Thursday, May 17, 2012

A sample of Kedushas Levi on Avos Enjoy!

Mishna 2:8 "If you have studied much Torah do not hold yourself in favor for that, for it is for that purpose that you were created."

The Berditchever Rav, author of Kedushas Levi was a paragon of holiness and sanctity. His passion, excitement and fiery Dveykus was legendary. He was once offered some pepper by a passing waiter who made the mistake of saying to the tzadik, "would you like some pepper, I love pepper."

Unknowingly the poor waiter had applied the word love to a physical object of food. Such an appellation was foreign to the Berditchever, who stared, appalled at the waiter and replied quietly, "You love pepper?"

The waiter, oblivious to the Berditchever Rav's slowly mounting excitement simply replied, Yes. "You love pepper," repeated the tzadik again in a slightly higher tone as he flushed and got to his feet. He then proclaimed in a booming voice so loud that all those at the table stopped and turned to stare,
"You Love Pepper?!!! But I Love HASHEM!!!!"
As he declared his passionate love for Hashem, hands outspread in a gesture of Dveykus he simply sprang up with all his energy and landed on top of the table! Dishes came crashing down and silverware fell as those seated toppled over, as the holy tzadik's face shone with intense fiery passion as he continued to yell, "But I LOVE HASHEM!!!"
The following explanation of our Mishna, by Rav Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev author of the Kedushas Levi is thus characteristic of one whose fiery passion consumed him to the very core.

He gave the following parable:

There was once a king who was commanded his servant to study the art of warfare. The servant went to train as a soldier. During his military training exercises he was taught how to bear arms and how to handle weaponry. He was taught how to aim at the enemy and how to attack and defeat them. Off course because this was all simply a training exercise he was not given live ammunition. That is to say, he was not given any live fire to use. Thus he studied the theory hands on.
One day later on, this servant, trained as a soldier was called into battle. During the war he made a complete fool of himself and a laughing stock as he attempted to engage the enemy with his weapon exactly as he had been taught during training! In other words, he did not fire or use any live ammunition. The enemy jeered and mocked him finally conquering the pathetic excuse for a soldier.

The idea behind this parable is that the Awesome Creator Whom we cannot fathom gave us His holy Torah as black fire on white fire. This is the weapon we must use against the evil inclination in our war against him. When we recite the blessings over Torah study and mitzvos we say "Who has sanctified us with His mitzvos," this sanctification refers to separation as Rashi explains in his commentary to the verse "be holy."
Thus by attachment to the very essence of the mitzvos which is like the white fire, through passion, Dveykus and excitement this distances and separates us from the base physical world and attaches us further to Hashem.

However whoever acts and performs mitzvos lacking any enthusiasm, passion or excitement is like our servant the failed soldier who failed to fire or use live ammunition, he adds no fiery passion or enthusiasm to his weapons and thus his weapons remain useless against the enemy when he engages them in battle.
This is what our sages meant when they said "do not hold yourself in favor," do not hold onto the Torah while yourself – your physical body is also likewise held in favor. Rather your enthusiasm should be directed at spiritual pursuits while you distance and separate yourself from too much physicality. "For it is with this that you were created," the word for created here is Notzarta which comes from the word for Tzurah or form. Thus we read the Mishna to imply that you were created in a Divine G-dly form of Tzurah which aids you in conquering the base physicality of the body, through fiery passion and excitement in mitzvah observance you can attach yourself on High.

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