Monday, June 27, 2016

Mussar Drosha: Loving Hashem

Mussar Drosha: Loving Hashem:

This is from the writings of the book Derech Avodah - Bein Adam L'Makom© on loving Hashem:
The Torah HaKedosha (Devarim 6:5) says ‘Vi’ahavta eis Hashem Elokecha, bi’chol li’vavicha, u’vichol nafshicha, u’vichol mi’odecha/And you shall love Hashem your G-d with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your resources’ (following the translation of Mishnah Berachos 9:5).  This is a madreiga that is so hard to reach, but must be!  First; as we learn in Mishnah Berachos 9:5, ‘li’vavicha/with all your heart’ means to love Hashem with both of your ‘hearts’, i.e. the Yetzer hara and Yetzer tov.  They derive this from the fact that the Torah writes the word as ‘li’vavicha’, with two, not one .  The regular word for heart would be leiv, not leivav.  Now let us think about how high this madreiga is, just after the first of the three, (li’vavicha, nafshicha, mi’odecha).  There are different opinions about the exact meaning of these things:  Talmidei Rabbeinu Yonah hold that to love Hashem with both your Yetzer hara and Yetzer tov means to love Hashem by following your Yetzer tov to follow the commandments, and reject the urge of your Yetzer hara to do bad.1  Rambam holds that the ‘Yetzer hara’ here refers to physical pleasures such as eating and drinking.  By listening to your Yetzer tov and doing good things, and channeling the urge for physical desires such as eating and drinking for the service of Hashem, one serves Hashem with both his Yetzers.  We need to eat and drink to stay alive, but excessive eating and drinking is just the Yetzer hara.2  We recite this passage in Shema every single day and night, but yet, we seem to miss a big point here.  We actually have to try to reach these madreigos – to love Hashem like we are commanded to.  How many people truly do this?  But we must try our absolute best to!  This requires much discipline.  Your Yetzer hara will usually try to lead you astray, but we certainly cannot let it.  What we must do is to take control of it, and make sure that we only use its urge for Avodas Hashem like the Rambam says.  The thing is to rule over Yetzer hara, and then we will be able to love Hashem truly ‘bi’chol li’vavicha’. 
But then there is more:  We will now get on to ‘bi’chol nafshicha’:  This means to love Hashem with all our soul.  Mishnah Berachos 9:5 explains that this means to love Hashem even when He is taking your life (or soul) away.  Again, I ask, do many people really do this?  Do we truly fulfill our obligation in loving Hashem?  We must think about this, and if we don’t love Him properly, then we must work to correct that.  The Gemara (Berachos 61b) tells a story in line with this:  When Rabbi Akiva was being martyred, the Romans tried to make his death as painful as possible.  They were tearing his skin off with scorching hot metal combs, and he was saying the Shema with joy!  His talmidim asked him “Master, to such an extent?” And he replied that all his life, he had grieved over the words ‘bi’chol li’vavicha,’ i.e. even when Hashem is taking your life away.  He explained to them that he didn’t know when he would have the opportunity to fulfill these words.  And now that he had the opportunity, “Shall I not fulfill it?” He asked his talmidim incredulously.  He drew out the word ‘Echad’ until his soul departed from him. This holy man loved Hashem so much, that even when he was dying, he was only thinking about trying to fulfill a commandment!  Even if we don’t come into a position like this, we must ask ourselves, would we be willing to do this if the situation arose?  If we, Chas V’Shalom wouldn’t, then we must work on ourselves to get to this level.  Even if we reach this level, we must not stop, as we can always get better.  Never stop working on yourself!  Hashem is giving us a precious gift every second by letting us have another breath. This may not usually be thought about.  But it should be!  Hashem is so kind to us every second.  If someone would truly think about this, they would more likely come to love Hashem closer to how they are supposed to.  Also, if we thought about this, then we would realize that every second, Hashem is giving us more life, so surely we should be willing to give up our life for Hashem!  He gave it to us anyway.  We must live our lives for the One Who gave us life in the first place.  In the Chafetz Chaim’s (HaRav Yisroel Meir HaKohen Kagan zt”l) old age, he was heard saying over and over again, “Let my life be taken ‘Al Kiddush Hashem'.3  Since he was going to die, he wanted to do a Mitzvah in the meantime.  Even if it would be very painful, he loved Hashem so much that he just wanted to do more Mitzvos.  We too must work on ourselves to love Hashem this much.  A person might give up their life to save their child, but would they give up their life if they had to serve Hashem?  Truly, no pain should be able to deter us from serving Hashem Yisbareich.  Nothing should be able to.  This is a very high madreiga also. 
Now we will discuss ‘u’vi’chol mi’odecha’:  Mishnah Berachos 9:5 discusses this as well, and it says that this means to love Hashem with all your resources.  Such as using all the resources that Hashem has given you for good purposes.  Alternatively, the Mishnah says that ‘u’vi’chol mi’odecha could mean that whatever treatment Hashem gives you, thank Him very, very much.  We must trust that everything Hashem does is fair and just.  Truly, it all is, but our minds just don’t comprehend it often.  Let us first discuss the former opinion of the Mishnah:  Using all of your resources for Avodas Hashem is a very fundamental thing in life.  They are all a gift from Hashem in the first place.  When we use the stuff that He has given us for good that shows that we are grateful for His giving it to us.  This ties in to the mashal of the Chafetz Chaim that we quoted in the Introduction.  HaRav Tzaddok HaKohen of Lublin zt”l says something on the passuk in Parshas Beshalach ‘Ki Ani Hashem Rof’echa/For I am Hashem your Healer’ that helps explain this concept:  He explains that Hashem is telling us that even when He brings punishments upon us; it is only to heal us!  He is our Healer always.  Everything that He does is perfectly fair and just, and it is only for our benefit.  Some people get upset when misfortune befalls them, but in truth, we should accept it with joy, as we know that whenever Hashem makes something happen, it is for the best, and furthermore, to heal us!  If someone truly pondered these thoughts, they would realize that there is no such thing coming from Hashem really as misfortune.  It is all for our benefit.  So just like when Hashem brings good things on us and we accept them with joy and gratitude, so too, if Hashem brings something that doesn’t seem good upon us, we should accept it with joy and gratitude, because it is not really misfortune at all, it is for the best, just like the good things!  He makes things happen that are really all for the best, but we just don’t understand His Supreme Wisdom. 
These are very powerful messages.  And we need to take them to heart.
Have a great day everyone!
Refoel Berel
1 Stone Edition Chumash.  Artscroll/Mesorah Publications Ltd.
2 Stone Edition Chumash.  Artscroll/Mesorah Publications Ltd.
3 Sparks of Mussar, page 239.  By HaRav Chaim Ephraim Zaitchik zt"l.  Feldheim Publications©

Friday, June 24, 2016

Mussar Drosha: Anger Management:

Mussar Drosha: Anger Management:

Anger is usually a very terrible thing.  Unless you are getting angry at things such as injustice, or bad things.  That is a time when anger is not so bad - though it sort of depends on the motivation behind it.  But, aside from certain cases, anger is a terrible thing.  As Gemara Nedarim says 'Kol hakoeis, kol minei Gehinom sholtin bo' (which means, 'Anyone who gets angry, all types of Gehinom rule over him').  And as Chazal (the Sages) say also 'Kol hakoeis, ki'ilu ovdei avodah zarah' (which means 'All who get angry, it is as if he is serving idols').  Anger is a very serious thing indeed! 

Let us first examine the saying from Gemara Nedarim:  How do 'all types of Gehinom' rule over somebody who gets mad?  Maybe one of the answers is that, when a person gets angry, they completely lose control of themselves.  They seem to forget all bounds of right and wrong, and Gehinom is literally ruling over them.  This is a very frightening thought!  We lose control of ourselves?  During that period of anger, we could then, Chas V'Shalom (Hashem forbid) go and do a terrible, terrible thing, and hardly even care!  Think about this!  Additionally, the Zohar (Kabbalah written by the Tanna Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai) gives a different answer to the question above:  The Zohar states that when one gets angry - burning mad - we are literally lighting a fire inside of ourselves!  That is, an aish raa (bad fire).  The Zohar explains that one is certainly not allowed to become angry at all on Shabbos or Yontiff, because then they are lighting a fire!  Also, the Zohar says another thing.  Listen to this:  When one gets angry, says the Zohar, they literally light the fires of Gehinom up.  And this is very bad.  Drawing on this, Rebbe Tzaddok HaKohen of Lublin zt"l explains a remarkable Chiddush (new idea):  He says that the fires of being angry are literally the fires of Gehinom!  They are just so destructive by themselves, but the after-effects of anger can be even worse!  Now, if someone gets angry for the right reason, such as getting mad about injustice or about somebody doing something bad, then it is not a bad thing. As we know, we have lots of traits, and all of them can be (and should be!) used for good. We must remember these things; we must try not to get angry for the wrong reason, otherwise it is a very bad thing. Let us realize this:  One can basically experience Gehinom on earth if they get angry for the wrong reason.  We must try to understand this. 

Now let us examine the second quote from Chazal:  How is getting angry like serving idols?  The Rambam gives a beautiful answer:  He says that, when one gets angry, they are only thinking about themselves, thinking that the thing that has to do with them is more important than other things, essentially that they come first.  So how is this like avodah zarah?  Answers the Rambam wonderfully, this person, is serving themselves.  They are concentrating only on them, and not on serving Hashem.  Look at how serious anger is!  We are serving ourselves, instead of Hashem, and all types of Gehinom rule over us!  Is this not awful? 

But then there is the obvious question:  How do we keep away from anger?  Is it not a natural trait?  Maybe the answer is that, if we realize that Hashem is in charge, we won't get angry, except for about things that we are supposed to be upset about.  How?  To answer this question, we must explore the meaning of anger.  Anger is a type of upset-ness.  Anger about ones own problems is when something happens to you, and you don't like it.  You then get upset about it, a lot of times thinking that it is unfair that it happened to you.  Now we have the answer!!  When one realizes that Hashem controls everything, they won't get angry about this stuff!  They will realize that it all comes from Hashem, and everything He makes happen is for the best!  On this concept, the author of the book Derech Avodah - Bein Adam L'Makom writes:

HaRav Tzaddok HaKohen of Lublin zt”l says something on the passuk in Parshas Beshalach ‘Ki Ani Hashem Rof’echa/For I am Hashem your Healer’ that helps explain this concept:  He explains that Hashem is telling us that even when He brings punishments upon us; it is only to heal us![1]  He is our Healer always.  Everything that He does is perfectly fair and just, and it is only for our benefit.  Some people get upset when misfortune befalls them, but in truth, we should accept it with joy, as we know that whenever Hashem makes something happen, it is for the best, and furthermore, to heal us!  If someone truly pondered these thoughts, they would realize that there is no such thing coming from Hashem really as misfortune.  It is all for our benefit.  So just like when Hashem brings good things on us and we accept them with joy and gratitude, so too, if Hashem brings something that doesn’t seem good upon us, we should accept it with joy and gratitude, because it is not really misfortune at all, it is for the best, just like the good things!  He makes things happen that are really all for the best, but we just don’t understand His Supreme Wisdom.  Truly, a person should be happy with everything that Hashem makes happen.  Aharon HaKohen reached this level, as we see in Parshas Shemini, when his sons, Nadav and Avihu brought the alien fire, and Hashem had to take their lives.  The Torah says ‘Vayidom Aharon/And Aharon was silent’, to which the Chafetz Chaim comments, and explains a beautiful thing:  He explains that when the Torah says that Aharon was silent, it means that he was not only silent on the outside, but also on the inside as well!  Normally, if something bad, Chas V’Shalom happens, a person would be extremely upset and either voice this, or voice it on the inside.  But, as the Chafetz Chaim explains, Aharon was such a huge Tzaddik that he wasn’t even brooding within himself!  He knew that everything that Hashem makes happen is for the best, and we cannot ever question it.  His Judgment is perfect always.  A lot of people know this, but are they really on such a level that they never get upset with any of Hashem’s Judgements?  We must reach this level!  A person should always be happy with whatever Hashem brings on them.  Now, we might get upset at ourselves sometimes if we, Chas V’Shalom don’t do the right thing, but that should be constructive.  It shows that we are upset about doing something bad, and that it matters to us.

This is a way not to get angry.  When we recognize Hashem properly, we will come to understand that everything happens for the best.  And we can reach the level where we do not get angry, B'Eizer Hashem (with the Help of Hashem)!  Hashem made every goal attainable, and so this one is not different!  We can all do this!  We can!  Just with Hashem's help!  Please, everybody try!  Please!  We must! 

May Hashem help every single Jew to not get angry for the wrong reasons, help us all become better people, and help us to come back to Him in complete Teshuvah (repentance).  And in the merit of this, He will send Moshioch very speedily in our days.  May He do this very swiftly.  Amein, so may it be His Will. 
I wish every single Jew a wonderful, wonderful Shabbos, and may HaKadosh Baruch Hu help us all to have one!  Amein!
Refoel Berel

[1] Stone Edition Chumash, Parshas Korach. Artscroll Publications©. 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Parshas Behaaloscha

This Week’s Parsha – Behaaloscha

This week’s parsha is Behaaloscha, and at first, it talks about Aharon lighting the Menorah.  Unfortunately, the huge Menorah that was in the Beis HaMikdash is not around anymore, (may Hashem restore it very speedily in our days), however, we, Baruch Hashem, do have our Chanukah Menorahs!  So the Menorah never faded away!  Kind of like we do not have the Beis HaMikdash around anymore, but we have little Sanctuaries, i.e. Shuls, so too, though we do not have the big Menorah, we do have little ones that suffice us until Hashem builds the one that will last forever, may He do this very soon.  However, since we now all have our own Menorahs, we all have the privilege to light the Menorah.   This is both happy and sad (because it means that the Beis HaMikdash is not around).  As I discussed when we talked about Chanukah, the Menorah represents many things:  I will start with an idea from the Tosher Rebbe zt”l:  He quotes what the Chachamim/Sages say, that Adam spent 36 hours in Gan Eden, and he saw special lights there. So the Tosher Rebbe says that this corresponds to the 36 (not including the Shammas) special lights on Chanukah.  The candles that we light.  Now, I will put in some ideas that I had on the Menorah: I think that aside from the 36 lights that it corresponds to, it also corresponds to the לו/36 Tzaddikim in every generation. Because just as when we read about these Tzaddikim, we get sparks of holiness and inspiration, so too, we get these sparks of inspiration from the 36 Chanukah candles (not counting the Shammas). Also, just like we add a candle – another Aish Kodesh/holy fire – every night, so too, we want to add another Aish kodesh/holy fire to our Neshamah/Soul always, and make it grow.  A burning desire to serve Hashem!  This is a story connected to the Menorah:  Late one night, Rav Yisrael Salanter zt”l chanced to a shoemaker’s home. The shoemaker was sitting and doing his work by the flickering light of a candle that was about to go out. “Why are you still working?” Rav Yisrael asked him “The hour is late. Besides, your candle will soon go out, and you won’t be able to finish. “That’s no problem” answered the shoemaker “As long as the candle is burning; it is still possible to work and to repair.” Rav Yisrael was deeply impressed by these words.  For if someone has to work for their physical needs as long as the candle is lit, kal vachomer/how much more so must someone work for their spiritual improvement as long as the Neshamah/soul, ‘Hashem’s Candle’ is in them, i.e. they are still alive.1 We know how important it is when, on Chanukah, the candles are still lit; it is just like the Neshamah/soul, it is so important when it is still burning, and just like we sometimes get longer lasting candles so the candles won’t go out as fast, so too, we must work to make sure that our Neshamah/soul does not go out as fast. Fire a lot of times represents holiness, and we need to add holiness to us.  These are very great messages for Chanukah and this parsha! 
Now on to the parsha:  The first two pessukim/verses are:  Va’yi’daber Hashem el Moshe leimor.  Daber el Aharon, vi’amartah eilav, Behaaloscha es haneiros el mul p’nei haMenorah ya’iru shivas haneiros/And Hashem spoke to Moshe saying.  Speak to Aharon, and say to him, when you light the lights, the seven lights shall cast their light towards the face of the Menorah.’  And the Torah tells us that Aharon did what Hashem commanded Moshe.  Rashi quotes from Sifri, which explains that when the Torah says that Aharon did like Hashem commanded Moshe, it is to praise him.  He says ‘Li’hagid shivcho shel Aharon, she’lo shinah/This is to tell the praise of Aharon, that he did not change [from what Hashem commanded].’  But many ask on this; how is it a praise of Aharon that he listened to Hashem?  Would he not have?!?  There are some nice answers to this:  1) Rebbe Meir of Premishlan zt”l explains one possible reason:  He says that when the Rashi says ‘she’lo shinah/that he did not change’ it means that Aharon did not change not only the command that Hashem gave, but also, he himself did not change.  Meaning that although he had such an important job as to light the holy Menorah, and only he had this job, he did not become gaavadik/haughty.  He stayed humble no matter what.  This is very important.  2) The Sefas Emes (Rebbe Yehuda Leiv Alter zt”l) explains another possible answer:  He explains that when it says ‘she’lo shinah/that he did not change’ it not only refers to that he didn’t change from what he was supposed to do, but also that he never changed how he performed the Commandment of lighting the Menorah.  This means that he always performed the Mitzvah/Commandment with the same enthusiasm as if it was the first time he was doing it.  We must try to take this message.  Whenever we do a Mitzvah/Commandment (or good deed), we must try to do it with enthusiasm, loving doing something to serve Hashem.  Remember this.  3) I think that another message we can take from this is that it is such a big deal that Aharon did not deviate from what Hashem said.  Because every single good thing that we do is extremely important, and they are all very big deals.  No good deed is a small thing.  They all matter a lot to Hashem. 
Now back to the parsha:  The Torah talks a little about the workmanship of the Menorah.  It was made out of a single piece of hammered gold.  According to the vision that Hashem showed Moshe, so did Moshe make it.  Then Hashem tells Moshe to take out the Leviim from the midst of the Jews, and purify them.  This is because they were going to be His.  And the Torah lists the purification process for the Leviim.  At the start of Sheini/the second Aliyah, the Torah continues to discuss the Leviim.  And Moshe and Aharon did to the Leviim like Hashem told them.  In the middle of the Aliyah, Hashem tells Moshe ‘Zos asher laLeviim.../This is the [rule for] the Leviim...etc.’ The rule was that from the age of twenty-five years and up a Levi can serve in the Ohel Moeid/Tent of Meeting.  And then at the age of 50, he has to retire from the work.  Hashem tells Moshe in the next verse what ‘work’ a Levi 50 and older cannot do:   He cannot perform the service.  Then, at the beginning of Shlishi/the third Aliyah, Hashem tells Moshe that the Jews have to make the Pesach offering in its appointed time.  Rashi quotes from Sifri, which explains that ‘in its appointed time’ means even if the day of the Pesach offering falls on a Shabbos, you can still offer it.  Though usually it would be a Melacha to do an offering on Shabbos, this case is different.  On the afternoon of the fourteenth of Nissan (Erev Pesach) the Pesach-offering is to be offered.  Woe is us!  We have done so many sins that Hashem had to take away the Beis HaMikdash, and so we cannot offer the Pesach-offering right now.  But, if the Jewish People do Teshuva (repent), and return to Hashem, then He will send Mashiach, and rebuild the Beis HaMikdash!  We must return to Hashem!  Do you realize that we do not have the Beis HaMikdash anymore, and we are in Gallus/Exile because of us?!  It is because a lot of Jews acted badly, and turned away from Hashem.  Think about this:  Hashem gives us so many great things, He protects us, pretty much does everything for us.  And then we do not listen to Him, turn away from Him, and expect Him to continue giving us all the bounty!!  Is this not absolute foolishness?!?!  People do not realize just how bad they act towards Hashem, and how badly they treat Him.  A person (though there is an infinite difference between a person and Hashem) would have stopped doing anything for us long, long, long ago.  But Hashem, in His Infinite Kindness continues to do great things for us, though we sin against Him.  So what we must all do is to repent for everything bad that we do and did, and try to do good things from now on.  Now is the time to repent!  Now!  We must return to Hashem, and serve Him properly always.  And in the merit of this, He will send Mashiach speedily in our days.  Then we will be able to perform all those special offerings described in the Torah, and all those special services.  Amein.  And may Hashem make this happen very speedily in our days. 
Now back to the parsha:  Moshe instructed the Jews about all the rules of the Pesach-offering.  And the Jews did what they were supposed to.  But there were people who were tamei/impure through contact with a dead person, so they could not offer the Pesach-offering.   They came to Moshe and Aharon to ask what they should do.  They presented their question to Moshe and Aharon, and asked essentially why they should be excluded from the Pesach-offering in its appointed time.  Moshe told them to wait, so he could see what Hashem would say.  Hashem told Moshe that any person who was impure through contact with a dead person, or was on a far journey, (so they couldn’t offer the Pesach-offering in its proper time), should (still) offer the Pesach-offering.  He said that they would offer it on the fourteenth day of the second month, i.e. Iyyar, and they have to treat it like the regular Pesach-offering.  So Hashem, in His Kindness gives these people the chance to offer the Pesach-offering as well!  This thing is called Pesach Sheini.  Now, the Frierdiker Rebbe (Rebbe Yosef Yitzchok of Lubavitch zt”l) says that one of the meanings of the Mitzvah/Commandment of Pesach Sheini is a second chance.  It teaches us that it is never too late to come back to Hashem.  We are always able to.  Baruch Hashem!!2  Now, if a man who isn’t impure or on a trip doesn't offer up the Pesach-offering (Chas V’Shalom/Hashem forbid), then they will get the punishment of kareis/cutting off.  At the start of Rivi’i/the fourth Aliyah, the Torah talks about how on the day the Mishkan was set up, the Cloud of Glory would rest upon it, and at night, there would be an appearance like fire on it until morning.  When the Cloud lifted, the Jews would travel, and in the place where the Cloud would settle, they would encamp.  If the Cloud stayed on the Mishkan for a while, then that would be how long the Jews would stay there.  I believe that this teaches us a great lesson.  We see that wherever the Cloud of Glory would go, the Jews would go.  This is an example for eternity that we are supposed to follow where Hashem leads us, as He knows best where we are supposed to be, and what is supposed to happen there.  He knows how long we are supposed to be where we are.  We must follow after Hashem, wherever He leads us.  Back to the parsha:  At the beginning of Chamishi/the fifth Aliyah, the Torah says that on the twentieth of the second month of the second year (from the Jews going out from Mitzraim/Egypt) the Cloud lifted up from the Mishkan, and the Jews traveled from the Midbar Sinai/Wilderness of Sinai, and the Cloud settled in the wilderness of Paran.  And so the Jews encamped there.  This was the first journey according to Hashem’s bidding through Moshe.  And the Torah discusses the order in which each Tribe set out for the traveling. 
In Shishi/the sixth Aliyah, the Jews started looking for a reason to complain.  Hashem was not happy with this.  Should He be?!  Hashem had given the Jews so much, yet they still looked to complain!  Hashem was very angry with them, and so a fire went out, and killed some Jews, because of the terrible sin which we did, by complaining against Hashem.  The Jews complained about the food, saying that they had had so great food in Mitzraim/Egypt.  They complained about the Mon, and that they always had to have it.  The people walked around and gathered it; they ground it, crushed it, cooked it, and made it into cakes.  And it tasted like oil cakes.  On this, Rebbe Uziel Meizlish of Ostrog zt”l asks; what is the praise in saying that the Mon tasted like oil cake?  Would that taste good?  So he explains that, as we know, the Mon was given every morning so that the Jews could serve Hashem without having to worry about getting food.  The righteous among the Jews, says Reb Uziel, who just really wanted to serve Hashem, ate the Mon when it fell from Heaven, and did not ‘walk around’ collecting it, which was kind of wasting time.  Now listen to this:  He explains that these righteous people tasted any food that they wanted when they ate the Mon.  However, the other people, who were not as good, ‘shatu/walked around’ and collected it.  The word ‘shatu’, he explains, is related to the word for nonsense ‘shtus.’  It was total foolishness for the people to be walking around, crushing the Mon, grinding it, cooking it, and making it into cakes.   They were wasting their time, instead of serving Hashem!  This is a very important message that Reb Uziel zt”l is telling us.3  Now back to the parsha:  Moshe spoke to Hashem, and he was basically saying to Him that he needed His help with the People.  And that he couldn’t carry them, so to speak, all by himself.  So Hashem told him to assemble to Him 70 of the Elders of Israel, and take them to the Ohel Moeid/Tent of Meeting.  Hashem told Moshe that He would come down, and increase his (Moshe’s) spirit, and bestow it on the Elders.  Then they would be able to help Moshe carry the people.  Moshe was supposed to tell the Jews that they should prepare themselves for the next day, and they would eat meat, because they had cried to Hashem.  However, this was going to be a punishment, because the Jews were complaining, not Davening/praying.  Hashem sent a wind that swept the meat into the Camp.  The Jews gathered and ate the meat, and there was so much!  And since the Jews had acted bad, Hashem punished them with a severe blow.  And He named the place where they were Kivros Hataavah/Graves of the desire, because there, they buried the people who had craved meat, complained against Hashem and sinned against Him.  The Jews traveled from Kivros Hataavah to Chatzeros.  Now, the Baal Shem Tov zt”l explains that the literal meaning of the words ‘Kivros Hataavah’ is ‘Graves of the desire’.  And so, he explains, this goes to teach us that the cravings and bad desires were buried in that place as well.4 

We must remember how bad it is to complain against Hashem.  He knows what is best always!  If He makes something happen to us, it is only to help us!  Try to think about this and take it to heart!  Please!!  All of us must!!  It is so important!!! 

There are 136 pessukim/verses in this parsha. 

Have a great Shabbos everyone!! 

Refoel Berel

1 Sparks of Mussar, page(s) 14-15.  By HaRav Chaim Ephraim Zaitchik zt"l.  Feldheim Publications©
2  Parsha in-depth.  Parshas Behaaloscha.
3  'With Apologies to the Foodies'.  From Tiferes Uziel. 
4  Parsha in-depth.  Parshas Behaaloscha.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

A Rebbe Story: The Chofetz Chaim's Middos:

A Rebbe Story: The Chofetz Chaim's Middos:

The Chofetz Chaim zt"l did not like to cause people to have to wait, thereby sort of oppressing them.  This story really is an example of his extraordinary Middos (virtues):  One time, HaRav Leiv Chasman zt"l was invited to the Chofetz Chaim's  home for the Shabbos evening meal.  To his surprise, upon returning from Shul, the Chofetz Chaim did not sing the customary Shalom Aleichem (welcoming the Angels which Hashem sends to escort you from the Shul to your home on Shabbos), and he recited Kiddush immediately.  Only after they had eaten the preliminary Gefilte fish did the Chofetz Chaim start to sing Shalom Aleichem. 

Reb Chasman couldn't help but ask why he had changed the customary order of things.  Reb Yisroel Meir (the Chofetz Chaim) smiled, and answered "You were surely hungry, and I wanted you to eat a little something first.  But the Angels (that escort Jews home on Shabbos eve) are not hungry, and they can wait a little."1

Look at these Middos!  The Chofetz Chaim indeed thought about basically every single thing he did!  That is one of the reasons why he was such a huge, huge Gadol.  And if we truly think about everything that we do, then, B'Eizer Hashem (with the Help of Hashem) become much better people. 

Have a great day everybody!

Refoel Berel

1 Sparks of Mussar, page 233.  By HaRav Chaim Ephraim Zaitchik zt"l.  Feldheim Publications©

Monday, June 20, 2016

Chassidim, Baalei Mussar, and All of Jewry.

Chassidim, Baalei Mussar, and All of Jewry: What do you think?

Chassidus:  In the early to mid 1700's, the great Rebbe Yisrael Baal Shem Tov zt"l started the Chassidus Movement.  Over the years, it has grown and thrived, there now being Chassidim almost all over the world.  Chassidim have a different kind of thought in Avodas Hashem than many others.  Some people disagree with them, but others follow in the ways of Chassidus.  Chassidishe thought emphasizes:  Serving Hashem with joy, good middos, the importance of a Rebbe, and spirituality.  Also, the heritage of inspiring stories, the learning of more Chassidus and Torah in Yeshivos, etc.  Very important things in serving Hashem.  In fact, if you read stories about Chassidishe Rebbes, you can see that they were, and are, extremely spiritual and righteous people.  Many flock to receive a Rebbe's blessing, or just to see him, as a lot of times, Hashem fulfills Rebbe's Berachos. Actually, a lot of people have, Baruch Hashem, become Baalei Teshuvah after having some kind of interaction with Chassidim.  In fact, my esteemed father shlita told me that one time, a Chassidishe Rebbe hired some gentile to build the Aron Kodesh for a Shul.  The man did a very good job, and when he was leaving, the Rebbe wished to give him a Bracha.  He blessed him that he should one day become a good Jew.  The warmth of this Rebbe inspired the gentile, and he eventually converted to being a Frum Jew!  Hashem, Blessed is He, fulfilled the Rebbe's Bracha!  Chassidishe Rebbes tend to be very, very warm, and inspiring.  A story that I once heard can maybe emphasize the importance of Chassidus:  The Baal Shem Tov zt"l once told his brother-in-law in a letter that his Neshama (Soul) had ascended to Heaven, and to the chamber of the Moshioch.  He asked the Moshioch; "When will you come?" And the Moshioch answered "When your wellsprings of Chassidus spread throughout the world."  We do not know exactly what time this will be, but hopefully, it will be soon, B'Eizer Hashem Yisbarach (With the Help of Hashem, He is Blessed).  The Chassidim nearly all dress in special coats and hats, called Bekishes (coat), Shtreimels (hat), Spodiks (hat), Kolpiks (hat), Kashkets (hat), Rekels (coat), Gartels (special belt), etc.  These are just some of the many things about Chassidus, and there is much more to it. 

Chabad Lubavitch:  In 1775, Rebbe Shnuer Zalman  of Liadi zt"l founded Chabad Chassidus.  Though Lubavitch is a form of Chassidus, it has almost grown to it's very own sect of Judaism.  'Chabad' is an acronym for 'Chochmah (wisdom), Binah (understanding), and Daas (knowledge).'  One of the huge foundations of Chabad, is Kiruv (helping people become Frum).  They travel all over the world, and send Rebbes out to strengthen Judaism, and help people come close to Hashem.  This is a very, very important thing.  In fact, my esteemed father shlita told me that in the Chabad Yeshiva, they take off part of the learning day of Yom Shishi (Friday), and go out to try to do Kiruv.  Another thing that is very stressed in Chabad Lubavitch, is trying to bring Moshioch, (may Hashem send him speedily in our days).  They try to do lots of things to help the Jews be worthy of Hashem sending Moshioch.  The Lubavitch Movement started to become bigger beginning with the third Rebbe, the Tzemach Tzedek (Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson zt"l, not to be confused with the seventh Rebbe zt"l), and by now, has likely over 1,000,000 followers all around the world.  They indeed spread Chassidus.  The Movement's headquarters is at the 770 Eastern Parkway, Crown Heights, NY Yeshiva.  The seven Rebbes of Chabad Lubavitch were:  1) Rebbe Shnuer Zalman of Liadi zt"l (Der Alter Rebbe).  2) Rebbe DovBer Shnueri zt"l (Der Mitteler Rebbe).  3) Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson zt"l (The Tzemach Tzedek).  4) Rebbe Shmuel Schneerson zt"l (The Rebbe Maharash).  5) Rebbe Shalom DovBer Schneerson zt"l (The Rebbe Rashab).  6) Rebbe Yosef Yitzchok Schneerson zt"l (Der Frierdiker Rebbe).  7) Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson zt"l (The Lubavitcher Rebbe, or 'The Rebbe'). 

Baalei Mussar:  The Mussar Movement was started in the 1800's, by HaRav Yisroel Salanter zt"l.  It stresses acting properly, keeping the Commandments to high levels, treating others well, having good middos, etc.  All extremely great things.  Reb Yisroel was inspired to go into Mussar by his teacher, HaRav Zundel Salant zt"l.1  Many Mussar works were published way before the Movement started, but Reb Yisroel officially began it.  He once said "It is worthwhile for a person to learn Mussar throughout their entire life, even if its only benefit is to stop him from saying one remark of Lashon Hara" (evil speech).2  He also said "Even in our day, there are people on whom Hashem has bestowed marvelous abilities such as the Geonim had, but bad middos dull their abilities."3  The Mussar Movement attracted many followers.  After all, Mussar is a very important thing, literally meaning 'self-discipline'.  As the Chofetz Chaim zt"l rules in Mishnah Berurah "A person must set aside times each day to learn Mussar."  Unfortunately, a lot of the Mussar Movement was killed out during the Shoah (Holocaust), however, it, Baruch Hashem, began to grow again, and now it has members in Israel and the USA.4  It was a great kindness from Hashem that the Mussar Movement was started. 

Charedi Jews:  This is a general term of Jews, which people a lot of times refer to as 'Ultra-Orthodox' or 'Black-Hat', talking about the Black Hats which they wear.  'Charedi Jews' includes all 'Black-Hatters' and Chassidim.  They have a certain dress code, like to stay separate from gentiles, and hold laws strictly.  There tend to be a lot of Yeshivos among 'Charedi Jews', and there are many of them all around the world. 

Though there are many different sects of Judaism, many of which I did not even list here, we are all part of one people, with a single goal:  That is, to serve Hashem well.  And we must never forget that being from different sects does not separate us, and we are all brothers and sisters.  We all must stay together as one people no matter what.  We are all Jews!  Remember this!  And may Hashem help the entire Jewish People to always have very good Achdus (unity), Amein, so may it be His Will. 

Please, please post your thoughts on this in 'comments'.  I would really, really like to see what everybody has to say, and how you look at these things.  Thanks everyone! 

Have a great day!

Refoel Berel

1 Wikipedia - The Mussar Movement.
2 Sparks of Mussar, pages 11-12.  By HaRav Chaim Ephraim Zaitchik zt"l.  Feldheim Publications©
3 Sparks of Mussar, page 12.  By HaRav Chaim Ephraim Zaitchik zt"l.  Feldheim Publications©
4 Wikipedia - The Mussar Movement. 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

A Rebbe Story: The Arizal and Teshuvah

A Rebbe Story: The Arizal and Teshuvah

One time, an arrogant sinner came to the holy Arizal for the purpose of scoffing at him.  Reb Luria zt"l took one look at him, and began to enumerate every sin that he (the sinner) had done that day.  The man fainted from the shock.  Upon reviving, he fell down before the Ari, and asked how he could repent.  And he added "Let the mouth that dared to mock receive its punishment." 

The Ari suggested that he die by having molten lead poured down his throat, as his Teshuvah (repentance).  The now-penitent was so sincere about his Teshuvah, that he agreed to accept that terrible death - since it would be his atonement. 

The Arizal's men laid the penitent down, blindfolded him, and poured down his throat... a teaspoonful of honey!  That man was ready to accept a terrible death as atonement, and so it was considered as if he had actually had suffered it.

Have a great day everybody!

Refoel Berel

1 Sparks of Mussar, page 142.  By HaRav Chaim Ephraim Zaitchik zt"l.  Feldheim Publications©

Friday, June 17, 2016

Mussar Drosha: Achdus

Mussar Drosha: Achdus:

We are told, why was the Beis Hamikdash destroyed?  Because of sinas chinam (baseless hatred between Jews).  We can all see that it has likely gotten worse over the years.  And now?  Now, the Jewish People have so many problems with this, that it is hard to begin to discuss it.  You see, I believe in dressing in Bekishe's and Shtreimels, however, we have things where if we see a person who doesn't dress like that, or in a suit, we just jump and judge them!  Is this proper?  They might actually be an incredible person!  Take the holy Chafetz Chaim for example, he dressed in the clothing of common-folk.  Nowadays, if one of us saw him, and didn't know who he was, we might think to ourselves "Ah!  He's just an am haaretz."  But in reality, he was one of the greatest Gedolim you'll see!  So right away, we see a lot of problems.  Doesn't anybody remember the saying (Pirkei Avos 4:20) 'Al tistakel bi'kankan (Do not look at the vessel, but at what it contains)'?  It is not what the person is wearing, but what kind of a person they are.  And since a person cannot know another's thoughts, they cannot look at another person and know if they are good or not.  This is a problem today.  A lot of us tend to jump and judge our fellows very quickly, without even knowing what kind of a person they are!  This is a big aveirah (sin).  Don't people realize this?  Just because you look like you would be a better person than someone else, doesn't mean that you are.  As Chiddushei Refoel writes on the first verse of Parshas Kedoshim: 

"Additionally, I believe that maybe one of the reasons why the commandments regarding Kedusha were said to the entire Nation is to teach us that one of the ways for the Jewish People to be holy is for them to come together, and have Achdus!  Achdus is a very, very important thing.  That is one of the things that I believe, unfortunately Am Yisrael lacks nowadays.  The Jewish People is supposed to be like one person, as it was at Har Sinai – where we reached Achdus.  As we are told, at Har Sinai, we were ‘Ki’ish echad bi’leiv echad’.  Now look at the Jewish People!!  Some think that others aren’t frum enough, others the opposite; and some just don’t get along with others because they hold different minhagim than them, so they think that the others are wrong.  First, if you are that frum, then you would never treat others badly because you think that they aren’t frum enough.  That will only hurt, and it will make the “less frum” people mad at “more frum” people!  You would then be ruining the Achdus of Klal Yisrael, and causing the second thing I mentioned, to happen.  The third one is extremely absurd as well.  You would stay away from people just because they keep different minhagim than you, and you think they are wrong?  How do you know?  Even if you think that they are doing something wrong, does that give you the excuse to ruin the Achdus?  The other person might be doing something bad, but if you, Chas V’Shalom cause animosity, then you are for sure doing a bad thing!  And as the Alter of Kelm (HaRav Simcha Zissel Ziv Broida zt"l) said; a certainty outweighs a doubt.1  The problem, I believe, with the Achdus of the Jewish People, is that we think about ourselves too much.  If we were thinking about what is right, we would certainly not cause trouble between Jews, as we know that that is very wrong.  But when we think about ourselves, then we look at if the person is doing something that we don’t approve of.  Think about what I just said.  That we don’t approve of what they are doing.  It might be something that helps with their Avodas Hashem, but no!  Just because we don’t like it, it is bad.  Does this make any sense?  We are the bad one in this case.  And every single Jew must try hard not to cause any trouble in Klal Yisrael.  Remember:  One of the Mitzvos in the parsha of Kedoshim is ‘Vi’ahavta li’reiacha kamocha’, which means to love every Jew as ourselves.  As the Baal Shem Tov and Rebbe Avraham Yehoshua Heschel of Kopitchinitz zt”l used to discuss, loving every Jew does not just apply to Jew’s like Gedolim, but to ones whom it is hard to love as well – such as ones who we consider “less frum”, or “too frum”.2 If we love them all, then we can have Achdus.  And if the Jewish People has lots of Achdus, it can help the entire People be holy together!!  May Hashem help us all with this, Amein, kein Yi’hi ratzon."
This is true.  And there are many other reasons for lack of Achdus (unity) among the Jewish People.  Unfortunately, we just don't have the 'brotherly love' which we are supposed to.  After all, is there not a Commandment to 'love your fellow like yourself'?  Likely the essence of this Commandment is what Hillel said (Gemara Shabbos 31a) "What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow".  However, there is also a spiritual aspect of this, that is, actually loving your fellow as you love yourself.  This might be hard sometimes.  And I believe that most people do not fulfill this Commandment properly.  Actually, this might be a big part of why the Jewish People has Achdus problems.  But then how do we love our fellow as ourselves?  The first Lubavitcher Rebbe (Rebbe Shnuer Zalman of Liadi zt"l) answers this question:  He explains that, when we look at ourselves and everybody else as the body, it is very hard to fulfill this Commandment.  However, explains Reb Shnuer Zalman beautifully, if we look at ourselves and others as Souls - which is really every person's essence - then it will be much easier for everybody to do this!  Because, instead of looking at the material side of things, we look at everybody as their Soul - which is a part of Hashem - and obviously so pure.  How could we not love them then?
Now we see just some of the many problems with the Achdus of the Jewish People.  And there are many more!  But, if we take the above advice of the holy Alter Rebbe (Reb Shnuer Zalman zt"l), then things will get a lot better, B'Eizer Hashem (with the Help of Hashem).  Even if other Jews, treat us badly, (Chas V'Shalom) then we still must look at them with a good eye, and love them just as much.  In fact, there is a nice story I saw on this topic: 

One time, when the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe (Rebbe Yosef Yitzchok Schneerson zt"l) was a very young child, he asked his father why we have two eyes.  And his father replied that (he thought that) the reason is that a person must have one eye (so to speak, not literally) with which they look on things favorably, and another eye with which they look upon things strictly and with judgment.  The favorable 'eye', his father continued, is the 'eye' with which we must look at every fellow Jew.  And the strict 'eye', is the one with which we should look at ourselves (a lot of times) with.4  This message needs to be taken to heart, thought about, and acted upon. 
May Hashem help every Jew to have better Achdus always, Amein, Kein Yi'hi Ratzon (so may it be His Will). 
I wish a wonderful, wonderful Shabbos to every single Jew, and may Hashem help us all to have one, Amein!
Please feel free to leave any comments!
Refoel Berel
1 Stone Edition Chumash.  Artscroll Publications. 
2 Sparks of Mussar.  By HaRav Chaim Ephraim Zaitchik zt"l.  Feldheim Publications. 
3  Parshas Kedoshim in-depth.  From our Sages. 
4  Parshas Kedoshim in-depth.  From our Sages. 

Parshas Nasso

This Week’s Parsha – Nasso

This week’s parsha is Nasso, and at first, it discusses the work which the families of Gershon and Merari did. The Leviim did holy work. Their only job was to work in the Mishkan, and serve Hashem. But truly, this is what everybody’s job is in life! I know it’s hard to realize and put into action, but the hobbies we have on the side do not matter at all. Unless they help us serve Hashem better. Again, our only job in life is to serve Hashem well.

Actually, this is an excerpt from my book – Derech Avodah – Bein Adam L’Makom on this topic: ‘Furthermore, HaRav Chaim of Volozhin zt"l (Ruach Chaim; Avos 3:1) cites a mashal/parable found in Gemara Shabbos 125b: The mashal is of a king who lent his special clothing to two groups of men. One group carelessly returned the clothes to the king, soiled and battered. The other group, however, gave everything back in incredible condition. The royal robes were clean and sparkling. Obviously, the king was happier with the group who returned the clothing to him clean and sparkling. So too, says the Gemara, Hashem gives us all a Neshama. Resha’im/evil people dirty their Souls with aveiros/sins, but Tzaddikim/righteous people keep their Souls clean and shiny. Hashem is obviously happier with the ones who returned their Souls still clean and sparkling – without dirtying them with sins.1 This is what we all must do. Now let us realize this: Just as we eat food and drink water physically, and without doing this we would die, so too, we need to ‘eat’ and ‘drink’ spiritually. How so? Torah is compared to water, and Mitzvos are almost like our spiritual food. Without, Chas V’Shalom learning Torah and doing Mitzvos, we cannot really stay truly alive, i.e. spiritually, because they are parts of serving Hashem well. If only a person cared as much about their spiritual food and drink as they did with physical food and drink! Also, if one wants to stay healthy, they must be careful not to eat or drink too much, however, spiritually, you can never get enough ‘food’ and ‘drink’! In fact, a person gets spiritually healthier the more Torah they learn, and the more Mitzvos that they do. A person must eat and drink physically, true; however, they must care more about the spiritual ‘food’ and ‘drink’. Additionally, when a person gets full of food or drink, they will usually need to stop eating, but when we do lots of Mitzvos and learn a lot of Torah, it a lot of times makes us want to do more of them! We cannot really get ‘full’ from Mitzvos; we can always keep doing them! Blessed is Hashem Who lets us do more Mitzvos!’

Now on to the parsha: At the beginning of the parsha, Hashem tells Moshe to ‘lift up the heads of the sons of Gershon’ i.e. to count them. Rashi explains that this means that Moshe was to count who of the sons of Gershon was fit to do the service in the Mishkan. The families of Gershon were to serve and to carry. They carry: The curtains of the Mishkan, the ones of the Ohel Moeid/Tent of Meeting, its covering, the Tachash skin covering laid on it, and the Screen for the entrance of the Ohel Moeid/Tent of Meeting. The hangings of the Chatzer/Courtyard, the Screen at the entrance of the gate of the Chatzer/Courtyard, their ropes, all the work involved, and everything that is made for them. The charge (duty) of the families of Merari was the planks of the Mishkan, its bars, its pillars, and its sockets. The pillars of the surrounding Chatzer/Courtyard, their sockets, their pegs, their ropes, and all the implements for the work involved. Moshe, Aharon, and the Princes counted the Levi families – men from 30-50, who come to serve in the Ohel Moeid/Tent of Meeting. For the family of Kohath: 2,750. For the family of Gershon: 2,630. For the family of Merari: 3,200. The total: 8,580. At the beginning of Shlishi/the third Aliyah, Hashem tells Moshe to command the Jews to expel from the camp essentially anybody who was tamei/impure. This was so they would not defile the camp – in which Hashem dwelled, so to speak. And the Jews did so. It is important to remember that the entire world is filled with Hashem’s Presence, so we must take pains to try to stay as clean as possible (unless in a case where it is a good thing to become tamei/impure). Then Hashem told Moshe to tell the Jews that if a man or woman commits a sin against Hashem, and they are found guilty, then they have to confess their sin, make restitution for the principal amount of their guilt, and give it to the person to whom they are guilty. Rashi quotes from Sifrei Nasso, which explains that this section is talking about a person who steals, and then swears falsely. Now, the Zohar tells us that ‘Vi’hisvadu es chatasam asher asu/And they shall confess the sin which they did’ refers to the Mitzvah/Commandment of Teshuva/repentance. If a person, Chas V’Shalom/Hashem forbid does a bad thing, then they have to do Teshuva for it – saying sorry to Hashem for violating His Will. And HaRav Yitzchok Ginsburgh shlita explains a beautiful thing on this: The Gematria/numerical value of the word ‘/And they shall confess’ is 427. 7 x 61 equals 427, he explains, and this, is a big concept here. Because 61, is the Gematria/numerical value of the word ‘Ani/I’. ‘I’ is like gaava/haughtiness, because when a person cares too much about themselves, ‘I’, they are being selfish, and haughty (which means thinking you are better than others). So, Reb Ginsburgh shlita explains, this is the cause of a lot of sins, and in this case, 7 x 61, it makes ‘Ani/I’ 7 times! That is 7 times more care about ‘I’. So how do we rectify this? He asks. We turn the letters of ‘/I’ into ‘/nothingness’! Now, they do not think too much of themselves, but they become humble, and think of themselves as nothing! If we, Chas V’Shalom/Hashem forbid did (or do) a sin because of thinking of ourselves too much, this is a great way to Teshuva. Back to the parsha:

In the middle of Rivi’i/the fourth Aliyah (which is very long) Hashem tells Moshe to tell the Jews about if a man or a woman takes a vow of Nezirus. What is Nezirus? Well, the Torah explains: A ‘Nazir’ is not allowed to eat or drink anything with grapes in it. For the entire duration of the person’s Nezirus, they cannot eat or drink anything with grapes. They are not allowed to cut their hair or shave it for the entire period that they are a Nazir, and they are not allowed to come into contact with any dead person, not even if a relative of theirs died. So we see that he cannot become tamei/impure for the things that a Kohen can! The Avnei Nezer (Rebbe Avraham Bornstein of Sochachov zt"l) explains a big difference between the two, and a way that a Nazir is higher than a Kohen: A Kohen, he says, is born into Kahuna, so he is already a Kohen from birth, and he does not have to do anything to become one. However, a Nazir is not born into Nezirus, they take it on themselves, abstaining from things for Hashem. In other words, they made the choice to abstain from things for a good cause, unlike a Kohen, who would have to be a Kohen no matter what they did. (Though it is not necessarily a good thing to become a Nazir). The Torah lists a lot of rules regarding a Nazir, and if you want to check out the rules further you can look into a Gemara Nazir. Then Hashem told Moshe to tell Aharon and his sons ‘Ko sivarachu es B’nei Yisrael.../So shall you bless the B’nei Yisrael... etc.’ The blessing was ‘Yi’varechi’cha Hashem vi’Yishmi’recha, ya’er Hashem panav eilecha veechunecka, yisa Hashem panav eilecha vi’ya’seim licha shalom/May Hashem bless you and guard you, may Hashem cause His Countenance to shine upon you and show grace to you, may Hashem lift up His Countenance toward you and put for you peace.’ There are some Mefarshim/commentaries which I have seen on this:

1) Rashi quotes from Midrash Tanchuma and Sifrei Nasso, which explain that ‘bless you’ refers partly to blessing our possessions, i.e. giving us a lot of them. He quotes further from Midrash Tanchuma which explains that ‘and guard you’ refers partly to Hashem protecting us from thieves. Because Hashem does not only give us possessions, the commentary explains beautifully, He also protects us so that nobody takes them. 2) The Nikolsburger Rebbe (Rebbe Yosef Yechiel Michel Lebovits shlita) asks; if we have this bracha/blessing, why do we need Mezuzahs, which are supposed to help have Hashem protect us? He answers that, actually, one of the reasons for having Mezuzahs is to remind us that a person cannot truly protect themselves, we all need Hashem to protect us. So every time we are walking through a doorway, Reb Lebovits shlita explains, we remember that people all need Hashem’s protection always. This is very important. Mezuzahs are very important things indeed!2 3) The Nikolsburger Rebbe says another great thing here: He asks; why would the Torah say ‘Vi’ya’seim licha shalom/And put for you peace’ in the singular form of ‘licha/for you’ (in the singular) instead of saying ‘lachem/for you’ (in the plural), which would have seemed more proper in this case, as this blessing was directed at all of Israel! But, he explains, the Torah is emphasizing the fact that inner peace is very important for each person (thus the singular

form, he is saying). How does one achieve inner peace? To answer this question, he brings some things in. According to Kabbalah and Chassidus, he says, the Soul has three facets; ruach/spirit, nefesh/life, and Neshama/Soul. The Neshama/Soul only wants good, the nefesh/life desires some bad things, and so does the ruach/spirit. However, when the Soul rules over every other facet, the ruach/spirit and the nefesh/life can be used for good as well. The Soul is in the brain (so to speak, because it is spiritual), the nefesh/life resides in the liver or the blood, and the ruach/spirit resides in the heart, Kabbalistic things say. The Hebrew words for brain, liver, and heart are moach/brain, caveid/liver, and leiv/heart. The right way, he explains, is to make your Soul ruler over your entire body, and everything in it. The first letters of the places where the different facets reside are מ כ ל. When we read the letters the proper way, with the Soul – which is in the brain – ruling over everything, it spells מלך/king! In other words, if we have our Soul rule over our entire body, than we are like a king. But if we read the letters the improper way, with the other facets ruling, it spells /כלםdestroy! So if we, Chas V’Shalom/Hashem forbid let our other facets rule over our Neshama/Soul, which only wants to do good, then we get destroyed.3 This is very, very deep and Kabbalistic.

Back to the parsha: The fifth, sixth, and seventh Aliyah’s mostly talk about the offerings which the Princes brought. Actually, we are told that they all brought the exact same things, though they did not know what the other ones brought. The different parts of their offerings represented special things according to commentaries, but I will not list them here.

However, the Alter of Kelm (HaRav Simcha Zissel Ziv Broida zt"l) comments on the overall concept of every Tribal Prince bringing the same offering: He explains beautifully that, a person might think that when people perform a good thing in a large group, or lots of people do the same one, then Hashem would not concentrate as much on each individual person’s good deed. But this is not so, says Reb Broida zt"l, actually, Hashem is very happy with every single person for every good deed which they do, no matter if they are doing the same one which lots of other people are doing. This is very important, and is a beautiful Mussar lesson.

This parsha has 176 pessukim/verses, which makes it the longest parsha in the Torah, verses-wise.

Have a great Shabbos!


1 Iggeres HaRamban.  By HaRav Avraham Chaim Feuer shlita.  Artscroll/Mesorah Publications.
2  Parshas Nasso.
3  Parshas Nasso.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Look at Hashem's great miracles!!

Hashem Saves:  Two Miraculous Stories:  

I heard three wonderful stories from Rebbe Avraham Schorr shlita on which did not happen too, too long ago:

1). There was a frum Jew, who was going on trial for something (which, I believe he was innocent of), and he was in danger of being sent to Rikers Island.  Many did things to try to absolve him, including Rebbe Schorr shlita himself, but the man was sent to prison.  A little while later, the judge went somewhere, and then returned to New York City.  He was four blocks from his apartment, and he had a his bags with him.  It would have been hard to carry them all the way.  So he kept looking for a taxi, but was unsuccessful.  It took a long time standing there, but then, suddenly, he saw two 15 year-old Yeshiva boys walking towards him.  They offered to carry his bags for him.  So they carried the bags all the way to his apartment building.  The judge offered to take the bags, but the boys told him that they would carry them up to his apartment.  When they got there, he pulled out a twenty dollar bill for each one, but they refused payment.  So the judge walked into his apartment, called up the lawyer, and told him that the frum Jew was to be released from jail the next day.  Do you see what a miracle Hashem performed?! When Rebbe Schorr shlita told this, he said at the two Yeshiva boys were Melachim (Angels).  Hashem sent two Angels to save this man.  Amazing!  Blessed is Hashem Who takes care of His people.  Amein.  

2). There was a young man who lived in Eretz Yisrael, and he got bitten by a poisonous snake.  So he went to the doctor to get treated for it.  Ten days later, he was called back to the doctor for the results.  The doctor told him that he (the doctor) had never believed in Hashem before.  But when he saw this, he began to believe in Him.  What did he see?  When he had done the check on the man, it had turned out that he had a cancer growing in his kidneys, and the snake poison literally burnt the caner, and killed it.  Look at this huge miracle!!  Anybody who didn't believe in Hashem before would likely realize at He exists after seeing this.  

3). There was a rocket launched by the Arabs, aimed at a shopping center in Israel with a lot of people. The Israeli army fired three Iron Dome missiles (missiles that Israel fires to stop any foreign rockets) to stop the rocket, but they all missed. The army sent firemen and ambulances to the shopping center, as they knew that the rocket would cause lots of casualties, and they couldn’t stop it. After the army had given up trying to stop the rocket, out of nowhere, a big east wind came up; it blew the deadly rocket into the sea, and nobody got hurt, Baruch Hashem. The man who had fired the Iron Dome missiles to stop the rocket (which had failed) was not totally a Frum Jew, and he had never put Tefillin on before. After seeing Hashem save us, he thought that, in effect, he had seen Hashem, and he yelled "Get me Teffilin!  Get me Teffilin!"

Some people might say that there are no miracles anymore, but that is not true. Hashem performs miracles all the time, but the question is whether we notice them or not.  Blessed is Hashem forever and ever!!

May every Jew have a great Shabbos and a Chag Sameach!!

Refoel Berel