"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
An Angel in White, Shining as the Sun
In one of his letters, the Chida describes the shining countenance of the holy Rav Chaim ben Attar, mechaber of the Ohr HaChaim HaKodosh, as follows:
"It was the night of Hoshana Rabba and our Rav was awake the entire night reciting the Tikkun. His countenance glowed like the light of the sun and brilliant rays shone from his
face, and he resembled an angel robed in white garmnents!"
His Holiness, Miracles and Holy Name
The Chida continues to praise him and says:
The Rav [the Ohr HaChaim] was well versed in performing miracles and our own ears heard many wondrous tales of the wonders and miracles he performed while alive and after his passing, for those who daven at his matzeiva and for those who swore oaths in his name. I heard from elders and Rabbonim and other sages of the East that he was a holy, G-dly man; he did not benefit from the honor of the Torah, nor did he draw a salary, nor was he supported by public funds. They threw him once into a pit of lions and he was saved after having spent a day and a night inside! He was exceedingly G-dly and holy; many swore in his name and all those who took his name in vain and swore falsely by it, died.
The Holy Lights Of The Ohr Hachaim
Defeating the Yetzer and Reaching Heights of Prophecy
And Yaakov left Beer Sheva and went to Charan. He happened upon the place and lodged there because the sun had set, and he took from the stones of the place and put them around his head and he lay down in that place. And he dreamed, and behold there was a ladder set upon the ground, and its top reached heaven, and angels of G-d were going up and down it. And behold Hashem was standing over him...(28:10–13)
This entire episode can be interpreted to hint at the stages in a person's life:
"And Yaakov left" – Yaakov refers to the soul, which leaves its place in the heavenly worlds. The soul is called "Yaakov" because the evil force of the yetzer clings tenaciously to our heel – okeiv.
"Be'er Sheva" – Be'er – this well alludes to the supernal chamber from which souls depart, known as the Be'er Mayim Chaim – wellspring of living waters. Sheva – this means an
oath, hinting at the oath each soul swears before departing the upper world, promising not to transgress the Torah (Nidda 30b).
"He went to Choron" – Charan means "anger" and refers to the yetzer, which then enters the body as soon as we leave the womb (Sanhedrin 91b), as it says in Bereishis 4:7: "sin
crouches at the door".
"He happened upon the place" – [Chazal teach that this means he established Maariv (Berochos 26b)]. This alludes to the fact that we must daven to Hashem, Who is known as
Mekomo Shel Olom, that he save us from the evil one and not leave us in the yetzer's clutches.
"And lodged there because the sun had set" – we must conduct ourselves this way our entire lives until the sunset of our days, as Chazal say in Avos Ch. 2: "Do not believe in
yourself until the day you die".
"He took from the stones of the place" – Chazal say in the name of Rav Shimon ben Lokish (Berochos 5b) that a person should always encourage his yetzer tov – his good inclination – to overcome his yetzer hora – evil inclination. If he succeeds –good; if not, he should toil in Torah. If that does not work he should recite Shema, and if that, too, fails, he should remind himself of the day of death.
"The stones of the place" allude to the armament of Torah used against the evil one.
Toil in Torah is called the building blocks and foundation of the world – binyono shel olom, hence the allusion that the stones have to toil in Torah study. Another interpretation of the Ohr HaChaim is that the stones are like missiles to be hurled against the yetzer hora to defeat him and his allies and forces. As Chazal say (Sota 21a) – Torah study saves us from the yetzer, both when we are actively engaged in it and also once we have stopped learning.
"And put them around his head" – this hints at the second piece of advice given – to recite Shema when we lie down to sleep, as a device against the yetzer hora.
"And he lay down in that place" – this refers to the last piece of advice: to remember the day of death. Lying down refers to a person's final resting place.
After employing all these forms of warfare we are guaranteed to defeat the yetzer.
Once we succeed, the Ohr HaChaim reveals, we will merit a branch of prophecy – Hashem will reveal Himself to us in a dream (as we find in the dreams of Rav Elozor ben Aroch in the Zohar I 139 and Zohar Chodosh, Lech Lecha 25a).
"And he dreamed, and behold there was a ladder set upon the ground, and its top reached heaven, and angels of G-d were going up and down it" – the ladder refers to the secret of our human soul, which leaves the body when we sleep. We know that the soul does not leave completely, which is why the pasuk says that its feet were planted on the ground, referring to the body. We can demonstrate this fact, since when a person is sleeping we can shake him awake. If his soul had completely departed, shaking his body would not cause the
soul to feel anything and it would not wake him up. "Its top reached heaven" – alludes to the fact that nothing can block us or stand in our way to reach spiritual heights; since the evil one has been defeated, the soul can reach the heavens.
The angels of Hashem ascending and descending hint at the good deeds and mitzvos we perform, since each one creates an angel (Avos Ch. 4), causing heavenly lights to ascend and blessings to descend upon us as well.
"Hashem was standing over him" refers to the prophecy of the revelation of the Shechina, as the Rambam teaches us (Hilchos Teshuva Ch. 5) that we are all muchshar – each one of us has a real potential for prophecy!
השיעור בסה"ק אור החיים
הנדבן החשוב כמר
יצחק פאריסער ורעיתו
לר"ש פרץ יעקב בן שרה ביילא
ישעיה מאיר בן מאטל
ולפרנסה בריוח בנחת ובכשרות
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