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* The Secrets of the Torah
THE SECRETS OF THE TORAH
It is good to learn the secrets of the Torah when your inner yearning for closeness to God is strong, intensifying and growing powerful to such a degree that it gives your spirit no rest, so that its will cannot be satisfied by any spiritual and holy program in the world except for an inner meditation that deals with the secrets of the world.
This is what constitutes learning Torah for its own sake. Regarding this, we learn: "Whoever engages in Torah learning rises."
Oros Hatorah 10:1
THE LIFE OF THE JEWISH NATION
The encompassing, spiritual, inner revelation in the depths of the Jewish soul sets before us the inner form of all of the practical Torah: a form that is ideal, and which contains all the practical Torah's details.
The entire sweep of the oral Torah with its tributaries flowing as one is the life of the Jewish nation, as it flows from a supernal source, united as a solid element.
From the impression left by this soulful revelation, we come to a more exalted uplifting. We increasingly rise, and the supernal levels of the holy spirit continue to be revealed.
All this is in accordance with our diligence in learning Torah, performing good deeds and elevating our character, and the illumination that comes from clinging to God in a spirit of supernal consciousness.
Oros Hatorah 11:1
A POWERFUL AND ANCIENT NATION
The basis of keeping all the commandments, from the aspect of their inner and ultimate being, can take place only in the land of Israel.
Those commandments not specifically related to the land of Israel, which apply as well outside the land, are not intended to attain to their ultimate purpose outside the land.
Rather, they bring the Jewish people to the land; they guard our holiness, so that when we return, we will not need to begin from nothing, like a young nation which only recently has come to the altar of life. They will ensure that our path in life-- eternal and temporal--will be firm before us, as is proper for a powerful and ancient nation, whose sources are primal, from the beginning of the world.
Eretz Cheifetz, p. 31
RABBI NACHMAN OF BRESLOV GAINS FAME
Despite his local eminence, the name of Rabbi Nachman, however, did not reach further than the shtetls of Podolia. But one event carried Rabbi Nachman's name past the borders of Podolia. It was like this:
Rabbi Nachman's parents used to accord him a great deal of respect, even though many of his ways were strange to them. A young man who is a Torah scholar, a descendant of the Baal Shem Tov, wanders through the villages and gets lost for days. They search for him, not knowing were he has gotten to. And finally he is find in a cave, reciting Psalms with such sobs and wails that would make a heart of stone burst. What does he need all this for? Can't he sit and learn Talmud in his room, as do all fine husbands while they are being supported by their parents-in- law?
Rabbi Nachman's father-in-law was a wealthy man of the country-side, with his own horses. Rabbi Nachman used to harness few horses and travel into the fields. They figured that their young son-in-law wants to ride a little. But Rabbi Nachman used to travel into the forest and tie the horses to a tree, and then walk deep into the woods to meditate and pray to God in his own words. It would sometimes happen that when he went deep into the forest, he would entirely forget the horses. They would tear themselves free and return home without him. When Rabbi Nachman's wife and her parents would see the horses, they would grow terribly frightened: who knows what might have happened to Nachman? They would go search for him ad after hours, they would find him, soaked through by the rain or half-frozen.
At times Rabbi Nachman, submerged in other-worldly thoughts, prayers and songs, would, in his wanderings through the fields and forests, come to a river. Seeing a boat, he would sit in it and let it take him wherever his eye would see.
All this used to worry Rabbi Nachman's parents-in-law. But their love and respect for him, as well as their loyalty to their daughter, ultimately won out.
Rabbi Nachman's mother-in-law died, and Rabbi Ephraim, his father-in-law, took a second wife. During the wedding, Rabbi Nachman, the young rebbe, inspired talk about himself.
Rabbi Ephraim's second wife came from a very important family. Rabbi Nachman himself arranged for the marriage between her and his father-in-law. The wedding took place in Mohilev, and was attended by rebbes and Torah giants from all over Poland, Rabbi Nachman among them. At the wedding, Rabbi Nachman spoke words of Torah. The Torah giants and tzaddikim were very impressed, and a number of them said that they had never heard such teachings in their lives. And this event carried Rabbi Nachman's name far across the borders of Podolia. And in this way, the young rebbe became well-known.
from Reb Nachman Breslover
RABBI LEVI YITZCHAK'S PRAYER
The holy Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev once said:
"Master of the world, many times You tried to get Moshe Rabeinu, Your precious and trusty marriage-broker, to propose a match with between You and us.
"At last, in Egypt he proposed to us that we unite with You and accept Your holy Torah. And the match was consummated on the sixth of Sivan.
"Everyone knows how much You did to bring about that match. And that was because we come from a good family: with our precious forefathers, Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaacov.
"But You, Master of the world, do not have important relations. You have no grandfather, no father, no mother, sister of brother for whose sake we would have been induced to enter into a match with You. And You describe Yourself in the following words: 'Mine is the silver and Mine is the gold.' That is, all the money in the world belongs to You.
"We had that in mind when we made our match with You.
"And so, Master of the world, give every Jew a generous and wealthy income. In this way, show Yourself to be a fine relative by marriage (a mechutan)."
Meilitz Yosher, p. 40
TEACHINGS OF THE MAHARAL OF PRAGUE
I. The Soul and Body of the Jewish People
Every person has a soul and body.
From the perspective of the soul, the souls of the Jewish people cling together as one nation. This certainly unites the Jewish people completely from the aspect of the soul. Therefore, God states, "I am Hashem Your (second person, plural) God."
And from the perspective of the body, the Jewish people have a total unity in that they have one land: the land of Israel. The body's dwelling place is upon the land.
Therefore, the Jewish people is entirely one people.
Nesivos Olam I, p. 182
II. The First and Second Beis Hamikdash
In the first Beis Hamikdash, the Jews had the particular quality that God's Presence was among them.
And in the second Beis Hamikdash, they had the particular quality of not being divided. Instead, they experienced a oneness.
The first Beis Hamikdash was destroyed by sins, which are uncleanness. And so God did not dwell among them in the midst of such impurity. For that reason, it was destroyed: because of idolatry, sexual immorality and bloodshed.
But the second Beis Hamikdash was destroyed because of causeless hatred, which destroyed the Jews' unity.
Chidushei Agados II, p. 99
III. A Stiff-Necked People
Our Creator testified about us, "You are a stiff-necked people" (Devorim 9).
The Jewish people do not accept rebuke and do not listen to reproof. They are a stiff-necked people.
The reason for this is that they are not physical--for it is only physicality that receives impressions.
Netzach Yisrael, p. 83
RABBI ISRAEL OF RIZHIN'S ADVICE
A middle-aged Jew, not a Hasid, once came to Rabbi Israel of Rizhin. This Jew was a businessman who happened to be travelling through Rizhin and so, out of curiosity, came to Rabbi Israel.
When they met, Rabbi Israel told him, "According to your kvittel (note), you spend most of your time travelling. So you must know the following. The verse states, 'Prepare yourselves for the journey.' The word for prepare, 'tachin,' is an acronym for four words: tefillin, kikar, yayin, ner, which means: tefillin, bread, wine (or schnapps), and a lamp. When a Jew travels, he must take these four things with him.
The Jew obeyed. From that time onwards, he was careful to take these four items with him. A short while later, one evening he rode up to an inn. The inn-keeper took care of the horses and brought him to a room, gave him supper and prepared his bed. After the meal, the Jew took out a Gemara and sat down to learn. But the inn-keeper entered and took away the lamp, saying that now it was time to go to sleep, because he needed the lamp for a newly-arrived guest.
But this didn't bother the Jew. He pretended to lie down and then surreptitiously looked around the room with his own lamp. He noticed that in the wall right by the pillow was a round hole. He locked the door and hid himself. A while later, the light came on in the other room. The Jew peeked through the hole and saw the inn-keeper drinking heavily, as though to steel himself. The inn-keeper then took a loaded pistol, put the barrel through the hole and shot where the Jew's head would have been, if he had been asleep. But instead, the bullet lodged itself in the opposite wall. Then the inn-keeper lay down to sleep.
The Jew realized that in this way, the inn-keeper killed all his wealthy guests. He would shoot them and then, before daybreak, bury their bodies in his house.
The Jew wanted to open a window, but it was locked. Then a group of peasants came to the front door and knocked. The inn- keeper didn't want to answer. But the Jew called out, and through the window told the peasants what is going on.
The peasants broke open the door and made their way into the Jew's room. There, he showed them the bullet lodged in the wall. They tied up the inn-keeper and summoned the police, who found many murdered people in the cellar. And so they immediately arrested the inn-keeper.
The Jew immediately went to Rizhin and thanked the rebbe for saving his life and also for discovering the murderer. And he became a follower of Rabbi Israel of Rizhin.
Hasidim tell of a similar event that occurred with Rabbi Israel of Rizhin's mechutan (the father of his son-in-law), Rabbi Chaim Kasever. Once when Rabbi Kasever took leave of Rabbi Israel, Rabbi Israel told him, "Mechutan, it might happen that you will pass a man lying on the road with two crutches next to him, next to a small forest, crying. Watch out--he might in fact be a murderer."
And indeed, near a small forest, in the middle of the highway, the coach passed a crippled man with crutches. He began begging and wailing that he had been robbed and left here in the middle of nowhere. Rabbi Kasever remembered Rabbi Israel's parting words, and he commanded that the coachman race the horses.
Looking back, the people in the wagon saw how the crippled man got up and began running after the coach. Unable to catch up, he threw one of the crutches into the wagon.
And with God's help, they were saved.
May their merit protect us and all Israel.
Chasidishe Maasiyos, #30
Incense is good.
All translations and original material. Copyright 1998