Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Keep Your Eyes Open and See Mashiach

by Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh

Rebbe Ze’ev Wolf of Cherni-Ostra’ah was a disciple of the Maggid of Mezritch and Rebbe Meshulam Feivush of Zabriz. He was the Rabbi and Admo”r of Cherni-Ostra’ah in the Ukraine.

In the year 5558 (1798), about twenty years after the first great Chassidic aliyah to the Land of Israel, Rebbe Ze’ev Wolf made aliyah to Israel, settling first in Haifa and afterwards in Tiberias. After the passing of Rebbe Avraham of Kalisk, Rebbe Ze’ev Wolf was appointed to be the leader of the Chassidim. Rebbe Ze’ev Wolf’s students included Rebbe Menachem Mendel of Kosov – the father of the Vizhnitz dynasty – and Rebbe David Shlomo of Eibschitz, author of “Arvei Nachal.” He passed away on the fifth of Adar, 5583 (1823) and was laid to rest in Tiberias, in the section of the disciples of the Ba’al Shem Tov.


Guidance for a Simple Jew who Attained Spiritual Heights

A simple man (with no special spiritual aptitude withstood a great trial. (The type of trial he withstood is not recorded. Generally, however, ‘a great trial’ refers to a trial in maintaining sexual purity, as in the trial of Joseph). In reward, Heaven granted him a special gift: Whenever he would mention God’s Name, such as when praying or reciting a blessing, he would feel God’s majesty in his soul. As a result, whenever this man would utter pray or make a blessing, his entire body would begin to tremble and he would feel that his organs were burning up in fear.

There are stories about tzaddikim who merited lofty heights and did not want them. Rebbe Zusha of Anapoli merited to see Heaven like the Rambam and was not able to contain it. It is told of the Rebbe of Komarna that every time that he learned what one of the sages in the gemara taught, he would see that sage before him. The teaching of the Jerusalem Talmud that when a person learns Talmud, it is as if the sage who taught that particular teaching stands before him – spontaneously occurred to him. But the Rebbe of Kamarna asked God to take that spiritual height away from him, as it disturbed his study.

Our simple Jew, who did not understand why he would be experiencing such lofty spiritual heights, came to the Rebbe of Cherni-Ostra and complained that he did not know what happened to him, but he could not bear the suffering it entailed. He entreated the Rebbe to help him to disengage from this spiritual level.

Rebbe Ze’ev Wolf said to him: “You have merited and were given something that others ask for and toil for their entire lives. All the tzaddikim serve God all their lives with an inner desire to reach this level, and you have received it as a gift. How can you forgo it? The Rebbe then proceeded to teach him how to live with this lofty level.

Rebbe Ze’ev Wolf did not agree to take this level away from the simple Jew. If he merited it, he was apparently deserving. Instead, the Rebbe gave him the tools to serve God at that level. The Ba’al Shem Tov would also take simple Jews and invest years teaching them Torah and service of God until they attained spiritual heights.

Anticipating Mashiach

Rebbe Ze’ev Wolf’s eyes were always open. (Even when he was reciting the Silent Prayer. It is also told of Rebbe Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev that he would pray with open eyes – even in front of an open window facing the street – despite the law that says that if one is praying without a prayer book, he should close his eyes. Rebbe Levi Yitzchak said that even though his eyes were open in prayer, he did not see the comings and goings in the street. A tzaddik has a level of sight that is not physical. He radiates Godliness from his eyes. He sees only the Godliness in all the things taking place in front of him. In the same vein, it is also told of the first Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rebbe Shneor Zalman of Liadi, that before he died, he said that he did not see the beam in the ceiling at all, but rather the word of God giving it vitality).

Even when Rebbe Ze’ev Wolf was sleeping his eyes would remain open. (We can learn from this that his soul root was the mazal of fish, which coincides with his day of passing in the month of Adar).

Once, Rebbe Ze’ev Wolf was laying down with his eyes closed. His assistant, who was next to his bed, thought that he had passed away and began to wail loudly. The holy rabbi opened his eyes and asked him, “Why are you crying?”

“I thought that you had passed on to heaven,” the assistant answered.

“Do not fear,” Rebbe Ze’ev Wolf calmed him. “We are all fine. I simply closed my eyes in order to contemplate on the generation of Mashiach: Our forefathers in Egypt were sunk into the depths of the 49th gate of impurity. They could not tarry in Egypt any longer, for they had nearly sunk to the fiftieth gate of impurity, from which they would not have been able to emerge. The fiftieth gate is apikorsus (denial of Torah), may God save us. I saw that before Mashiach comes, this gate – the impurity of apikorsus – will spread throughout the world, may God save us, and even for people of our stature (even tzaddikim, disciples of the Ba’al Shem Tov) it will be difficult to be saved from it. The solution is to speak about tzaddikim. This is the only force with which they can be saved from a trace of denial of Torah.”

When the holy Ruzhiner Rebbe told this story, he concluded by saying, “It is even good to tell about me, and even to tell about my possessions, the chairs and tables.” (The Ruzhiner Rebbe conducted a wealthy court and engaged in injecting Godliness into his material possessions. This level is fitting for someone who lives at the level of “with all your might,” who infuses his physical possessions and all that surrounds him with Godliness).

Opening Eyes with Stories of Tzaddikim

To see and understand the tribulations of the exile and the approach of Mashiach, Rebbe Ze’ev wolf had to close his eyes and see the darkness. This is similar to the Covenant of the Pieces in Genesis: “And behold, a dread, a great darkness falls upon him,”[1] The famous Biblical commentator, Rashi, explains as follows: “This is an allusion to the troubles and darkness of the exiles.” The Lubavitcher Rebbe commented that in the time of ikvata d’Mishicha, when the Mashiach is approaching, we are in the throes of “double and doubly-double darkness.” This darkness is so pervasive that it can be tangibly felt, similar to the plague of darkness in Egypt. The Rebbe said, however, that in order to emerge from the exile, all that we have to do is “open our eyes” and see that Mashiach is rapidly approaching.

How can we open our eyes and see redemption? By telling stories of tzaddikim. It is written in the Tanya that there is a spark of Moses, a true tzaddik, in every Jew. The Hebrew word for “story,” sippur, is cognate to sapir, “sapphire.” By telling stories of tzaddikim, we illuminate the spark of the tzaddik inside us – the root of pure faith. We are then saved from the impure husk of denial of the Torah and we merit the resurrection of the dead.

[1] Genesis 15:12.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

The Hidden Blessings

Source: Adapted from a Sicha of  the Lubavitcher Rebbe: 
"From The Rebbe's Treasure" - Students of Seminary Bais Menachem, Montreal Canada

The Talmud in Moed Kotton discusses the true meaning of blessings. The following story is told:

Rabbi Yonasson ben Asmai and Rabbi Yehuda ben Gerim had been studying the chapter concerning vows in the presence of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. In the evening they took leave of him.... He then said to his son: "These are worthy men. Go and let them bestow a blessing upon you."

His son went... Then they turned to him (the son) and said "Why did you come to us?"

"Father sent me here to receive your blessing" was his answer.

Whereupon they said to him: "May it be His will that thou sowest and never reapest; thou shalt bring in but never carry out [Rashi explains that the son understood this as "You should bring in merchandise and never sell it"]; thou shalt give forth but not bring in [the son understood this as "You should sell but not receive payment - Rashi]; thy permanent house shall be waste and thy temporary dwelling shall be inhabited; thy table shall be confused and thou shalt not see a first year."

When he returned to his father, he said: "Not only did they not bless me, but on the contrary they caused me grief with their words!"

"What did they say to you?" asked his father. He recited the above. "All these are blessings!" exclaimed his father:

"Thou shalt sow and not reap" means (allegorically) that you shall bear children and they shall not die.

"Thou shalt bring in and not give forth" means that you will bring in your house wives for sons, and your male children shall not die, so their wives will not need to leave your house.

"Thou shalt give forth and not bring in" means that you shall have daughters and their husbands shall not die, so that they shall not be compelled to return to your house."

"Thy permanent house shall be ruined and thy temporary dwelling shall be inhabited" means that this world is only a temporary dwelling and the world to come is the real house. As it is said [Psalms 49, 12] "Their inward thought is, that their houses are to be forever". Do not read kirbom (their inward) but kivrom (their graves) - [that is, you should be revived immediately through Techias Hameissim - Rashi].

"Thy table shall be confused" - on account of many chldren.

"And thou shalt not see a first year" means that your wife shall not die, so that you shall not be compelled to marry another." [the first year refers to the first year of marriage in which the chosson is compared to a king - Rashi]

The Maharsha suggests that Rabbi Yonosson and Rabbi Yehuda spoke in a riddle in order to test Rabbi Shimon's son's wit. He also says that the son knew that the rabbis meant to bless him, but he was troubled that he could not figure out the riddle. That is why he told his father: "they caused him grief" rather than "they cursed me", for he was confident that the rabbis would only bless him.

The Rif explains the rabbis' action by suggesting that the rabbis spoke in a riddle knowing that the son would not understand, in order to get the blessing from Rabbi Shimon's mouth, who would surely interpret it as a blessing.

But the Iyun Yaakov asks, how could they have been so sure that Rabbi Shimon would be able to discover the answer to the riddle?

From the Rebbe's Commentaries

The Tzemach Tzedek comments that it makes more sense to interpret the foregoing in a simple way. He explains that because these blessings were so sublime, the rabbis had to conceal them in what appeared to be a curse.

We can understand this in the context of a premise explained in the Tanya (Ch.23): Affliction is really the goodness of the "hidden world"; that's why it manifests itself "like a shade and not as light and revealed goodness". The light is too powerful in its original form and so it must be concealed and "funneled" so that it can be received at a low level. When accepting suffering with joy, one merits that "they who love Him shall be as the sun going forth in its might", which will be in the future to come, when the present sufferings will be seen as visible and manifest goodness just like the uncovered light of the sun.

If, however, these blessings were so high that they had to be disguised, how, then, could Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai interpret them so openly?

There are souls whose task it is to reveal Pnimiyus HaTorah, the hidden inner dimension of the Torah. These souls experience even now an illumination of the future revelations. They are at the level in which they can accept such a sublime light without the need of shade. Therefore, they can recognize the true goodness hidden beneath the veil of the physical world.

Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, who wrote the Zohar and whose mission it was to reveal Pnimiyus HaTorah, was therefore able to interpret those blessings in a manifest way. He already had an illumination of "the sun going forth in its might", and thus he already saw the reality of the concealed blessings. (This answers the abovementioned question of the Iyun Yaakov).

Revealing the meaning of the blessings is bound up with Pnimiyus HaTorah. Thus, just as Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai revealed Pnimiyus HaTorah to everyone, so he interpreted the blessings for his son, notwithstanding the fact that at the time his son was not yet of high stature. The incomplete status of his son at that time is evident when noting that the Talmud does not refer to him by his name (Rabbi Elazar Berabbi Shimon), but merely as "his son" [See Sanhedrin 41b where the Talmud explains that a student is called simply by his name and not with the title Rabban or Rabbi], and also from the fact that Rabbi Shimon sent him to receive a blessing from Rabbi Yonassan ben Asmai and Rabbi Yehuda ben Gerim

In the time of Moshiach, Hashem's goodness will be revealed. Everyone will see the good that is concealed in anything that may have appeared negative. But from the perspective of Pnimiyus HaTorah we do not have to wait for the World to Come to realize Hashem's infinite and true goodness. We can interpret everything in terms of manifest goodness now.

Monday, May 4, 2020

There Will Be No Honour

Rabbi Daniel Travis - 5 min shiur
19 Conditions for Moshiach

Chutzpah Yazges - Honors Gone

Sunday, May 3, 2020

The Healing Power of the Sun

The best and simplest cure for the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) might just be going outside, as natural sunlight contains ultraviolet (UV) rays that Department of Homeland Security (DHS) science and technology advisor William Bryan says easily destroy viruses.
Source: Natural News

Following text by Daniel Wasserman

I am curious to know if there is a Biblical source for the healing power of the sun?


We know that Vitamin D is manufactured by the interaction between the skin and sunlight, and that the main role of vitamin D is to increase absorption of calcium in the digestive tract.

Looking to Biblical sources for the sun’s healing power, we find the following episode: In Genesis, the story is told of the battle between Jacob and the angel of his wicked brother Esau. This wrestling match lasted throughout the night with the two opponents locked in a head-to-head competition. As dawn approached, Jacob’s nemesis took a cheap shot below the belt, dislocating Jacob’s hip and giving him a limp.

After the above story, the verse states (32:32), “And the sun shone for him.” Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, known as Rashi, asks in his classical commentary: What do the words “for him” mean? When the sun shines, is it not shining for everyone?! He answers by telling us that the sun had risen for Jacob’s benefit, “for him,” in order to heal his hip.

Could this be an allusion to one of the wonderful healing mechanisms that G‑d has implanted in the natural world?

The sun is indeed a recognized source of health and healing in the Jewish tradition. In the book of Malachi, it states (3:20): “And the sun of mercy shall rise with healing in its wings.”

We are told that the light that illuminated the world during the six days of creation was removed from the world. The sun is only a minute fraction of this original light (1/60th to be exact). In the Jewish description of messianic times, this divine light will return to the world once again for us to enjoy. If the sun contains such incredible powers to heal, can you imagine what the “original light” will be able to do?

Source: Chabad

The Great Realisation

A bed time story of how it started, and why hindsight’s 2020.