SEFER AZ NIDBERU – אז נדברו
Transcribing the Torah of Rav Asher Zelig ben Yirmiyahu HaKohen Rubenstein zt”l
by: Rabbi Yosef Tropper
As the Talmidim of Rav Asher zt”l we have heard thousands of his shmusen and fondly remember his powerful and uplifting style in presenting authentic Torah ideas. My goal is to capture his style, his eloquence and his passion. Rebbe always spoke about the importance of emunah, hasmada and about overcoming the Yetzer Harah who is the greatest liar and enemy in this world. Many of us have gained immeasurably from Rebbe’s influence and this important project will help write down and share his derech with the world. Rav Aharon Feldman shlit”a met with the talmidim of Rav Asher and shared with us his deep soul connection to our rebbe. He strongly urged us to write down his Torah and spread it between the talmidim and beyond. It should be noted that although I have tried my best to maintain the integrity and unique language of Rebbe’s message and intentions please know that all mistakes are mine and should not reflect upon his message. Transcription took place according to the best of my understanding. Rebbe rejoiced when he had achieved the status of having heard and understood Rav Chatzkal’s words after 40 years time (which is the time Chazal prescribe to best grasp daas rabo), I certainly fall short of that mark.
Special thank you to Reb Zecharia Feldman for his transcribing of sefer Bamidbar. He was a close and dear talmid of rebbe.
I called this sefer Az Nidberu for five main reasons:
1- AZ (אז נדברו) contains and stands for Rebbe’s initials Rav Asher Zelig Rubenstein zt”l.
2- The verse in Malachai 3:16 states, “Az Nidberu Yirei Hashem eish es reiahu, vayakshev Hashem vayishma, vayikasev sefer zikaron lifanav, liyirei Hashem ulichosvei shemo. This verse embodies Rebbe’s lifelong goal of spreading Torah and Yiras Shamayim. It also refers to the affectionate relationship of one man to his friend which represents the love and warmth which Rebbe shared with us. He always said, “We’re all friends here, we can share some emes.”
3- The verse hints to the important aspect of Chosvei shemo- those who think about Hashem- this was Rebbe’s goal to instill in us (see Kiddushin 40a).
4- The verse tells us that Hashem writes down our every action (see Avos Perek 3). Rebbe was fond of sharing the concept of the two videos. When a person leaves this world he will be shown one video of what he could have become and one reflecting what he actually accomplished. Rebbe explained that our goal in life is to bring out our potential. I was moved to hear that Rebbe’s son mentioned this concept at the levaya. Rebbe taught it to his family and talmidim alike and he lived it.
5- Chazal tell us that Az refers to Shira, song as in Az Yashir (Midrash Tanchuma 32). Rebbe’s life was a song of praise and enjoyment of Hashem’s world. Also, Az means emunah and simcha (Shemos Rabbah 23). These were traits that embodied Rebbe.
As I begin to sort thru hundreds of tapes I hope BE”H to post my summaries here for all to benefit from.
If you are able to support this project either with transcribing or financially, please contact me.
Table of Contents
Shmooz 1: Full Faith – Parshas Lech Lecha (5764/2003)
Shmooz 2: The Real You – Parshas Vayeira (5764/2003)
Shmooz 3: Man or Dirt- Divine Help – Parshas Chayei Sarah (5764/2003)
Shmooz 4: Salvation Thru Torah – Parshas Toldos (5764/2003)
Shmooz 5: No Barriers Before Hashem – Parshas Vayeitzei (5764/2003)
Shmooz 6: Fear of Olam Hazeh – Parshas Vayishlach (5764/2003)
Shmooz 7: Maturity in Torah – Parshas Vayeishev (5764/2003)
Shmooz 8: The Puppet Master – Parshas Mikeitz (5764/2003)
Shmooz 9: Pure Torah – Parshas Vayechi (5764/2003)
Vaad 1: Shalom Bayis
Sefer Az Nidberu
Shmooz 1: Full Faith – Parshas Lech Lecha (5764/2003)
1. Emunah is what brought Avraham to live a life of purity. How much do we believe, would we pass the test? Exploring the parsha shows us how to pass and how to avoid failures.
2. [Everyone has a Chumash in front of them.] Noach built an Ark for 120 years and Hashem spoke to him, but he needed to be pushed to enter the Ark because as Rashi says he was from “kitaney Emunah, maamin, vaino maamin.” I believe that his “aino maamin” was stronger because if he believed more he should have at least entered the Ark. He declared maamin on the outside, but on the inside he didn’t fully believe.
We are all officially maaminim, we wear a yarmulka put on tefillin, we go through the motions, but is there a part of us that is aino maamin. This is the alef-beis of what emunah is.
3. The mitzvah of emunah is the most important in the Torah. This mitzvah doesn’t seem to make any sense. If I don’t believe, then how can you tell me that I must believe?! This mitzvah is speaking to the one who believes on the outside only. He needs to internalize the emunah in his heart. This is for mature people only. Very few people alive understand this concept. Five years by Rav Chatzkal hammers this in.
4. I spoke to the women in Gateshead, England and spoke about the topic of: There is a Rebono Shel Olam. Rebbetzin Rakov was there and she told over my shmooz to her husband. When I visited Rav Betzalel Rakov zt”l the next morning he said, Rav Asher I want to thank you, we have had hundred of darshanim come thru our city but you are the first one to have the haazah to talk about this most important topic! I responded with Rav Wolbe’s story that Rav Chatzkal told him, “the major task of a mashgiach is to tell your talmidim that there is a Rebbono shel Olam.” Rav Wolbe said, “at first I was insulted, what are you accusing my top talmidim of lacking?! But as I got older I saw how right he was.” Rabbi Rakov responded that when I visited Rav Chatzkal at a magid shiur in Manton he told me, “the major task of a magid shiur is to tell your talmidim that there is a Rebbono shel Olam.”
5. Rashi brings down the Midrash about Haran who died in front of his father. I apologize if you’ve heard this story 25 times, but it is Torah. Terech our alter zaideh was an idol worshiper and he owned Terach’s idol superstore. He left Avraham in charge for a day. Someone came to purchase an idol and Avraham asked him how old are you? “I am 60” How foolish you are that a 60 year old is bowing to a 1 day old freshly made idol. They left embarrassed. One woman came in, she wanted to leave food for the idols. She left it and Avraham went and chopped down every idol leaving one axe in the hand of the largest one. Terach came and saw the catastrophe and asked Avraham, “what in the world happened?” Avraham response that the idols were all fighting over the food and this is the result. Terach yelled, that is ridiculous, they cannot move or talk?! Avraham said, “tatty, listen to what you are saying, they are worthless, why are you serving them?!” Terach took his denying son to King Nimrod to be punished. Nimrod said bow to fire. Avraham replied, but the water puts it out. “Okay bow to the water.” “But- the clouds carry the water.” Bow to cloud. But the wind moves them. So bow to wind. Man stands against the wind… fire destroys him. Nimrod lost it and said, I bow to the fire my god, I will throw you into my god and let’s see if your God saves you. Haran watched the entire event. He was unsure who to follow. He had heard Avraham’s arguments and heard Terach’s opinion but was still unsure. He said, I will see what happens to Avraham and decide then. After Avraham was saved, Nimrod asked Haran, whose side are you on? Haran said, I follow Avraham! He was mikadesh shem shamayim and thrown into the fire. He emerged untouched, Haran walked out over to his father and then dropped dead. He died before Terach his father. What happened? His intestines were charred. What is going on here? The Pshat is that Haran was a maamin vaino maamin, he believed externally in his mind, but internally, it was not in his insides, his heart and thus his outside was protected and unburned, but his insides were vulnerable and that is what the fire consumed. The standard we seek is to be like Avraham- a maamin on the inside and outside. How do we reach this level?
6. Rambam tells us the history of how idolatry developed. When Avraham was three he began to think about how the world could run without a Manhig with seasons and order. He worked to achieve understanding. Emunah is common sense, any objective person can come to this simple understanding, it is even required of every goy as one of the sheva mitzvos. As Avraham worked to understand he asked questions such as does this God work within nature or beyond. Now in our parsha there was a famine in Canaan, the place that Hashem had sent him to and Avraham left to go to Egypt. Ramban says this was a sin that caused the Jews to have to go to Egypt. “Chait chatah bishogeg,” Avraham should have realized that if Hashem sent him to Canaan then He could support him there, and thus the lesson of Hashem being outside of teva had to be learned in Egypt. Avraham realized his mistake and repented. When Hashem told him he would have a son, Avraham asked, “but the stars show against this?” Hashem responded, “leave your star gazing.” The opinion of Yesh mazal l’yisrael means that the beginning of world events for Jews begins with mazal whereas the opinion of ain mazel l’yisrael means that mazal doesn’t even begin for Jews. Hashem told Avraham, “your mind ties you down, lift yourself above it. The mazal is only a deception, it makes you turn to Hashem in prayer.” It is only a deceptive mirage. Whatever your opinion, either the mazal means nothing, or Hashem will override the mazal. Avraham learned that nature dictates: no children; but the knowledge that Hashem provides will bring him a child.
7. Vehemin beHashem, why was he rewarded for simply believing what Hashem told him? Avraham connected to the Creator of the world and pushed away all his natural calculations and thus was rewarded. This is how Yitzchok was born and that is the theme of the Jewish nation. That is real emunah.
8. Avraham saved Lot and the King of Sedom tells him, you won the war, keep the money and give me back my nation (Berishis 14:21). Avraham said I will not take even a shoelace lest you say that I made you rich, Hashem promised to make me rich. The famous question is that perhaps this was Hashem’s way of giving him the money (like the man who refuses to be saved from water)? Avraham wanted the wealth only via nes, miracle so that no one could deny it. Avraham knew that only birchas Hashem hee tashir. Avraham worked on his emunah and he knew that only Hashem provides in the greatest way possible.
9. You can tell if someone has emunah by if they are a happy person, there is a twinkle in his eye. Chazon Ish: “There is no sadness on earth for one who has emunah in Hashem.” Hashem loves me, this may be painful, but Hashem did it and I accept. Rav Yisrael Salanter shocked his students by saying that we all need to work on our emunah. Emunah is that I can sit and learn Torah my whole life even though I don’t see any way for parnasha. Hashem told Elezar to put away a stash of mann to show that one who learns Torah will be supported by Hashem. There is no other guarantee in life.
10. The Alter of Kelm’s son-in-law (menahel of Kelm Yeshiva) said about Rav Chatzkal that even his fingernails have emunah. It should be clear in our hearts and minds. Tamim tehyeh means despite what our eyes see, we follow and believe in Hashem. Rambam continues that Avraham began to show others the truth and they threatened to kill him and so Hashem saved him and brought him to Or Casdim. Avraham cried out and shared emunah with the world. He would go to town square and would explain it to each person according to their understanding. He gathered students, taught thousands and wrote seforim. When will we reach the levels of the avos? Avraham internalized emunah and he spread it.
11. One who believes shares this with others. Rav Chatzkal spent his life internalizing and spreading emunah to the world. Ahraham had it easier than us, he dealt with deniers who could be convinced, but we deal with people who think they are maaminim but if they have not worked and learned about emunah they are by default ainam maaminim. Are you ready to go into the kivshan haeish, for a one million dollar reward if you walk out alive?! The truth is that you are in that furnace of fire in this world filled with stress, kefirah, teva, kochi v’otzem yadi and vulnerability. We need emunah to protect us.
12. Arachim offers weekend seminars for intellectual academic kofrim. The main part is the debate after the lecture. At 3 am one participant came to the recognition that there is a Rebbono Shel Olam. He ran to tell his wife and woke her up. Can’t this wait till morning, she asked. “You have to know right now that there is a RBS”O, you can’t sleep until you know!” (Heard from Rav Uri Zohar). A true maamin is so heated up inside that he must tell everyone.
13. Every shmooz from Rav Shach was about emunah. He was a person who stated that darshonim need to focus on emunah and not newfangled ideas that lo shomu avosienu. Rav Shach was drinking hot water and adding honey. Making a shehakol on the honey he began to cry. What’s the matter? I am so exited that I see the RBS”O thru contemplating how the honey was made and got to him thru Hashem. This is how he and the gedolei olam looked at the world.
14. This topic is very unpopular, he was called HaIvri, Avraham mayever eched vchol haolam b’ever acher. Today many Bnei Torah are on the other side and do not appreciate the message of Avraham. Rav Chatzkal said mibsari echza elokah, from my fingers I see Hashem, the fingers are set up with 4 and a thumb to be most useful. This is what it means to life with emunah and to internalize emunah. We strive to be maaminim bnei maaminim and to share with the world.
Shmooz 2: The Real You – Parshas Vayeira (5764/2003)
1. Madriagas Adam (Alter of Navardok, 1847-1919) talks about a clock that always has the correct time, because someone keeps moving the hands. Does it work? Of course not! What does this have to do with the parsha? We shall see. Are you really a ben Torah or are there outside hands that keep you going? Parents, a yeshiva, the framework. What do you have inside? Yishmael grew up by himself in Avraham’s house until Yitzchok came. Did Avraham succeed? Yes, he taught him emunah in One God. Today, the biggest and strongest believers after the Jews are the Arabs, Ala Wachad, One God. They also learned Tefillah- from Yishmael, his name is about prayer. Hachnasas Orchim is in their blood. Could Avraham fix the perah adam of Yismael, that did not happen.
2. Yishmael was mitzchek, he would joke around, about giloy arayos, shfichas damim and arayos (Rashi). Avraham held that he doesn’t act on it, he only talks about it so he can stay. But Sarah said, remove this son of the maidservant because his inside is rotten and he is a negative influence on my Yitzchok. Rav Aharon Kutler (1891-1962) explained that Sarah stated that because Yishmael is evil on the inside this is more dangerous than kicking him out and allowing him to be evil on inside and outside which Avraham was worried about. Sarah stated that the tzaddik Yitzchok should not have to suffer and be slowed down by Yishmael and Hashem stated that Sarah is correct, “listen to her voice.”
3. What you read and listen to is an expression of what you do on your free time, your mitzachek is the real you, outside of what the yeshiva makes you do regarding learning and davening. This is the lesson of Yishmael.
4. Next came Lot, Avraham’s nephew who lived in his home. He learned hachnasas orchim from Avraham and gave up his daughters to save his guests (he lacked the ability to apply the lessons). Avraham separates from Lot. Lot sees Tzohar- Lot chose to go there because they were shitufey zima and he ended up doing a maaseh with his sister. Vayisa Lot- Midrash Agadah- he left HKB”H- I don’t want Avraham or his God. This Midrash Agadah shows us the inner reason as to why people do things. We are motivated by: 1- real reason 2- excuse. Why did Lot chose to go near Sdom, kulo mashkeh- it’s fertile land, I am practical and justified. The Midrash Agadah tells us the real motivation for Lot’s action- to get away from Lot and to be near Shitufey Zimah. Why do people go back to Chutz Le’Aretz? If we’re close I ask you, what does the Midrash Agadah say? Is it because of Shitufey Zimah? I know the real reason. Chaim is one of the most honest people. He said, I should definitely stay another year learning in E”Y but I miss the 9am Sunday minyan and after that I get Sunday comics, bagels, cream cheese and lox. I hugged him for being so honest.
5. Don’t fool yourself. The Alter from Slabotka was going to Keningsberg, Germany to have an eye operation. Someone heard his rebbe was going and asked him why. The Alter said I’m going to see a push button umbrella that I once saw in the window in that city. The man looked at him to show he did not understand. The Alter explained that he needs an eye operation and the doctor and him discussed his two options of either going to Germany or having it done in Russia. We came out that it was better to have it done in Germany but I question my motivation for picking that city and I am admitting that I may have been influenced because of my fascination with that umbrella.
6. Ask yourself, what motivates you; What makes me tick? Does anyone here want to be like Lot? What about Hagar. She was used to seeing malachim. When she was kicked out of Avraham’s house, she went back to worship idols. How could she do this after living with Avraham and seeing angels? The answer is: The old ways never left her and were never uprooted, she only went through the motions as a member of Avraham’s house, she looked like a tzaddekes, davened 3x a day and said tehillim all day, and so when she left, she reverted to her true self. Rabbosi, do you have any idea what it means to leave Yeshiva, do you think your past is behind you, perhaps your actions are the past, but your giluley beis aviah are still there. You need to make sure not to feed it- the shoresh poreh rosh v’lana- poisonous roots that can destroy us. If the roots are there when they are sprinkled water they come back to life again. One book, one song that should have been avoided, brings them back to life. This is the lesson of Lot, Yishmael and Hagar, their deep evil roots that was never removed.
7. Make your clock tick from within. People think we are very strict in this yeshiva, that is incorrect, we don’t tell you what to do, we want you to learn to do the correct thing intrinsically. How do you do this? Hashem says how can I not tell Avraham that I plan to destroy Sedom, this is because I love him because he shared my Name with his family. Lech Lecha- Iihanascha ulitovascha, I want to give you the greatest reward, for your benefit. You will be great. Avraham taught his children that the only way to have a happy and successful life is to follow Hashem. Our favorite topic here is that Hashem’s one request is, “Ashrecha bo”hz and tov lach in o”hb. Please give Me the maximum ability to give you the most pleasure in this world and the next.” We all want olam hazeh and that is the only message that we can give our children in order to guarantee they will follow in this path.
8. I wonder how many people in the room understand the depth of what I am saying. It is kidai if only one person here understands what we are talking about. The question here is that we are told in Avos to serve Hashem as servants who do not care to get reward, so how can Avraham command his children to follow Hashem because of the great reward He offers. Now, Tosfos Yom Tom answers that the level of the mishna is a high madraiga but the lower one is permitted and a starting point- to know that Hashem provides reward. Ohr HaChaim talks about this madraiga when he asks, why does the Torah have to tell us that Avraham went as Hashem commanded him, even a fool would go when offered that great reward. Avraham didn’t go for the reward, he went to fulfill the command of Hashem. The Vilna Goan and Rav Chaim Volozin his student both explain that chinuch must begin with lehanascha ulitovascha- to know the great reward that Hashem gives reward.
9. The Alter of Navardok heard that someone sold his entire olam habah to a mocher esrog to buy the only available set. They made a shtar and it became a big commotion. The Alter commented, that doesn’t impress me, how much Olam HaZeh would he be willing to pay for it? Olam Habah is not appreciated by people. We Are Olam Hazeh people and need to focus on how much the good the Torah brings us in this world. The Baalei Mussar are tuned into reality. When you want a good life, a good marriage good children, the only way to get it is to turn to Hashem and know that He will give you this greatness. That is the only way to overcome our roots from the past. Life and enjoyment is too important to me than to blow it on foolish things. I daven and learn for my success. I can only get the good from following Hashem. This motivates one to do his avoda on his own volition, this makes him tick internally.
10. He wants to give you, lizakos es yisrael, lifikach hirbah lahem. Give Him nachas in order so that he can give to you. Vilna Goan (Iggerres HaGra) begin to train children by giving them prizes. As he matures the prizes become even bigger. It becomes his life, his health, a good wife, good children. The next level is now to give nachas to Hashem to allow him to give you (RL”Y of Barditchuv). The first command given to our avos was Lech Lecha- go for your own sake, the avoda begins with a recognition about the benefits you will get for following derech Hashem.
11. So what did we learn today? We looked at the pnimiyus of Yishmael, Lot and Hagar and about questioning our motivations. At least be honest with the reasons that you are making your decisions. Examples: There is a wedding in Teveria. My mother has a friend whose neighbor’s grandson’s friend is getting married and probably many people won’t be there. There is a pidyon petter chamor in the Galil. You can ask permission to go, but you need to ask yourself, what is your motivation. At least don’t fool yourself! Ask yourself, what does the Midrash Agadah say?
Shmooz 3: Man or Dirt – Divine Help – Parshas Chayei Sarah (5764/2003)
1. Chazal tell us all about the greedy Efron a nivhal lehon- money hungry vlo yada ki chaser yivoenu- he didn’t realize he would lose out. Everything in the Torah is a mirror for us to learn from. Efron lost out because he lost a vav in his name. Do you think that Efron cared?! Mr Efron if you go through with this transaction you will get 400 shekel kodesh but the Jew’s Torah will put your name missing a vav, which do you want?! Give me the money and take out my entire name, I don’t care! His name spelled without the vav makes him Afran- a piece of dirt. Efron was on enough of a level that he also cared because this was the ultimate insult.
2. We are all Adam, adama, dirt with a soul that is from Hashem above. Which one are we? If your neshama rules you are a soul, but if your taavos rule, you are a piece of dirt. This gets us thinking about how we spend our own lives. Throughout the day we act with spiritual ideals and animalistic dirt actions. The first time Efron’s name appears is with that vav which is a letter from Hashem’s name because he was acting with generosity. When you sit down and eat lunch did you enhance your chelek elokah mimal (Shulchan Aruch 231) or did you enhance the dirt part? Even Efron would have declined the money so as not to lose his animal part. What if you transformed back and forth based on your choices you would turn human, animal, human animal based on your choices, we would be embarrassed.
3. Rav Chatzkel used to say, “Vayehi ha’adam linefesh chaya, stay human!” Your goal should be to remain cognizant to never turn into a piece of dirt! There was a man, ish kadosh norah names Rav Avigdor Miller ztvk”l who enjoyed eating an apple more than anyone else in the world, he would hold the apple and explain, “Father in Heaven, how much wisdom You invested into this creation, how delicious Your gift to us is.” He was deeply connected to Hashem thru that apple. This is the reason for the arichus of the parsha of Efron. What are we nivhal for, desiring deeply- fancy car, money, food? The Torah writes about it so we should think about it.
4. “Vatakum haSadeh, the land was elevated (see Rashi). A piece of earth now became holy because it went into the possession of Avraham Aveinu. The briah is elevated when used by a tzaddik for avodas Hashem (Mesilas Yesharim). That’s one story, cute story. When we learn how to read some Chumash we will enjoy the stories being shared with us.
5. Perek 24: “Avraham was old, coming in days…” See Ramban there about bakol- chemdas kol ha’adam (wow). We will continue what we spoke about last week because this is tied in. Eliezer was instructed to find wife for Yitzchok. Eliezer is described as having the hadras panim similar to Avraham Aveinu, can we even imagine such a thing, we visit Rav Chaim Kanievsky and Rav Michel Feinstein and see hadras panim, we can’t even imagine that of Avraham. Eliezer also is the trusted servant and the one who drinks up his master’s Torah and shares it with others. Yet, Avraham makes him take a shvuah d’oreisa about his mission. The Midrash says “Canaan b’yado maznei mirma, Eliezer held a scale of trickery and he was weighing whether his daughter can be fit for Yitzchok.”
6. Last week we spoke about being aware of our negios and the Midrash Agadah which calls attention to our true motivations (Lot’s choice of Sedom etc.). Mesilas Yesharim discusses this in two main places. Those who suffer from atzlus, laziness justify their laziness with claims of being l’shem shamayim. “I know it’s not nice to take his portion, but it will help me learn seder sheini better…” (The older bachrim (3rd year and up) know Mesilas Yesharim baal peh!) “When it comes to excuses lazy people are geniuses! When you question the atzel he is prepared with answers from dozens of maamarei chazal. Chacham atzel beinav meyshiva meyshivei taam. You must check and question your justifications.” This is why Avraham made Eliezer swear to make sure that his biases would not get in the way.
7. Rashi says that the word “uli, perhaps the girl will not want to go with me back to Yitzchok” is spelled chaser vav, to connote: aily- to me is a daughter. This only appears when Eliezer is telling over the story to Rivka’s family, but not at the beginning of the parsha when he actually says it first, why is it only spelled chaser at the end? The accepted answer (in name of Vilna Goan) is that the first time Eliezer said it he himself was not aware of his negiah; it was only after Rivka was found and it was all over, Eliezer realized why Avraham made him swear because he was blinded. Eliezer was a great person and only now realized his bias. The aily selfish nature is in all of us and one that we cannot overcome on our own. We should be afraid of it lest he make the incorrect decisions. Ask someone else to answer you, either an adam gadol or for small sheilos to a friend. But the truth is that you can go to Hashem Himself. Ponovitzer Rav answered my first shaila when I was 17 and wanted to know whether I should go home from E”Y to my brother’s bar mitzvah. The rav told me that I was not to go and because of that I am here today. This was the first of hundreds of questions to follow until and including this very day. We ask when we have questions. But there is another way as well, going to the Kadosh Baruch Hu directly. I want to show you something awesome in the Chumash.
8. Why is this story the longest in the Chumash. Chazal tell us, “yafeh sichasan shel avdei avos, Hashem treasures the story recounted by the servant of the avos…” What does this mean? Who would give their daughter to Eliezer without meeting him? Yitzchok couldn’t go to Chutz LeAretz. Avraham answered Eliezer that, “Hashem Elokei Hashamayim, the God who took me out of my parent’s home and promised me this land will send his malachim before you to help you with this mission.” This is why the sicha of avdei avos is so long. Whether its in shidduchim, a job or anything in life whenever you have a need, there is no need to compromise in ruchnius. Any chesban you make in teva to know whether you can do it or not, Hashem will send you the help to do it. In gashmiyus, you often should compromise, but for spirituality, never!
9. Eliezer traveled with camels and men and they had no idea where to go and how to get there and so he began to travel and a few minutes later they were there (Chazal). Then, Besuel had other plans and wanted to poison Eliezer and keep his money. The malach came and switched the food and killed Besuel. One malach brought them to where they needed to be and the other removed all barriers. In ruchniyos they help you fulfill the ratzon Hashem. There is even more, Midrash says: Eliezer didn’t know where to go and so Hashem guided him because he believed in Hashem and asked Him for guidance. Eliezer seems to have been a nichus, he was relying on a nichush to pick the girl based on who would offer him water from the well. Seforno explains that he was not using nichush, he was using tefillah. Rivka in her life never fetched water, except for that day, because Yitzchok needed a wife! No one even knew her because she was tznius and stayed inside. A person can turn to the RBSO and say, “help me do the right thing” and He will guide you. Eliezer was so excited by what he saw, this is his sicha, he had to tell it over and share. “Anochi baderech nachani Hashem, He guided me to the right path!” Rashi- the chosen path that I needed.
10. You have a choice of going on your own path based on the Midrash Agadah (ta’avah, znus, laziness and satan, to lose both worlds) or the derech of Hashem, the chosen and straight path. I was in France and landed on Sunday. I went to gas station to get directions but they are closed in that country on Sundays. I didn’t know where to go to get to yeshiva. I learned some Chumash and so I turned to Hashem. A station wagon pulls up, I pointed to Larance, France and he said, follow me, he drove me for 45 minutes. He brought me to the exact address that I needed. And then he was gone in a puff of smoke (not to heaven, when he turned around the station wagon left some smoke)! These things happen all of the time, Hashem guides us. Twenty years ago my wife and I were in America and were debating whether to go to Chicago or Detroit. We ran late because of traffic. We went to Detroit gate and thought the Chicago gate should have left an hour before we arrived. The announcer looked at us and said, “the flight to Chicago is now ready to leave. Will the last two passengers please get on the plane.” We got on the plane and when we arrived we realized how min hashamayim our trip was because of the important things that occurred there. The more you believe in the Kadosh Baruch Hu, the less you need the smoke screen that hides the hidden miracles. “V’al nisecha shebichol yom.” The Chazon Ish was visiting a rav and thinking about finding a shidduch for his sister Miriam. He noticed the sefer Shaarei Tevunah written by a bachur from Navardok named Yaakov Yisroel Kanievsky and the shidduch was made. We need Hashem and his guidance. When we turn to Him, He guides. Sichas avdei avos teaches us the lesson of Toras Chaim and the way to live our life. I don’t want to live a life of dirt, I turn to Hashem for help and I go to a gadol. When you do this you see with your own eyes the yeshua and are uplifted.
Shmooz 4: Salvation thru Torah – Parshas Toldos (5764/2003)
1. There were three Avos and Yaakov was bechir, the chosen one, he is the man on the merkava, chariot of Hashem, he is called the ish tam, perfect, shlaimus without blemish. Many people stopped talking about shlaimus, but Rav Chatzkal didn’t. For the past 30 years it has been forgotten, what does shlaimus mean? Perfection in middos, Torah, hanhagah. Messilas Yesharim says he wrote his sefer for shlaimei hadaas, the one track mind. I am talking about things that I have no shichus to but I have a tzivoy from Rav Chatzkal to tell it over. If you bring a bunch of stones to the diamond merchant and he looks at one with his eyes and says very nice, then looks with his loop and frowns, there’s a speck on this 2 carat diamond! Instead of being worth fifty thousand, now it’s four thousand. Messilas Yesharim says shlaimei hadaas are bothered from the slightest imperfection. It’s good to talk about this at least once a year. Before we talk about specs, we must try to be a diamond. We are the coal that comes before the diamond’s creation.
2. The Kadosh Baruch Hu is the diamond merchant and he will not throw us out. He wants to see shlaimus, we should first worry about the large black specks that He sees. Masi yakiu, when will we reach the level of the Avos, we need to have a time chart for this process and goal. Let’s see how Yaakov got there. He was yoshev ahalim, he learned Torah and was the greatest masmid who ever lived, never slept. Yoshaiv Ohalim, tents in plural simply refers to numerous yeshivos. Rav Yeruchum interprets it as, “double insulation.” There is a world of Yaakov and world of Eisav. To be part of Yaakov’s world you must be insulated from the world of Eisav. One tent is not enough, one must be totally separate. Yaakov made sure to separate himself just like the law of Yayin nesech which is only preventable with a double seal. The touch of the goy can only be abated with double insulation, yoshev ohalim.
3. A yeshiva must be a place of insulation from the radio, goyish book and music. [We don’t assur a kosher goyish novel because there is such a thing, gziara sheain rov hatzibur yachol laamod, but it still distracts…]. If a fool comes and tries to make a hole in the yeshiva’s insulation, he causes great harm. We are a small yeshiva and take our insulation very seriously. He can be taking away a person’s nitchiyus.
4. Ish tam: Targum Yonoshon ben Uziel explains, “Yaakov learned Torah in a way that he begged Hashem to teach him.” In contrast to people who study Talmud in college, as an intellectual pursuit, to make parents happy, to get a good shidduch because Torah is “in style” nowadays. Yaakov learned Torah with the perspective of this is Hashem talking to me and telling me how to live, dress, walk, talk, get married, deal with my wife, children and outside world. Torah is life, it is the message of Hashem. Toras Chaim is expressed in the famous story of Rav Chatzkal, he was in the Ponevitz office when a new electrical product was delivered. He saw the staff was looking for something and inquired. We are searching for the manual. How do you know there is one? Every single manufacturer must include an instruction manual. Rav Chatzkal heard this and gave a clap on the table, this is proof for Torah min hashamayim! Hashem gave us life and He must give us an instruction manual. He then picked up a Chumash and said, “I found His guide, for best results use as follows!” Like Ramban states in his letter, before you get up from learning, take the lesson in how you will translate Torah into chaim, life!
5. The Vilna Goan kept his windows and shutters closed. He learned by candle light even by day, he paid most of his money for candles and was very poor. They asked him why he keeps the window closed. He said he needs to keep out the street to be successful in learning. Either you’re in the yeshiva or you are attached to the street, it’s a choice. If the Goan ever walked out he prepared himself immensely by learning Messilas Yesharim zehirus twelve times! This was the streets of eighteenth century Vilna, but he was careful to keep it out.
6. Chazal tell us that chachmei hatalmud did brazen acts to see how their rebbe lived and acted. Torah hee vlilmod ani tzarich, this is life itself, I need to know! There are two denim, concepts, here. 1) Torah hee, only Torah is life and there is no situation and action in life where the Torah doesn’t tell you what to do. How do you put on your shoes in the morning. What kind of religion is this? Torah guides every part of our life. What does the Torah teach me to do with my time? 2) Lilmod ani tzarich, I need to listen to the message. The Ponovetzer Rav brought a 13 year old boy to yeshiva who had finished shas. His parents were from America and they demanded this of each of their children. Eisav and Yaakov both were brought up with Torah so what happened, how did they part? It was all dependent on attitude. Eisav was born Asoy, naaseh vnigmar, he was born with hair (and beard and teeth- Targum). The Torah that Eisav learned was not one that he felt “ani tzarich, I need it.” He was a know-it-all and thus Torah could not penetrate. Rav Chatzkal had one dirty word which was most profane, “fartiger, one who felt he was all done.” He would point to someone at private vaad and tell him fartiger for not learning mussar, he doesn’t have to because he is already perfect. The person would turn green, orange, yellow and many colors. Yaakov viewed Torah as, “I don’t know anything and I want the Torah to teach me.”
7. Chazal say ordinarily a full vessel can’t fit anything in it, but by Torah when you realize you are chaser, lacking, you can be filled. Torah is like water which goes to lowest point. I need to be filled with Torah. Yaakov’s actions were based on his chochmah. He was tocho kboro, the outside reflected the inside. Eisav’s Torah only remained in his head but his body never acted on it. Chushim ben Dan chopped off Eisav’s head. His head was filled with Torah on the stature of the Avos and was buried in Mearas HaMachpaila but his body went to the vultures because it didn’t follow the Torah.
8. We are living in a dangerous time. Yitzchok blessed Eisav that, “you will live by your sword and be subservient to your brother, but when he decreases his Torah learning (see Rashi) then you will throw off his rulership and overpower him. Targum Yonason: “when they go against the Torah, you rule them.” Targum Yerushalmi, when the children of Yaakov learn Torah, bnei Eisav are our servants, but when they don’t Eisav breaks out his sword and kills them. Yizchok understood that the world is set up where if Yaakov gives into Eisav’s olam hazeh desires then he is dead! There is a distracting world out there of gashmiyus, parnasah, money, cars and houses, but Yitzchok didn’t want them to get distracted. Just like what Chizkiyahu did to use his army to make sure that everyone learned Torah. Nothing saves a Jew from sword except for Torah. Eisav and Yishmael keep us in check. The neighbors asked Bilaam, can we start up with this nation. He said go see whether they are learning Torah in the shuls and the children are learning then you cannot overcome them, hakol kol Yaakov, otherwise, Yadayim Yidei Eisav.
9. When Hashem told Avraham to take his son and shecht him, Rav Yaakov Galinsky jokes that he should have taken Yishmael and slaughtered him! Instead Avraham prayed, “Lu Yishmael yichneh lifanecha” which Hashem granted (Pirkei DRabbi Eliezer says the Jews will have complaint against Avraham in achris hayamim). When you treaspass on Eisav’s territory he has the right to kill you. 10. This is not poetic, it is real. When the Jews didn’t keep the Torah they were murdered by the sword of Eisav. That’s the facts. Yitzchok turned limud hatorah into pikuach nefesh. We’re in a very volatile situation here in Eretz Yisrael and our Torah learning is needed to give us life. I don’t make this up, it’s all right here in the chumash. We all have a chiyuv to ask and to act to be like the avos, to learn from Yaakov Aveinu who dedicated himself to limud hatorah and to be the great soldier who protect Klal Yisrael. The satan who tries to convince you not to learn is empowering Eisav and his sword to do what it does. My Torah is saying Jewish lives. Very soon it will be all over and we will see the redemption.
Shmooz 5: No Barriers Before Hashem – Parshas Vayeitzei (5764/2003)
1. We spoke about how Yaakov really wanted to do the right thing. Vayeitzei Yaakov mibe’ar sheva vayeilech charana. Why does it say that he left Be’er Sheva? That’s not where he lived. When my father wanted to leave the land this is where he went to get guidance. Now, Yaakov was 63 at the time and was a gadol in his own right, his parents had told him to go to Charan to find a wife. Yaakov said I will go ask the Kadosh Baruch Hu whether I should go to Chutz LaAretz. This is what’s contained in the simple opening words of the parsha. Yaakov’s shaila was about leaving the yeshiva and going to Chutz LeAretz.
2. When Rav Chatzkal smiled during the shmooz we got nervous. He would say, “I can show you the door that leads to Gehenim, it’s not a secret, I know where it is.” He would then point to the door leading out of the bais midrash. Vayeitzei Yaakov refers to a dangerous move that was only possible thru his shaila and his learning for 14 years preparing with non-stop learning. My rabbeim taught me that those 14 years were spent preparing for success in chutz learetz outside the beis midrash. A lot of bochrim think they are fine and were so good in the yeshiva and when they leave have a terrible yeridah, one must be prepared.
3. Sefer Cheshbon HaNefesh talks about tikun hamiddos thru preparation before hand. He gives a mashel that one is working on pateience and controlling his anger for a few months and then he finds out that his mother is moving into his house, this will be a new ballpark of challenge for him. One must prepare and work hard to succeed in dealing with upcoming challenges.
4. It has become my custom to say over certain stories for specific parshiyos to bring them home to us all. Some of you are new and haven’t heard it and if you heard it already, if your heart is open then it will go in deeper, take hold and become a part of your life.
5. See Bereishis 28:17 in Rashi: The ladder that Yaakov saw had its center over Yerushalayim. Yaakov began in Beer Sheva and traveled to Charan. When he arrived he said, “oy, I passed thru a place where my fathers davened and I did not pray there.” And so he turned around to head back to Har Hamoriah where the makom hamikdash was. At that moment that he decided to go back Hashem picked up the makom hamikdash and brought it to Beis El, Vayifga bamakom, he literally bumped into it. That’s what it says here. Everyone knows Chumash Rashi. Rashi then asks a question, why did the Kadosh Baruch Hu wait for Yaakov to forget to pray and only when he remembered did Hashem bring the place of the mikdash back to him? Rashi answers: Yaakov didn’t recognize it on his own, you can’t expect Hashem to hold him up there. It was only when Yaakov realized that he neglected the place, “Yahiv daatei, he thought about it, and then Hashem brought it to him.” Rav Chatzkal used to talk about this. It is a lesson which can change your life and your power will be unlimited. The Kadosh Baruch Hu does not mix into your bechirah. When you decide to do something, the Kadosh Baruch Hu will turn the world around to make it happen, literally. He brought the makom mikdash to Yaakov. Habah litaher mesian oso, when you come to act Hashem will help you. That’s the first part of the story here.
6. “Vayalen shom ki vah hashemesh, he slept there because the sun set.” Rashi says the wording here teaches us that Hashem set the sun so that Yaakov would stay here. Bereishis Rabbah 68:10: Kiva hashemesh, a play on words, kiva means that Hashem turned off the son, Yaakov, it’s time to stay here because I have a nevuah, prophesy, to share here. I’m not going to make him wait the two hours before the sun sets naturally. We must review what the Kadosh Baruch Hu did for Yaakov who was going bderech haTorah, who asked a shaila before leaving and was going al pi Hashem. Hashem picked up the mikdash and brought it to him, closed the sun for Yaakov to give him a special nevuah.
7. The three shmoozin that Rav Chatzkal would give every year during Parshas Vayeitzei were the same idea repeated over and again, when someone sets his mind to accomplish something, there is no limit to what Hashem will do for you. If you hear yourself saying, “I would like to… but I can’t…” You can’t on your own, but Hashem will help you. Until one stops saying those words, one does not know basic Chumash. Hashem said, “I will help you, I will turn the world upside down.” A simple yesod which can change your life if you know it. It’s worth coming to Eretz Yisrael to yeshiva here just to hear it.
8. Last year this story became internationally known and the Kadosh Baruch Hu set the stage. I’ll start from the beginning. Some 43 years ago a baal teshuva named Moshe came from a rich Manhattan family to learn in Ponovezh Yeshiva. He was engaged to be married on Thursday night and his mother was coming in on Wednesday night at 7pm the same time as Rav Chatzkal’s famous weekly shmooz. Hashem made it that I was his shomer so that I would be able to share this story.
9. Moshe’s mother was schedule to land at 7pm at Lod airport. Moshe asked Rav Chatzkal what to do, should I go meet her at the airport and miss the shmooz. Rav Chatzkal said, you must go meet your mother. Moshe used to sit on the steps right beneath the amud drinking in the shmooz. The Kadosh Baruch Hu made it that I would be the shomer right after maariv. Moshe’s plan was to pick her up at 7pm, bring her to the Hotel Wagshal in Bnei Brak and then after maariv at yeshiva I would be his shomer. To my surprise at 7 o’clock on Wednesday Moshe was sitting in his regular place at Rav Chatzkal’s shmooz with a smile on his face. I judged him lchovah, to assume that his desire to be at the shmooz made him show up there. I ran over to him after maariv to ask what happened?! Moshe said, I made up that I have two mitzvos, to pick up my mother and to hear divrei Elokim Chaim from my rebbe. I gave it over to the Rebbono Shel Olam. This is exactly what Rav Chatzkal always teaches us. (The Rebbono Shel Olam doesn’t need your advise, all you do is make up “I want to be a talmid chachom, I want to learn” and He will work out the rest.)
The easiest thing would have been that the plane would come in a few hours late as it normally does. But instead, at 3pm Moshe called the airport and was told that the plain would arrive by 5pm. Moshe went to the airport then picked up his mother and made it back to yeshiva in time for the shmooz at 7pm. Moshe then told over that in the taxi ride back from the airport his mother shared with him an interesting tidbit. During our flight the pilot got on the PA system and announced, “I have been flying this route for 17 years and for the first time ever there is a powerfully strong wind that is pushing us to arrive 2 hours early.” Moshe smiled and said, “I didn’t tell my mother that it was all my fault! She never heard Rav Chatzkal’s shmooz, but I knew that it was all from Hashem.” I was shaking and said, “Moshe this is a nes, a miracle!” Moshe corrected me and said, “what’s the big deal, Rav Chatzkal always taught us this, it’s utter simplicity.” That is part one of this story. I’ve told it over hundreds of times.
Fourteen years ago in 1990 my daughter was engaged and we ended up having the ufruf in Bnei Brak during Parshas Vayeitzei. I spoke in my mechutan’s yeshiva and felt compelled to tell over Rav Chatzkal’s yesod and the Moshe story. I told over the story without mentioning the name of the chosson and afterward someone wishes me mazel tov and thanks me for the most enjoyable story. I recognize him and behold it was Moshe! “Do you remember me,” I asked him. “No,” replied Moshe, “I’m sorry I don’t.” All that I told him was that I learned in Ponevezh long ago and did not press the matter. How could he have forgotten the story? He truly did not remember it and did not recall it. The reason is because the lesson was so part of Moshe that it didn’t ever stick out in his memory because it was so simple to him. I remembered the story because it was a chiddush to me. Last year (2003), I was back in Bnei Brak for the Bar Mitzva of the son born from my daughter and son-in-law who had gotten married that week. I saw a sign that Moshe had just passed away and so I went to be menachem avel the sons of Moshe. There was one person who was there when I told the story to the sons. A few days later the editor of Meoros Daf HaYomi called me and asked to publish the story as someone in the room then made sure to get it published. This story was then published in many languages and was published in Tuvcha Yabiu. The next week I went to England and told the story in London, Gateshead and Manchaster and saw that this story was spread throughout the world. This all happened because Hashem decided that I would be there to be Moshe’s shomer, to be in Bnei Brak for an ufruf and for a bar mitzvah. Hashem allowed me to share this lesson which is found in the Chumash.
10. The story is awesome and powerful, especially considering all the chapters of the event. You heard it here from me first hand. Now, I have a personal question for you: Do you believe that the Rebbono Shel Olam can help you do anything that you set your mind to when you are baah litaher?! I have another question, why didn’t Hashem just make the plane come in late, why did he make it come in 2 hours early? He did it so that the whole world would see that when you turn to the Rebbono Shel Olam and say I want to be tahor and do for You, help me! I know that You will do anything to help me. Moshe believed it bchol levavo, it was part of him. This is not just an intellectual recognition, it was an internalized principal. This is what mussar accomplishes, vehashevoshe el livavecha, it must be a part of you. Hevei soshe betzamah es divreihem, Moshe sat on the steps drinking in and listening to the principal.
11. Rav Chatzkal would reward his daughters with money everytime that they shared a yad Hashem story with him. Another Rav told over that he learned weekly with Moshe and would hear about the great siata dishmiya which Moshe experienced on a daily basis. It was a part of his daily life. 12. The only time we rightfully say ‘I can’t’ is in the field of physical wealth. You can’t get rich if Hashem doesn’t want you to. Nothing gashmi, physical can be accomplished without Hashem’s decree, that you can’t do, change (you can daven but naturally it is decreed). When it comes to ruchniyus, spiritually, you can do anything. The Alter of Navordok said, “I never asked if a thing can be done, only whether it is necessary, ratzon Hashem.” If it should be done then Hashem will help us succeed.
When the Russian government decreed that all able-bodied men must join the army, every yeshiva closed it’s doors as they were threatened with death to the draft-dodgers. The Alter opened up 80 yeshivos at that time across the globe. He opened a map and sent two students each to open a yeshiva. 79 out of 80 succeeded, but one group was caught trying to escape Mother Russia. They were asked where they were going. One of them responded (you have to do histadlus) that “we work for the KGB.” Where are your credentials? He took out a ledger in his pocket and gave it to the guard. It listed off food he had bought in the store. The agent was taken and told the other guards to give him an escort. The students of the Alter started many great yeshivos including one in Hornistil where they found a young child named Yaakov Yisrael who became the Steipler Goan.
12. So again, I ask you, do you have great aspirations which you ask Hashem to help you with. Open your mind and heart to let Hashem help you so that you can see many great things from Hashem.
Shmooz 6: Fear of Olam Hazeh – Parshas Vayishlach (5764/2003)
Shmooz 7: Maturity in Torah – Parshas Vayeishev (5764/2003)
Shmooz 8: The Puppet Master – Parshas Mikeitz (5764/2003)
Shmooz 9: Pure Torah – Parshas Vayechi (5764/2003)
Why Join Shevet Levi? Parshas Bamidbar 5764/2004
1. On Rosh Chodesh Sivan Klal Yisrael were “Bau midbar Sinai, arrived at Sinai.” Rav Tzadok explains that Bnei Yisrael came wholeheartedly to sinai with nothing else on their mind except to accept the Torah. There are 3 very important days of the omer, they are: 1) Lag Baomer 2) Pesach Sheini and Rosh Chodesh Sivan. We’re going to talk about Rosh Chodesh Sivan. This is a very important event; it’s one day once a year and if we’re not careful we could lose out on the opportunity.
2. Parshas Bamidbar is always read before shavuos, why? It’s important to know not only were all men not created equal but not even every Jew was created equal. The Kadosh Baruch Hu clearly singled out Shevet Levi, so much so that they were not counted with the rest of Klal Yisrael. Rashi explains the resason is because Hashem said “these are my palace guards, my special legion”. Shavet Levi are the royal guards. This yesod is very important, Hashem is machshiv the talmid chacham, and this chshivus is twofold: 1) for the talmid chacham to be respected and 2) for him to be proud and respect himself. As Rambam in Hilchos Shmita Ve’yovel says “anyone has the right/ability to be part of shevet levi,” i.e. anyone who wants can dedicate his life to learning Torah”.
3. The chet of the meraglim warranted that anybody above twenty years old would die in the Midbar. Shevet Levi were excluded because Hashem said “Li hem, they are mine”. the Sifsei Chachamim has a tremendous question: were Shevet Levi part of the chet or not? Why did they not die from the chet ha’meraglim? The kadosh baruch hu gave them special “protectzia” because Hashem said “li haim” since they did not partake in the egel they were zocheh to be excluded from punishment brought about by the meraglim.
In Mitzrayim Paroah couldn’t touch Shevet Levi because they were exempt from laboring, as Chazal teach us “kol haosek batorah mavirin ol malchus me’alav”. Picture this, every jew working from dusk until dawn being beaten and whipped, but Shevet levi remains untouched sitting and learning because they are Shevet Levi. Paroah couldn’t touch them. Moshe and Aron roamed the streets of Mitzrayim freely. Klal Yisrael was divided in two back in Mitzrayim as well.
Then came the Egel, my Zaide Aharon HaKohen (Rav Asher was a Kohen and referred affectionately to his great ancestor) pretended to go along with it but Shevet Levi didn’t let it slide. Shevet Levi never made a mistake in hashkafa, they never swallowed nonsense, if there was a problem in hashkafa they dealt with it!
Gedolei Torah never make a mistake in hashkafa. This division in Klal Yisrael still exists today, there is the “fanatical” hashkafa of the yeshivos versus the rest of the world. Rav Shach was a tremendous fanatic, sure he was! Rav Shmuel Aurbach shlita is a real fanatic. there are two dinim 1) kaballas hatorah, they accepted to carry the load of Torah learning and teaching 2) shelo tau b’Egel, they were not duped by the Golden Calf. Because of these points they got protctzia. Does the Kadosh Baruch Hu offer Protectzia? Yes, He does, to Shevet Levi
4. Anyone can join as Rambam taught us, so how does one enroll? How do we enlist in the ranks of Shevet Levi? A person must be Nivdal as Rambam writes “lehibadel”, four times Rambam uses this word. Shevet Levi means being part of a seperate machaneh, camp. You can’t live in Machaneh Yisrael and be counted in Machaneh Leviya, one must be separate in order to be part of Levi. We need to make a cheshbon and ask ourselves, what machaneh are we part of? Where do we belong? Shevet Levi are seperatists, in charge of all divarim shebikedusha right next to Machane Shechina. This is the reality, in order to be part of Shevet Levi a person must be separate like Levi and live only “saviv lamishkan”, he must make himself misbatel to the mishkan.
5. Who was meant to be part of Shevet Levi? Can anyone join? The answer is yes anyone can join but not everyone will. Before one chooses he must have a clear picture of how Klal Yisrael looks. We are born by default into Machane Yisrael, but Rambam is telling us to leave the default and become part of Shevet Levi. When we do that Hashem will take care of the rest, these people (Shevet Levi) are the Kodosh Baruch Hu’s favorites.
To leave yeshiva or kollel for parnassah is such a heartbreak. would Hashem starve his palace guards and leave them stranded? This principle is aleph-beis! we must understand the chashivus of being part of Levi!
6. I made a cheshbon of the maalos of Shevet Levi: Benefit 1) Olam hazeh. What’s olam hazeh? Nothing on this earth can compare to the joy of limud hatorah. Bill Gates is limited to enjoying this world by his body. However a bachur learning in yeshiva isn’t bound by the guf, he is limitless! There was a yid named Binyamin Reichman who was a big supporter of Klal Yisrael. He paid off every yeshiva’s debt, he did amazing acts of kindness with his wealth! Rav Shach told him “Reb Binyamin I’m jealous of your olam habah because of the Torah you have bought into this world, but I have rachmanus on your olam hazeh [because I get to learn Torah all day while you work]! Story of Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky and Rav Aaron Kotler. Rabosai olam hazeh is in the beis midrash! (Please write out the story)
I have quoted the story many times of “Rav Shach in the snow.” He came from Bnei Brak to Yerushalayim to ask the Brisker Rav pshat in a difficult passage. Rav Shach was so excited by the answer he received that he was dancing in the snow at one o’clock in the morning. This is olam hazeh, and shevet levi has it.
7. The satan, the shakran, liar that he is, tells you to leave the yeshiva to have a good life. What a lie! What sheker! If you leave yeshiva for the rat race of the outside world you could lose everything. On the other hand if you stay dedicated to learning torah Hashem feeds you.
(When I was in the beginning of my career I went to a wedding of a baal teshuva whose father was a professor. The dancing was so lively that the professor came over to me and asked, “are these boys on something, drugs or the like?” I had the insight to say, “yes, they are on something, it’s called Torah, but it’s legal and it’s the most powerful substance on earth that leads to enjoyment and pleasure. In Shevet Levi the bank of Heaven supports you, you gotta be out of your mind not to choose that life!)
8. Benefit 2) Self Esteem, every member of Shvet Levi has to walk around feeling elevated, announcing I’m part of Hashem’s elite. You have to know this and if you learn Parshas Bamidbar properly you know it now, Shevet Levi is chashuv, that’s self esteem!
“Ain kavod ela Torah,” when I was a kid no one knew how to learn there was no Kavod HaTorah, only the shamas in the shul knew how to learn. Today it’s not the same, today there is tremendous kavod hatorah. Who else has kavod in this world? Your wife will look up to you only if she knows you’re a talmid chacham.
Benefit 3) Torah protects you from any harm. I have a one track mind: yidden should stay in learning, that’s what I learned from Rav Chatzkel. Rav Dessler writes “a yeshivas purpose is to bring forth gedolei Torah”. that is the kiyum hauma, continuation of our nation. For the Kadosh Baruch Hu that’s everything. No one in machne yisrael is having a fraction of the enjoyment that machane leviya enjoys.
9. Benefit 4) Torah makes the world goes round. Your learning is saving lives. Shevet Levi save lives by learning Torah. The world thinks that hezder yehivos are the greatest avoda in the world because they learn and serve their country. Reb Elchonon Wasseman zt”l hy”d said it’s simply avodah zara. To close your gemara and pick up a rifle? How can you think that’s better than learning torah? That’s tantamount to murder because the Torah would have otherwise been protecting people. This is real unadulterated torah.
10. Shevet levi teaches Torah as well. Chovos HaLevavos says that to teach Torah is the greatest thing in the world, even greater than a navi! Why? Because all the Torah that you teach to other people is credited to you, the reward is yours. pretty good deal huh?
In olam haba you can’t even see Shevet Levi, they have their own separate world! Machaneh Yisrael can’t get into Machaneh Leviya no matter what their status was in olam hazeh. Shevet Levi has their own gan eden. You get what you pay for in olam haba and the currency is Torah.
When should one enlist in Shevet Levi? It’s available anytime but Kabalos HaTorah is an opportune time to enlist. Today is Erev Shavuos and you must make a choice. Klal Yisrael has always been divided, in Egypt, by the Golden calf in the midbar and in olam haba. You must choice where to join and when you join Shevet Levi you will get “asrecha b’alam hazeh, v’tov lach b’olam habah.”
Vaad 1: Shalom Bayis
1. One of the great powers in the house is that of tefillah. There is a misconception that the tefillah of the man is most imporatn, but the truth is the importance of the wife’s tefillah for the hatzlacha of the house and for shalom bayis.
2. From the time of the churban, the shaarie tefillah are locked, but the gates of tears have not been closed. Women are emotional and are close to tears. Why did Hashem create her this way, for what positive reason? So that she can use the most potent magical power in the world to unleash this fantastic power that goes straight up to shamayim that brings down parnasha, children, health, a shteller. We men don’t come to tears easily.
3. Our grandmothers from previous generations kept us going. Every yiddishe mama would cry. When I was a child I don’t remember one woman who didn’t cry during licht benching, “RBSO give us parnasa, children, health. That was toras eimecha. They cried and pierced the heavens. Nowadays, this is a forgotten art. We have lost our emotions.
4. One way to overcome our cold nature is to look at the tragedies around us, almanos, yesomim, poverty, lack of health. Hashem brings these tragedies to bring about emotion and change. This brings out real dimaos. There are tears inside and outside. “Bimistarim tivcheh nafshi, internally.” This also has power. There is much that we need. The Kadosh Baruch Hu created a world where we all need Him, His yeshuos and rachamim.
5. Second point: Your children’s yirash shamayim and emunah depend on your wife’s tefillos. As I quoted the Chassam Sofer on the shidduch tapes how can there be a ben sorer umoreh in a Jewish home. “Aineno shomeah kol aviv vkol imo, literally, he did not listen to his fathers and mother’s voice.” Chassam Sofer interprets it allegorically, he didn’t hear the voice of his father studying Torah and yiras shamayim and he didn’t hear the voice of his mother davening and begging Hashem for help. This is the powerful experience that children have in the home and where they are instilled with the regesh of yirah and har Sinai. Each husband can discuss this with sensitivity with his wife.
6. I heard this with my own ears at a vaad: Rav Wolbe shared that if I have become anything it is all because of my mother. My mother would cry when she lit Shabbos candles, “please Hashem watch over my Shlomo to remain a yid.” Mommy, why are you crying? “Little Shlomo, this world is a challenging place and much turmoil will ensue, I beg Hashem to watch over you and help you succeed.” When a woman davens shemoneh esrei and cries with emotion, her children see it and gain emunah and yiras shamayim.
7. Third point: Tefillah is exalted but people are mizalzel in it. Rav Chatzkal quoted the Alter of Kelm, the mispalel himself is omaid brumo shel olam, you put your feet together because you are elevated to stand in front of Hashem in malach land. You study Torah all day and are uplifted. You must share this with your wife who feels that she is busy with mundane manners as cooking, cleaning, diapers and much housework. Every wife has times that she feels like a shemateh, like the spongeh rag. He tells her, why aren’t things done? Who told you to daven, you are patur! And this cycle gets worse because then he looks at her like a shemateh and the children do as well and shalom bayis is lost, positive kesher is lost.
Every mother knows and teaches her daughter under the chupah, “There are times that your husband will come home and be in a mood, yell and steam and he will be tense and nervous, it has nothing to do with you, just feed him, he is hungry! The most dangerous creature on earth is a hungry male!” It’s time that we teach the men, “your wife may be wound up and upset, a hungry female is just as dangerous, her neshama is hungry for tefillah, let her daven! Kuzari says neshama needs to eat three meals a day thru tefillah, it must be nourishing and satiate. Ani kirvas elokim li tov, true closeness to Hashem comes from feeling ruchnius. Encourage your wife to daven and talk to the Rebono Shel Olam. Speak over with your rav about how and what to daven, but encourage her to connect with Hashem so that she gets what she needs.
8. Your wife will be elevated thru true davening. Tefillah without kavanah, concentration, is like a body without soul (Kuzari). When she davens she will feel different and much beracha and respect will ensue throughout the house. There is nothing more that you can do for your wife than to love and respect her in a sincere manner. She will be omaid brumo shel olam, an exalted woman with her tefilla. She brings down yeshua vrachamim, inspires children with emunah and the kesher or shalom bayis based on your respecting her for her great efforts. Learn with your wife Shearim BeTefillah, one of the greatest sefer written in many years (tears in his eye) written by someone who was just with us (Rav Shimshon David Pinkus zt”l). Her power of dimaos brings great things to your house.