Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Transcending Difficulty

Life is difficult.

This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it.

Once we truly know that life is difficult - once we truly understand and accept it - then life is no longer difficult.

Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.

M. Scott Peck
Source: The Road Less Traveled, 25th Anniversary Edition : A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth

The Power Of Chesed

The great gadol and tzadik, Rav Chaim Kreiswirth, the Chief Rabbi of Belgium, related that an act of chesed saved his life. 

One time the Jews were rounded up by the gestapo and each person was asked if he was a Jew. One person denied it [Rav Chaim said that he doesn't know if this person survived the war]. Rav Chaim affirmed that he was. So the Nazis told him to pray his last prayer because he is about to be killed. 

Rav Chaim asked Hashem to save him in the merit of his helping Yeshaya'le Mishna. A Nazi was told to take him to the forest and kill him there. On the way there, Rav Chaim asked the Nazi if it was right to kill young people. The Nazi said that it wasn't. He added that he himself has 3 children. He shot in the air and told Rav Chaim to run away.

Who was Rav Yeshayale Mishna? When Rav Chaim was 17 years old, he was giving shiurim in Warsaw and had a room with one bed. One time, the Grodzisker Rebbe sent to him a blind man named Reb Yeshay'le Mishna and asked to set him up with a place to stay so that he can undergo treatments for his eyes. Rav Chaim couldn't find him a place to stay so he gave up his own bed and slept on the cold floor for a few weeks until Reb Yeshaya received his treatment and was healed. 

Rav Chaim said that it was very difficult but he believes that in the zchus of this mitzva he was saved.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Happy Times

A post from many years ago....

Anybody who is: blue, blue funk, bummed out, cast down, crestfallen, crummy, dejected, depressed, discouraged, despondent, destroyed, disconsolate, dispirited, down, downcast, downhearted, dragged, fed up, glum, grim, hurting, in pain, let down, low, low down, low-spirited, lugubrious [what?], melancholy, moody, morose, pessimistic, ripped, sad, spiritless, taken down, torn up, unhappy, woebegone - you have ONE MORE DAY to "enjoy" yourself!!! Then it is all over. YOU MUST BE HAPPY!!!!!!!!!!

Adar is beginning. And that means SIMCHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Meeshe meeshe meeshe.......

Adar Is Here!

נכנס יין יצא סוד, ומאוד אנו צריכים בחיינו, שסודות הנעלמים יצאו ויתגלו. על ידי גלויים של הסודות נכיר את עצמנו, נכיר את מה שחבוי בקרבנו, בשעה שאנחנו נבוא לאותה הבחינה של"לבסומי עד דלא ידע" נפטר לפחות לשעה מכל אותן הידיעות המטעות אותנו המוליכות אותנו כשבויים ואין לפדות, כאסירים ואין להתיר, והידיעות המטעות הללו הן מסתירות ממנו את היסוד.

"נכנס יין, יצא סוד : Wine goes in and secrets come out." And this is something we greatly need in our lives - that the secrets be recognized and revealed. By these revelations of sodot we come to understand ourselves and to recognize what is concealed within us. When we reach the state ofbsumei ad d'lo yada, we are liberated, at least for a moment, from those deceptive yediot that lead us astray, drawing us on like captives who cannot be freed, like prisoners who cannot be released; this misleading knowledge conceals the yesod.

הבלא מפיק הבלא ובסומא מפיק בסומא, מבוסמים אנחנו יותר מדאי מדמיונות חיצוניים ובשביל כך אין אנו מרגישים את האמיתיות הפנימיות שלנו, את סוד האמת. סבורים אנחנו, שבחכמתנו ובפקחות הפקחים שבנו באנו עד הלום, להיות לנו על כל פנים יתד וגדר ביהודה, אתחלתא כל שהיא לאתחלתא דאתחלתא לגאולה, ואנו שוכחים, כי לולא יד ד' בעל מלחמות זורע צדקות ומצמיח ישועות לא היו כל מפעלותינו פועלות מאומה, שוכחים אנו, שהיד הסודית הזאת, זאת היא כל המפעל. שכורים אנחנו מביסומים שיש בהם כדי הטעיה, ובשביל כך אין אנו שמים אל לבנו את חשבונו של העולם הגדול, של אותו העולם, שאדון עולם מנהיגו ואנחנו יש לנו עמו ברית כרותה באלה ובשבועה, ברית מלח עולם, השומר על רוח ישראל ונצחו.

Heat displaces heat, and besuma (drunkenness) displaces besuma. We are too intoxicated by external illusions, and so we do not experience our own internal truth, the secret truth. We feel that with our wisdom and with the intelligence of the brilliant people among us, we have approached this point, the tip of the very edge of the beginning of the geula, and we forget that if not for the hand of Hashem, the baal milchamot, zoreia tzedakot u'matzmiach yeshuot, our actions would be meaningless; we forget that this hidden hand is the real Cause.

We are drunk on bisumim (intoxicants) that cause us to err, and so we do not take into consideration the cheshbon of the world at large, that same world that is guided by the Master of the Universe, with Whom we have a sealed covenant (b'aleh u'b'shvua, brit melach olam), the Guardian of the spirit of Israel and its eternity.

ואותות ישנם בינו ובינינו והאותות לא יעברו מאתנו, לא יעברו מפנימיותנו, מעצם הוייתנו, אות ברית קודש אשר בבשרנו אות עולם הוא, וגם ערלי ישראל נקראים מולים, מפני שכוח הברית הרי הוא מונח בעצמיותנו, ובשביל כך לא תועיל כל השתמטות, כל התנכרות, גם אם עד הדיוטה התחתונה ירד היורד במורד, לא יוכל להחליף את עורו, את גופו ואת נפשו. ודאי הרבה יסבול,הרבה תלאות וחרפות נוראות ישא עד אשר ישוב אל אותה המחנה, מחנה ישראל, אשר עמה הוא קשור באמת, עד אשר ישוב אל הברית הכרותה ברוח ובבשר, ושב ורפא לו .

And there are signs between Him and us, and these signs will not leave us, they will not pass away from our pnimiut, from the core of our being; the sign of the brit kodesh which is sealed in our flesh is eternal, and even the uncircumcised among Israel are called circumcised, for the koach habrit is embedded in our essence. All evasions and all distancing will have no effect; even if one lowers himself to the very lowest level, he cannot change his skin, his body and his nefesh. Certainly he will suffer many hardships, and there will be much disgrace for him to bear, until he will return to that camp, the machaneh yisrael, with which he is truly connected; until he will return to the covenant sealed in spirit and flesh, return and be healed.

אות השבת הוא גם כן חתום בהאופי העצמי שלנו. לא יחשבו מחלליו אשר ממנו יצאו, שיוכלו לכחד את האות הזה מהם, חתום הוא גם כן במעמקי נשמתם. כל הוייתם הפנימית דורשת מהם את ההתגלות של האות. הנשמה המתעלפת בתוכיותה היא סובלת את מכאוביה, וסוף כל סוף היא תנצח, אחרי סבל מרובה הכל מוכרח לשוב אל מקורו. "ושמרו בני ישראל את השבת", וכל זמן שאינם שבים אל המקור נגד עצמם הם נלחמים, את עצמם הם מכים ובוזים.

The sign of שבת, too, is engraved upon our essential character. Its desecrators should not think that they have left it, that they can deny this sign; it, too, is engraved into the depths of their souls. Their entire inner being begs them for expression of this sign. The soul languishing within them bears her pain, and in the end of it all she will be victorious; after such suffering, the whole [self] will be forced to return to its sourced. "ושמרו בני ישראל את השבת" - and throughout the time that they are not returning to the source, they are at war with themselves; they are striking and disgracing themselves.

יהיו לנו ימי הפורים הבאים עלינו לטובה, הימים אשר ברצון קבלנו עלינו את זאת התורה, אשר מני אז קבלנוה על ידי "כפיית הר כגיגית". יהיו לנו אלו הימים בכל תפיסתם הכוללת, ימים אשר האמרה של "לך כנוס את כל היהודים" צריכה להיות מצלצלת באזנינו בצלצלי שמעלימים שתפרוץ אצלנו ממחבואה היהודי, התודעה הפנימית שלנו והתודעה הבאה מתוך מצפונה של הנשמה החבויה בכל נפש מישראל בקרבה פנימה החסינה יותר מכל עזותן של ההעזות היותר חצופות, הבאות מתוך הגאוה הנבובה של הידיעות המטעות שהן מסבבות אותנו. נערטל את עצמנו פעם מכל אלה הידיעות אשר גם בהיותנו מדברים על דבר ענינינו הכלליים, גם בשעה שאנו אויבים את אויבינו ואנו אוהבים את אוהבינו, גם בשעה שאנו עומדים על ההכרה של איבת העולם אשר לנגדנו מכל ההמנים שבכל הדורות ובשעה שאנו מתמלאים אהבה לכל המצילים והמגינים שלנו, לכל המרדכיים שבכל הזמנים גם אז יאפילו עלינו הידיעות המטעות את האור הבהיר. גם אז אנחנו חושבים בחובנו על דבר נצחונות פעוטים של כתה כלפי כתה, של מפלגה כלפי מפלגה. גם אז אנו מנוגעים בעקשנות לקחת את הטפל ולזרוק את העיקר, לדבר רק על דבר קנינים פרטיים,מפעלים של זעיר שם וזעיר שם, של צו לצו וקו לקו, ואנו שוכחים את סוד הגבורה והתפארת העליונה המעטרת אותנו, החבויה בתוכיות נשמתנו, התובעת ממנו את עלבונה והמרעישה את כל יסודי עולם כדי להחיש את גאולתנו השלמה, אשר רק על ידה יראו כל אפסי ארץ ישועת אלקינו

יהיו לנו ימי הפורים הבאים עלינו לטובה, הימים אשר ברצון קבלנו עלינו את זאת התורה, אשר מני אז קבלנוה על ידי "כפיית הר כגיגית".

Let these days of Purim - may they come upon us for the good, the days in which we accepted the torah upon ourselves willingly, as until that time we had only accepted it under pressure (על ידי כפיית הר כגיגית)

יהיו לנו אלו הימים בכל תפיסתם הכוללת, ימים אשר האמרה של "לך כנוס את כל היהודים" צריכה להיות מצלצלת באזנינו בצלצלי שמע לימים שתפרוץ אצלנו ממחבואה היהודי, התודעה הפנימית שלנו והתודעה הבאה מתוך מצפונה של הנשמה החבויה בכל נפש מישראל בקרבה פנימה החסינה יותר מכל עזותן של ההעזות היותר חצופות,

Let them be for us days with all that must include days in which the call of "לך כנוס את כל היהודים", Go, gather the Jews together, must ring in our ears (בצלצלי שמע) for days that will break us out of the ממחבואה היהודי - our hidden jewish essence our internal consciousness and the consciousness that comes from within the neshama hidden within every Jew, protected from the brazenness that emanates from the superficial arrogance of the misleading yediot that surround us באות מתוך הגאוה הנבובה של הידיעות המטעות שהן מסבבות אותנו..

[עפ"י מאמרי הראי"ה]


Cheap Parking

A Jewish man walked into a bank and asked to speak to the the loan officer. He told the loan officer that he was going to Israel on business for two weeks and needed to borrow $5,000. The bank officer told him that the bank would need some form of security for the loan.

The Jewish man handed over the keys to a new Ferrari parked on the street in front of the bank. He produced the title and everything checked out. The loan officer agreed to accept the car as collateral for the loan.

The bank's president and its officers all enjoyed a good laugh at the Jewish man for using a $250,000 Ferrari as collateral against a $5,000 loan.

An employee of the bank then drove the Ferrari into the bank's underground garage and parked it there.

Two weeks later, the Jewish man returned, repaid the $5,000 and the interest, which came to $15.41.

The loan officer said, "Sir, we are very happy to have had your business, and this transaction has worked out very nicely, but we are a little puzzled. While you were away, we checked you out and found that you are a multimillionaire. What puzzles us is, why would you bother to borrow $5,000?"

The Jewish man replied: "Where else in New York City can I park my car for two weeks for only $15.41 and expect it to be there when I return?"

Mishpatim - Recycling The Soul

R' Brazil 

The Zohar Hakodosh comments on this first passuk that here lie the orders of gilgul – reincarnation. The Baal Shem Tov explains the Zohar’s comment with a parable. A wealthy man was riding on his horse when he came to a river. He got off his horse to drink from the water and unknowingly dropped a purse of money on the ground. After he left another individual came to the same spot and found the purse taking it and leaving. Subsequently, a poor person arrived at the scene and decided to rest there for a few minutes. When the wealthy man realized that he lost the purse while drinking from the river, he returned to the spot. Upon seeing the poor person he assumed that it was him who took his purse and therefore demanded its return. The innocent accused responded with total unawareness and responsibility of the accusation. The wealthy man did not believe him and he began hitting him with his whip. Finally realizing that he was not going to get a confession from the poor person, the wealthy man gave up hope and rode away.

The Baal Shem Tov explained that at first glance the judgment that occurred in this episode seems incorrect and unfair. However, if we truly understood all the events that occurred way before this scenario, then we will realize that every detail screams of truth. For in reality, the wealthy man in a previous life once borrowed money from the second individual, the finder of the money purse. When he was brought to court for his refusal to pay, the judge in the case which was reincarnated in the poor man of the story, favored a prejudiced decision for the defendant. Now with a fresh understanding of the story in the light of what transpired in previous lives, we will realize that the outcome was perfect judgment. The finder of the purse who was the plaintiff received the money that was owed to him by the defendant and the judge who favored wrongly the defendant was beaten up for allowing his favoritism to effect his verdict.

The Baal Shem Tov continues to explain that this issue of gilgulim has a direct meaning with the beginning of the parsha which deals with monetary issues. For instance, if in a court case one was judged guilty even though he knows one hundred percent for sure that he is totally correct and the other litigant is definably lying beyond a shadow of a doubt, he should nevertheless restrain from questionin the passuk that declares that Hashem is present and stands amongst the judges during the passing of the judgment. Well how can that be if the judgment is absolutely not the emes? However the reasoning is just to the opposite. Specifically because Hashem is present during the judgment, is the psak the ultimate emes that only Hashem could make happen. For the true story behind the story is that you unknowingly owed this person that amount of money in a previous lifetime and you never payed. The one who receives the money by presenting a false claim will be punished for that particular act, but not for receiving the money that was really owed to him in a previous gilgul.

Now with the Zohar and the interpretation of the Baal Shem Tov we can understand the hint of the end letters of the first passuk which spells מרמה. The Torah is relating to us that even though on the outside the litigant received your money through deceit, nevertheless the judgment upon you was absolutely truthful. How so? The Zohar answers that when we understand the secret of gilgul we will also understand why the judgment came out the way it did even though it appears to be false.

Yet there is still a deeper meaning to the last letters hinting to mirmah. In Tehillim [24,4] which is also the “shiras hayom” of the first day of the week נקי כפים ובר לבב אשר לא נשא לשוא נפשי ולא נשבע למרמה. That the individual who did not steal and has clarity of heart, who did not carry my soul in vein, and he did not swear falsely will climb the mountain of Hashem and remain there. The mefarshim ask why does the merit of not swearing falsely fit in with the other ones which seem so much more challenging? The answer that is given is that the passuk is not referring to swearing in court but rather to the gemarrah in the end of Niddah that talks about the moment that the neshama descends into this world that it is made to swear that it will be a tzaddik and not a rasha. It is this madraigah and merit that the passuk refers to when it says he did not swear falsely. With this interpretation, the stakes have radically changed for we are now dealing with the essence of life’s all enveloping and never ending challenge.

Hashem desires very much that we should be successful in fulfilling that oath even to the point that He is willing to bring us back into this world many more times in order to “tag up the bases”. This recycling of the neshama is for the purpose to erase the “mirmah” that cleaves to the neshama that has not yet had a virtuous life of avodas Hashem. It is therefore that this word of “mirmah” is hinted in this first passuk of ואלה המשפטים אשר תשים. This message is alluded in the word following these four - לפניהם which is gematriah 216. This is the same gematriah asהוא צדיק . The purpose of the mishpatim is to fulfill the oath and ensure he becomes the tzaddik he swore to be. Just as in the parable of the Baal Shem Tov, we are brought back again and again allowed many chances to rectify all the wrongs we committed and omitted, and make a final closure in the fulfilling of that oath that our neshama took upon itself as it descended into this world.

If Hashem gives everyone another chance to make good and rectify our faults, then following in Hashem’s middos we too should give second and third chances to all those who wronged us, to make up and have shalom dwell amongst Klal Yisrael

Sunday, February 7, 2016

What Is More Important?

It was 1991 and I was learning in Chaim Berlin in Flatbush. The Giants were playing the Bills in the Super Bowl. I had a choice. Learning Torah [Maseches Gittin!] or watching  the game. 

I made a decision that impacted the rest of my life. 

I went to learn. 

This act symbolized, that strange as it may sound - spirituality, tradition, principles, obligations, beliefs etc. etc. are somehow more important to me than watching goyim spend three plus hours trying to knock each others already damaged brains out of their heads. 

I recently gave a gemara shiur somewhere and before delving into the nuances of the nature of the obligation to circumcise one's son, I tried to convince the young men that nothing bad will happen if they miss the game.

I don't think I convinced anyone... I, for one, am convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt. 

טוב לי תורת פיך מאלפי זהב וכסף!!