It is almost 21 Adar the Yahrzeit of the Noam Elimelech ZY"A
I will imyh be in Lizensk davening by the Rebbe Reb Melech, those who wish to send me kvitelach with names for who to daven for please email me (there is no charge any donations to help defray the cost & expense of the trip are as always appreciated.)
Itinerary this year imyh includes Ukraine, Poland and Hungary, Mezibuz (the Baal Shem Tov & disciples) Berditchev (Rav Levi Yitzchok), Uman (Rav Nachman of Breslov), Lizensk (Noam Elimelech), Rymanow (Rav Mendel), Lanczut (Ropshitzer), Dynow (Bnei Yissaschar), Kerestir (Rav Yeshaya) and Uhjel (Yismach Moshe).
COUNTING ALL JEWS TOGETHER
"Take for yourself incense spices…chelbena" (Shemos 30:34).
Rashi comments on Kerisos 6b that chelbona has a bad odor. Why, then, is it counted among the other fragrant incense spices? To teach us that when we gather together to fast and daven, we should count among us even sinners.
The Likkutei Yehuda cites here a letter written by Rav Avraham Mordechai Alter of Ger, urging them to remember the purpose of organizations such as Agudas Yisrael (not for political reasons). "It is called the Aguda, for its purpose is to unit all types of Jews, even simple ones, as one, just as we bind the four species together on Sukkos in an aguda, even those without scent or taste, and just as among the incense spices we count the chelbona as well, so long as we are united in safeguarding the faith!"
See also the segula below.
"To think thoughts (and) do" (31:4).
The Likkutei Yehuda cites his grandfather, the Chiddushei HaRim, to explain Betzalel's way of fashioning the keilim: "Betzalel would use his power of thought to discern and identify what type of person was donating to the mishkan. If the person was a Tzaddik, he used the donated object for a more elevated purpose, like for the aron or the Holy of Holies. If, however, he was a simple, coarser individual, he would use the donation in a manner befitting his lowly stature. To achieve this method of sorting the donated materials he needed to "think thoughts," and use great wisdom. (Siach Sarfei Kodesh)
REMEMBERING THE EGEL
"And on the day I make My account, I shall bring their sin to account against them" (Shemos 32:34).
After his Rebbe, the Chiddushei HaRim, passed away, Rav Wolf Strikover did not travel to Rav Heinich of Alexander and accept him as Rebbe. He once met an Alexander Chassid and asked him to repeat a Torah teaching he had heard from his Rebbe. The Chassid opened with our pasuk, explaining it like Rav Heinich. Usually this pasuk is taken to mean that although Hashem forgave Bnei Yisrael to the extent that He did not annihilate them, whenever Hashem took an account of their sins, He would count the sin of the Egel Hazahav (Golden Calf) among them as well.
Rav Heinich, however, explained: Whenever Bnei Yisrael sin, Heaven forbid, if they seek forgiveness and do teshuva, I will forgive them. Why? Because I will always count the Chet Ha'egel (the sin of the Golden Calf). The logic for this is that any calamity or disaster that befalls them will also contain part of the consequence of the Chet Ha'egel. Just as the sin of the Egel Hazahav was a great and terrible sin, yet Hashem forgave them, all the more so regarding other, lesser, sins – surely Hashem pardons them if they request His forgiveness.
When Rav Wolf Strikover heard this explanation, he was so moved and so disappointed that he had not gone to Rav Heinich himself that he tore out his hair in grief crying out, "This is the great and holy Alexander Rebbe, and I was prevented from traveling to him!"
TOO SCARED TO REMEMBER
A melamed (teacher) once took his students for a class field trip into the woods. Before they entered the thick, treelined paths, the melamed told the boys not to fear. "In the forest are all sorts of wild animals, cruel, wicked dogs, foxes, and other beasts. The most important thing is, don't worry, and don't be afraid! If any dog attacks you, just stand up straight and tall and recite the pasuk from Yetzias Mitzrayim (the Exodus): "And against all of Bnei Yisroel no dog wagged its tongue." This charm will work like a spell – the dogs will run away and cause you no harm," he concluded confidently.
As they entered the woods, the sounds of barking grew loud and close – and then onto the path came several large, ferocious-looking dogs, growling, barking, and gnashing their teeth. The melamed, who became pale with fright, turned tail and ran. When they found him shivering and shaking like a spineless jellyfish in a corner, the students asked in wonder and astonishment, "Rebbe, why did you run away? Why didn't you recite the pasuk you taught us?"
"When I heard the dogs barking and growling," answered the melamed in between teeth-chattering gasps, "I was so afraid, I forgot all about the pasuk!"
So are we like the melamed, explained the Dubno Maggid. We must firmly implant emuna within ourselves, otherwise, when we are faced with any difficulties, we will also fail the test and will forget all we have learned.
FROM THE MAGGID'S TABLE
Rav Elimelech Biderman shared the following thoughts about Chodesh Adar and the upcoming Purim holiday:
CHIZUK AND EMUNA
The Sefas Emes cites Chazal: "Whoever wishes to have success in his business and holdings should plant Adar in them, as it says (Tehillim 93:4): Adir bamarom Hashem – "Mighty on High is Hashem." Rashi explains that Adar here means "strength" or " might." The meaning is that if we want to be successful in our endeavors we need to instill strength in them; we need to give ourselves chizuk in emunas Hashem. Intellectual understanding is not enough – we must have enough chizuk to really internalize this. We need to believe and accept with full faith that whatever we do and whatever happens is all truly from Hashem – then you will be successful in all that you seek to accomplish.
To illustrate this I will tell you a story: A father and son were walking through the streets of Yerushalayim. A simple Arab salesman stood by his fruit stand, selling watermelons. In the manner of such salesmen, he called loudly to anyone within hearing, "Watermelon, watermelon! Red, sweet, delicious, seedless watermelon! Sliced and ready – avatiach al hasakin!" This refrain he repeated loudly, over and over. Soon after passing the watermelon salesman, the little boy began to imitate him, and he too began to call out, "Watermelon, watermelon, sweet, red, delicious watermelon!"
The father was very upset. He went and spoke to one of the gedolim, crying and complaining, "My son! Something is the matter with him! Whenever we learn Torah and I try to teach him Chumash or Mishnayos, it all goes in one ear and out the other. He can never remember anything! But just now we passed the shuk and he heard the Arab salesman just once – and now he repeats by heart what he heard! What is wrong with my son?"
"Nothing is wrong with your son," explained the Tzaddik. "It is with you that things are amiss. When the salesman calls out loudly, 'Watermelon!' and your son easily memorizes and repeats his cry, it is because the salesman needs the money – his livelihood and his family's sustenance depend on his sales. Without them he and they will go hungry, so he puts all his life and soul into it. It animates him and such animation draws your son to imitate him. You, however, fail to put any life into your learning. Is it any wonder your son forgets it all?"
So do we need to enliven and animate our emuna. If we are enthused and alive with Torah and mitzvos, we and our children will be alive with emuna.
ADAR AND SIMCHA
The Rema concludes Hilchos Purim with the phrase: Tov lev mishte tamid – "A good heart is always glad." The holy Rizhiner points out in the name of Chazal that Mishenichnas Adar marbin besimcha – "when the month of Adar commences we increase simcha." Note, said the Rizhiner, that Chazal do not say that you must be joyful; rather they say you should increase your simcha! This implies that you are already happy, already besimcha – and you just need to add more! Chazal are not asking us to adopt a new emotion in Adar that we do not have all year long; rather we need to be besimcha all year long and simply increase the simcha in Adar!
There are those who note that in a leap year, such as this year, we have an extra Adar. We thus have sixty days of simcha – and this is mevatel beshishim – nullifies in sixty all forms of sadness and depression.
In Ziditshov, the minhag is to not recite tachanun at all during Adar. Once, the Yeshuos Yaakov met Rav Eizikel of Ziditshov and asked him to explain the minhag, based on peshat rather than Chassidus. The Ziditshover told him that it was a meforash pasuk – an explicit verse.
"Which one?" asked the Yeshuos Yaakov.
Replied the Ziditshover, "It says, 'The month that was transformed from distress and sadness into joy and from mourning into a Yom Tov.' The month, not the day, became a Yom Tov!"
THE CRACOWER PIAK
Siach Sarfei Kodesh relates that every year Rav Avraham of Sochatchov would tell over the following story about the Cracower Piak:
There was a simple boorish drunkard in Cracow, whom everyone nicknamed the Cracower Piak. He had the singular custom that he would drink his fill and become drunk two weeks before Purim and two weeks afterward. Thus he was shikker all Adar long, every year!
Rav Avraham then related that the piak used to explain this strange minhag as follows: What did Haman think – that he could succeed in killing all the Yidden in one day? Maybe some of them would hide in caves and cisterns and he would not succeed in catching them all! He should have chosen the entire month of Adar – not just one day!
Rav Avraham used to say that this is a shver kasha – (a difficult question), and in the name of the piak he answered, "This is what Haman was trying to do – to be even more wicked! He thought to himself that maybe, just maybe, he would not succeed in killing all the Jews (as in the end of course was true, Baruch Hashem), and then the opposite would happen: those Jews would come and create a Yom Tov. But because he chose only one day, they will only have a Yom Tov for one day!"
Had Haman established the entire month, the whole month would have become a Yom Tov. Haman did not want us to celebrate an entire month as a Yom Tov and rejoice all month long. "But I got his number!" said the piak. "I know that wicked Haman's true intentions – he wanted to reduce our simcha; he wanted to force us to have only one day! But I know the truth – the simcha needs to be all month long! That is why I drink two weeks before and two weeks after Purim!"
Obviously, concluded Rav Biderman, we are not going to adopt the minhagim of the Cracower Piak! But the point is that we need to know the enormous significance of simcha throughout Chodesh Adar!
TOGETHERNESS AND BROTHERHOOD
"On the contrary, place in our hearts the ability to see only the good in our friends and not their short-comings! May we speak to each other in a way that is straight and desirable in Your eyes. May there be no hatred between friends, Heaven forbid." From the Rebbe Elimelech's Tefillah Kodem HaTefillah – the Prayer before Praying
Continuing on the theme of achdus, as depicted by the chelbona spice of the ketores, we present you with a segula for parnassa and all matters as a promise from the Gerrer Rebbe, the Imrei Emes:
I have a request to ask of you all, that, to me, is equal to many requests, and I have a promise to make to you, be'ezras Hashem, that if you fulfill my request I will owe you a tremendous favor and debt of gratitude as much as Hashem grants me the ability to fulfill here now and in the future, and similarly to all those who help in fulfilling this request and in actualizing it.
I am distressed if I need to embarrass anyone or shame them publicly, but there is great need for me to reveal the following shortcoming, because you are found wanting and lacking in this, and it is love, peace, brotherhood, and fraternity among yourselves. There is strife and a divergence of opinion, and this machlokes is a bad thing. Rather, there should be peace and truth among you. Help each other, whether in physical or spiritual matters, and you will thereby have the strength to stand at the breach, concerning all matters of Yiddishkeit. Everything depends on achdus – togetherness! I have no doubt that in this merit Hashem will help you generally in all matters, and specifically in parnassa.
This is my request to all of you, young and old, great and small.
Your friend who asks you all to fully fulfill his request. (Osef Michtavim Michtav 7)
RAV ELIMELECH BEN ELIEZER LIPPA WEISSBLUM, THE REBBE REB MELECH OF LIZHENSK, NOAM ELIMELECH
WITH THE BA'AL SHEM TOV
Rav Avraham Yehoshua Freund related:
Once, on a Motzaei Shabbos, the Rebbe Reb Elimelech was going together with his talmid, Rav Kalonymus Kalman Epstein, the mechaber of the sefer Maor VaShemesh to the beis hachaim, the cemetery in Lizhensk.
While they were there, they saw a pillar of fire descend from heaven and in the midst of the flames was the appearance of a person. The pillar descended to the ground and then ascended to heaven once more. Afterward, the Rebbe Reb Melech asked his talmid to mark the exact spot.
He told the Maor VaShemesh that after he passed away he wanted to be buried in that spot, because that was the holy Ba'al Shem Tov of Mezhibuzh, and that even in his lifetime he was truly a pillar of fiery flame – only he was concealed!
(Gedulas Yehoshua Sippurim Maamarim p. 14)
When the Second World War broke out and Poland was conquered by the accursed Nazis, the Polish locals told the Nazis that the Jews had hidden gold, silver, and treasures in the grave of the Noam Elimelech in Lizhensk. They always saw Yidden davening there in the thousands, and leaving kvittlach; the Poles were sure they had hidden all their valuables there.
The cursed Nazis rounded up several Yidden and ordered them to dig up the grave of the Rebbe Reb Melech so that they could uncover the treasures. When they disinterred the Tzaddik, they discovered that his holy, pure form was untouched and whole! No worm or maggot had touched him! They even described his features and how he had a forked beard called koltenes. (Imrei Devash p. 22) Others say that his peyos were still wet from the mikve!
Another version says that the Nazis tried to force the Jews to dig but they refused. When the Nazis themselves began to dig, they uncovered the aron and the kenaf (fringe) of the Rebbe Reb Melech's tallis hanging out. When the Nazis saw this, they were seized by trembling and fear. Then a mighty explosion was heard like a mortar shell. When the Jews came to see what had happened, all the Nazis lay there lifeless on the ground. There their bodies lay till other Nazis came to take them away. They then ordered the Jews to re-cover the grave. (Shivchei HaRebbe Elimelech p. 185-186)