Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Avrohom Avinu's Path: Truth

הלכות גניבה ה"ה

(Painting by Miriam Schulman)

Avrohom Avinu was the first to reveal the truth of Hashem's oneness in the world. Therefore, he merited everything included in Torah 9 of the second volume in Likutei Moharan (and Torah 7 in LM I).  There, the Rebbe explains that through truth one is able to acquire Eretz Yisroel, prayer, faith in Hashem, and miracles.  Avrohom merited these items through his sincerity and simplicity, for Avrohom always conducted himself with simplicity and with truth, as our sages say, "The one who walks with simplicity - this is Avrohom." (Makos 24b)  Because of these traits that he possessed, Hashem commanded Avrohom to go to Eretz Yisroel.  And, by going to Eretz Yisroel Avrohom then meritted perfected prayer and faith in Hashem to the point that he was worthy of being included in every Shmoneh Esrei, as in "Elokei Avrohom, etc."  As such, anyone who desires to have perfect faith in Hashem and to pray to Him will say, "Elokei Avrohom."    

The Torah relates that "Lot went with him [Avrohom]," (Bereishis 12:4) to explain that by definition darkness will always be bound to holiness, for Lot always followed after Avrohom to create darkness for him.  Thus, we are taught that this is the main longing and service of the holy tzaddikim.  The tzaddikim must work to reveal the truth hidden within the darkness of falsehood.  This is the reason why Avrohom told Lot to separate from him - "If you go to the left I will go to the right."  Avrohom was indicating to Lot that he did not want to walk in his path, for if Lot wanted to confuse Avrohom via the left side, which is related to evil desires and thoughts, then he would go to the right, which is the path of Torah and truth.  However, if Lot preferred to go to the right, which in this case is the place of the evil inclination under the guise of mitzvos, then Avrohom conceded that he would go to the left, for nothing is worse then this falsehood of the "right".  

This is why Hashem told Avrohom to "go for himself" (לך לך).  Hashem implied that Avrohom should go to "himself" alone, to the essense of truth, which is Avrohom's essense and vitality.  

Monday, October 27, 2014

Go Forth From Your Land

הלכות שבת ה"ז
("The Negev" by Jordana Klein)

וַיֹּאמֶר יְהֹוָה אֶל אַבְרָם לֶךְ לְךָ מֵאַרְצְךָ וּמִמּוֹלַדְתְּךָ וּמִבֵּית אָבִיךָ אֶל הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר אַרְאֶךָּ

Hashem’s instruction to Avrohom to, "go forth from your land," was a hint to every person that he too should “go,” meaning that every person must be careful to “go” wherever he must for his own sake.  The essence of a person, which is what one alludes to when he refers to himself as “I,” is his soul.  The Torah is thus demanding each person to “go” to “himself,” that is, to the source of his soul, for every path one takes, and every journey upon which one embarks is really for the sake of his soul.  All of the paths upon which one walks in this world are really meant to bring him to the essence of his being, which is the source of the soul. 

Furthermore, this is why Hashem tells Avrohom to go forth “from your land,” as the word, eretz-land, literally refers to one’s coarseness and materialism.  One must strive to go forth from his "land" and his birth place, meaning the materialism in which he grew up and is accustomed to.  He must also go out from his father’s place, as sometimes one finds that the lifestyles and world views of his family, friends, and neighbors are the opposite of truth, and he must get up and go to a place where he can unite with the source of his soul.  Every person certainly has the strength to endure all of this, as the Rebbe explains in Torah 49 (LM II).  Hashem never gives a person obstacles he is unable to overcome. 

Hashem then states, “to the land I will show you,” which is Eretz Yisroel.  Eretz Yisroel is the source of the ultimate Holiness, for this is where the Beis HaMikdash stands, and it is the source of all the souls.  For this reason Hashem instructs every person to, “go forth from your land to the land I will show you” -  to the source of your soul. 

Why Does Lech Lecha Follow After Noach?

הלכות תפילין ה"ה

Why does Parshas Lech Lecha immediately follow after Parshas Noach?  Parshas Noach provides an excellent segue, for two items are highlighted in the parsha: 1. the righteousness of Noach, and 2. the fact that the flood waters never reached the borders of Eretz Yisroel (Bereshis Rabbah 33:6). Therefore, the perfect environment is created for Hashem to reveal the holiness of Eretz Yisroel to Avrohom Avinu in Parshas Lech Lecha.  

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Bounty Through Prayer

הלכות ראש השנה ה:ל

All bounty and blessings are drawn down into the world only through Torah and prayer. The degree to which one exerts himself in prayer and learning Torah determines the degree to which the burden of earning a livelihood will be removed from him and will be done by others (for his sake) as our Sages have said. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Siach Sarfei Kodesh Sunday: Revealing the Date of Mashiach's Coming Delays the Geulah

שיח שרפי קודש ב, א-רצט

(Painting by Boris Dubrov)

It was once explained to the Rebbe that the tzaddik Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev said that the geulah would occur in the year 5570 (תק''ע), for it is hinted in the verse, "Sound (תקע) the great shofar for our freedom." (Weekly Shmoneh Esrei).  The Rebbe responded, "5648 (תרח''ם) is also a year."  If one says that 5570 is the year of the redemption, for it is hinted to in the verse, "Sound (תקע)the great shofar," then one is also able to say that the redemption will be in the year 5648, because that year too is hinted as the time of the redemption in the verse, "You will arise and have compassion (תרחם) on Zion." (Tehillim 102:14)

And see what the Rebbe says regarding this topic in חיי מוהר''ן תקכז: "Whenever the time of Mashiach's coming is revealed, then he certainly will not come, for "The Son of David will only come when he is not expected." (Sanhedrin 97b)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Four Species, Alef, Hashem, Man, and The Tzaddik

הלכות שבת ז:נה

("The Power of Aleph" by David Friedman)

The arba minim (four species) correspond to the letter א.  The myrtle and willow hint to the letters י and  ה (of Hashem's 4 lettered name), which are the "higher point", and the esrog parallels the final ה, which relates to both the "lower point" and to malchus.  The lulav parallels the letter  ו, which is the ו inside the א that binds the two points (the higher and lower).  Through the completeness of the letter א, the concept of "man (אדם)" is then achieved, for "there is no man without an alef."  Thus, the secret of man is included in the four species.
What one hopes to achieve through his service of Hashem is to draw down the splendor and beauty of the esrog, which corresponds to the final ה.  However, when it comes to the "higher point," which corresponds to Moshe and the true tzaddik, it is impossible to see such splendor and beauty , for we have no concept of what it could possibly be.  This is because the "face of Moshe is like the face of the sun," and at this time it is impossible to look at it.

Nachas HaShulchan Exclusive: Giving Strength to Holiness Through One's Clothing

שלחן ערוך, אורח חיים ב:ג

One should be particular to put on his garment as it is meant [to be worn], so as not to turn it inside-out.

("Joseph's Coat" by Shoshannah Brombacher)

הלכות לבישת בגדים
When a Torah scholar studies Torah he gives strength to the Kingdom of Holiness and thereby binds the letters chet and nun creating the word chen [grace]. Therefore, he must be very careful to make sure that his garment is not inside-out.  He must also be sure to wear shoes, for as our Sages explain, “ [the state of] one’s tefilln; [such is the state of] one’s shoes.”  After one is unable to receive the light of the intellect and the mind, which is a concept of the tefillin, via the letter nun, which is symbolic of malchus and one’s clothing, one must then be extremely careful with regards to the clothing he wears, particularly one’s shoes.   This is because the shoes are worn on the heel, which corresponds to lower spiritual levels.  This is the main place from where the evil kingdom of Esav is able to grasp [and draw its nourishment].

[From the precise details of the halachos pertaining to something as seemingly mundane as getting dressed] one is able to understand and see that everything has profound meaning and a great and holy reason behind it.  One must be very meticulous to do everything according to the [instructions and guidance] of the holy Torah.

Siach Sarfei Kodesh Sunday: Fast Davening and Impure Thought(s)

שיח שרפי קודש א:תרנח

(Painting by Marc Chagall)

Someone once asked Reb Nosson if he preferred to daven quickly so as not to have impure thoughts.  Reb Nosson answered: "One can pray quickly and still think about a single impure thought over the course of the entire davening! However, when one davens at a moderate pace he can at least have good thoughts in between..."

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Revealing Hashem Through the Esrog

הלכות יום כפור ב:ג

Our sages state that through the concept of "a crying maiden" does one merit a beautiful esrog.  The crying maiden relates to the idea of drawing down da'as to one's heart and body, meaning that one's deeds should be greater than his wisdom.  Through this the revelation of Hashem's Kingship is achieved.  Again, this occurs because malchus and the esrog are connected.  Furthermore, through what is mentioned above one draws down da'as to all six directions of the body...this permits a person to strive to do mitzvos and good deeds without any sophistication whatsoever.  And, by serving Hashem without any sophistication the ultimate revelation of Hashem's Kingship is achieved.  This is all through the splendor and beauty of the esrog.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Waiting in the Bush

הלכות ראש השנה ו:א
("The Blooming Ram" by Joan Miro)

The root of the power of the shofar on Rosh Hashannah is its relation to the shofar of the ram of Yitzchak. The ram of Yitzchak, which is the secret of the shofar, exists and is drawn down into the world only by the merits of those who pray, search, ask, and scream out to Hashem - those who ask, "Where (איה) is Your place of glory?" We see in the passage relating the Binding of Yitzchak that only after Yitzchak asked, "Where is the sacrificial lamb?" (Bereishis 22:7) did the ram actually come into being, so it could be offered upon the alter.  But, before this moment its horns were tangled up in a thorn bush.

Reb Noson is describing a fundamental idea in relating to Hashem during a time of distress.  The antidote to the poisons we've ingested are ready to be put to use.  But, it's up to us to call out to Him and ask for help. When we find ourselves in a bind our first move is to try to figure everything out on our own.  But, inevitably we see that we are unable to accomplish what we've set out to do.  The only thing left, which should have been the first step in the first place, is to call out to Hashem.  This is what Hashem wants from the beginning, but He is waiting for us to first ask where He is.  "Where is Your place of glory?" If it is here, then where are the yeshuos? At that moment Hashem reveals that where you're standing is the place of His glory, and suddenly the horns are untangled, the ram is put to use, and the tikun is complete.