"Kol baalei hashir yotzin be'shir ve'nimshachin be'shir umazin aleihem
vetovlin bim'koman –All the animals that are chained with collars may
go out on Shabbos with their collars, and be pulled by their chains
and they can be sprinkled to purify them and immerse in the mikve in
that way." (Mishna Shabbos 51b)
The Nahar Shalom of Parisov noted that the word for "collar" and
"chain" used by Chazal is also the Hebrew word for a song: shir. He
thus explained the words of our Mishna: Kol baalei hashir – this
refers to Moshe, Aharon and Miriam and that generation, known as Dor
De'ah – they are "the Masters of Song" – baalei hashir. Yotzin be'shir
– "they go out on Shabbos Shira," they leave their abode On High in
Gan Eden HaElyon and come down to us whenever the Shira is sung on
Shabbos. Venimshachin be'shir umazin aleihem – "And they are drawn out
with song," they draw down all manner of shefa (abundance) and
blessings, mazon – "sustenance" and livelihood into this world.
Vetovlin bim'koman, and when they return, "they stop to immerse
themselves" in the supernal rivers of fire formed from the sweat of
the chayos known as Nahar Dinor.
Every Shabbos, for a period of twenty-two (!) years, Rav Menachem
Mendel of Rimanow was known to have spoken about Parshas HaMon. By
doing so, he drew down an abundance of shefa, berachos and parnassa
for all of Klal Yisrael. (Ateres Menachem)
One of the amazing things that Rav Mendel of Rymanov taught about the
mon was that since it was Lechem Abirim or "angel food," it was
thoroughly pure and had no waste [Chazal translated Lechem Abirim as
Lechem shenivla ba'eivarim – "food (or bread) that is fully absorbed
by the limbs of the body"]. As such, when it was consumed, it did not
go down the esophagus into the stomach to get digested and absorbed in
the intestines. Instead, it went down the windpipe straight from the
lungs into the heart, and from there, it was directly injected into
the bloodstream and carried off to all the limbs of the body!
Preparing for the Mon on Erev Shabbos
Veheichinu eis asher yavi'u – "and they will prepare whatever they
Once, when Rav Tzvi Hirsch Meshares was still Rav Menachem Mendel's
gabbai, the Rebbe's house was entirely bare. Neither food nor money
was to be found. It was still the beginning of the week and every day
the Rebbetzin asked Rav Tzvi Hirsch to alert the Rebbe as to the dire
financial situation in their household. For his part, the loyal gabbai
went to tell the Rebbe. But each time he opened the door, he found the
Tzaddik in such lofty states of dveikus and rapture that he dared not
disturb his master.
Finally, as Shabbos was rapidly approaching, Rav Tzvi Hirsch could no
longer hold back the Rebbetzin's dire warnings and pleas. He entered
the Rebbe's room and told Rav Mendel that there was neither food for
Shabbos, nor money with which to buy any.
"Do not worry," explained the Tzaddik. "We shall fulfill the dictates
of the pasuk in Parshas HaMon – Veheichinu eis asher yavi'u – 'and
they will prepare whatever they take.'"
And so, Rav Hirsch drew water, filled up all the empty pots and put
them over the fire, as if to cook.
"Now," said Rav Mendel, "we have prepared and done our part…and
Shabbos shall do hers!"
Not long after, a guest appeared who wished to stay with the Rebbe for
Shabbos, and wouldn't you know…? He just 'happened' to be traveling
with all the needed provisions: challos, fish, meat and all that was
necessary to fill the empty pots and make Shabbos.
"You see," said the Tzaddik, "we prepared ours, and the mon came…
Shabbos did the rest! (Chasdei Avos)
NO ONE CAN TAKE AWAY WHAT IS YOURS – THE MESSAGE OF THE MON
The Modzitzer Rebbe, in Divrei Yisrael, has some amazing Divrei Torah
about the mon and its messages. He cites the holy words of the Zohar
HaKadosh (Beshalach 61b) that the mon is shoresh haparnassa ledoros
–"the root source of sustenance and livelihood for all generations."
He then applies to the mon the principle we know of as hashgacha
pratis, which teaches us regarding parnassa – ein adam noge'a be'ma
shemuchan lachaveiro – "No man can touch what has been designated for
The Modzitzer cites a question from his illustrious forebear, Rav
Chatzkel of Kuzhmir. The Kuzhmirer asked the following question: We
know that Chazal teach us (Yoma 75a) that the mon was unevenly
distributed. The Tzaddikim found it on their doorsteps, the beinonim
(average yidden) found it outside the camp, while the resha'im
(wicked) had to travel far and wide in search of their allotted
portion of mon. So, asked Rav Chatzkele Kuzhmirer, why didn't the
wicked just steal the mon right off the doorsteps of the Tzaddikim?
They must have seen it just sitting there – why didn't they take it?
Why did they go so far out of their way? He gives two answers: First,
that the wicked hate the Tzaddikim so much that they would rather go a
circuitous route than step foot on a Tzaddik's doorstep and risk
meeting him, learning from him and hearing mussar from him! Second,
perhaps they did try to steal the mon from the doorsteps of the
Tzaddik but they found they just could not! They even went further
afield, saw the mon at the edge of the outskirts of the camp
designated for the beinonim and found that somehow, for some reason,
they couldn't steal that either! This forced them to search far and
wide for their own portion of mon. Why were they unable to steal the
mon of the Tzaddik and of the beinoni? Because "Ein adam noge'a be'ma
shemuchan lachaveiro – No man can touch what has been designated for
Effectively speaking, this means that a ba'al emuna (a person of
faith) must believe that Hashem has set aside a specific parnassa for
him. Even if it seems to you that someone else's efforts are ruining
your business, diverting your clients, taking your accounts or
stealing your ideas, that someone else's business is somehow siphoning
off whatever should have been yours – these feelings are nothing but
an illusion. A ba'al emuna must strengthen himself with the chizuk
that "Ein adam noge'a be'ma shemuchan lachaveiro – No man can touch
what has been designated for his fellow."
"Horse and rider He hurled into the sea" (Shemos 15:1).
Yeehaw! Shadowfax was the swiftest racehorse this side o' Cana'an! He
was so surefooted that he flew across the track, as terrain passed by
like a blur of color on an impressionist's canvas! He could run three
laps around the track faster than you could say Jack Robinson.
Yessiree Bob, Shadowfax was the prize horse in the stable and he was
worth his weight in gold. There was never a race he had lost,
never…unlike Lazybones Larry.
Lazybones Larry was, well, lazy. He was a nice enough horse to look at
and all, but he was just sooooo slow. He lazily chomped his hay and
swished his tail, and trotted around the track, barely breaking into a
run. No amount of coaxing with carrots or sugar cubes helped.
Eventually he was sold for a song to a pony farm, so kids could pet
him or enjoy a slow trot.
What makes a fast horse worth so much and a slow horse worth so
little? The Tzemach Tzedek of Lubavitch pointed out that in fact there
seems to be greater value in a slow horse than a fast one. Imagine you
ride a swift horse too fast and get lost in the woods. If the horse is
quick as lightning, then this small wrong turn could spell disaster,
for if the horse is so fast he will quickly lose you deep, deep in the
woods with almost no hope of finding your way out again! A slow horse
might also get lost, but as he is so slow, how deeply can he penetrate
the forest? Surely he only went in a few paces, and finding the way
back should therefore be easy. Why, then, is a fast horse worth so
The difference, explains the Tzemach Tzedek, is that as soon as the
fast racehorse realizes his mistake and that he has lost his way – at
that fleeting moment he swiftly turns himself around and in seconds he
will be out of the woods, whereas a slow horse will only realize
anything is amiss long after he is deep in the forest, lost beyond
hope. Even then, he is so slow that who knows how long it will take to
get back on the right track again!
Our war against the yetzer hara is no different, explains the Tzemach
Tzedek. We need to be able to flee from its clutches and return to the
Torah faster than lightning!
FROM THE MAGGID'S TABLE
THE LARGER THE SUM, THE SMALLER THE WORRY
Rav Elimelech Biderman shared the following anecdote about emuna and bitachon:
The Shinover Rav once remarked to his talmidim that the people in our
world are surely backward. The normal way of the world is that when
people are in need of a small sum of money for a particular purpose,
then they are at peace. They have great bitachon (trust) that somehow
they will get the money – after all, it's such a trifle, such a small
sum! But when a person needs a larger sum of money, then the opposite
happens. They get all nervous; they worry and fret – how will they
ever come up with such a large amount?!
The opposite attitude, however, is appropriate, explains the Shinover.
Whoever is in need of a great sum, a large amount of money that he
knows for sure he has no way in the world to amass – such a person
must place all of his emuna and bitachon in Hashem alone. Since he is
relying solely on Hashem, surely Hashem will take care of all his
needs! Conversely, someone who only needs a small sum of money and
believes that he has the power himself to gather together the needed
sum or borrow it from somewhere – he should surely worry! For if he is
not relying on Hashem then, me'ayin yavo ezri – from where will his
Rav Elimelech Biderman shared the following stories about emuna and bitachon:
HOW YOU SPEND YOUR MONEY
The Sefas Emes's daughter was married to the Rav of Bendin. It seems
that the Bendiner Rav had a habit of living somewhat beyond his
financial means, meaning that his household expenses were greater than
his income. In more simple terms, they were always broke. The Bendiner
once complained to her father, the Sefas Emes, that they never had any
money because her husband spent it all and lived beyond their means.
"Be grateful," the Sefas Emes answered his astonished daughter, "for
it seems that from On High it has been decreed that you should lack!
Rejoice that the form of lack comes from spending too much money on
food, clothes and your lifestyle, for since it has been decreed from
above that you should lack financially, it could have been spent
instead on bills for medical expenses instead!"
SERVING HASHEM IN ANY SITUATION
It was during the wanderings of the two holy brothers, the Rebbe Reb
Melech of Lizhensk and the Rebbe Reb Zisha of Hanipoli. In
self-imposed exile, they wandered among Jewish towns and villages,
bringing Yidden back to Hashem and His Torah, exhorting them to repent
and strengthening their faith and emuna.
Once they were falsely accused of some crime. This often happened to
poor beggars, who were blamed for all forms of mischief and
law-breaking. The two holy brothers appeared to be ragtag vagabonds
and the long arm of the law had them in its clutches. They were
summarily jailed, and behind lock and key their misery knew no bounds.
For in their incarceration they had finally met their match. Here the
evil one had cleverly jailed not only their physical bodies but also
their poor souls!
It was not the fact that they were jailed that bothered them, for
usually when something like this happened, the brothers occupied
themselves by studying Torah such as reciting Mishnayos by heart, or
saying Tehillim and davening. Nor was it the company of common
criminals, who had discerned that these two were no normal vagabonds
and had respectfully distanced themselves from the holy brothers. But
now the face of the Rebbe Reb Melech expressed his worry and anxiety.
"Why the long face, my holy brother?" asked Reb Zisha to Reb Melech.
"Zisha, my brother, it is almost time to daven Mincha, yet look," and
he pointed to the chamber pot in the middle of the rough, dingy cell.
"We cannot utter a single word of Torah or tefilla, or even think holy
thoughts in the presence of such refuse! Woe are we, my dear brother!"
sighed the Rebbe Reb Melech.
Just then, the Rebbe Reb Zisha's face lit up. "Brother, rejoice! For
the same halacha that Hashem gave us, commanding us to daven and
learn, has now forbidden us from doing so in this situation. Just
think – we can serve Hashem by not learning and not davening – what an
opportunity! When do we usually have a chance to serve Hashem so?"
And, grabbing the hands of the Rebbe Reb Melech, he began to dance –
and soon the two Tzaddikim were dancing and singing in the jail cell,
round and round the chamber pot!
The other inmates joined in, and soon the ruckus reached the ears of
the guards. The jail wardens came and started to yell, "What is the
meaning of all this noise and commotion? This is a jail, not a
The criminals cowered in fear. "It's them two crazies!" They pointed
shaking fingers at the singing and dancing Tzaddikim. "They are
dancing because of the chamber pot!"
"Oh, is that so?" the wicked warden sneered. "Guards – remove the pot
this instant!" And so it was that the Rebbe Reb Melech and the Rebbe
Reb Zisha davened and learned with nothing to disturb them further.
Yahrzeit 14 Shevat
Rav Yaakov Yehoshua Falk – the Pnei Yehoshua
The Vow that Saved His Life
Rav Yaakov Yehoshua Falk was the author of the Talmudic commentary
Pnei Yehoshua, and grandson of the famed Rav Yehoshua, author of the
Maginei Shlomo and responsa Pnei Yehoshua, for whom he was named. He
served as the head of the rabbinical court in Lwów after the Chacham
Tzvi and afterward in Berlin, Metz and Frankfurt.
During his tenure in Lwów a calamity occurred: several barrels of
gunpowder exploded, causing a terrible fire that killed some
thirty-six Jews, including his in-laws, his wife and daughter.
It was during this tragic episode, which the Pnei Yehoshua describes
in great detail in the introduction to his multi-volume Talmudic
commentary, that he was trapped under the rubble. Lying there beneath
the heavy beams of his destroyed home, paralyzed by shock, he waited
for the collapsing structure to subside. As he lay there immobile, he
vowed to Hashem that just as his illustrious maternal grandfather, the
author of Maginei Shlomo, for whom he was named, authored a commentary
on the Talmud, should Hashem help him survive this terrible calamity,
he too would not rest until he had studied, reviewed and authored a
similar Talmudic commentary.
Miraculously, no sooner had he made his vow than the rubble
mysteriously parted and he found a path through which he crawled out
unscathed. Seeing this open miracle and understanding that Hashem had
accepted his vow, he undertook to study and write novel
interpretations and commentary on the Talmud and its commentaries,
Rashi and the Tosafos. It is this famous work which has preserved his
fame till this day.
Rav Shimon ben Yehuda Greenfeld of Semihali, author of Shu"t Maharshag
and Zehav Sheva
In his youth, the Maharshag had the custom to learn according to the
method of logical Talmudic hairsplitting known as pilpul and most of
his chiddushim were devised using this method. In his later years,
however, he traded pilpul for the depth of peshat, the simple meaning
with sevara yeshara, straightforward logic.
He was a disciple of the Gaon Maharam Shik and his great esteem for
his Rebbe can be demonstrated by the following episode:
Once, the Maharam Shik paskened (ruled) that the halacha was one way,
when some of his students pointed out that the Pri Megadim ruled on
this matter exactly the opposite way. The Maharshag answered them
thus, "Believe me that the words, opinions and rulings of my Rebbe,
the Maharam Shik, are just as great in my eyes as those of the Pri
Megadim. Nonetheless, you should know that no matter who rules one way
or another, even my very own Rebbe, if when I learn the sugya (topic)
of Shas myself and understand it one way, this is how I rule, based on
my own understanding."
Once the poskim in his generation had a halachic dispute about money
matters that had a chashash issur (possible prohibition) of ribis
(interest). The Maharshag himself ruled that there was no forbidden
interest in such transactions, whereas the Gaon Rav Aharon Yeshaya
Fish of Hadas, author of Perach Matteh Aharon, ruled on the matter
strictly, that it was forbidden due to the issur of ribis.
Because the Maharshag had ruled permitting such business, many Jews
invested in this deal and consequently profited very handsomely. After
a while, the Maharshag restudied and reexamined the matter and decided
to reverse his original ruling. He now concurred with Rav Aharon Fish
of Hadas that the transactions were forbidden because of ribis.
Now a singular thing occurred: anyone who continued to invest began to
lose substantial sums of money.
Concluded Rav Eliezer Dovid Friedman of London: This story alone
demonstrates the power of limud Torah lish'ma (the sincere study of
Torah purely for its own sake). So long as the Maharshag ruled that
the business investments were permitted, the Yidden who followed his
pesak (ruling) were able to earn and profit handsomely. But the power
of the Torah is such that when the ruling came out of his holy mouth
that these transactions were forbidden, anyone who disregarded the
ruling and invested, thereby transgressing, lost out, for thus is the
power of Torah. (This story is found at length in the sefer Noam Siach
by Rav Eliezer Fish of Salka, a grandson of the Rav Fish of Hadas, p.
FROM PREVIOUS YEARS: A Tzaddik, or righteous person makes everyone
else appear righteous before G-d by advocating for them and finding
their merits. - Kedushas Levi, Parshas Noach (Bereishis 7:1)
SHABBOS SHIRA / PARSHAS Ha'MAN
CHASSIDUS ON THE PARSHA
THE SONG AT THE SEA
And the sea returned back to its strength. Our sages said that
Le'Aysabo can be read as LeTnao – to its original condition, for
during Genesis Hashem made a condition when He created the sea, that
it would split on behalf of Bnei Yisroel.
The Modzitzer Rebbe in Divrei Yisroel asks if Hashem already made a
condition with the sea to split, why then did it take the mesiruis
nefesh and immense act of self sacrifice of Nachshon ben Aminadav who
flung himself into the sea to get it to actually split? He tells us
that it seems like part of the precondition was that the sea should
split for Bnei Yisrole, but only once they had thrown themselves in,
deep up till their noses in the water! Why is this so?
He answers based on a teaching, a thread that runs throughout his
sefer again and again from his illustrious forebear the tzadik Rav
Chatzkele Kuzhnmirer (see below for Yorzeit and stories). Hashem
created angels and He created men. Angels have no tests nor trials.
When they sing shirah, there is no chiddush in their actions. When
they fulfill the will of the Ribbono Shel Olam there is nothing
special about that because that is their nature, that is what they
were created for and there is nothing holding them back nor preventing
them from carrying out their tafkid and role. Us, we human beings, on
the other hand have what are known as meniyos & ikkuvim – preventive
obstacles and various different barriers and obstructions which block
and bar us from fulfilling our tafkid, to do and fulfill the Torah and
mitzvos and do the will of the Master of the World. When we face or
meniyos and ikkuvim head on and despite them, over come, defeat them
and serve Hashem, this causes tremendous joy, pleasure and nachas
ruach or satisfaction on High.
For example, the challenge of earning a living we call parnash is
perhaps one of the most formidable greatest challenges and it is no
accident that Chazal compare it to no other than the splitting of the
sea when they say Kashe parnasah shel adam ke'keriyas yam suf. The
sea, explains the rebbe, is the pivotal example of an obstruction, a
barrier that prevented us from moving on and from fulfilling our
tafkid. When Klal Yisroel en masse left Egypt, their Exodus was barred
and impeded by the sea. Their mission was to reach Har Sinai and
"serve Hashem on the mountain." It was to accept the Torah and become
Am Yisroel. Only one thing stood in their way. . . the sea. They
needed to demonstrate self sacrifice and mesirus nefesh as a key to
unlock the promise and condition that the sea would then split for
them. Not only did Klal Yisroel demonstrate self sacrifice at the sea
for us, they passed that trait down to us as an inheritance. They
themselves acquired from Avraham who was assailed on his way to
perform his tafkid at the Akeidah by the Satan, who himself conjured
up an impasse of a river of water which Avrahama Avinu also had to
pass in neck deep until he emerged victorious. This self sacrifice to
perform Hashem's will has now been passed on to us. From Avraham to
the Shevatim in Egyptian bondage and now down to us their descendants,
any trial and trait that has unlocked a potential once before
continues to act as our key now in the future and we are the
inheritors of those keys to unlock the gates of meniyus and ikkuvim.
For just as the sea was THE obstacle preventing Klal Yisroel from
reaching Mt Sinai and getting the Torah, whenever any of us, in all
times and in all generations face an obstacle to our Torah, to our
mitzvos and avodas Hashem, a barrier and an impediment to fulfilling
our tafkid we must immerse ourselves neck and nose deep with mesirus
nefesh to battle against the tide! Then not only will the sea split
for us and the obstacles give way, they will become our aid as well.
Just as the sea turned tide against the Egyptian pursuers and bore
fruit and treasures for the Jews so do the very same eniyus and
ikkuvim contain within them the secret to our salvation, if we just
persevere and overcome. Serving Hashem despite and through the various
meniyus and ikkuvim is the job of man. We are not angels, we have a
yetzer hara, and ol parnassah, the burden and yoke of being human is
exactly why Hashem treasures our victories and gives us the aid and
strength needed to overcome and fulfill His will. That is the song of
the sea, the shiras hayam - the song of victory over all barriers and
obstacles in our lives while we fulfill our tafkid to Hashem.
The Night Reb Shmelke Slept in a Bed
The Rebbe Reb Shmelke of Nikolsberg rarely slept in his bed. He and
his disciples would study at their shtenders in the beis midrash until
they nodded off or fell asleep. It was part of the way they served
Hashem. A Talmid was once found asleep on his arm on the shtender, the
rebbe remarked, if you had the strength and presence of mind to put
your arm down so you could lay your head on it, you must not have been
Once, the Rebbe Reb Elimelech of Lizensk and his brother the Rebbe Reb
Zisha of Anipoli made a special trip to Nikolsberg to get Reb Shmelke
to sleep in his bed that night.
They themselves made the bed with special kavanos, holy thoughts and
meditations. That night Reb Shmelke indeed slept in his bed for
several hours. The next day he felt enlightened much more than usual.
As was his holy custom he stood and davened as the chazzan. When he
reached the recitation of the daily Shiras haYam in Pesukei DeZimra he
was so deeply engrossed in his prayers and he was in such a state of
enrapture and dveykus that to his exalted frame of mind he was
actually crossing the sea and he began to even lift up the coattails
of his bekeshe so as they should not get wet!!! After Davening he
turned to the two tzadikim and admitted that he never realized what a
good night's rest could for davening. However, he told them outright
that he would not be able to keep up this practice on a regular basis.
The Maggid of Dubno tells us the following parable:
Ki Ani Hashem Rofecha – For I am Hashem your healer. (Shemos 15:26)
There were three comrades who stood deep in conversation when one of
them noticed movement in the distance. He happened to have a pair of
binoculars and so he used them to see far into the distance and he saw
a crowd of people gathering. He told his friends what he saw and they
decided to investigate the matter. Come let us travel quickly in my
coach, they all quickly got in and made haste. In no time they reached
the crowd in the king's courtyard and saw that in their midst was a
ring of sad forlorn doctors who stood shaking their heads and wringing
their hands in despair, muttering, "so sad, so sad, too bad nothing
else can be done!" The crowd was nervous, agitated and despairing as
the three friends pushed and made their way to the center where the
king's only daughter, the princess lay, sick and dying. The royal
doctors had clearly given up all hope, but the third comrade asked the
king's permission to try his hand, for he was a professional healer.
Permission was quickly granted and he quickly mixed herbs and medicine
for her and they gave her to drink. Miraculously, color returned to
her pale face, her fever subsided, her eyes opened and she smiled.
Soon she was back to herself and her strength regained.
The king was beside himself with glee! Overjoyed, he turned to the
three comrades and exclaimed, I now give my daughter's hand in
marriage to he who saved her life! But now, a fierce competition and
disagreement broke out amongst the three former friends, each one
adamantly stood his ground that he was responsible for saving the
princess' life and that he should be the one to take her hand and wed
her in marriage. "If not for my binoculars, none of you would have
seen or known that anything was at all amiss!" declared the first
comrade. "What an insult," spat the second, "why without my coach we
would still be walking here on foot and never have made it in time to
save the princess life!" "Well, I never…" stamped the third in
agitation, "if I had not healed her with my own two hands and my
expert knowledge of medicine you two would have arrived only to
witness her sad demise!" he pronounced. The king saw that he was in a
quandary and he sent for the princess herself. "My dear beloved
daughter only you can choose the man you wish to marry, which of these
three suitors will you have?" "Each and every one of you honorable
sirs deserves praise and reward for each of you shared an important
and integral part in saving my life. Yet I choose the healer. And I
shall explain my choice, to you all," said the princess, "for although
you two also helped save my life," she said turning to the other two
would be suitors, "nonetheless if Heaven forbid I would ever be sick
again, neither of you could help me, however the healer, if he will
wed me and be with me he can always use his expertise to heal me if I
am sick once more."
One of the lessons we can learn from this mashal is that we can seek
the help and aid of many, peoples and nations and acknowledge them,
their true genuine contributions, and thank them. However went it
comes to choosing a partner, Klal Yisroel has Hashem for He is our
healer and whatever we lack, whatever we need, whenever we need Him,
He is there right by our side.
FROM THE MAGGID'S TABLE
Rav Elimelech Biderman told the following story:
YEDID NEFESH SONG OF THE SOUL
The chabad chassid Rav Menachem Mendel Futerfas, was once present
during a farbrengen during which he told the following tale:
There was a chabbad chossid who was exiled to Siberia for the crime of
teaching Torah to young cheder boys. For this serious offense, he was
exile to the outermost reaches and highest mountains in Siberia, a
cold dark place where the sun is completely absent during winter for
several months! He was given a small shack as his living quarters, and
there he spent his days with no seforim, no tefillin, no vestige of
Yiddishkeit at all! His heart was torn and he was so broken that he
felt total despair. Soon Shabbos was approaching and he could not
console himself and his broken soul. Then as he reckoned that time of
day, for his watch was his only companion with no sunrise nor sunset
to tell him the time of day, he realized that it was Shabbos
afternoon, he left his shack and was stunned as he froze in his
tracks. He could hear the faint sound of singing, sweet outpouring of
the soul! The place was so cold and frozen that the mountaintops were
bare and bereft of trees or plantlife so that the voice and its echoes
carried far and wide. He followed the sound of the singing voice till
it led him to another small shack. Inside he found a long haired Jew
singing in dveykus and communion, singing Yedid Nefesh to Hashem with
such passion and plaintive longing that he did not notice the
entrance of our chassid. The chassid sat down beside him and joined
him and together in that frozen wasteland they sang, Yedid Nefesh Av
HaRachman . . .Nafshi Cholas Ahavasecha, my soul is love sick for You
Hashem! After an hour or two they finished, and when he concluded, the
long haired exile opened his eyes and noticed sitting across from him
a Jew, complete with beard and payos! He was overjoyed and exclaimed
"I have been here twenty years in exile and since then I have not set
my eyes on a Jew! I have no Tefillin to wear, no Tallis to wrap, no
Sukkah to sit in, no Shofar to hear and now Hashem has sent me a real
flesh and blood Jew!" He was so overjoyed! "Please tell me where you
able to smuggle some article of kedusha?" "Only the Tefillin Shel yad
was I able to conceal and smuggle in," replied the chassid, "the
wicked guards confiscated my tefillin shel rosh when I arrived ," he
explained sadly. "Tomorrow after Shabbos I will gladly let you use the
tefillin shel yad." Said the chassid. The entire evening and all
night, our long haired exile sat in anticipation and longing, "just
think tomorrow I shall do a mitzvah that I have not done for some
twenty years!" The very next morning he excitedly made a beracha and
laid the tefillin shel yad and recited Keriyas Shema and as he ended
the word Echad declaring and proclaiming Hashem unity, his soul
Rav Mendel concluded his story, "Just think, ask yourselves each and
every one of you," and he turned to those present at the fargrengen, "
how would you look if you had been sitting in exile and unable to
fulfill any of the mitzvos at all?! Would you too, sit in a state of
dveykus singing Yedid Nefesh pouring out your soul with passion and
longing for Hashem?! And now here we are privileged to sit here
together at a farbrengen should we not lift our voices together in
praise and in song to the Master of the World, the Beloved of our
Soul, Yedid Nefesh Av HaRachman?!"
Parshas HaMan and Feeding the Birds
The Perisha in Orach Chaim cites the Yerushalmi that it is a good
practice to recite parshas HaMan daily. The reason for this segulah
for Parnasah is Emunah. The Yismach Yisroel of Alexander explains, a
person may fool himself into thinking that when he works hard and
earns a living that it is "kochi veotzem yadi asa li es kol hachayil
hazeh," my hard work and my toil is what built this up and it is my
own two hands that created this livelihood and success. This is the
illusion. For when a person lacks emunah and is proud and arrogant
enough to think he himself if the source of his own financial success
then he is clogging up his own spiritual plumbing. The pipelines of
blessings and abundance of shefa get clogged from such thoughts.
However daily repetition of parshas haman ingrains within us the truth
that it is all really from Hashem and He is the true source of
blessings and parnassah.
This is also one of the reasons for the minhag to feed the birds on
Shabbos Shira. The Yismach Yisroel notes the objections of the Magen
Avrohom who rules against this practice saying that (OC 324) since the
birds do not rely on us for their food we should not feed them.
However says the Alexander Rebbe, that itself is the very lesson of
the Manna. We are like the birds, we do not rely on human hands to
feed us, as domesticated animals and beasts of burden do. If we rely
on the feeding of human hands then we too are like those domesticated
animals and beasts of burden for we would be no better! Rather we feed
the birds because it reminds us that we too are like them we rely on
Hashem alone to feed us and nourish us!
EVEN HIGHER THAN ANGELS
The angel of G-d who had been going in front of the camp of Yisrael
moved and went behind them...
The holy Berditchever teaches us in Kedushas Levu that it is known
that the angels are on a higher level than Bnei Yisrael due to their
However, when Hashem demonstrates His love for His nation Bnei
Yisrael, then they are even higher than the supernal angels. In fact,
during the splitting of the sea, HaKadosh Baruch Hu demonstrated His
great love for Bnei Yisrael, and they were on a higher level than any
This is the meaning of "The angel of G-d who had been going in front
of the camp of Yisrael moved and went behind them" — the angels who
had walked in front of Bnei Yisrael's camp were previously on a higher
level than Bnei Yisrael. But during the splitting of the sea, they
stood behind them — "behind" the level of Bnei Yisrael. Bnei Yisrael
rose to a level higher than that of the angels because Hashem
demonstrated His love for them there.
Higher than an Angel?
The Tzanz-Klausenberger related related the following story, as he
heard it from Rav Tevli of Dukla. "I was told this story by Rav Tevli
of Dukla, who heard it from his father-in-law, Rav Yosef Moshe, who
heard from Rav Yitzchak Ettinger, who heard from the mouth of the
author of Yeshuos Yaakov himself. It happened when the Yeshuos Yaakov
was but a young avreich living in Yaroslav (a city of misnagdim,
opponents of Chassidus)." This is the story he told:
One year on erev Yom Kippur, the rav of Berditchev arrived in town.
When he entered the shul for Kol Nidrei, he came in crawling on his
hands and feet — such was his awe and self-negation before Hashem! He
approached the amud and began to recite Kol Nidrei with great
reverence and fervor. None of us assembled knew the guest's identity,
but nonetheless he was allowed to continue leading the prayers before
the congregation. He had the sweetest voice we had ever heardm, and we
could tell by the tone and feeling with which he said those stirring
prayers that this was a person of great stature.
After concluding ma'ariv, he went on to recite the liturgy known as
Shir HaYichud before the ark and then he began reciting the entire
sefer Tehillim out loud. He stayed there, standing on his feet and
saying Tehillim, the entire night!
In the morning, when the men started arriving in shul, we found him
standing there in the same position that we had left him. Without
budging from his place, he simply went on to recite Adon Olam and led
the prayers for shacharis. Then he proceeded to read from the Torah
and lead the services for mussaf."
"I began to doubt whether this being was human or an angel from
heaven!" the Yeshuos Yaakov explained. "His powerful, sweet voice and
his unceasing outpouring of emotion were nothing short of angelic. But
when the congregation recited their responses and he stood silent I
concluded that he must be human. Then he came to the ne'ilah prayers.
He raised his voice and roared out the words like a lion, and not one
person in the entire congregation was left unmoved. Anyone who had not
yet done teshuvah was filled with remorse and everyone there repented.
We were sure that only a supernal angel from Heaven could have such
After Yom Kippur had ended and we had davened ma'ariv (the Yeshuos
Yaakov went on to relate), I decided to follow him and see were he was
staying. I wanted to see if he would conclude his fast and eat as
human beings do. Perhaps he truly was an angel who had no need to eat
I watched as he listened to Havdalah that someone recited and then ask
those present, "Please bring me something to revitalize me and fill my
Immediately they brought him some cake, cookies, and fruit to eat,
knowing that anyone would be hungry after such a day. "No, no," he
protested, declining the food offering, "this is not what I had in
mind. Please bring a masseches Sukkah."
They brought him the requested volume, and he took the Gemara to his
room saying that he needed to rest a bit. I followed him and peeked
into his room. What I saw had no resemblance to rest. I saw him
sitting enraptured in studying the masechta aflame with devotion. I
myself could not stay up. I was tired and I fell fast asleep. When I
awoke, it was morning. I peeked into the Berditchever's room and found
him still sitting there and learning. While I slept, he had managed to
learn almost the entire tractate!
"This," interjected the Tzanz-Klausenberger, "was the Kedushas Levi,
about whom his son Rav Meir writes in his introduction to volume 1 of
his sefer Kesser Torah, 'Everyone in the world knows that my father
had thousands of students whose hearts my father set aflame teaching
them Gemara, Rashi and Tosafos, as well as the works of the poskim and
codes of law. Their hearts were excited to serve Hashem when they
heard his Torah guiding them on the straight path to serve Hashem.'
"Though he was served Hashem at every moment with such fervor that
would make even angels and fiery seraphs jealous," concluded the
Tzanz-Klausenbeger, "he could not rest knowing that he did not study
enough Torah on the day of Yom Kippur. Only after the entire tractate
of Sukkah was his mind appeased. What then can we say about
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