Thursday, July 28, 2016

From A Place of Darkness The Most Is Accomplished

This week's parsha, Pinchas, has two possible Haftoras.

Because we are in The Three Weeks, the darkest and saddest time on the Jewish calendar, when both our Temples were destroyed, and unimaginable suffering and tragedy befell our people, the Haftora we read, is more connected to the time, than the parsha.

This week's Haftora starts off telling us Yirmyahu's (Jeremiah's) lineage. "These are the  words of Yirmyahu son of Chilkiyahu of the Kohanim." It continues to tell us how he became a prophet. Hashem tells Yirmyahu "Before I formed you in the belly, I knew you, and before you emerged from the womb, I appointed you to be a prophet..." Yirmyahu says to Hashem "I don't know how to speak, for I am a youth." Hashem says, "Don't say 'I am a youth,' for wherever I will send you, you will go, and whatever I will command you, you will speak. Don't be afraid of them, for I Am with you to protect you..." "See I have appointed you today, over nations and over kingdoms, to uproot, to crush...,  to build and to plant."

Then, Hashem gives him the prophecy of the the devastation of Yehuda and tells Yirmyahu to warn the Jewish people.

The Haftora ends on a positive note. How Hashem remembers that we followed him in to the desert, trusting in Him. The idea being, that if we return to Hashem and His Torah, He will accept us with open arms.

The theme of the Haftora is supposed to be connected to the destructive nature of the time of the year. The prophecy of devastation and even Hashem remembering our goodness makes sense. But how does Yirmyahu's lineage and how he became a prophet, fit the theme of The Three Weeks?

It all starts to become clear when we take a closer look at who Yirmyahu was and the time he lived in.

Yirmyahu lived in a time of great darkness, when the Jewish people were at a spiritual low. He himself was taunted regularly because of his pedigree, as his great grandmother was Rachav a gentile woman who converted. It didn't matter that she was a great woman who helped the Jewish people in the conquest of the Holy Land. Yirmyahu had all the cards stacked against him, and yet, he effected change from his dark situation, which is the only true and everlasting change.

We've had many great prophets and leaders. Some effected the world from a place of light, like Moshe, with great miracles and revelation, with so much light, the Jewish people were taken by the greatness of the moment, of course they were good. But when the revelation ceased, they made a golden calf, the light effected them, but did not change them. However, Pinchas, like Yirmyahu, was coming from a place of darkness. He was also taunted because of his pedigree, as his mother was Yisro's (Jethro's) daughter, and was living at a low and dark time. But his actions caused the Jewish people to repent and change themselves. This kind of change is real and everlasting. Therefore his reward was an everlasting one, that he and all his descendants will be Kohanim.

It is from a place of darkness, that the Haftora opens up. First by his pedigree being exalted as Yirmyahu from the Kohanim, and then by telling us how he became a prophet.

The Three Weeks is the time of darkness, symbolic of our dark exile. Hashem is telling us how to approach times of darkness, and how specifically we, in this darkness, can bring true, everlasting change and light to the world.

The first thing you have to know is that you are worthy. You may think "who am I to make a difference, the whole world looks down at me?" To this Hashem answers, you are from Kohanim, you are holy and worthy.

The next thing is that we were hand picked by Hashem for this task. "Before I formed you in the belly, I knew you..."

Don't say "I am a youth," without the wherewithal to withstand the world's negative effects. You can do it, "Don't be afraid..., for I am with you."

This is the purpose of the exile, Hashem has spread us all over the world, he has appointed us "over nations and over kingdoms," to have a positive effect on our surroundings.

This is the message of The Three Weeks, that specifically from the darkness, we are able to do the most good.

Hashem wants us to effect the physical world, and our bodies, to serve him as well. One that says, "let me stay in my cocoon of light, of Torah and spirituality, and not deal with the physical," is making a mistake. It is the effect on the physical world and our physical nature, that Hashem wants most, and it is why Hashem put us in a physical world, to develop the world, from the bottom up, to be a dwelling place for Hashem's presence. Which is the everlasting reward we all yearn for, and will be experienced with the coming of Moshiach. May he come soon


  1. Rav Yitzi a belated mazal tov on your third anniversary of divrei torah! May you continue "ad meah va'esrim" with renewed health and much happiness!
    As always your messages are inspiring and encouraging for each person's circumstances.
    Shabbat Shalom and much yiddishe nachat!

  2. Thank you for being an inspiration for us!

  3. Thank you for being an inspiration for us!

  4. Thank you for this insight, life and even the torah comes down to interpretations, that being said I love your point of view and has really helped me understand my jewish roots and connection. May HaShem bless you and your family thank you so much.

  5. I have to be honest, I read this last week but could not think--- how it applied to me... or get any insight, I was in a confused place in my life.
    Then to add to my strife, this last weekend something more happened, NOT so good at all ..more darkness hit me. Depression.
    Now, today in re-reading this, I am encouraged that there IS a reason for everything and I can handle it, because He is with me.
    Thank you for the insight.

  6. This post is one of the 18 chosen for The Best 18 for Havel Havelim! Blog Roundup, Av 5776.
    Yes, only 18 חי Chai= Life!

    You're in good company; take a look!