an earthen vessel, it becomes ‘old’ [after a single use]. Since it is blackened and disgusting, it may not be used for another night. Therefore, one must have a menorah of metal [since less porous substances like glass or metal can be cleaned if they get full of soot and oil].”
The Shulchan Aruch explains that one has two options if an earthen vessel is the only one available. One can either use a new one each day of Chanukah, or put the blackened vessel into the oven and reconstitute it into a new vessel through the agency of high heat which will burn away the accumulated filth.
The Mekor Chaim, zt”l, defines a vessel as an object that is designed to hold something else. Our limbs are the vessels that hold the nefesh, our souls. An earthen vessel represents a limb that is imperfect. Pottery cannot be koshered and it porosity makes it absorb more of what cooks in it than other vessels. This represents the part of a person that still requires a lot of refinement. This might be the tongue of the slanderer, the heart of the cruel person, or the hand of the one who strikes his friend. This can also refer to a particular organ that serves as the “abode” of a negative character trait.
For example, anger is said to be “seated” in the liver and depression in the spleen. The present halachah regarding the use of an earthen vessel parallels the situation of a person who tries to correct a fault by paying attention to how damaging the trait is and praying for help to uproot it. We “illuminate” the limb by working on the particular problem which is aroused by that limb or which that limb enables. However, this only works for a while—which parallels the fact that the earthen vessel can only be used once. After a while, this form of spiritual work tends to get stale. It is somewhat discouraging to work on a particular area for a time and to still feel as though one is getting—which parallels the blackened and repulsive state of the earthen vessel after having been lit for a night.
In such a case, one has two choices. The first is to work on a different area that requires attention. Since my realization of the damage this other trait does is fresh for me I don’t feel discouraged working on this new trait for a new period of time. Such “switching” is represented by the use of a fresh vessel for the next night’s lighting. The other choice is to place the new trait “in the oven.” That means “firing oneself up” about how important it is to change and receiving a new injection of energy by realizing every effort made to change a bad trait is very precious to Hashem. In this way, one “reconstitutes” the vessel and renews it, so that it is possible to continue the spiritual work without feeling “blackened” and disgusted with oneself.
The Vilna Gaon, zt”l, said about the hardest traits to overcome: “One who is stubborn will succeed!”





[1] Tehillim 69:3
[2] Likutei Halachos, Hilchos Aveidah U’metziah 3:8
[3] Likutei Moharan I:133
[4] Likutei Halachos, Hilchos Shluchim 3
[5] Likutei Moharan I:17
[6] Chiddushei Shabbos 21b
[7] Maharshal 85; Elya Rabba 671:2, end of subsection 3.
[8] Mekor Chaim 670:1
[9] Likutei Halachos, Hilchos Bechor Beheimah Tehorah 4:26

Friday, December 4, 2015

Parshas Vayeshev

Komrana How could Yosef suspect his brothers of such serious sins?
 Rav Tzadok: How could the brothers be certain that Yosef was not a special tzaddik who they had misunderstood? Why does the verse mention that they broke breead immediately after they threw him in the pit? 
Zohar: Dinah was exceedingly rigtheous

Friday, November 27, 2015

Parshas Vayishlach, Komarna, Rav Tzaddok and Zohar with link fixed

Link to Parshas Vayishlach Shiur Komarna: Generating an Altar Like Yaakov While Eating: Through a Broken Heart Rav Tzaddok: The Importance of Shabbat: Why Did Yaakov pay for his Campground? The Greatness of the Graves of Tzaddikim Zohar: Why Yaakov Feared Eisav: The Special Prophecy of Obadia the Convert And see the new and updated Spirit of the Law post below. Good Shabbos!

Spirit of the Law I: 4 With Link

Link to Spirit of the Law I:4 Some of what is discussed in this week's Spirit of the Law: Fighting Warped Reasoning: Getting Genuine Perspective:The Importance of Spiritual Development: Seeing your Direction Sorry initially forgot link, fixed now.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Zohar and Komarna on Parshas Toldos

Boruch Hashem there should be a link to Micha's weekly parshah shiur posted here.
https://emunahchannel.com/parshas-toldos-k
Enjoy and check out the new Spirit of the Law shiurim in the most recent post.

Spirit of the Law on Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 1:1-2

Here are a few shiurim that were recorded within the last short time. With Hashem's help there will be at least one per week.
Enjoy!


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Here are some shiurim on Spirit of the Law, explaining Ben Ish Chai, on Parshas Toldos. Year 1 is about morning washing of the hands. Year 2 is about Shabbos day prayers. These shiurim are in WAV form and are pretty big files. If I have time I will try to compress them to MP3 and repost.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Parshas Chayei Sora

In honor of Parshas Chayei Sora, there are a few new audio shiurim of the Ben Ish Chai's teachings: The parsha in its relationship to the laws of tefillin The parsha in its relationship to Minchah-time of Shabbos.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Broken Shards of Bein Hameitzarim

On Makkos 21 Rav Yanai makes a seemingly strange statement to Rav Yochanan: “If I had not lifted the pottery, would you have found the pearl beneath it?” Tosafos wonders why Rav Yanai specifically chose to use pottery as a metaphor for a place where a gem is concealed. Why would one find gems beneath shards of pottery? Rabbeinu Tam explains that on the ocean floor there are rocks which appear to be large shards of pottery under which are found precious pearls. We find a similar expression in Bava Kama 91: “You swam in such deep waters and all you brought up was mere pottery?” That which is precious is understood to be secreted within something of little value—mere refuse. The Baal Shem Tov, zy”a, used this concept to explain why it is said that great spiritual light can be found during the three weeks of Bein Hameitzarim. He said, “If a person has precious stones, he must be extra careful that they are not stolen from him. But how can he be sure to safeguard them? A wise person will put his greatest treasures where he keeps old and broken-down junk. This is the safest place, since no thief would ever think to look in such lowly places for treasure. Similarly, during the three weeks, when people feel the pain of our lowly status in exile, their hearts are broken and it is much easier to truly connect with Hashem. The treasure is hiding there within the lowly refuse.”

Friday, September 21, 2012

Avodas Yom HaKippurim: Fighting Today's Idolatry

Rav Wolbe, zt”l, once discussed the most dangerous idolatry of our generation. “Of all the heresy and idolatry that has reared its head in each generation those facing our generation are the lowest. The main idolatry of our generation is the denial of free will. “Among the nations this mistake is often used to free killers from paying for their crimes. Such people are viewed as sick and if there was any kind of specious psychological pretext for the crime, they are acquitted. Yet this same sickness has also penetrated into our enclaves. Who among us believe that he is not forced to sin due to circumstance? Who thinks that it is possible to live from one Yom Kippur to the next without sinning? It is even hard to find someone who believes that he can go one full day without sin. “We must work hard on Yom Kippur to internalize the belief that it is truly possible to choose live a sin-free life. We must know that the foundation of man is that he has a choice. This is the purpose of creation and, especially in our times we must strengthen our emunah in this iron-clad fact. We must believe that we are capable of overcoming our inclination to do evil, and that we are responsible if we fail to exert every possible effort toward this goal. “There are two levels of free will. Internalizing that every action is a choice which forms our portion in the next world, either spiritual life or spiritual death, chas v’shalom, is the first. The higher level of bechirah is choosing what brings to dveikus as an outgrowth of our love of Hashem and running away from what distances one from Him.”

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Spirit of the Law: Seventeenth of Tamuz

Kitzur Shulchan Aruch: 121:1 "From the 17th of Tamuz the tzaros of the churban started so the custom is to comport oneself a little like a mourner. It is fitting for anyone who fears heaven to say tikun chatzos after midday during this time…" The Gemara writes:all who mourn the destruction of Yerushalayim will merit to see her nechama .The Maharal explains two reasons why one must first mournto see the nechamah. the first thing to understand is that the world is in a very imperfect state primarily because it lacks its most basic component: the Beis Hamikdash.Mourning the Beis Hamikdash shows that we appreciate our loss and the reason for our loss. The more we appreciate how much we lack on because of our lack of a Beis Hamikdash the more we mourn and show our relationship with the true metsios of the world. For the world is really supposed to be a world of completion for a world with a Beis Hamikdash reveals the deep spiritual connection between the Creator and His creations . The second reason is because the rule is that only something lacking can come to a new level of completion. For example, a seed must decompose in order to grow into a tree. The contents of an egg must become putrid before a chick can be formed. We can learn this from a number of chazal’s as well: The yearning for Chachma makes one a suitable vessel to receive chachama. A woman’s yearning for children makes her a suitable vessel to have children. Even in the antecedents of the world we find that first there was tohu, vohu and choshech and only then could there be a creation. For this reason it is only one who feels that he is missing the Beis Hamikdash who will be able to access the spiritual levels of nechama, Hashem's comfort to us. Only one who truly knows his flaws has space to become more complete. One who feels complete cannot develop since “you can’t improve on perfection.” If he really doesn’t feel perfect why doesn't he yearn for completion? Failure to yearn shows that for one reason or another we relate to ourselves as if we were perfect . Intenllectual knowledge of our flaws is completely irrelvant just as one who "knows" that he needs to control his temper will continue to act the exact same way if his knowledge stays in his head and does not reach his heart. Our identity is revealed in our attitude. Refusal to emotionally acknowledge our imperfections by ignoring them and failing to yearn to improve them, condemns us to bear our faults.To explain this with a simple metaphor:if someone who takes a daily dose of live saving medicine knows he has run out he can try and get another prescription and purchase more. One who has no idea that he is almost out believes he has enough and will take no steps to rectify his situation until he notices that his supply is dwindling. Surely we would never fix something we don’t believe is broken. Often one doesn't yearn to improve his faults because he feels that his flaws and sins are so much a part of him that he will never change. This person also belives he is complete but in a different way. He feels that he is complete in the sense that he cannot possibly change so why yearn? If we really felt there was hope because Hashem can always improve us, we would yearn to access the levels of the holiness of the Beis Hamikdash continuously with our whole heart. In Brochos 32 we find that for although we no longer have the holy temple, regarding one who has true understanding the Beis Hamikdash is considered to have been rebuilt.If we yearn and plead with Hashem to improve our faults we will surely attain the level of completion Hashem wants for us. The first step of all spiritual ascent is an absolute belief that all failures can be turned around. All one needs to do is yearn to improve with his entire being whenever he can. One must also "tough it out" by patiently doing whatever good possible while waiting for Hashem's salvation. Rav Nosson of Breslov zt”l, wrote in a letter, “...Regarding the all important issue: your very bitter cry of pain (of your present spiritual state) as a result of your of sins and the thoughts that the Yetzer Hara attacks you with,the main tactic of the yester Hara, (since all illicit actions are the fruit of negative or unproductive thoughts which determine our attitudes and spiritual\ emotional state as well as how we will react.Bad thoughts are the prelude to all spiritual falls.) I have heard your cries and know your pain from before and now (so much that) my heart goes out to you since I feel every bit of your pain as if it was my own…but the very fact that you are crying out with such bitterness, literally until the heavens because of this, comforts and encourages me! My son; you must know and believe that Hashem hears every single cry and will surely deliver you in the merit of following the advice of the true tsadikim. That the deliverance is taking so long is on account of a hidden reason. But it is certain that failing to strengthen ourselves to overcome such bad thoughts is partially why your deliverance tarries.) Another reason this [often] takes so long is because Hashem loves to hear the tefilos of Yisrael, even the prayers of the lowest of the low! But even so; not even a single cry is lost so regardless of results, you must continue to cry out with all your might! … Know my son:there were people much worse off than you that I knew who were healed. Through the words I received from the Rebbi, they were completely rectified and their lot is the portion of those who merit eternal life… ! In another letter Rav Nosson signs off by saying, “May Hashem help us to weep and mourn the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash which principally means that we should mourn because of our sins that prevent the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdash until we merit to change our agony and sighing into the happiness and joy of trust in Hashem’s kindness and great deliverance until everything turns into good! The words of your father, who is waiting for deliverance and praying for you, Nosson of Breslov . This sentiment was echoed by Rav Wolbe, zt”l, when he said, “I will give you a big sum of money if you can find even one bochur who believes that it is possible to come to the level whereby one can go an entire year without sins. I am not talking about trying to accept upon ourselves to go a year without sin. Quite the contrary! Kabalos have to be exclusively small. But we must at least believe that this is possible (after much introspection and toil.) I am not even talking about coming to gadlus which is a much greater level. I am talking about entering into our heads and hearts the genuine belief that it is possible to rid ourselves of all sin! This emunah is a prerequisite of true [teshuvah which consists of] charata of the past and acceptance for the future !”

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Beast of Burden

Around one hundred years ago, many great luminaries of the old yishuv attended a pidyon haben. At the meal was Rav Kook, zt”l, who served as the kohain, and Rav Yosef Chaim Sonenfeld, zt”l. Although they often didn’t see eye to eye, many are unaware how considerate and respectful each was of the other personally. The father invited Rav Kook to say a few words in honor of the affair. Rav Kook began to address the assembled guests. “Our sages give an answer to a puzzling question. Why was the donkey chosen to fulfill the mitzvah of pidyon peter chamor? After all, a donkey is a completely unclean animal! The gemara explains that the donkey was chosen because it bore the weight of the treasure that the Jewish people took out of Egypt. Rav Kook exclaimed, “Look at that! Even though a donkey is unclean and serves as a symbol for stubbornness, obtuseness and the like, it nevertheless receives a reward for carrying property to Eretz Yisrael. We see from here that even one who is defiled and has bad middos can gain a modicum of holiness if he participates in the process of bringing the Jewish people from the exile to Eretz Yisrael.” After Rav Kook completed his speech, Rav Sonenfeld immediately got up, unwilling to let the statement pass. “I had not intended to speak, but the Rav of Yaffo began his drashah without drawing the natural conclusion. It behooves me, in honor of his Torah, to complete the drashah. Rav Sonenfeld continued, “Firstly, it is clear that he is correct. The donkey merited holiness because it served as a beast of burden for Jews, despite it negative aspects. Nevertheless, the mitzvah of peter chamor proves that it is impossible for the holiness to remain with an unclean beast. There are two possibilities: either the holiness is transferred to a sheep, a clean animal, via the mechanism of pidyon. And if not, the only other alternative is that the donkey is killed!”

Thursday, July 5, 2012

So As Not to Swear

Once the Chavas Das, zt”l, was travelling incognito with a group of merchants. There was no way to tell that the man dressed as a poor wayfarer was one of the famous rabbinic personages of his time. As the coach neared the outskirts of a city one of the merchants discovered that he had been robbed. Everyone began talking at once, except the Chavas Das. One of the merchants accused him of the crime. “I bet the silent pauper stole it; he has sharp eyes like a fraud and is the only one who is silent.” Although the Chavas Das denied taking anything, the merchants brought him to the local Rabbi. Since he resembled a poor man, the Rabbi figured it likely that he took the money. “The halacha is that you must either produce the money or swear you didn't take it!” The Chavas Das considered his predicament. “I will pay half the money to avoid swearing,” he declared. The merchant figured that he must be the thief; otherwise why not swear? “Either pay the entire sum or swear!” The Chavas Das thought another moment and offered three quarters of the sum. When that was rejected, he offered to pay almost the entire amount, which the merchant also dismissed. “I can't pay more so I will have to swear,” the Chavas Das said. “But first I need time to prepare myself.” He went into the corner and began to cry, obviously doing intense teshuvah. After a few minutes of this, one of the merchants fainted. When he woke up he admitted that he had taken the money and rushed to return it. When the merchants left, the Rav demanded that the Chavas Das reveal who he was, which he eventually did, brushing aside the Rav's natural apologies. “Why apologize? You ruled according to halacha.” “Why did you first offer half, then more and finally almost the entire amount, before you agreed to swear?” the rabbi asked. “First I offered all my money; then my material goods. My final offer included all of my property. Since I can't raise more and do not have the strength to take on debts I agreed to swear.”

Friday, June 29, 2012

Daily Bread

Rav Yisrael Salanter, zt”l, provides an incisive explanation of a statement of our sages. “On Menachos 103 we find that the curse in the verse 'ואל תאמין בחייך'—‘And you will not believe in your life’—refers to one who must purchase bread daily from a baker. “On the surface this seems very difficult to understand. Surely during our sojourn in the desert when the manna came down each day we were not in this category. Yet wouldn’t a person who had children wonder about his livelihood for the next day, since he was relying on another miracle for his family’s food? How can we understand this? Is it plausible to say that Hashem told us about a punishment which what will happen in terrible times if it was a curse we suffered daily for forty years? “The answer is that it all depends on one’s attitude. As our sages say, one who has sustenance for today yet worries about tomorrow is a person of little faith. For such a person, lacking food for the future is surely a terrible curse since he spends his time worrying. But for one who has faith, this is not a curse at all. Since he trusts in Hashem he does not worry. Instead of being a curse, this situation will be a blessing since it forces him to turn his heart to Hashem. “This is the meaning of this curse. The curses will only come upon us if we do not obey Hashem. For such people, even being required to rely on the baker for food is a terrible curse since they worry each day whether there will be food for the next. But for the generation of the desert this was no curse. They were on a high spiritual level and rose to the challenge, honing their bitachon through this difficulty and until they had no worry at all. Instead they continued to live the verse, 'ויאמינו בה' ובמשה עבדו'—‘And they believed in Hashem and in Moshe His servant.’”

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Source of the Tzaddik's Blessings

Many were those who came to the Ohev Yisrael of Apt, zt”l, for advice and to ask him to daven for them. Interestingly, he would often take breaks while people were waiting for him. During these times he would take out a gemara and learn with great diligence. After some time immersed in the subject he would agree to begin to see people again. Then he would take another break. And then another. He once explained the reason behind this apparently strange custom. "No one should think that I do not understand the importance of avoiding keeping Hashem’s people waiting. Yet I also know that they have come to me for help. I know that the main way to open up channels of bounty is through the Torah. For this reason I take breaks to learn with intensity. In this manner I am most likely to succeed in helping those who come to me in whatever way needed.”

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

It is surely significant that Rav Chaim of Volozhin, zt”l, didn’t sign on the famous cherem of the Vilna Gaon against the chassidim. Some posit that this was for technical reasons. But Rav Shalom Schwadron, zt”l, explains the real reason. “Rav Chaim of Volozhin refrained from signing due to his gratitude to a certain great rebbe. He held that just as Moshe rabbeinu did not hit the Nile due to having received a favor from it, the same held true regarding himself and the chassidim. “Once when he was just a young man he went wandering in exile, much like his rebbe the Vilna Gaon. When he arrived in Alik, a chassidic town, he went to the beis midrash and began learning—without even asking for food. The people saw that he was learning with diligence and sent him food, as was normal in those days. Shortly after he arrived in the city, he became violently ill. Rav Hirsch of Alik, zt”l, the rebbe of the city, ordered his chassidim to send for a doctor and deal with all of Rav Chaim’s needs. They paid the high doctor’s fees and procuring everything necessary for Rav Chaim’s convalescence in the town’s hospital. Even when Rav Chaim felt somewhat better, Rav Hirsch insisted that he remain in the hospital until he was entirely recovered. Because of their efforts, Rav Chaim felt that signing the cherem would be forbidden since it is a marked lack of hakaras hatov.’

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Atoning Table

Many are confused as to why chassidic rebbes conduct tischen. After all, isn’t this bitul Torah for those who could learn? They would likely be surprised to hear that the Avnei Nezer, zt”l—a great lamdan—would praise the greatness of chassidic tischen. “What the tables of the rebbes achieved we shall only comprehend when our righteous Moshiach arrives.” Rav Elchonon Halperin, shlit”a, explains this practice with a statement brought of our sages. “In Menahcos 97 we find that one’s table atones for him. Rashi explains that one’s table atones in the merit of feeding poor people at the table. Yet imagine the embarrassment of destitute people who have no choice but to take their meals as charity as another’s table. Surely only a very rare person can give the poor food in a manner which will not be a huge embarrassment. Most people eating at the table of another out of necessity feel nothing less than bitter darkness. “But at the table of tzaddikim, everyone eats for free. Both the poor and the wealthy join together and one who is hungry can obtain as much food as he wants in an honorable manner. No one feels above his friend, since everyone is there for the same reason and is treated the same way. All those who attend a tisch feel a sense of togetherness that emerges out of holy love and companionship. With such a pleasant atmosphere is it any wonder that we cannot imagine the great atonement of a chassidic tisch?”