Friday, April 21, 2017

Mussar Drosha: Shemini

מוסר דרשה: שמיני:

HaKadosh Baruch Hu tells us (in Parshas Beshalach): ‘If you will surely listen to the voice of Hashem, your G-d, and what is upright in His eyes you will do, and you give ear to His commandments and guard all His Statutes; all the sicknesses that I put upon Egypt I will not put upon you, for I am Hashem your Healer.’  

On this, Rebbe Tzaddok HaKohen of Lublin zt”l explains that Hashem is telling us here that even when He does brings punishments upon us; it is only to heal us.  Hashem is never trying to destroy us, Chas V’Shalom; rather, He is our Healer always. (Quoted in The Stone Edition Chumash).

This uncovers for us a massive secret in life:  Every single thing that HaKadosh Baruch Hu makes happen is only to help us.  Think about this……

Some people get upset or angry when misfortune (Rachmana Litzlan/may the Merciful One save us) 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 often don’t understand the Supreme Wisdom behind the things.

Now, with the above mentioned, we can come to a new understanding and perspective on our everyday life……

There is, in fact, a beautiful story that illustrates this concept exceptionally:  The Rebbe Reb Shmelke of Nikolsburg [zt”l] and his holy brother Rav Pinchas Horowitz [zt”l] author of the sefer Hafla’ah were studying tractate Berachos together when they reached an impasse. No matter what they could not understand the Gemara’s words.

Together they traveled to the Maggid of Mezritch [zt”l] hoping that he could solve their problem. When they arrived they entered the Maggid’s room and asked the Rebbe for help.

“Rebbe, surely knows that the Mishna in Berachos (Mishna 9:5) teaches that “one is obligated to recite a blessing over bad news just as he is obligated to recite a blessing over good news, and furthermore the Gemara there obligates us to recite such a blessing over bad news BeSimcha, in joy. Rebbe, how can a person recite such a blessing over bad news joyfully?”

The Maggid answered them, “Please go to the house of study and ask to see Reb Zisha [zt”l].  He will be able to answer your question for you.”

And so the two brothers headed to the beis hamidrash. They began asking to see Reb Zisha and were directed to a poor sick looking individual who sat all the way at the back of the beis midrash near the stove, a place usually reserved for beggars and wandering vagabonds. The pauper sat reciting Tehillim from a volume and was so immersed he did not seem to notice their approach until they called attention to themselves. Surprised that this person was the one the Maggid referred them to, nonetheless they asked him to explain the Gemara.

Now the Rebbe Reb Zisha [zt”l] was extremely impoverished and his life was filled with many troubles however he was also exceedingly humble and he always referred to himself in the third person diminutive and said: “Zisha is an ignoramus and a simpleton, better you should go and ask a scholar and wise Talmid Chacham to explain such matters to you.”

When the brothers persisted that the Maggid himself had sent them specifically to Reb Zisha because he would be able to answer their question, an expression of total shock and surprise altered the poor man’s features.

“The Rebbe sent you to Zisha?” he exclaimed astonished and humbly pointing to himself in utter disbelief, he continued “Why would he do that? The Rebbe told you that Zisha would know the answer to this Gemara? Zisha is very surprised and very very baffled.

You see, Zisha can not possibly tell you how to recite a blessing over bad news joyfully, because Zisha has never experienced anything negative at all, on the contrary Zisha has never suffered at all in his entire life. Better you should seek someone who has suffered or received some bad news at some point in their lives and ask them.”

It was then that the two brothers understood why the Maggid had sent them to the Rebbe Reb Zisha, now they had their answer, in order to recite the blessing over bad news just as over good news and to do so joyfully one must have such simcha that he does not even realize that something is wrong or does not feel the news is bad at all. (From Sippurei Chassidim -- as told over to me by my Rebbe, HaRav Tal Moshe Zwecker shlita).

In this parsha, two of Aharon HaKohen’s sons brought close an “alien” fire before Hashem and died -- i.e. because of what they did.  And what does the Torah say the great Aharon’s reaction was? ‘וידם אהרן’ -- ‘And Aharon was silent’.  

Our Gedolim explain that this silence was acceptance of Hashem’s Decree of Nadav and Avihu having to die.  

Furthermore, the Chofetz Chaim (HaRav Yisroel Meir HaKohen Kagan zt”l) explains that the word ‘וידם’ is related to the word for ‘דומם’ -- the word for an inanimate object.  This teaches us, he explains, that Aharon HaKohen made himself like an inanimate object, which shows absolutely no emotion.  Meaning that he didn’t even show any pain on his face!  This is the level of Emunah/faith in Hashem Aharon was on. (This is quoted in many places).

Just think about what had just happened:  His two sons just had to be killed, yet he did not at all complain -- nor did he even show any pain!

But Aharon HaKohen reached the level we discussed above -- the level we must all strive for -- realizing that everything that comes from Hashem is always for the best.  

Let us all just take a little bit of time to think about Aharon’s Emunah, and try to internalize the messages that these things all carry for us in our everyday lives.

A Gut Shabbos to all!

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