Wednesday, January 20, 2010

White Instead of Black

When Rav Raphael of Barshad, zt”l, first began to search for the ideal way to serve Hashem, he heard that learning the Zohar Hakadosh was a great segulah for attaining fear of heaven. He therefore began learning a great deal of Zohar. After learning through the whole Zohar, he started the Zohar Chadash. Towards the end of the Zohar Chadash, there is a warning against being like Bil’am, who was a complete fool despite his great knowledge of serving Hashem.
Rav Raphael said to himself, “If one can know so much and still be a fool, perhaps I should focus instead on the Shulchan Aruch so that my study will bring me to ma’aseh.”
He started learning the Shulchan Aruch in depth, but when he got to Orach Chaim #231, “All of one’s acts should be for the sake of heaven,” he again felt that something was missing.
“Are all of my actions really l’shem shomayim? Perhaps I should spend more time on mussar?” he wondered. Rav Rafael therefore added study of the Shelah HaKadosh to his schedule.
He was so immersed in the Shelah that he would learn it at every opportunity. He would even take it with him when waking the townsfolk for davening so that he would not waste a single minute. But after a while he again felt as if something was missing. So he traveled to the famous Rav Pinchas of Koretz, zt”l, for advice.
Rav Rafael poured out his heart. “I want to serve Hashem in truth, but everything I have tried has been insufficient!” He was so distressed that he actually fainted.
When he came to, Rav Pinchas said, “If you stay with me, you will come to truth.”
Three years later, Rav Rafael dreamed that he was playing cards. Although his hand started out with black cards, they all turned white in the end. When he shared his dream with Rav Pinchas, he was given a powerful interpretation.
“Your dream is like the gemara in Beitzah 10b, about one who designated black birds and found white ones instead. When you first came to me, you were blackened with worry and chumros, and this prevented you from serving Hashem in truth. But now you are white with virtue and purity!”

1 comment:

Choni said...

Very nice. However, what motivated you to share this particular story?