Thursday, December 15, 2016

Holy Ohr HaChaim HaKodosh

"The gates of heaven opened up and I saw G-dly visions, the Creator of the four corners of the earth, and I gazed and meditated upon that which I had permission to, and began to explain at the beginning of Hashem's holy words" Ohr HaChaim, Bereishis

Praises For The Holy Ohr HaChaim HaKodosh

Illuminates the Soul and the Eyes

Rav Avrohom of Slonim, mechaber of Yesod Ho'Avoda, writes in Be'er Avrohom that "the Zohar and the Ohr HaChaim illuminate a person's soul and his eyes...till this day the Chassidim study the holy Ohr HaChaim's commentary to the Torah on Thursday nights (Leil Shishi – Ohr LeYom Vov) and on Shabbos Kodesh at night."

A More Appropriate Segula for our Generation Than the Zohar

Rav Menachem Nachum of Shtefanesht felt that studying the Ohr HaChaim HaKodosh is a more appropriate segula for our generation than the study of the Zohar, because as he explained, the Zohar illuminates the part of the soul called Neshoma, whereas the Ohr HaChaim illuminates those parts called Nefesh and Ruach. The part of the soul called Neshoma is so lofty that few individuals in our generation possess and attain that level at all, whereas all of us in this dor have a nefesh and ruach, making the Ohr HaChaim more fitting.

A Segula for Emuna Tehora

A delegation of Chassidim once approached Rav Yaakov Yosef of Skver seeking advice for a certain bochur who had sfeikos be'emuna – doubts and skepticism regarding his faith and belief. The Rebbe advised them to study with him the sefer Ohr HaChaim HaKodosh. When they asked him if they should focus on those essays that deal with Yiras Shomayim specifically, he explained that they should study with him the entire sefer from start to finish.

The Holy Lights Of The Ohr Hachaim

Why Did Yaakov Send Actual Angels to Esov?

"And Yaakov sent out angelic messengers before him to Esov his brother, to the land of Seir, to the field of Edom" (32:4).

The Ohr HaChaim HaKodosh asks why the pasuk apparently needlessly points out that the messengers were sent out lefonov – "before him". He further asks why it is necessary to call Esov "Yaakov's brother" considering that this is a well-known fact, and why mention the detailed names of their destination as "the land of Seir, the field of Edom" (when it would have been sufficient to leave out any of these seemingly extraneous details.) What difference would there be to the messengers' mission had they gone there or elsewhere?

The Ohr HaChaim points out that when we answer the next question this will explain to us why all these details are necessary after all. The question is why Yaakov sent actual angels as messengers to Esov. Why use angelic beings for no apparent reason other than to relay a message to Esov? Surely any human being could do that just fine.

The Ohr HaChaim answers that this is why the pasuk says lefonov – meaning that the
angels were there before him. By understanding that lefonov here means that the angels were right there, standing before him, rather than that Yaakov sent them "ahead of him", the Ohr HaChaim explains that Yaakov deduced that since these angels were standing "before him", he had every right to use them and send them on a mission. Furthermore, this mission was one that could not be carried out by mere human beings but only by angels. The pasuk therefore points out that the mission was to relay a message to Esov, a great and important person (see Bereishis Rabba 75). Had Yaakov sent simple people, perhaps Esov would have been unimpressed and not considered them worthy of an answer, or regarded their message as important in any way. Perhaps Esov would have attacked them straight away even before hearing what they had to say. Then he could have attacked Yaakov as a vulture sweeps down on his prey. Obviously, this is not the case with angels! By sending actual angels, Yaakov sought to frighten Esov and cause his heart to tremble from fear of the army of heavenly hosts, as Chazal say (ibid) that some of the terrifying angels were clothed in fiery flames and riding on horseback. This should have frightened Esov sufficiently to prevent him from harming Yaakov. The reason the pasuk points out that Esov was his brother is because Yaakov feared to go to war against his own flesh-and-blood relative because anyone of his own family had zechus avos, which might have protected Esov.

The Ohr HaChaim explains another reason for sending actual angels: Angelic beings do not travel as we do. They are spiritual and the entire world is like their immediate vicinity,
likened to their daled amos (four cubits). Practically, this meant that by sending angels on a mission, Yaakov achieved a dual form of protection, because the angels never actually left him – they were lefonov – they stood before him. Even after having been sent to Esov, they remained standing guard over Yaakov; since they did not have to physically traverse any space to deliver their message, they were able to be in two places at the same time! They could reach the land of Seir and the field of Edom, Esov's home, before he even set out to approach Yaakov, allowing them to head him off – and simultaneously they would still be lefonov – standing before Yaakov and guarding him!

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