Friday, July 29, 2011

Chassidus Parshas Masay

Parshas Masay - Journeys through the exile of the Three Weeks
There was once a great powerful king who lived in a well guarded palace. Though the king was kind and just, it was nearly impossible to be granted an audience with the king due to his stature and regal court. Each room of the palace had guards stationed at the doors and only the high level courtiers, ministers and statesmen had access. Even they needed to be granted an audience, and an audience was only granted at specific times. Under such conditions it was simply a well known fact that one could not approach the king.
There was a simple countryman who longed to see his majesty. Not knowing the laws and procedures for gaining an audience he travelled to the imperial capital and approached the gates of the palace. When the guards stationed on duty questioned him and heard his purpose they burst out laughing, "You have come for an audience with his majesty the king?" they jeered! "Yes," replied the smiling simpleton, "I wish to invite him to my home for a festive meal in his honor!" he said proudly. "Surely, you jest!" They mocked him. When they explained how difficult it was the poor disappointed countryman left forlorn and sad. He travelled back home to his village longing to see the regal figure of the king and enjoy his company.
Then one day the king had his royal carriage harnessed with six white steeds, and he and his entire royal entourage left the imperial capital on a journey. Unfortunately his royal coachman was unfamiliar with the route and he and the king got lost and separated from the group. Tired, hungry and very lost the king took heart as they spotted a small hut not far off on the horizon. The small hut was but a mud brick house with a thatched roof and a chimney which at the moment was puffing smoke. Normally under no circumstances would the king ever dream of spending the night in such a hovel. yet, now far from home, where else could he go? There were no fancy hotels, nor inns anywhere in sight and night had fallen. The coachman knocked on the door, and to the astonishment of the simple countryman whose home they had reached, there stood the king himself! The simple countryman stood there in wonder, mouth agape, here was the king himself! "Please, your majesty," beamed the smiling peasant, as he escorted the king inside. The king looked about at the modest and simple home. There were barely any furnishings, a few rickety chairs, a table and a wood burning stove. But the house was clean, neat and orderly. The host prepared his majesty a modest meal, spread some straw and offered them a bed. The king was hungry and thirsty and gratefully accepted his host's simple meal. Then tired and weary he gratefully accepted the modest bedding. As long as the house was clean and neat he thought as rested his weary body. The next morning the king awoke, thanked the country peasant and promised to reward him should he even need it. The simple countryman remarked that his reward was having had the honor of hosting the king, and being in his close proximity, which was his heart's greatest desire!
The holy Maggid of Mezritch told this parable, and it is recorded in both the Kozhnitzer Maggid's sefer Avodas Yisroel here in this week's parsha and also in Noam Elimelech on parshas VaYeshev.
The Avodas Yisroel says that this Parsha Masay is always read during the 3 Weeks, because they are a total of 21 days and 21 nights which together equals 42, corresponding to the 42 journeys mentioned in Parshas Masay. We too, says the Kozhnitzer Maggid must travel through 42 journeys during this period, to rectify and work on our Avodas Hashem.
The parable teaches us that when the holy temple, the bais hamikdash stood, it was difficult to approach Hashem, the King of Kings! For when the King is in His palace surrounded by guards and courtiers He is inapproachable for audiences. However in our present state of exile, when the King has wandered in exile together with us, then He is approachable. For when the King leaves His palace and He is in exile, He can even be brought by us into our homes and into our heart.
The Avodas Yisroel tells us that while in exile The King, is on a journey together with us and that we have the unique opportunity to approach Him as during no other time! This is how he says his master the Maggid of Mezritch explained the verse in Eicha 1:3 "Kol Rodfayha Hisiguha Bein HaMeitzarim," although the simple meaning of the verse is that "The pursuers caught up to Jerusalem who is portrayed and personified like a woman running from her enemies, and they caught her between the boundaries." We called the boundaries and narrow alleyways of the Three Weeks between 17 of Tammuz and 9th of Av as the period of Bein HaMeitzarim. Thus the Maggid taught us that "Kol Rodfay"ha - All those who pursue Yud"Hay - All those who chase after and pursue Hashem, Whose Name is symbolized by the Yud"Hay  can catch up to Him specifically during the Bein HaMetzarim, during the period of the three weeks. Because when the exile is at its peak and felt the strongest, that is when we can pursue Hashem and come close to Him, that is when the King is in exile and will even visit us and our home and our heart.
Good Shabbos
Kol Tuv,
R' Tal Moshe Zwecker
Director Machon Be'er Mayim Chaim
Chassidic Classics in the English Language
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