Friday, June 21, 2019

Lighting The Souls Of Our Brothers And Sisters

Dedicated By Irving Bauman
לזכר נשמת אבי
הרב משה אהרן בן ר ישראל חיים באהמאן
לזכר נשמת
Harav Hagaon Rav  Nosson Ben Hagaon Rav Yakov Kamenetsky 

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In this week's parsha, Bahaloscha, it tells us how Aaron was commanded to light the menorah. This is one of the ways Aaron lit up the souls of the Jewish people. And we see that Aaron was committed to lighting up Jewish souls, as we read in Pirkei Avos, "Be  from the students of Aaron, love peace and pursue peace, love the creations and bring them close to the Torah." 

This is a call to every Jewish person, to have an effect on his or her fellow Jew, first, by bringing peace amongst them, and second, bringing them closer to the Torah. 

And we learn from Aaron how to go about it. He didn't wait for the people to come to him, rather he "pursued" them, and he even went to the lowest denomination of the Jewish people, the ones whose only redeeming factor is that they were Hashem's "creations." He also didn't water down the Torah to fit their lifestyle, rather he brought them "closer to the Torah." 

How do you bring them closer? Through igniting their neshamas. The spark is always there, but it's sometimes hidden, and it is our job to uncover it and turn it into a flame. 

We could learn from our parsha how to go about it. The verse says, "(Bahaloscha) When you will kindle the lamps," however the literal translation is, "When you will raise the lamps" And as Rashi explains, that he should light it until the flame stands on its own. Meaning that we should ignite the Jewish person's neshama until it burns bright on its own. 

There are three laws that pertain to lighting the menorah in the Temple. First, the actual lighting can be done by any denomination of Jew, Kohen, Levi or Yisrael. Second, setting up the lamps with the oil and the wick, can only be done by a Kohen. Third, it can only be lit in the Heichal, AKA the Holy. 

These three ideas can be applied to igniting the souls of the Jewish people. 

First, it can be done by any Jew, therefore it's incumbent upon each and every one of us to do the work of igniting the souls of our brothers and sisters, the Jewish people. 

Second, what you use to light them, can only be prepared by a Kohen. In other words, not everyone is in the position to decide what is the proper way to go about igniting souls, that has to be set by a Kohen. 

What is a Kohen? It is one who has no desire and no bias of his own, "Hashem is his portion," he is so in sync with Hashem, that his only desire is what Hashem wants. This is the type of person that can tell us how to go about it. Once he tells us how, then everyone could go about doing it. 

Third, it can only be lit in the Heichal. The Mishnah tells us, "There are ten levels of holiness," the holiest was the Holy of Holies, then came the Heichal, the Holy. And if the lamps were lit in a lower place than the Heichal, it wasn't a kosher lighting. 

This refers to the standards one keeps throughout the process of igniting souls. You may ask: There are other Jews, that much less is expected of them, why do you hold me to such a high standard? 

The answer. Every one of us has a specific purpose and mission from Hashem. And if you see that you are capable of keeping to a higher standard, it is a sign that it is what Hashem wants of you. And if you are not keeping to the standard that Hashem wants of you, then you are not doing His will. 

To explain. There is wisdom and there is will. Wisdom can be divided, you can understand a little or a lot of what is being taught, but when it comes to will, there is no dividing it, you either do it or not, if you only do half, you haven't done the will. 

The same as it is when it comes to people, that every person is different, and therefore, Hashem has different expectations of every person, so too, every generation is different and has different expectations. We can't compare ourselves to the great people of past generations, but we must realize the charge of our generation. In the past, the inner Torah (Chassidus) wasn't revealed, but now that it is revealed, it's proof that Hashem wants us to embrace it and make them part of our daily study. Learning it will surely enhance our study of the revealed Torah (Mishnah, Talmud, Halacha, etc.). 

I have the merit to be the Rebbe's emissary, to do the work of igniting souls. He laid out the plan, and we follow it. In all my years as his shliach, I have never seen a Yid light up more than when I was teaching him or her Chassidus. Parsha, Mishnah, Talmud, Halacha, etc. are all good, it's part of the flame, but not the brightest part, the inner Torah is the brightest part of the flame. 

May we merit to see the coming of Moshiach, which will come when the wellsprings of the inner Torah will spread out. As the neshama of Moshiach told the Baal Shem Tov, when he asked, "When will the master come?" He responded, "When your wellsprings (meaning chassidus) will spread out." May he come soon. 

Friday, June 7, 2019

Why Do We Stay Awake The Night Of Shavuoth?

Dedicated By Irving Bauman
לזכר נשמת אבי
הרב משה אהרן בן ר ישראל חיים באהמאן

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It says in the Midrash, that on the night before the giving of the Torah, the night of the first Shavuoth, the Jewish people slept all night, "because the sleep of Atzeres (Shavuoth) is pleasant and the night is short." Even a mosquito didn't bother them. In the morning, when Hashem came to give them the Torah, He found them sleeping. And this is what Hashem said, "Why did I come and there is no man, I called and there is no answer." And this is where the tradition to remain awake on the night of Shavuoth and learn Torah, to correct the mistake of sleeping on the night before the giving of the Torah. 

Every story in the Torah is meant to teach us a lesson in our service to Hashem. Especially when it tells a story that reflects negatively on the Jewish people. Because Hashem goes out of His way not to say something that sounds negative, as we know that He added several words to the Torah, just not to speak negatively about impure animals. How much more so, when it comes to the Jewish people. So when there is something that sounds negative about the Jewish people, there must be an important lesson to be learned from it. What is the lesson that we are meant to learn from this story? 

You can simply say, that the lesson is that we should stay awake on Shavuoth night. However for that we don't need all of the details, it would have been enough to write that we slept that night and Hashem wasn't happy with it. But it gets into the details, "because the sleep of Atzeres (Shavuoth) is pleasant and the night is short." Even a mosquito didn't bother them. What do we need all these details for? 

We must conclude, that there is something deeper going on here, a much more meaningful lesson. What is the lesson that we are meant to learn from this story? 

We also have to understand, how it is that the Jewish people could have slept to begin with that night? Because fifty days earlier, when they heard that they would be receiving the Torah, they were so excited and so filled with anticipation, that they started to count the days. Now that they finally reached the fiftieth day, their excitement must have known no bounds. Does it make sense that they were able to fall asleep? 

On top of that, when they were in Egypt, they were at the lowest level possible, the 49th level of impurity, and now with their count, not only were they getting closer to receiving the Torah, they were also working on their spiritual makeup, every day of the count they reached a higher level of the 49 levels of holiness. And on the 49th day of the count they reached the 49th level, the highest level a person can attain through his or her own effort. They were now spiritually prepared to receive the Torah. The fiftieth level would be bestowed upon them by Hashem in the morning, with the giving of the Torah. How is it possible that they fell asleep? 

It is obvious that they wouldn't have just fallen asleep, there was too much excitement and anticipation. They didn't lose interest in the Torah, rather they must have intentionally gone to sleep as a preparation for the giving of the Torah. 

How do we know that going to sleep was a positive thing? Because the Midrash tells us that even a mosquito didn't bother them. Now why would Hashem make that miracle happen for them. if it wasn't a good thing? 

The Alter Rebbe explains, that as great as the neshama's understanding and connection to Hashem can reach while it is in the body, it doesn't compare to the understanding that it could attain when it is up on High, before it enters the body, because the body can't handle that level of connection. 

Therefore, when a person is asleep, and the neshama goes on High to be refreshed, and only a smidgen of the neshama remains in the body, it is able to connect and grasp ideas that it normally wouldn't understand while in the body. 

That's why it is, that when a seriously diligent student of the Torah, one who is totally given over to it with his whole heart and soul, goes to sleep with an unanswered dilemma that is perplexing him, often he will awake with the answer. This is because his neshama was treated to the answer when it went up on High. 

That is why they went to sleep, because they had already reached the 49th level, the highest level that they could attain on their own. They felt that if they go to sleep, they will attain a much higher level. And they felt that this would be the best preparation for receiving the Torah. This is the meaning of, "the sleep of Atzeres (Shavuoth) is pleasant." They were basking in the highest levels of G-dliness. 

It goes a step further. The more effort one puts into refining himself while in the body, the higher the neshama soars and the greater the levels of G-dliness it will be able to grasp. Being that they reached the highest level of refinement a person can attain, they knew that their neshamas would reach the highest levels possible. When you are at this level, "The night is short." The darkness of the world is not existent. 

And this is why the mosquitoes didn't bother them. Because when a person is at such a high level, the creatures of the world don't bother him. 

However, Hashem wasn't happy with this. Because the whole purpose of the Torah is to work with the physical world, refine it and infuse it with G-dliness, making the most mundane holy. This can only be done when the neshama is in the body, and so the best preparation for receiving the Torah, is not separating from the physical, just the opposite, it is through being in the physical. 

The lesson here, is that there might be a person who thinks, "I don't want anything to do with this dark world. I have already accomplished a lot spiritually, I will cut myself off from the world, and bask in the light of my accomplishments." 

To him the Torah says, that it is not what Hashem wants. Even the greatest generation, who reached the highest level, Hashem didn't want them to separate from the physical world, rather to work with the physical world, raising it up to Hashem. So too, we should work with the physical world and refine it, and infuse it with G-dliness and work with a Jew who is less knowledgeable and help him or her reach a higher level.. 

Now we will understand why we stay up the night of Shavuoth, because the giving of the Torah is all about neshamas in bodies affecting the physical world. And if we do, we will merit to see the coming of Moshiach, when the world will finally be completely refined and infused with G-dliness. May he come soon.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Why Is Israel On A Different Parsha Track Than The Rest Of The World?

Dear friends, 

This is an updated version of an article I wrote a few years ago. Thanks to my readers comments, there is a lot of new information. 



Since Pesach Israel has been one parsha ahead. This means that if you are traveling to Israel, you will miss a parsha. 

There are two cases where this can happen. The first is Pesach. Outside the Holy Land we are obligated to celebrate an eighth day, in Israel Pesach is seven days. When the eighth day falls on Shabbos, in Israel that Shabbos is not Pesach anymore, so they read the next parsha. Outside Israel it's still Pesach and the Torah reading is on the holiday theme. It is only the next week that the next parsha is read. And so the parsha in Israel is one week ahead. 

The same thing happens when Shavuoth falls on Erev Shabbos (Friday). Outside of Israel we celebrate Shavuoth two days, in Israel it is only one day. The same scenario will play out, while outside of Israel we will be celebrating Shabbos as the second day of Shavuoth, in Israel it will be a regular Shabbos and they will be reading the next parsha. Outside of Israel we will be reading the holiday Torah reading and only resume the parsha on the next Shabbos. So we are off by one parsha. (This will happen next year 5780.) 

Sometimes after Pesach it goes on for five weeks, aligning two weeks before Shavuoth with parshas Behar-Bechukosai. Outside of Israel they are together, inside Israel they are separate and so, we are realigned. Other times it can go on for about four months, until parshas Matos-Maasei are combined outside of Israel, while in Israel they remain separated, and we are back on the same track. 

After Shavuoth it always realigns with parshas Chukas-Balak. 

Between Pesach and Matos-Maasei there are, depending on the year, three or four double parshas. Between Pesach and Shavuoth there can be as many as three, which could put us on the same track as early as the Shabbos following Pesach. So, why do we wait until Behar-Bechukosai (5 weeks) or Matos-Maasei (4 months), to become realigned? 

The first thing to understand is that the schedule of the parshas was established outside of the land of Israel. At a time, when in Israel, the Jewish community was small and less educated, and they would read the Torah, completing it over a three year cycle. 

Later, when Israel, once again became a center of Torah, it adopted the system from outside the Land. Every few years, because of the extra Shabbos, Israel is forced to go on to a different track, while outside of Israel, they remain on the regular track. 

Why were these parshas, outside the Land, set up this way? 

The answer is, that when setting up the parsha system, the rule is that the first parshas to be doubled up are the last parshas of a chumash, therefore Behar-Bechukosai and Matos-Maasei will be the first to be read together in their respective chumash. They also wanted that parshas Pinchas, whenever possible, should be read during the Three Weeks, between the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av (Tisha B'Av). Which is the saddest time on the Jewish calendar. Pinchas has the holiday sacrifice readings, which are joyous and sweetens the harshness of the time. It was also established that parshas Vaeschanan is always read the Shabbos after Tisha B'Av. It is Shabbos Nachamu, the first Haftora of consolation after Tisha B'Av. 

They also established, that parshas Bechukosai, which has the curses, be read before Shavuoth, with at least one parsha, parshas Bamidbar, buffering between the curses and Shavuoth. This can cause the tracks to align earlier. 

Sometimes there is no choice but to have parshas Naso also before Shavuoth, however, whenever possible, Nasso is after Shavuoth, being that they want the connection between the curses of parshas Bechukosai and Shavuoth to be recognized and if you have two parshas in between, it is not so recognizable. 

It turns out that in a Jewish leap year, when there is an extra month of Adar added to the calendar, the tracks realign with parshas Matos-Maasei, since there are four extra weeks, and most of the double parshas have to be split up and being that outside of Israel we wait until Matos-Maasei to have a double parsha, there is no choice but to realign then. 

However in a regular year, they realign with parshas Behar-Bechukosai although in many years there is the possibility of realigning earlier, because it is a long standing tradition to realign with parshas Behar-Bechukosai and they don't want to break from tradition. 

When Moshiach comes, The Three Weeks will become a happy time, and parshas Pinchas will be unnecessary to sweeten the time. Perhaps then we will be able to align the tracks earlier, which won't matter much, because we will all be living in Israel. 

(All of the information above, was gleaned from questions I posed to rabbis who visited me. As I am limited to the books that I have on my eye gaze computer. Therefore, I request, that if you have more information on the subject, or if there are inaccuracies in what I wrote, please share it in the comments section below.) 
Thank you Dovid Hurwitz, Mendy Bortonk and DH for your incites. 

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Toiling In Torah

Dedicated By Irving Bauman
לזכר נשמת אבי
הרב משה אהרן בן ר ישראל חיים באהמאן

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This week's parsha Bechukosai begins, "Im Bechukosai teileichu (if you will go in My statutes)," which can't mean, if you keep My mitzvos, because the verse continues, "v'es mitzvosai tishmoru (and you will keep My mitzvos)." So what does "Bechukosai teileichu" mean? Rashi cites the words of the Sifra, that it means "That you should toil in (the study of) Torah." 

Bechukosai comes from the word chok, or in plural chukim, which I translated "statutes," for lack of a better word. A chok is a mitzvah that we don't know the reason for, it's a decree from Hashem, we do it just because He wants us to, and for no other reason. As our sages say, "a chok... you don't have permission to ponder about (its reason)." 

It would make sense for mitzvos to be Bechukosai, because then we would say that it means, that even though we know the reason for the mitzvos we should do them as if they are chukim, just because Hashem wants us to. That is a greater way of doing mitzvos. 

However, Torah study is meant to be understood. How does it make sense for Torah study to be done in a way of "Bechukosai"? 

Perhaps the reading of the written Torah, which doesn't have to be understood in order to say the blessing over its study, but you can hardly use the word toil to describe its study. On the other hand, the oral Torah must be understood in order to say a blessing over its study. Also, the written Torah is small and limited, while the oral Torah is vast and unlimited and it grows every day by diligent students of the Talmud, Halacha, etc. So only with regards to the oral Torah can we say, "That you should toil in (the study of) Torah." So what is the meaning of the word "Bechukosai" with regards to Torah study? 

The Alter Rebbe explains that Bechukosai is related to the word chakika, which means engraved. In other words, one should toil in Torah study to the extent that it becomes engraved in him. 

What is the difference between engraving and writing? 

When you write on paper, the ink attaches to the paper and they become one. However it is not truly one, rather it is two things that are attached to each other. 

On the other hand, when you engrave into stone, the words and the stone are truly one, the words are not an entity of their own, there is only the stone. 

The lesson here is that our goal shouldn't be merely to learn Torah in a way that it is like two entities that are attached to one another, rather the Torah study should nullify him to the extent that he doesn't exist, only the Torah exists. 

One person who reached this level is Moshe Rabbeinu. That is why he was able to say, "And I will put grass in your field for your cattle." What it means, is that Hashem would put grass... Why was he able to say "I"? Because he was so nullified before Hashem that "The Divine Presence spoke from within (Moshe's) throat," In other words, to Moshe there was only Hashem, Moshe didn't exist. 

Another person who reached this level was Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, who said, "I have seen people who are at the highest level... If there is one it is me, if there are two..." Even though a Tzadik shouldn't say his own praises, but no one saw his statement that way, because he was so nullified before Hashem, that there was only Hashem. He was nullified to the point that he didn't exist. 

When there are multiple explanations on a word, they have to be connected in some way. How do we reconcile the explanation of the Alter Rebbe, that it means engraved, and the simple meaning, that it means mitzvos which are chukim? How do we learn Torah in a way of chukim, accepting the yoke of Heaven? 

One has to understand what he is learning, but he is not learning that way for his own pleasure, rather because Hashem wants us to. 

Torah is a pleasure to learn, but if he only learns the amount that gives him pleasure, it's not in the way of chukim, it's not accepting the yoke of Heaven and it's not toiling. Only when he learned as much as gives him pleasure, and then he pushes himself to learn more, that it is considered Torah in the way of chukim, accepting the yoke and toiling. This kind of Torah study brings him to the self nullification in the way of chakika, engraved, one with Hashem. 

We are left with a question. It says, "Im Bechukosai teileichu (if you will go in my statutes)," We have to understand how the word teileichu fits in here, because teileichu means to go or to travel. In our service to Hashem, it means not to be stagnant, to constantly reach higher and higher levels. It makes sense to say it about things you can develop, like the emotions and the mind. You can develop more mature emotions, your love can grow greater and greater. The mind can be developed and broadened to understand more and deeper. However, chukim means doing something in the way of accepting the yoke of Heaven. When it comes to accepting the yoke of Heaven, there are no levels, you either do or don't. What does teileichu in accepting the yoke of Heaven mean?

The Alter Rebbe explains that the reward for acting in the way of Bechukosai, accepting the yoke of Heaven, is teileichu, taken higher and higher without end. However when we teach children this verse, the reward is in the following verses, where Hashem enumerates all the blessings, "I will give your rain in its time..." And teileichu refers to the service of the Jewish people to Hashem.

The Alter Rebbe tells us that emuna, belief, is for levels of G-dliness that is beyond your ability to understand. The levels that you understand, you don't need belief for. The higher one's ability to understand, what is beyond him is even greater. So his emuna has to be at a higher level. Being that every day his mind develops and is able to grasp loftier ideas, what he needed emuna for yesterday, makes sense today. Therefore he doesn't need emuna for them. Now he needs emuna for even higher levels of G-dliness. And it is a never ending cycle, always attaining higher and higher levels.

From this we can understand that when it comes to chukim there are also levels, and movement in the way of teileichu, because yesterday's mitzvos which were chukim, today is understood and now there are higher levels within chukim, so in chukim there is the possibility of teileichu, going higher and higher.

May we go from strength to strength in our Torah study, going to a higher level every day. Through this we will merit to learn the Torah of Moshiach, which will take us higher than we could imagine. May it happen soon. 

Sunday, May 26, 2019

On The Haftora Of Parshas Behar: Seeing Through The Facade

Dear friends, 

I am sorry that I wasn't able to get this out before Shabbos. I tried, but Hashem had other plans. There is a beautiful lesson to be learned from it. I hope that you enjoy it. 


The Haftora for parshas Behar is from the book of Yirmiyahu. It tells of how Yirmiyahu was instructed by Hashem to purchase the field in Anasos, that belonged to his cousin Chanamel, who was struggling to keep it. Yirmiyahu was being held captive in a royal compound of Tzidkiyahu, because of his constant prophecies of the destruction of Yerushalayim, which Tzidkiyahu thought was demoralizing the Jewish people. It was there that he was approached by Chanamel, and he bought the property. 

Hashem instructed Yirmiyahu further, to have the bill of sale put into an earthenware vessel for long term storage, which he had Baruch ben Neriah do. 

This was all happening at the end of the first Temple era, and Yirmiyahu knew that the Babylonian exile was about to begin. So it was a bad time to be purchasing real estate in Israel. However the fact that Hashem said to put the bill of sale into long term storage, was reassuring, because it meant that the exile would be coming to an end and they would be returning to Israel. And as Hashem said, "They will once again purchase houses, fields, and vineyards in this land." 

Then Yirmiyahu offered a prayer of praise to Hashem. 

Why was Yirmiyahu in a position to buy the field? Because being the cousin, he was the rightful redeemer of the field. 

The connection to our parsha, is that Behar speaks about Shmita and yovel, the Sabbatical and jubilee years, when the fields in Israel are to lay fallow, and it also tells us the punishments for not keeping Shmita and yovel. As Rashi tells us, that first he sells his belongings, then his property, then his home and then borrowing with interest. If he still does not repent, he will eventually have to sell himself to his fellow Jew as a servant. If he has still not repented, not enough that he had to be sold to his fellow Jew, but he will be forced to sell himself to a non-Jew. All of these cases are discussed in our parsha, and it is the order of best case scenario to worst. Our Haftora tells us about one such case, when Chanamel was forced to sell his field. This is the only case of those Rashi mentions that is found in the prophets, so it represents all of them. 

The setting of the Haftora also connects to our parsha. It is at the beginning of the Babylonian exile, which lasted 70 years and was a consequence of the 70 years of Shmita that the Jewish people didn't keep properly. 

The land of Israel is Hashem's and He gave it to us, but He still remains a partner in the land. Therefore we can't sell it permanently and we can't use it in any way we want. We have to follow the rules He laid out for us, and then we have Hashem's blessing as His partner. We always retain ownership of the land, even when in exile. However if we want to dwell on the land and receive the blessings that come with partnership with Hashem, we have to follow the rules. 

How do we know that Hashem is our partner in the land? Because when it comes to returning the land in the jubilee year, to the one whose inheritance it is, Hashem says, "You should not sell the land permanently, for the whole land is Mine... And you are a dweller with Me." 

One of the laws of land ownership, is that when a field is in jeopardy, it is incumbent upon one of the relatives to redeem the field, thereby the field will stay in the family. And that is what is happening in our Haftora. 

It would make sense for the Haftora to end here. What does Yirmiyahu's prayer have to do with our parsha? 

In Yirmiyahu's prayer he says, "Behold You made the heavens and the earth with your great strength (co-ach)." 

In Kabbalah and Chassidic thought it is explained, that the world is being created constantly by Hashem, and if he stops creating the world for one moment, it would cease to exist, like it never existed. In other words, there is a constant flow of energy from Hashem to make the world exist. As we say in our daily prayers, "In His goodness He renews the act of Genesis (creation) every day constantly." 

There are three words that are used for this flow of energy from Hashem, ohr, shefa and co-ach. 

Ohr, is light, light is a flow of energy that is always connected to its source. For example, the sun, its light is constant, the sun and its rays are one, the moment something gets between the sun and the earth, the rays stop and you have shade. Ohr is the direct energy from Hashem. 

Shefa is abundant flow. For example, a stream, even if someone blocks the flow of water upstream, it does not affect the water downstream, that water will keep on flowing until it reaches its destination, and is forced to stop. 

Co-ach is strength, it is power that stops moments after the energy is disconnected from its source. For example, if a person throws a rock up into the air, it will continue to go up for a short while, until gravity prevails on it and it comes down. 

So these words are loaded with meaning, and they are not used arbitrarily. Truthfully, there is only one kind of energy that comes from Hashem, symbolized by ohr, it is directly from its source, Hashem, because there is only Hashem, and He created the world from nothing into something, and He recreates the world from within Himself constantly. So when another term is employed, we have to ask: Why? Why when it comes to creating the heavens and the earth does Yirmiyahu use the term co-ach? 

Because the way the world seems to us, is that Hashem created the heavens and the earth, and it continues on its own, but we know better. It is our job to recognize Hashem's constant hand in creation, although it is blocked from our vision. It is the truth and we have to open our eyes and see that it is Hashem Who is really doing everything. 

The rest of Yirmiyahu's prayer to Hashem, is about the miracles that Hashem did for the Jewish people, that He advises us, knows what is in our hearts and that He could do anything. 

Even the greatest of miracles can be explained away scientifically as a rare occurrence of nature, but we must go beyond that and realize that it is the hand of Hashem, and that nature itself is the greatest miracle of all. 

The same is with our good ideas. We can choose to see them as our ideas or we can see them for what they are, a gift from Hashem. 

And this is what Shmita and yovel are all about. Why wouldn't a person keep Shmita or yovel? Because his relationship with Hashem is not as strong as it should be, and because of that, he lacks trust in Hashem. He thinks that his sustenance comes from his effort, and he fails to realize that it is all from Hashem, he fails to realize that Hashem is his partner, and the blessing of Hashem comes with this partnership. So he sows his field, and with that he jeopardizes his partnership with Hashem and all the blessing that comes with it. 

On the other hand, when he strengthens his relationship with Hashem, he realizes that it's all from Him, and the stronger the relationship, the stronger the trust in Hashem, the stronger the partnership and the greater the blessing. Even though Hashem is not visible to us, we see through the facade of the world, and recognize that it is all from Him. 

Perhaps this is the essence of our parsha and Haftora, that we should see through the veil of nature and recognize that it is all Hashem. 

Lag BaOmer often falls in the week of parshas Behar, in light of all that has been said, perhaps there is a connection between Lag BaOmer and the Haftora. 

On Lag BaOmer we celebrate the passing of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, who made the secrets of the Torah accessible to all of us though the Zohar. It's these teachings that teaches us about Hashem, it opens our eyes and unveils the facade of the world, and we begin to see how it's all Hashem. 

In the past these teachings were only open to a select few, but now through the teachings of Chassidus many of these teachings have been made accessible to all, in a user friendly way. They fill you with a sense of purpose, a closeness to Hashem and a deep love for him. 

If we could recognize the truth of the world, that it's all Hashem, He becomes our partner, and we receive His blessings. And just as in the time of Yirmiyahu, it was a sign that the exile would come to an end, so too, if we make an effort to get closer to Hashem, we will surely merit the coming of Moshiach, and we will all return to the Holy Land and celebrate Shmita and yovel. May it happen soon. The time has come. 

Friday, May 17, 2019

All Of Israel Have A Portion In The World To Come

Dedicated By Irving Bauman 
In Honor of 
Horav Nosson Ben Itta Etil V'Horav Yaakov Kamenetsky 
May you have a Refua Shelaima Bekarov

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It is our tradition on the six Shabbosim between Pesach and Shavuoth, that we learn the six chapters of Pirkei Avos, Ethics of our Fathers, one chapter every Shabbos after mincha. Some, including Chabad, have the custom to continue learning Pirkei Avos throughout the summer, until Rosh Hashanah. 

Before we start the weekly chapter of Pirkei Avos, we say a Mishnah from Sanhedrin, "All of Israel have a portion in the world to come." The meaning of "the world to come" in this Mishnah, is the "world of the living," the time of Moshiach, when there will be the resurrection of the dead and we will have eternal life. 

How do we know that it is referring to the world of the living? Because the Mishnah continues, "And these are the ones that don't have a portion in the world to come, one who says that the resurrection of the dead is not in accordance with the Torah." And the Talmud tells us, that the reason for this is, since "He denies (the validity) of the resurrection of the dead, therefore he won't have a portion in the resurrection of the dead." 

This is difficult to understand, because the revelation in the time of Moshiach will be greater than the revelation that is in Gan Eden, heaven, even higher than the highest levels of Gan Eden. However, when it comes to entering Gan Eden, there are prerequisites as to who may enter, as it says, "Who will ascend on the mountain of Hashem, one who has clean hands and a pure heart..." But when it comes to the revelation of the time of Moshiach, there are no prerequisites "All of Israel have a portion in the world to come." 

How do we know that the revelation in the time of Moshiach will be greater than Gan Eden? Because there are neshamas that are in Gan Eden thousands of years, and every day they go up three levels, yet they will all rise and enter bodies in the time of Moshiach. Now, it wouldn't make sense to say that Gan Eden is a greater revelation, because it would be a punishment for neshamas to be resurrected in bodies and receive a lower revelation. Therefore we must conclude that the revelation in the time of Moshiach will be greater. 

How does it make sense that in order to receive the lower revelation of Gan Eden there are conditions, and the greater revelation in the time of Moshiach is for all of Israel, without any preconditions? 

In order to understand this, first we have to understand why we need bodies to receive this greater revelation. 

The problem with bodies, is that they are limited, they are physical and in a physical world, and physical things are limited. Neshamas in Gan Eden, on the other hand, are unlimited, they are spiritual and in Gan Eden, a spiritual world, and the spiritual is unlimited. Wouldn't it make sense for the greater revelation to be in the spiritual? 

Even though our bodies in the time of Moshiach will be at the highest level possible, like the body of Adam the first man, who was formed by Hashem Himself, whose body shown so bright that it made the sun look dim, and possibly even greater than the body of Adam, because our bodies will reach their pinnacle. This only explains why our bodies will be able to receive the great revelation, but it doesn't explain why the revelation will be specifically to neshamas in bodies. 

Even though the body will be able to receive this great revelation, it will still be severely limited. For example, the limitations of time and place apply mainly to the physical, the spiritual doesn't have those limitations. Yet this great revelation will be specifically for neshamas in bodies. 

What we take from all this, is that there are differences when it comes to these two revelations. The revelation of Gan Eden comes specifically through separation from the physical. As it is known, that before a neshama enters Gan Eden, it first dips into the River of Fire, in order to forget what it saw in this world, and every time it goes to a higher level in Gan Eden itself, it has to forget the revelation of the previous level. On the other hand, the revelation of the time of Moshiach, comes specifically through the neshama entering a physical body. Why? 

The explanation. It says, "This is the Torah, a person," the Torah is like a person. Just as a person is made up of a neshama and a body, so too, the Torah has a neshama, which is Torah study, and a body, which is the mitzvos. The Zohar says, "The 248 (positive) mitzvos, are the 248 limbs of the King," like the limbs of the body, and the Torah is "the blood which is the soul," it draws life into the mitzvos. 

Just like the body, the mitzvos are limited to the physical constraints of time and place. Just like the neshama, the Torah is above the constraints of time and place. That is why, "One who studies the laws of the Ola offering, it's as if he offered the Ola," even though it's neither the time or the place in which an Ola is meant to be brought. 

The same is as it relates to the one who is studying Torah and doing mitzvos, Torah study is mainly for the neshama and doing mitzvos is mainly for the body. 

The fact that Torah is higher than mitzvos, is only the way it's revealed in the physical world, but in their source, mitzvos are higher, because Torah is Hashem's wisdom and mitzvos are Hashem's will, will is higher than wisdom. You can also see that mitzvos are higher in the way Torah and mitzvos manifest in the world, because the Torah's purpose is to instruct us on how to do the mitzvos. 

The same is with the neshama and the body, the fact that the neshama is higher than the body, is only the way they are revealed in the world, but in their source the body is higher. The love and connection of Hashem to the neshamas of the Jewish people, is similar to a natural love, like the love of a father to a son. In this connection the two are, so to speak, relative to one another. On the other hand, the love and connection of Hashem to the bodies of the Jewish people, is based on free choice, Hashem chose the bodies of the Jewish people, as we say in Kiddush, "because You chose us," and as we say in the holiday Amidah prayer, "You chose us from all the nations." Hashem's choice comes from His essence, which is beyond existence, and it's not relative to us in any way. You can also see it in the physical, as the neshama's purpose is to enliven the body. 

Now, the reason that when it comes to mitzvos, all of us are the same, and when it comes to Torah study there are differences, as a Torah scholar is obligated to take "You should toil in it day and night," literally. However, a businessman satisfies his obligation with "one chapter in the morning and one chapter in the evening." Because mitzvos are from Hashem's will, in which division isn't possible, on the other hand, Torah is from Hashem's wisdom and wisdom is subject to division. 

And this is why when it comes to the actual performance of mitzvos, every Jewish person does mitzvos, as our sages say, "even the sinners of Israel, are full of mitzvos as a pomegranate (is full of seeds)." But when it comes to Torah study, not everyone is full of Torah. Because the differences that are found amongst the Jewish people, are only in the revealed physical. However since mitzvos are from Hashem's will, and are connected to the body which is chosen by Hashem's essence, therefore, all of the Jewish people are the same, they all do mitzvos. 

And now we will understand why "All of Israel have a portion in the world to come," although it's a greater revelation than Gan Eden. Because the revelation of Gan Eden is a reward for the Torah one studied, on the other hand, the revelation in the time of Moshiach is a reward for the mitzvos one does, and since all of the Jewish people do mitzvos, "All of Israel have a portion in the world to come." 

you may ask: If the revelation in the time of Moshiach is for the mitzvos done by the body, why have the neshama come along? It is similar to the saying of our sages, "Torah is greater because it brings to action." Since the neshama brings the body to do mitzvos, it is raised to a higher level. 

According to all that has been said, we can learn two things about the Torah of the world to come, the Torah of Moshiach. First, that it will be at the highest level that Torah could reach on its own. And second, the greatness the Torah will attain because of the mitzvos. And the same is true about the neshama. Not only will it attain the highest level that the neshama could reach on its own, it will also enjoy the higher source of the body, which is higher than the source of the neshama. 

May we merit to see how it was our mitzvos that brought Moshiach, and may we merit to learn the Torah of Moshiach, from the mouth of Moshiach. May it happen soon. 

While I was writing this article, my niece Sarah Rivka Chanowitz OBM passed on to the world of neshamas. We loved her, our hearts are broken. May Hashem console my sister, my brother in law, my nieces, my parents and the extended Hurwitz and Chanowitz families. May we see her soon, with the coming of Moshiach, the theme of this article. 

Friday, May 10, 2019

What Makes Us Holy?

Dedicated By Irving Bauman
לזכר נשמת אבי הרב משה אהרן בן  ר ישראל חיים באהמאן    

The Haftora for parshas Kedoshim is from the book of Yechezkel, Ezekiel. The connection to our parsha, is that the Haftora is a rebuke to the people of Yerushalayim, before the destruction of the first Temple, for committing many of the sins mentioned in our parsha. Mostly dishonesty, oppressing the powerless and committing the innocent to death because of corruption.

Hashem rebukes them first for the time they were in Egypt, for not giving up the degenerate ways of the Egyptians. Then He rebukes them for the time they were in the desert, for the sin of the spies, and for holding on to the ways of the Egyptians.

Hashem says that the only reason He took them out of Egypt was for His own sake, so that the nations of the world shouldn't say that He couldn't save the Jewish people.

He says twice about the mitzvahs that He gave us at Mount Sinai, that they are, what "A person should do and live through them." He also says twice about the land of Israel, that it is "(tzvi) most beautiful of all lands." And He mentions several times, the importance of keeping Shabbos, that it is a sign between us and Hashem.

It is strange that so much emphasis is put on the verse, "A person should do and live through them." Because at the end of the previous parsha, Acharei, it says the exact same words, however, it isn't mentioned at all in our parsha. This forces us to conclude that although it is in the previous parsha, it central to the theme of our parsha, Kedoshim. What is the connection between this verse and our parsha.

This week's parsha is called Kedoshim, to be holy, as the opening verse of our parsha says, "You should be holy," and the second to the last verse says, "You should be holy to me," What does it mean to be holy?

If you look at the laws found in our parsha, you will see that it has nothing to do with purity and impurity, nor does it have to do with meditation. Rather it has to do with the most basic rules of decency. Kedoshim, is from the word kadosh, which means holy and separate, in other words, if we want to be holy, we have to distinguish ourselves in the way we act. In order for us to be a beacon of light to the world, we have to be recognized as different, we have to stand out as Hashem's people, through honesty, decency and morality.

In order to stand out as Hashem's people we have been given the Shabbos. Keeping the Shabbos, dressed in our finest, the table set beautifully, candles lit, our essence comes through, we are princes and princesses, children of the King of the world, Hashem, and because of that, we stand taller, and when we walk down the street, the people of the world see it and think, "There goes Hashem's people."

When you put honesty, decency and morality, together with keeping Shabbos, we become true beacons of light to the world, Hashem's ambassadors, and they are effected by us.

This is the life of a Jew, this is how we "live through them." When we take the path of Torah and mitzvahs, we are truly alive, because we are being true to ourselves, we are doing what we were created to do. And one is most satisfied and feels alive, when doing what he or she was created to do.

The Talmud tells us that we learn that saving a life takes precedence over any other mitzvah including keeping Shabbos, as the verse says, "You should live through them - (meaning) and not die through them."

There is a chassidishe teaching on this verse. The verse could be translated to mean, "And you should give life to them." meaning that everything we do, eating, drinking, business, exercise, etc., should be to infuse our service to Hashem with energy and life.

The Tzemach Tzedek's daughter in law, Rebbetzin Rivka, was not well, and the doctor said, that she should eat as soon as she wakes up. However, she didn't want to eat before davening, so she quickly davened and then ate. The Tzemach Tzedek said to her, "it is better to eat in order to daven, than to daven in order to eat."

This is one way we merit to have the land of Israel, the "(tzvi) most beautiful of all lands." Through honesty, decency, morality, keeping Shabbos and the rest of the mitzvahs in our parsha, and through using our mundane daily activities to energize our service to Hashem, we merit to have the land of Israel and keep it.

Why does it use the word tzvi, which means a deer. to mean beautiful?

Because you may ask: If the land of Israel is so small, how are all of the Jewish people going to fit in it?

That is why it is called tzvi, a deer. A deer's skin is too tight for its body, but it stretches to fit the deer. The same is true about the land of Israel, it looks as if it is too small, but it stretches to fit all of the Jewish people.

May we merit to see the beautiful land of Israel stretch out, as we all return to the Holy Land with the coming of Moshiach, and we will see how it was our mitzvahs, honesty, decency, morality and keeping Shabbos, that ushered in the redemption. May he come soon. The time has come.