Friday, November 25, 2016

Mussar Drosha: Chayei Sara

Mussar Drosha: Chayei Sara:

This week’s parsha is Chayei Sara, and the start of it talks about Sara Imeinu’s age at her death. But the question is asked; this parsha is more about the death of Sara, so why is it called ‘Chayei Sara’ which means ‘The Life of Sara’?! And the answer that is given is that with righteous people; they hardly die: They live on, so to speak, way after their deaths.

A wicked person – once they die, they are gone and go to Gehinnom. And they, a lot of times don’t have something from them that people imitate. But a righteous person – when they die, their Souls go to Gan Eden, and their legacy lives on. People learn from them (at least we should!) a lot of times, and so they are living long after they died, really.

Take Rashi HaKadosh, for example: His commentary is learned by essentially every single person in the entire world who studies Torah. And, as HaRav Chaim Eisenstein shlita says, when you learn the Gedolim’s works, it is as if they are alive and standing next to you, telling you the explanation on the things.[1]
Or say there is even a very righteous person who nobody ever knew about. Their legacy still always lives on, because their life lessons and what they represented will always live on. And we will, B’Ezras Hashem/with the Help of Hashem, emulate those ways. But the point is that you see that righteous people always live on and never really die. However, we should all know that greatness was not limited to just those generations. We can reach the level that the great people of previous generations reached!
As The Alter of Slobodka (HaRav Nosson Tzvi Finkel zt"l) said, all of us have such a lofty Soul in us which can reach even the levels of Avraham Avinu and Moshe Rabbeinu.[2]

Each one of us has a priceless Soul that is so holy. And we all have the ability to become extremely great – just like those people! We have been invested with a Soul – a part from Hashem Himself, we are told. It is so holy, and can never die. We don’t even realize how holy it is – it is part of Hashem!!!
And the Chofetz Chaim (HaRav Yisroel Meir HaKohen Kagan zt"l) gave a nice mashal/parable to explain what life really is, that very much illuminates this concept very well: He explains that life is like a man who gives this poor person a huge loan. The person can do so, so much with it! The possibilities are almost endless, so to speak!
But, if the person merely took the money and put it away in a drawer, would the rich man not be very upset?! He gave the poor person so much money, and it could have been used for much good, but the poor person just put it away into a drawer and didn’t use it.
This, he explains, is what happens with us (sometimes): Hashem gives us a Neshama/Soul, such a special thing that can used for so much good! But if we, Chas V’Shalom don’t use it right, and ‘put it away in a drawer’ so to speak, Hashem will surely not be happy with this.[2] Not using or utilizing this precious, precious gift, Chas V’Shalom?! So much can be done with it! Do we even realize how much potential Hashem has given us all? (This stuff is honestly hard to put into words).
But we must always remember: Never give up on yourself: Hashem has given you a pure and holy Soul, and you always can reach the highest levels. Even if any of us, Chas V’Shalom fall, Hashem has given us all the ability to get back up. Our Soul is still within us, Baruch Hashem. And as long as it is, it is still possible to serve Him.
There is a very nice story about HaRav Yisroel Salanter zt"l that hopefully should drive this point home, so to speak: Late one night, Reb Yisroel 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?" Reb Yisroel 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."
Reb Yisroel 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 to serve Hashem and their spiritual improvement as long as the Neshama/Soul, ‘Hashem’s candle’ is still in them, i.e. they are still alive. This is a very powerful story that needs to be taken to heart.
But, anyway, on a different note: Another thing to remember about our Soul is since Hashem has given you such an awesome Soul, you must use it well. Think about how terrible it would be not to, Chas V’Shalom! May HaKadosh Baruch Hu help every single person to use their holy, precious for good and to serve Hashem, the Most Blessed, forever, Amein vi’Amein. And if we do this, with His Help, we will be guaranteed eternal life. Remember this.
Have a wonderful, wonderful Shabbos everyone!!
Refoel Berel

[1] From  Shiur given by HaRav Chaim Eisenstein shlita. 
[2] From Sparks of Mussar.  By HaRav Chaim Ephraim Zaitchik zt"l.  Feldheim Publications Ltd.©
[3] From  Shiur given by HaRav Moshe Tzvi Weinberg shlita.
[4] From Sparks of Mussar.  By HaRav Chaim Ephraim Zaitchik zt"l.  Feldheim Publications Ltd.©

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