Monday, April 6, 2020

Chametz Vs. Matzah

In parshas Bo it tells us the mitzvah of eating Matzah, "Seven days shall you eat Matzah." 

At the Seder there are three important things, Pesach (Pascal lamb) Matzah and Maror (bitter herbs). We offer lip service for the Pesach, because we can't do it. Matzah remains a biblical mitzvah to this day. And Maror is a rabbinical mitzvah now a days. 

There are two differences between chametz and Matzah. 

The first difference is in the way it acts. Chametz rises, it blows up, this is symbolic of a  big ego and Matzah remains flat, symbolic of the self nullification of the ego. And on Pesach the only Matzah we can use for the mitzvah of Matzah is egoless poor man's bread, which is made from only flour and water. 

The second difference is in the way it is spelled, they both have three letters, two of which are the same ( they both have a mem and a tzadik), but chametz has a ches at the beginning and Matzah has a hei at the end. 
ח ה
  Hei                   Ches 

The letters ches and hei are very similar, they both have a line on top, two legs coming down on the sides and they are open on the bottom, but the ches is totally sealed from three sides and the hei is open on the top of the left leg. 

The opening on the bottom means that it is easy to go down, to fall into doing what is wrong in the eyes of Hashem. 

And this is where the two differences come together. The person with the big ego, chametz, is stuck in the ches, the only way he can go is down. The person who is humble, Matzah, is not stuck, because the hei has an opening on the top, he has a way to go out and up, he has an opportunity to do teshuva. 

Even though the opening on top of the hei is small, our sages say that Hashem says, "Make me an opening like the eye of a needle and I will open up for you like the entrance of the Ulam," which was a huge doorway in the Temple. 

When a person is humble, he will realize that he did something wrong, and he will do teshuva, on the other hand, when someone has a big ego, he is always right and he could never find any fault in himself, just the opposite he convinces himself that everything he does is good if not great, and because of that he is stuck and he won't do teshuva. 

Even more. He finds arguments for his bad behavior and feels justified in doing them. 

For example the Mitzvah of tzedaka, which is a general Mitzvah and is inclusive of all mitzvos. 

He doesn't give tzedaka, because if Hashem wants them to have, why doesn't He give them? In his arrogance he thinks that he is better than the poor person. In his pompousness he asks, "If Hashem wants them to be poor, who am I to get in His way by giving them tzedaka?" 

On the other hand, a humble person makes a true calculation that he is no better than the other person, and he knows that Hashem wants him to give the other, so he gives. 

And even if he thinks that Hashem wants to punish the other for whatever reason, he knows that every Jewish person is a prince or princess of Hashem, and when a king punishes his children, he is happy when you show kindness to them. So he gives tzedaka. 

The same is with all other Mitzvahs. 

Not only all this, but if he can't find a way to make himself right, he makes excuses for himself. All of the reasons we are taught in Tanya, to find merit in other people and to excuse away their bad behavior, he finds in himself. And if all else fails, his self love covers over all his flaws. And so he never says I'm sorry and he doesn't do teshuva. He is stuck in the ches, and he has no way out other than down. That is chametz. 

The humble person doesn't make any of these excuses, he realizes that he is wrong, says I'm sorry and does teshuva. He is not stuck, he is in the hei, which has an opening to go up. That is Matzah. 

May we all take the attitude of Matzah, say I'm sorry and mend our relationships. See our wrong ways, do teshuva and become closer to Hashem. If we do this, we will be closer to our families, our people and Hashem. This will surely bring Moshiach closer and this dark and bitter exile to an end, and oh how we need it to end. May it happen soon. 

Friday, April 3, 2020

Keep On Fanning The Flames

Print        Tzav        Shabbos Haggadol          Pesach
In this week's parsha, Tzav, it says, "A constant fire should burn on the altar, it must not be extinguished." The Talmud Yerushalmi says, "Constant even on Shabbos, constant even in impurity." 

Every one of us is a small Temple and the service of the Temple happens inside every one of us spiritually. What is the service of keeping "A constant fire" in every one of us? Why does the Talmud Yerushalmi pick specifically these two things, Shabbos and impurity? And what lesson are we meant to take from this? 

The altar is the heart of a person and that is where we have to keep the fire burning towards G-dliness. 

Shabbos is our holy day, it is symbolic of one of the highest levels we can achieve. A person who reaches that level can make the mistake of thinking, "I have already reached such a great level, do I need to put in effort to keep the fire burning?" And he becomes complacent. It is to him that we say, "Constant even on Shabbos," You can never become complacent, you always have to put in the effort to keep the fire burning. 

On the other extreme, one who is far from holy, might think that he is, G-d forbid, too far gone. To him we say, "Constant even in impurity," don't look at your current state, don't let the fire go out. Keep fanning the flame of your G-dly fire, it should not be extinguished. And this will bring you to the positive side of "not be extinguished," as the Maggid of Mezritch taught us that the "not" the bad and the negative should "be extinguished." 

Wherever you are in your connection with Hashem, you should not give up and you should not get over confident in yourself, keep on working on your connection with Hashem. No matter where you are at, there is always a higher level of closeness you can attain. So keep on fanning the flame, don't let the fire go out, because then you are going nowhere and when you are going nowhere, you are not staying put, you are falling. 

The same is with relationships, especially with your spouse and children, don't think that it is too far gone, and don't get complacent, keep on working on it, because there is nothing more important. If you think that you are in a happy place, keep on fanning the flames, because it can always be better and closer. And when you become complacent, it starts to go downhill. 

With a blessing of good and deep relationships with your children, spouse and Hashem. 

In our current situation, we shouldn't give up hope, thinking that it won't get better, nor should we be over confident in ourselves and do things that are dangerous to ourselves or to others, keep on being careful to follow the advice of the experts. May Hashem bring this pandemic to an end, and give all that are sick, a complete recovery. May it happen soon. 

Friday, March 27, 2020

How To Get Closer

Print          Vayikra          Pesach
In the beginning of this week's parsha, Vayikra, it says, "If a person will bring near from (amongst) you an offering to Hashem, from the animal, from cattle and from sheep." Why is it said in such a strange way? Wouldn't it make more sense to say, "If a person from (amongst) you will bring near an offering to Hashem."? 

With this small anomaly the Torah teaches us how to bring a spiritual offering, that it has to be "from you." This means that it's not enough for your neshama to be for Hashem, but you also have to offer your animal, your body and animal soul, from the actual "you." As the Alter Rebbe explains the verse, When a person wants to come closer to Hashem, it has to be "from you an offering to Hashem," You have to offer from your own self. 

This is the whole idea of the Mishkan and the Temple and its service, to take the most physical and elevate it to Hashem, to make it into a home for Him. And this is also true about the offerings as we know that the sacrifices had a spiritual component to them. As the Zohar says, "That Kohanim (do their service) quietly and with devotion of the heart and the Leviim with song and music."

What is the process of bringing an offering? First you would have to check the animal thoroughly, making sure that it had no blemishes, and only then was it wanted by Hashem. 

The same is true with us, if we want to get closer to Hashem, we first have to look deep into ourselves and find our blemishes, the things that put up walls between us and Hashem, like sins, and we have to correct them through teshuva. Then we are fit to come closer to Him. 

How do we bring our bodies and animal souls closer to Hashem? By bending the will of the body and animal soul to follow the way of Hashem, instead of what it naturally wants to do, which is animalistic. You don't have to destroy the body, the body should be healthy and intact, just that it should follow the neshama, not only Torah and Mitzvos, but to make the mundane daily activities holy, to " Acknowledge Hashem in all your ways." That even things like eating, drinking, sleeping, etc., like on Shabbos when all these activities are holy. 

When you do this, you connect to the essence of Hashem, higher than the name Havaya, as it says about the sacrifices, "before Havaya," higher than Havaya, to the essence of Hashem. 

At this time of crisis it's incumbent upon each of us to repair our relationships with our spouses, family and friends. Especially now that there is a real worldwide decree, we truly need each other and we are stuck with one another, wouldn't it be nice to come out of this stronger and closer than ever. 

It is a process. First you have to search your past and mend the blemishes that you caused in the relationship, and usually it is a two way street, you both have some blemishes to repair. Then you have to ask for forgiveness and you have to mean it with all of your heart, so much so that the other will feel it. Then comes giving of yourself, building and strengthening the relationship. 

If you will do this, you can take your relationship and love to a higher place than it's ever been before. And even if it doesn't, it will surely be better than before, and that is a step in the right direction, and on the way to true harmony. 

We must bring ourselves closer to Hashem and we must strengthen our bonds with the ones we love, if we do, then everything that we do will be so much more effective, because Hashem loves when we are united. Certainly He will hear our prayers, and bring this crisis to an end. May it happen soon. 

Dedicated to our daughter Chava who is celebrating her birthday this week, we love you and we are proud of you. 

Friday, March 20, 2020

Could The Coronavirus Be An Opportunity?

Print         Vayakhel         Pekudei          Hachodesh
In Vayakhel and Pekudei it speaks about the construction of the Mishkan, which the Talmud Yerushalmi calls the Second Mishkan and the Midrash calls the Lower Mishkan. What is the First Mishkan or the Higher Mishkan? The one spoken about in Teruma and Tetzaveh, which is a spiritual Mishkan. It was the one between Hashem and Moshe, He commanded Moshe to make it, when he was still on Mount Sinai receiving the Torah. 

The Talmud Yerushalmi tells us that the eighteen blessings of the Amida prayer is for the eighteen commandments regarding the Second Mishkan. 

Then it asks: But in fact there are nineteen commandments? And it answers that the only ones that are included are the ones that are said with regards to both Betzalel and Elihav, but the one that is said for Betzalel alone is not counted. 

When it says the commandments of the Second Mishkan, it means every time it says, "as Hashem commanded Moshe." 

What is the connection between the commandments of the Mishkan and the blessings of the Amida? Why is the Amida specifically connected to the Second Mishkan? And why do we count with regards to the Amida, the statement, "as Hashem commanded," only when Elihav is included? 

Tefila, which is usually translated as prayer, means to connect two things together. And in our case, a Jewish person with G-dliness. It is bringing even the lowest parts of the person up to Hashem and connecting with His essence. 

Now we will understand the connection between the Mishkan and the Amida. Because the idea of the Mishkan is to take physical objects and raise them up to Hashem, we raise them to the point where He will "dwell in them," that they become one. So the Mishkan and the Amida are the same, they are both taking what is physical and low and connecting them and filling them with G-dliness. 

Why specifically the Second Mishkan? Because the First Mishkan was spiritual, it didn't and couldn't take the physical and lift it up to Hashem. It was specifically the Second Mishkan that took the physical, gold, silver, etc. and lifted them up, making them into a home for Hashem. 

This physical world that we are in, is the lowest of all the realms of existence, and with the Mishkan we took specifically the lowest physical things in the world and lifted them up to Hashem. The same is with our prayers, of which the Amida is the central prayer, we have to take the lowest parts of us and raise them up to Hashem. When you lift from the bottom, you raise the whole thing. 

This is also true when it comes to our fellow Jews, we have to raise them all up with our prayers, even the ones who you deem lower than you, even the ones who you deem the lowest. As the Pri Eitz Chaim says and the Alter Rebbe brings in his siddur that before one starts to pray he should accept upon himself the mitzvah of "love your fellow as yourself." According to the Baal Shem Tov, this refers even to a Jew who you  never saw and even to one who lives on the other side of the earth. 

And this means even a Jew who is at the other side of the earth spiritually. 

And now we will understand why when it comes to the Amida we only count an "as Hashem commanded," when Elihav is included. The Midrash tells us that Betzalel was from the tribe of Yehuda, the greatest of the tribes, and Elihav was from the tribe of Dan, the lowest of the tribes, and that is why they were chosen to build the Mishkan. It included everyone from the highest to the lowest, otherwise it wouldn't be a true Mishkan, a place where Hashem wants to dwell. 

The same is with our prayers, if we don't include every Jewish person, it isn't a place where Hashem wants to be. And if we include all of our brothers and sisters, He wants to be with us and our prayers form a deep bond with Him. 

From this we see how important the mitzvah of "love your fellow as yourself" is, it is truly the key to everything, our connection to Hashem, our blessings and it is the thing that will bring Moshiach. 

This is what my wife Dina wrote. I am adding it because it is profound, and it shows the incredible effect we all have on the world, just imagine how you can change the world with your one act of loving your fellow: 

What we are seeing is how connected  we all are. In just a short time this virus has, by no effort at all, spread to all four corners of the world. Do you realize what that means? You can literally change the entire world by one interaction. Imagine that!!! 

Now we are in a time where our love for our fellow is extremely necessary and we have to be creative to keep this mitzvah, because we can't visit people. Luckily we live in a time that technology lets us visit with people, learn Torah and do kindness for one another virtually. And with the right precautions, we can find ways to do kindness physically. 

So if you know anyone who is alone, give them a call, a video call, send a text message, email, etc. And if you know anyone who can't get food, you can take the right precautions, and drop off food, groceries, and even :) toilet paper. 

Who are the ones that need you the most? The ones who no one wants to visit and that is what true loving your fellow is. The main thing now is that no one feels forgotten or alone. 

This is also a good time to make amends with family, friends and others who you may have hurt. 

This pandemic that we are facing is not only bad, there is a lot of good that comes out of it too, and that rests primarily in your hands. 

There is another good thing that comes out of it, although you may not see it as good and that is knowledge and experience. It is a little taste of what people go through every day, people who have a sick person in their family or people who are in a long term crisis. They experience the fear of the unknown, the feeling of hopelessness, and the feeling of their future and their dreams slipping away. And I believe that it is a good thing, because it will give you an opportunity to be a better friend for a person who feels isolated and alone, being that no one understands them. And that is a deep way of doing the mitzvah of "loving your fellow," to be a real friend who understands. 

If we keep the mitzvah of "loving your fellow as yourself," the best that we can, we will be blessed with all the blessings of the Amida, including healing, prosperity, the coming of Moshiach, and the last blessing of peace. And as we say in the last blessing, "bless us all together as one," that when we are as one, when we keep the mitzvah of "loving your fellow as yourself," including every Jewish person, we receive Hashem's amazing blessings and the ultimate blessing that we all need and want, the coming of Moshiach. May he come soon. 

Friday, March 13, 2020

Washing Your Hands Is The Main Thing

Dedicated in honor of 
Sheryl Sandberg’s recent engagement to Tom Bernthal 

Print          Ki Sisa          Parah
In this week's parsha, Ki Sisa, we are commanded about the Kiyor, the Laver, from which the Kohanim would wash their hands and feet before they did the service in the Mishkan and the Temple. 

The other vessels are discussed in parshas Terumah and Tetzaveh, where we are commanded about the construction of the Mishkan, its vessels, and the garments the Kohanim wore when they were to do the service. Why is the Kiyor in parshas Ki Sisa, separate from all the others? 

You can't say that it was less holy than the rest of the vessels, because later when it tells about the anointing of the vessels, it lists the Kiyor together with all the others and it calls them, "Holy of Holies." 

The commentaries explain that because it wasn't used in the actual service, as it was only used in preparation of the service, it is separate. 

This separation is not only seen in its placement in the Torah, but its actual placement in the Mishkan and Temple. While the rest of the vessels were in the actual Mishkan, either in the Holy or Holy of Holies, or in the case of the sacrificial altar, directly in front of the opening of the Mishkan, the Kiyor was placed in between the altar and the Mishkan, but to the side, not directly in front of the opening. Since it was to the side, the Kohanim could wash their hands and feet before they approach the altar, the Mishkan or the area in between. 

The Talmud tells us that in order for it to sanctify the Kohanim it had to be able to contain enough water for four people to wash from it. It derives it from a verse about the Kiyor, "Moshe, and Aaron and his sons should wash..." Moshe and Aaron are two and his sons are two, all together you have four. 

The commentaries ask: Moshe was only a Kohen during the days of inauguration, which was a training period for Aaron and his sons. Why then should the Kiyor for all generations be for four people, when it is only for Aaron and his sons which are only three? 

Since the days of inauguration were a preparation for the Kohanim to serve in the Mishkan, and the whole idea of the Kiyor is to prepare the Kohanim to serve in the Mishkan, it has to be not 
only for Aaron and his sons but it has to include everyone who were Kohanim for the time of preparation, the days of inauguration, meaning Moshe too. 

It turns out that even though the Kiyor was only used for preparing to do the service, it had a distinct advantage over the other vessels, because it was connected to Moshe, who was greater than Aaron, and it is connected to the Kohanim were part of the inauguration, Moshe, Aaron and his sons. 

In other words, every time the Kohanim washed from the Kiyor, every time they prepared to do the service, they connected to Moshe and Aaron and his sons and that was part of their preparation. 

So in the Kiyor there were two ideas from opposite sides of the spectrum. On one hand, it was only a preparation. On the other hand, through it they were connected to Moshe, Aaron and his sons. 

We see the same dichotomy with the material that the Kiyor was made from. It was made from the copper mirrors that the women used to beautify themselves in order to entice their husbands to be with them and through that they brought up generations of our people. On one hand, Moshe was uncomfortable accepting them, because seemingly "they are made for the evil inclination," on the other hand, Hashem told Moshe to accept them, because "they are most precious of all." 

The explanation of the dichotomies of the Kiyor. 

The commandment, "You should make Me a Mishkan," is that we should take the physical things and specifically the thirteen or fifteen physical materials mentioned in parshas Terumah and make from them a dwelling for Hashem, as the verse continues, "And I will dwell in them." And this is a mitzvah that is ongoing as the Midrash says that the reason that Hashem created the world is because "He desired that we should make for Him a home below," in this lowly world. 

Since making a home below includes even the lowest levels, therefore, the Mishkan had to include the mirrors that "are made for the evil inclination," because Hashem wants to dwell in them too. 

If this is the case, obviously Moshe knew it, so why did he not want to accept the mirrors? 

Because he saw the true essence of things, and he wanted the same for the Mishkan, that the materials used to make it should be things that allow G-dliness to shine directly through. The problem with mirrors that are used for bodily cravings, is that both the body and mirrors, even when refined still block the truth from coming through. 

Glass or magnifying glass allow the light to come through. However a mirror doesn't give you the truth, it gives you a reflection and it doesn't allow any light to come through. 

The body and the animal soul are specifically designed to block G-dliness from coming through. 

However, Hashem said, "they are the most precious of all." The things that are made to block G-dliness from coming through are refined through accepting the heavenly yoke, and there is no enjoyment in that, it is purely done through accepting what Hashem wants and that is very difficult. Therefore it is "the most precious of all." 

It is the most physical and the most mundane that Hashem wants to dwell in. And the importance put on the Kiyor which is the most precious of all, even though it is only a preparation for the service, teaches us that the hardest part is the preparation, the hardest part is washing your hands from the bad and the negative, once you do that, the rest is downhill. Once you wash your hands from the bad and negative, you are in and you are free to serve Hashem. Washing away the negative is freeing. 

It is amazing how the parsha of the week is connected to current events. Right now, with the pandemic that we are facing. The experts are saying that the most important thing is washing your hands. 

May everyone be protected from all harm connected to this trouble we are facing. May we gain the strength from Moshe, to face our most difficult challenges. May we see how our challenges and facing them was the thing that broke us free from this dark and bitter exile. And may we see how we are the most precious to Hashem with the coming of Moshiach. May he come soon. 

Thursday, March 5, 2020

To Reach And Connect To The Source

Dedicated in honor of the marriage of 
Levi Yitzchok and Tal Lauffer

May Hashem bless you to have endless  Nachas and simchos together. May your home always be lit up with the light of  Torah  and Mitzvahs. Moshiach Now! 
Dear friends, 

Thank you to all of you who were involved in the #TefillinforYitzi and the #ShabbatcandlesforYitzi campaigns in honor of my 48th birthday. Thank you to all who put on Teffillin and lit Shabbat candles in honor of my birthday. 

To give thanks, I bring you a dvar Torah based on a teaching of the Rebbe on Purim, in which light, Tefillin and a verse of my new chapter of Tehilim (49) are discussed. 

May you be blessed with good health, good parnassa and much nachas. 

Print       Tetzaveh         Zachor         Purim

ליהודים היתה אורה ושמחה וששון ויקר 

אמר רב יהודה אורה זו תורה... ששון זו מילה... שמחה זה יום טוב... 
ויקר אלו תפלין ... 

In the Meggila it says, "For the Jews there was orah (light), and simcha (joy), and sasson (gladness), and yekar (prestige or dearness)." This is also a part of Havdala we say at the end of Shabbos and Yom Tov, and many have the custom that everyone says this verse.

The Talmud tells us, "Rabbi Yehuda said. 'orah is Torah... simcha is Yom Tov (holidays)... sasson is circumcision... and yekar this is Tefillin...'" 

The Alter Rebbe asks: Usually Torah is called ohr, in the masculine, as the verse says, "v'Torah ohr," so we have to understand why here it's called orah, in the feminine? 

He explains that the Meggila is telling us that in the story of Purim we attained a much higher level than ohr, the light of Torah. Orah is like the word meira, which means to give light, it's the source of the light. On Purim we attained the orah, the source of the light of Torah, the essence of Hashem. 

We have to understand why we were able to attain such a great level. 

To understand this, we have to first understand that there are sometimes that we are affected from above, meaning that Hashem awakens in us a level of spirituality and a feeling of closeness to Hashem that we can't attain on our own. This is called an awakening from above. 

An awakening from above can occur in one of two ways. It can be directly from Hashem, meaning that we didn't do anything to cause or deserve it. Then there is an awakening from above that is motivated by something that we did below. When we do something on our own that brings us closer to Hashem it is called an awakening from below. So in this case, an awakening from below begets an awakening from above. 

If an awakening from above can occur on its own, what is there to gain  by causing an awakening from below? 

Because when you have an awakening from above that is motivated from below it is far greater - higher and deeper - than when it comes on its own. Because an awakening from below reaches much higher than where a self occurring awakening from above comes from. 

For example, Creation of the world is clearly an wakening from above, since there was no one below to motivate it. Hashem did it of His own accord. Yet everything in existence has to come through many levels and many transformations until it takes a physical form from nothing to something. Yet a miracle that is motivated from below and is clearly based on one's actions and trust in Hashem, comes directly from above the whole system, which is much higher. 

In other words, in a relationship there is the giver and the receiver. The giver could give without the input of the receiver and that is one level of the relationship, it's noble and loving and caring, but it is one sided. And then there is when the receiver is involved in the relationship, it brings out a whole new level of giving in the giver. 

And that is what is meant by what it says, "A woman of Valor is the crown of her husband," and "There is an extra wisdom that was given to woman more than in the man." That when she is involved in the relationship, and when the husband values her involvement and her thoughts it takes the relationship to a whole new level, because she brings out a whole new level of love in her husband, she becomes the crown of her husband. 

And in our case, the miracle of Purim in the time of Mordechai and Esther, which came specifically through the actions and the self sacrifice of the Jewish people. 

And this is also what it says in the Meggila, "And the Jews accepted what they initially started to do." The giving of the Torah was the start and on Purim we solidified our acceptance of the Torah of our own will. The giving of the Torah was an awakening from above, we were wowed and completely taken in by the moment, the sights, the sounds, the great love of Hashem for the Jewish people that we felt. It was one-sided, and it wasn't a total acceptance from our part. On Purim it was an awakening from below, we didn't experience the love from above, no wondrous sights or sounds. And with all that we accepted the Torah of our own will, totally and unequivocally. For a year, they served Hashem with self sacrifice, an awakening from below, that is how they "accepted what they initially started to do," they accepted the Torah of their own will. Then the greatest love of Hashem was showered upon the Jewish people - who are metaphorically the wife of Hashem - the miracles of Purim. 

And now we will understand why it says, "For the Jews there was orah," instead of ohr, because ohr refers to the wisdom of Torah, the light of Torah, that is what we got with the giving of the Torah. However, on Purim we got so much more than ohr, we got orah, the source of the light, the essence of Hashem. 

Perhaps we can say that one of the reasons that this verse is part of Havdala is because on Shabbos our essence is revealed, the part of us that is one with the essence of Hashem, the source of light, the orah. In other words, on Shabbos Hashem's essence is revealed, the orah is in the world. And because we want to draw down the orah into the whole week, we say this verse. As our sages say, "Shabbos, from it all the days (of the week) are blessed."

Women and girls usher in Shabbos by drawing down this orah into their homes and into the world. That is perhaps why it is such a powerful moment, and many women and girls use this time to pray for what is most important to them, because it's the moment Hashem's essence is drawn into the world.

The verse says, "For the Jews there was... yekar (prestige or dearness)." This is similar to what it says, "Adam (man) doesn't overnight with yekar." It is explained that this means that in the Garden of Eden, before the sin of the tree of knowledge, Adam who was perfect, couldn't handle a very great spiritual manifestation called yekar, because he wasn't great enough to contain it. 

Yekar has the numerical value of 310. This is what the Mishnah means when it says, "In the future Hashem will give every tzadik 310 worlds," that they will merit to receive a very great spiritual level similar to yekar, they won't be able to have true yekar, only what is represented by its numerical value. Since it is not exactly yekar, they will be able to receive it, but true yekar is much higher. And this is the meaning of "Adam doesn't overnight with yekar," that even Adam couldn't receive yekar. 

However in the Meggila it says, "For the Jews there was... Yekar," that they actually received true yekar as a reward for their awakening from below, serving Hashem with the self sacrifice of Purim. 

Every year, when we celebrate Purim, we get a taste of yekar. And through the mitzvah of tefillin, of which it says, "yekar this is  Tefillin," and specifically through the straps of the Tefillin, we draw yekar into the whole year. Because the straps of the Tefillin are there to draw down, from the mind to the heart and from the heart lower. That's why the straps have to be long, even reaching the legs. So too, they draw yekar into the whole year. And not the numerical version of yekar, but true yekar. 

May we merit to have orah (light), and simcha (joy), and sasson (gladness), and yekar (prestige), once again, with the coming of Moshiach, which will come as a result of our awakening from below, our self sacrifice to serve Hashem in this dark and bitter exile. May he come soon. 

Friday, February 14, 2020

When We Are United

Print       Yisro
In this week's parsha, Yisro, before the giving of the Torah, it says, "and Israel camped (singular) there, towards the mountain." Rashi highlights the word, "and Israel camped there," and explains, "Like one man with one heart, but all the other encampments were with strife, and arguments." 

In parshas Beshalach, it says, "And the Children of Israel lifted their eyes and behold Egypt was chasing (singular) after them." Rashi highlights the words, "chasing after them," and explains, "With one heart like one man." 

it's clear that since the Torah says it in the singular, we know that they were united. And because it says, "there," we know that they were united only there and nowhere else, because it didn't have to say "there," it could have said, "and Israel camped towards the mountain," and we would have understood. 

What is the difference between Israel and Egypt that Rashi chooses to rearrange his words, by Israel he says, "like one man with one heart," and by Egypt he says, "with one heart like one man."? 

Rashi is known for choosing his words very carefully, including the words of the verse he chooses to highlight. It begs the question: Why does Rashi choose to mention Israel in the words of the verse that he highlights, but not Egypt? 

The real question is: What was uniting them? 

By the Egyptians the uniting factor was not that they were Egyptian, but their hatred for the Children of Israel, therefore Rashi doesn't highlight the word "Egypt." Because it was the hatred in their hearts that was causing their unity, Rashi says, "with one heart like one man." In other words, since they were united "with one heart," in their hatred for the Children of Israel, therefore they were "like one man." 

On the other hand, when the Jewish people reached Mount Sinai they were so in touch with their essence, so in touch with their neshama, and at the neshama level we are one, we were one because we are truly one. That is why Rashi highlights the word "Israel," because it was the fact that they were Jewish that they were united. And that is why Rashi says, "like one man with one heart." In other words, because they were "like one man," they were united because they are Jewish, therefore they were "with one heart," wanting to receive the Torah. 

Only the Jewish people are truly one because at our essence we are one. But we see that non Jewish people can also be united in heart, so it's incumbent upon us to be living examples to those who are not Jewish, the Children of Noah, that they should follow the Seven Laws of the Children of Noah. 

The same is with a married couple, they are truly one in their essence, two halves of one neshama. It's true that they may be at odds from time to time, and maybe even have strife and arguments, but if they work together on it with effort and love, they will not only strengthen their relationship, but they can take their marriage to a whole new level. 

In order to receive the Torah, in order to receive the greatest revelation we ever experienced, we had to be united at the neshama level, so too, if we are united we will merit to experience an even greater revelation, with the coming of Moshiach. May he come soon. 

Dedicated in honor of our son Moshe who celebrates his birthday this week. We love you and we are proud of you. You have so much love in your heart.