Friday, June 26, 2009

Kedushas Levi on Parshas Chukas Part III

Stories & Parables
Words of Harsh Rebuke

Once a Maggid a wandering preacher arrived in Berdichev to give a sermon
since he needed to raise money to marry off one of his daughters. He asked
Rav Levi Yitzchak for permission to speak in the Bais Midrash. The
Berditchever gave him permission on one condition, he was forbidden to speak
disparagingly about the holy children of Israel during his speech. In the
midst of his sermon, the preacher got carried away and forgot his promise
and he began sharply rebuking the Jewish people with harsh words. When the
Berditchever Rav heard the words of the preacher he ran over to the aron
kodesh and opened its doors pleading: "Ribono Shel Olam - Master of the
World! Do not believe what this man is saying! Just give him the money that
he needs to marry off his daughters, just do not let him speak negatively
about Israel - the Jewish people!' (Otzar Yisroel)

Two Eyes
It is written in the holy sefer Orach LaChaim of Reb Avraham Chaim of
Zlotchov: "I heard from my mechutan, the pious Rebbe and genius Reb Levi
Yitzchak the meaning of the verse "Hashem's eyes are toward the righteous
Tzaddikim" (Tehillim 34:16). Tzaddikim must have two eyes. With one eye they
should see the greatness of the Creator, and with the other they should gaze
upon their own humility.

Seeing but Not Seeing
Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev had finally recuperated from a long illness
that had debilitated him so that he had fallen from his lofty level.
Finally, he had recovered and regained his previous greatness and strength.
Once, at the end of Shabbos soon after his recovery, Reb Levi Yitzchak
entered the Koznitzer Maggid's study to bid him farewell.
"Where does my master intend to travel?" the Maggid asked his Rebbe.
"I was invited to debate the misnagdim who oppose Chassidus, and I was
unable to do so due to my long illness. Now that I have recovered, I wish to
fulfill my duty and travel there to carry on the debate."
Surprised, the Maggid asked how the Rebbe could possible succeed.
"And what do they know that I do not know?" was Reb Levi Yitzchak's reply.
"The misnagdim have no greater knowledge than I."
"But even I have questions regarding your behavior! For example, why do you
pray the Shemoneh Esrei with open eyes?"
"Sertse! (My beloved heart!)"9 answered the Rebbe. "Do you think I am seeing
anything when I am praying?"
"I know that while you are praying your thoughts are turned toward the
higher realms and spheres, and you are totally divested of your existence in
this world, and your physical sense of sight is not operating at that time
at all. I know all this, but your opponents will never believe that my
master is not simply distractedly looking around in the midst of the
Shemoneh Esrei prayer."
Reb Levi Yitzchak conceded and decided not to undertake the trip.

Kedushas Levi Chukas Part II

Moshe said here "Listen now you rebels!" he rebuked the Jewish people with
harsh words, therefore he needed to strike the rock so that it should
perform for him as it was meant to. Had he uplifted Israel as we explained
above, as the Holy One Blessed be He had in mind "And you shall speak to the
rock," then he would have said the following to the rock: 'You who were
created for the purpose of serving Israel who are on such a high loft level,
you must do the task for which you were created, and give forth water for
Israel.' However now that he rebuked them using harsh words saying "Listen
you rebels," he needed to strike the rock to get it to perform the will of
Israel1, we find that one sin caused the other.2

This is hinted to in our verse "Since you have not believed in Me in order
to sanctify Me before the eyes of the children of Israel." Since he who
rebukes Israel with good words, can also give over this ability to the
nation as well. This is hinted to in the words literally leEynei - to
sanctify the eyes as our sages taught (Shir HaShirim Rabba 1:15) "the eyes
of the congregation" are the wise men of the congregation3, they will also
be able to grasp this ability.

1.See HaYom Yom 7 Adar II "Walking in the street one must think words of
Torah. Whether to actually pronounce the words depends on the place, if one
is permitted - according to Torah law - to utter words of Torah there. But
when someone goes about not occupied with Torah words,1 then the stone he
treads on exclaims: "Bulach! ('clod', in Russian) How dare you trample me!
How are you any higher than I am?"
And also HaYom Yom 15 Adar I "It is said of the Time To Come: Chabakuk 2:11
"A stone in the wall will cry out and a beam from the tree will respond." At
present, inert creations are mute; though trodden upon, they remain silent.
But there will come a time when the revelation of the Future becomes a
reality, that the inert will begin to speak, relate and demand: "If a man
was walking along without thinking or speaking words of Torah, why did he
trample upon me?" The earth trodden upon has been waiting for millenia, ever
since the Six Days of Creation. All kinds of living creatures have been
treading upon it all this time, but it is waiting for a Jew (or two Jews) to
walk on it while discussing Torah. But if they do not say words of Torah,
the earth will protest: "You too are just like an animal!" (Compiled and
arranged by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of
righteous memory, in 5703 (1943) from the talks and letters of the sixth
Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, of righteous memory.)
2.See also Gur Aryeh of the Maharal on 20:12 and Maharsha Aggados Sotah 12b.
3.See Kedushas on Channukah Fifth Kedushah and Rashi to Ta'anis 24a sv
MeAynei. See also Rabbeinu Bachaya VaYikra 4:13, Moreh nevuchim I Chap 30
the eyes of the congregation refers to its leaders and heads these are the
sages. Etz Chaim of AriZal 8:1.

Kol Tuv,
R' Tal Moshe Zwecker
Director Machon Be'er Mayim Chaim
Phone: 972-2-992-1218 / Cell: 972-54-842-4725
VoIP: 516-320-6022
eFax: 1-832-213-3135
join the mailing list to keep updated about new projects here:

Kedushas Levi on Parshas Chukas PART I

Kedushas Levi on Parshas Chukas The Proper Way to Rebuke

"And you shall speak to the rock before their eyes etc. since you have not
believed in Me, in order to sanctify Me before the eyes of the children of
Israel." (20:8-12)

Rashi and the Ramban disagree with each-other as to what Moshe's sin was.
One of them (The Ramban on verse 8 in the name of the Rambam) interprets
that Moshe's sin was that he said to Israel "Listen you rebels etc." And
the other (Rashi verse 11-12) interprets that his sin was striking the rock.

It seems to me that these explanations are really the same one because one
caused the other. There are two categories of people who rebuke Israel so
that they should fulfill the will of their Blessed Creator. One rebukes with
goodly words, meaning that he tells each Jew of his great advantages and of
the source of his soul, that each soul is hewn from the throne of glory
(Zohar I 113a) and of the great pleasure that the Creator Blessed is He
derives so to speak from the mitzvos of each Jew and the great joy and
happiness that permeates all the worlds when a Jew performs the mitzvos of
Blessed Creator. This form of rebuke causes the Jews' hearts to lean towards
fulfilling the will of the Creator Blessed is He, and that each Jew will
accept the yoke of the kingship of heaven upon themselves.

There are others who rebuke people with harsh and embarrassing words until
they have no choice but to do the will of the Creator.

The difference between them, is that the one who rebukes with good words,
he elevates the Jewish soul up higher and higher and he constantly tells
over stories and tales of the righteousness and the greatness of Israel, how
great is their power up above in Heaven, such a person is worthy of being a
leader over Israel. However the one who rebukes using harsh words is not of
this league.

The one who rebukes with good words, who constantly tells over stories and
tales of the greatness of Israel and their righteousness, then everything
that was ever created in this world must now of their own volition fulfill
the will of the Jewish people for their created purpose which is for the
Israel. (See First Rashi on Bereshis 1:1, vaYikra Rabba 36:4) However
regarding the one who does not relate and tell over the greatness and
righteousness of Israel, then any creature must be greatly forced to perform
its function and fulfill it's purpose for which it was created, meaning to
do the will of Israel.

Kol Tuv,
R' Tal Moshe Zwecker
Director Machon Be'er Mayim Chaim
Phone: 972-2-992-1218 / Cell: 972-54-842-4725
VoIP: 516-320-6022
eFax: 1-832-213-3135
join the mailing list to keep updated about new projects here:

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Lubavitcher Rebbe's Yohrezeit II cont'd

Pirkei Avos / Ethics of the Fathers Based on the teachings of the
Lubavitcher Rebbe; adapted by Tal Zwecker
Chapter 4 Mishna 13 "Crowning Yourself"

The Mishna teaches "Rabbi Shimon says there are three crowns: the crown of
Torah, the crown of the Priesthood and the crown of Kingship or Royalty and
the crown of a Good Name surpasses them. (literally "rises on their

The Rebbe explains that each of these three crowns teaches us an important
lesson about how to serve Hashem.

The Crown of Torah: The crown of Torah is just lying around ready for any of
us to just pick up. In fact this very aspect is unique to the crown of
Torah. The other two crowns of Priesthood and Kingship cannot be earned,
they are passed down through one's family. You are either born a kohen or a
descendant of King David, or not. As for the crown of Torah however
Maimonides the Rambam taught in the laws of Talmud Torah "whosoever wishes
let him come and take it [the crown of Torah]." We must all strive to crown
ourselves by toiling and engaging in Torah study whenever there is
The Crown of Priesthood: This crown alludes to Aharon the high priest. The
lesson of this crown is that each and every Jew must look to Aharon haKohen
as an example to learn from. Aharon's way of serving Hashem was filled with
Ahavas Yisroel - love for his fellow Jews. As the Mishna in Avos (1:12)
teaches Aharon loved peace and chased after peace.
The Crown of Kingship / Royalty: This crown alludes to King David and his
offspring the anointed Moshiach. It's lesson is that it is incumbent upon
each Jew to strengthen his faith in the coming of Moshiach and to await his
immanent arrival may he come speedily.

We have therefore broken down the message of the three crowns to strengthen
ourselves in serving Hashem through: Torah study, Ahavs Yisroel - loving our
fellow Jews and faith in the arrival of Moshiach.

The Rebbe now addresses the obvious question that many commentators ask: Why
does the language of the Mishna convey that there are three crowns when
there are in reality four? Why is the fourth crown of Keser Shem Tov - a
good name not counted among the others?

The Rebbe explains once we are permeated with Torah knowledge through and
though, once all of our being is infused with love of our fellow Jews so
that in each action we can feel the closeness and peace of our hearts, once
we believe with all our heart and soul in Moshiach's coming and await the
redemption every moment then we can merit the fourth crown of Keser Shem
Tov - a good name. The fourth crown is not a crown on its own. It exists
only after acquiring the other three. This is the meaning of the Mishna's
language the crown of a Good Name "rises on their backs," it is only
possible to have this fourth crown "on the backs" through utilizing the
other three.

The Keser Shem Tov - is a crown that expresses one's good name, a quality
which is our identity to others and when interacting with them. The crowns
of Torah, Priesthood and Royalty can be personal, signifying our own
identity to ourselves. However in order to convey our identity to others we
need a "good name." This "good name" is acquired by interacting with our
fellow Jews, helping them by fulfilling the dictates of the other three
crowns and thereby acquiring this one as well.

Based on: Biurim Le-Pirkei Avos Chapter 4 Mishna 13 Avos D'Rabbi Nasan
Chapter 41:1

Kol Tuv,
R' Tal Moshe Zwecker
Director Machon Be'er Mayim Chaim
Phone: 972-2-992-1218 / Cell: 972-54-842-4725
VoIP: 516-320-6022
eFax: 1-832-213-3135
join the mailing list to keep updated about new projects here:

The Lubavitcher Rebbe's Yohrezeit

In honor of the Yahrzeit of the Rebbe of Lubavitch zatzal zy"a

Pirkei Avos / Ethics of the Fathers Based on the teachings of the
Lubavitcher Rebbe; adapted by Tal Zwecker
Chapter 6 Mishna 2 "Freedom"

The Mishna quotes a verse in Shemos (Exodus) 32:16 which reads "The tablets
are the work of G-d and the writing is the work of G-d charus - engraved on
the tablets," The Mishna teaches "Do not read this as 'engraved' (Charus in
Hebrew) rather read this as 'freedom' (Cheirus), for there is no one who is
truly as free as a man who engages in Torah study."

What defines a free man? It is not only the fact that he is not enslaved,
rather he must have a characteristic that defines him as free.

At first glance no one in the world seems to fit this definition. In a way
we are all as slaves subjugated to our physical bodily needs; we all must
eat and drink to stay alive. If so how can we call ourselves 'free'?

Although this is true we must re-examine our understanding of how Chassidus
looks at eating and drinking. The verse in Mishlei 3:6 "Know Hashem in all
your ways" is a cornerstone in our philosophy. Rather than living the life
of an ascetic and secluding ourselves from this world our job is to find the
G-dly spark in everything we encounter and elevate it. This is how we should
react towards food and drink, rather than fasting and abstaining we should
learn to partake with an intention to eat and drink strengthening ourselves
physically so that we can better serve Hashem with Torah study and prayer.

Based on: Biurim Le-Pirkei Avos Chapter 5 Mishna 6 / Chapter 6 Mishna 2 /
Biurim Le-Perush Rashi Al-HaTorah VaYikra / Bechukosai Parshas Bamidbar /

Kol Tuv,
R' Tal Moshe Zwecker
Director Machon Be'er Mayim Chaim
Phone: 972-2-992-1218 / Cell: 972-54-842-4725
VoIP: 516-320-6022
eFax: 1-832-213-3135
join the mailing list to keep updated about new projects here: