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Mazel Tov!

Menorah -- A Symbol Of Thanksgiving

Yechidus

Shabbos Parshas Vayeishev/Chanukah

Tzivos Hashem - Chanukah

Every Home A Chabad House

Shabbos Parshas Mikeitz, Zos Chanukah

In Those Days - In Our Times - Didan Notzach

6th Day Of Teves, 5747

8th Day Of Teves, 5747

Shabbos Parshas Vayigash

10th Day Of Teves, 5747

Torah - Tzedakah - Testing

Shabbos Parshas Vayechi

Shabbos Parshas Shemos

Shabbos Parshas Va'eira,

Shabbos Parshas Bo

   8th Day Of Shevat, 5747

Yud Shevat, 5747

Yechidus

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Jewish Children Must Create Houses For Torah, Prayer And Charity

Rabbis And Rabbinate Humility And Honor

Shabbos Parshas Terumah

Taanis Esther -- Mukdam

Shabbos Parshas Tetzaveh

Sichos In English
Volume 34

Shabbos Parshas Bo
8th Day Of Shevat, 5747
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1

This Shabbos has a special association with the Tenth of Shevat, the Yahrzeit -- Hilulo (day of passing) of the Previous Rebbe, in several ways.

Shabbos projects its influence on the days of the coming week, as the Zohar states: "For the six days receive blessing from the seventh" (Zohar II, 63b). Since the Tenth of Shevat occurs in the first part of the week the blessing from Shabbos is more intense.

The portion we read today is Bo and this was the Torah portion read on Shabbos, the tenth of Shevat in the year 5710 (1950), when the previous Rebbe passed away.

As the eighth of Shevat is within three days of the tenth, there is an additional connection, for three days are considered as one unit (see Rambam, Laws of Shabbos, 16:8).

Let us then contemplate the essential theme of the Hilulo day as described in Chassidic philosophy:

All his doings, his Torah and the Divine service which he served all the days of his life...are revealed and radiate in a manifest way from above downwards at the time of his passing...and effect salvation in the midst of the earth.

(Iggeres HaKodesh 27-28)

We should also study the relationship between the Tenth of Shevat and the portion of Bo in order to reach desirable directives for our Divine service in accordance with the way shown to us by the Previous Rebbe.

What was the focal point of the "Divine Service which he served all the days of his life"? His teachings were conveyed to us through his Chassidic discourses and especially the ma'amar Bosi L'Gani:

"I came into My garden, My sister, My bride" (Shir Hashirim 5:1) ...I came into My bridal chamber, the place where My essence originally was revealed...at the beginning of creation the essence of the Shechinah was apparent in the lowly world. (Shir HaShirim Rabbah 5:1)

In this ma'amar the Previous Rebbe explains the intention of the Midrash that it is our duty through our Divine service to complete the goal of creation and make a dwelling place for G-dliness in the lower world in a more advanced manner than through the regular stages. As a result, the spirit of Tumah will be removed from the earth and everyone will merely have to rise to even higher levels.

The ma'amar goes on to explain that this form of Divine service must be performed by soldiers, who will attain victory in battle. To guarantee the victory "the king will squander the rare treasures, great and precious wealth that have been collected over a number of years,...that were never used for any purpose. [Even these treasures will] be squandered in order to achieve victory in the war" (Bosi L'Gani ch. 11).

The underlying principle of the Previous Rebbe's Divine service was to complete the work of creating a dwelling place for G-d in the lower worlds -- through the efforts of the people of this seventh generation, the final generation of the diaspora and therefore also the first generation of salvation. This is especially true now after we have drawn from the wellsprings of Chassidus and we have received the explanations of Torah in the 70 languages of the world and the full revelation of the innermost secrets of the "Torah of the future."

This is what the Previous Rebbe was referring to when he said "Stand together ready...," for you need only to polish the buttons to be ready to greet our righteous Moshiach.

Another ingredient and goal of this activity is unity. A proper dwelling place must be a place which has been dedicated as a dwelling place for G-d. Just as a home in which the person reveals himself, in a sense, there must also be an intense unity between the dwelling place and the Essence of G-d. As expressed by the prophet: "The L-rd will be king over the entire earth; on that day the L-rd will be One and His Name One." (Zechariah 15:9)

This is brought about by our efforts in the area of unity -- Jewish unity and Ahavas Yisroel -- to the point that we are as one unit, which creates the vessel for the Shechinah: "Bless us our Father all together as one with the light of Your countenance." (Shemos 25:8) This provides the indwelling of the Shechinah in every Jew and in the whole world.

As the ma'amar refers to each Jew as "My sister -- My bride," in the singular, this pinpoints the love which G-d has for the Jewish people and the Ahavas Yisroel among Jews.

The Previous Rebbe worked so hard, demanding and exhorting Jews to Ahavas Yisroel and Jewish Unity. We find this attitude so eloquently expressed in his talks and discourses. He also sought unity in the world at large. By spreading the teachings of Chassidus and having them translated into the languages of the world, Jews who did not understand Hebrew were able to study and comprehend Chassidic philosophy.

At the same time, when the gentile nations come to understand the principle of the unity of G-d it will serve as a preparation for the time when: "For then will I turn to the peoples a pure language, that they may all call upon the Name of the L-rd to serve Him with one consent." (Tzephaniah 3:9)

The one preoccupation of the whole world will be to know the L-rd...and attain an understanding of their Creator.... (Rambam, Laws of Kings 12:5)

The portion of Bo which we read today also carries this theme. In it we learn of the conclusion of the Egyptian bondage and the liberation of the Jewish people from Egypt. This redemption is also associated with the future salvation, as the prophet spoke: "As in the days of your coming out of the land of Mitzrayim I will show him marvelous things." (Michah 7:15)

Consequently, Bo represents the theme of the Previous Rebbe -- the conclusion of the golus -- through the concerted efforts of every Jew -- Tzivos Hashem -- soldiers who bring about victory in war, and bring the ultimate and true redemption: "...All of G-d's armies left Egypt...in organized groups." (Shemos 12:41,51) This is what we read in the Torah on Shabbos Bo.

The theme of Jewish unity is also emphasized in the portion of Bo in the following verse: "With our youth and elders...our sons and daughters...." (Shemos 10:9) Despite the obvious differences among all of these segments of the Jewish people they are all united together "as one" at the time of the Exodus. The Previous Rebbe of course referred to this when he wrote, "Stand together ready!"

There is another area where Jewish unity stands out in the portion of Bo. The Jewish people at the time of the Exodus are referred to as the "Army of G-d." The fundamental characteristics of an army include:

  1. obedience, subservience and loyalty, which guarantees the complete fulfillment of the commands and orders of the king, completely disregarding individual intelligence or understanding; and,

  2. actual sacrifice of self; the readiness to jeapordize your life in order to save your comrade. Does this not represent the loftiest form of unity?! Real self-sacrifice! An army worthy of its name depends on these basic qualities, which will help the army to be successful in carrying out its job to protect the country and its king.

Now, in the case of G-d's army the prerequisite is also:

  1. obedience and subservience, which are "the beginning of the service and its core and root" (see Tanya ch. 41); and,

  2. unity, to be "united as one" to the point of readiness to sacrifice for another Jew. In this way the soldiers of G-d's army succeed in carrying out their purpose and mission in life -- to create a dwelling place for G-dliness in the world, which, as it were, affords protection for the King and satisfies His desire for an abode in the lower worlds.

Chassidic philosophy explains that the term "Tzivos Hashem" indicates the complete bittul, self effacement and complete dependency on the Name of G-d. This bittul also effects unity with the Name Havayeh -- the army of Havayeh -- the hallmark of Atzilus (the loftiest of the four spiritual worlds). In this state perfect unity with other Jews may also be attained. This further affects the lower level worlds and engenders the projection of "L-rd of Hosts." G-d and His "hosts" are united -- Hashem Tzeva'os.

In simple terms, so that even the five-year-old Chumash student may comprehend: A Jew's day begins with the statement of thanks: "Modeh Ani -- I offer thanks..." which exemplifies the total subservience -- his whole existence -- the Ani -- is only the "thanks" he expresses to the Creator. This is the Bittul of "Tzivos Hashem."

Later, when saying the various morning blessings, which delineate the varied needs of a person, "...who clothes the naked," etc., he realizes his own existence but recognizes G-d's benevolence and control. This is the unity of the person with Havayeh Tzeva'os. The person begins the day by expressing simple and absolute faith and self-nullification, and then he leads into the daily Divine service when he, too, exists, but is subservient to G-d.

In the concluding section of Bo, which we study on Shabbos, we find another subject which is connected with this thought. Our sages tell us that the mitzvah of Tefillin is compared to the whole Torah, based on the verse:

And it shall be to you as a sign on your hand and as a reminder between your eyes, so that the Torah of the L-rd may always be in your mouth. (Shemos 13:9)

The inner theme of Tefillin is to subjugate the mind and heart to the service of G-d. This is the general principle for all human conduct. Here, once again, is the subservience to the Holy One, Blessed be He, which brings unity. Tefillin also includes the aspect of converting the physical leather into a spiritual appliance. This involves the investment of G-dliness in the world that effects further unity of G-d and man.

This year the unifying aspect of Shabbos is further emphasized since it is a Shemittah year and because Rosh Hashanah occurred on Shabbos. Shabbos generally connotes the theme of unity. The Yalkut tells us that G-d told Moshe to gather the Jewish people and teach them, "So that the coming generation will learn from you and gather the people every Shabbos to teach the people and guide them in the way of Torah." On Shabbos the scholar may rely on the testimony of an ignorant person regarding the permissibility of questionable produce and they may therefore eat together (see Mishnayos, Demai 4:1); an act of unity. The Shemittah year causes the agricultural workers to cease their labors and seek G-d. It is also at the close of the Shemittah year that Hakhel is announced to gather all Jews -- men, women and children. This unity of Shabbos also affects the whole world, for on Shabbos everything rises to a higher level, similar to the loftiness of the future.

This year is not a leap year (last year was). Even here we may find certain qualities in a plain year over a leap year:

  1. Our sages tell us: "The more it is plain the better is the effect" (Rosh Hashanah 26b). Thus, simplicity is beyond division into parts and therefore it represents unity.

  2. The leap year corrects the gap between the solar and lunar years, it thereby pinpoints the shortcomings of the lunar year. The plain year simply ignores the differences.

    When there is true unity between a mentor and his protege, there is no mention of what the recipient lacks -- this is real Jewish unity and Ahavas Yisroel.

    In more general terms, we know that the Chassidus explains that the diminution of the moon was the root-source of all negative phenomena. Consequently, when there is a unity of sun and moon -- it points to the nullification of the source of the negative forces.

  3. In the plain year the rainy season is shortened by one month.

  4. In a regular year Shevat leads unto Adar, which is followed by Nissan, so that Shevat leads into the month in which one redemption (Purim) is brought close to another redemption (Pesach).

This year on the Tenth of Shevat there is a special significance, for we conclude the third cycle of study of Mishneh Torah. As it works out by Divine Providence -- on the Tenth of Shevat there will be a special unity in the study of Rambam for those who study three chapters a day will conclude the third cycle, those who study one chapter a day will conclude the first cycle and those who study Sefer Hamitzvos (primarily women and children) will also conclude the third cycle.

The Rambam writes in his introduction that Mishneh Torah should be studied by great and small alike so that all the Oral Torah will be revealed in an orderly fashion. Thus, when all these people conclude their study of Torah at the same time, they bring about a true and complete unity. As a result, the true and complete redemption is quickened, for by nullifying the cause of golus through studying Halachah we attain a state in which we have: "The word of the L-rd means Halachah" (Shabbos 138b); which brings to redemption, for: "The word of the L-rd means 'the [Messianic] end.'" (Ibid.)

The directive to be derived leads to practical deed: Increase all activities which will foster and strengthen Ahavas Yisroel and Jewish unity qualitatively and quantitatively.

Start with unity via Torah, by studying the daily study sections set by the Previous Rebbe which apply for everyone: Chumash, Tehillim and Tanya. Include also the study of Rambam, etc. This includes specifically spreading Torah and disseminating the wellsprings of Chassidus to the "outside," as taught by the Previous Rebbe.

This will lead to unity in the whole world, when: all the nations of the world will accept the commandments prescribed for the descendants of Noach.

When many Jews gather at a farbrengen in the precincts of the Previous Rebbe, the Nassi, and accept good resolutions, then everyone will strengthen his fellow and will draw special strength in all these matters.

May G-d grant that by accepting these good resolutions of Ahavas Yisroel and Jewish unity -- we will merit the reward to nullify the golus and then we will see the miracles of redemption. Just as Pharaoh himself sent the Jews away from Egypt -- the golus will send out the Jews. Especially since the Jewish people want and request, demand and cry out to leave the golus immediately -- certainly G-d will fulfill the will of His servants -- especially the longing of children to their Father in Heaven.

Then, the children of Israel will leave with an "uplifted hand," for while still in golus they will have enjoyed the light of G-d, and as we read in the ensuing chapter of Beshallach: "Then, Moshe and the children of Israel sang this song to the L-rd." (Shemos 15:1) On this our sages tell us that the word "Az Yashir" refers to the future, which indicates a biblical source for the principle of the resurrection, when "Arise and sing ye who dwell in the dust," when the "tenth song" will be sung. May this all come before the month of Adar and even before the Tenth of Shevat. May we see the true and complete redemption -- together with the complete Torah, people and land, speedily and truly in our days.


2

In this week's Torah portion we read the chapter which teaches us of the preeminence of the month of Nissan and the commandment of the Pesach sacrifice. This chapter begins with the verse:

G-d said to Moshe and Aharon in the land of Egypt.

(Shemos 12:1)

Rashi cites the words "In the land of Egypt" and comments:

This must have been outside the city limits (chutz k'rach)! Or perhaps this is not so, but it was inside the city? Scripture however states (Shemos 9:29): "when I leave the city [I will spread my hands (pray) unto the L-rd]." (He could not pray in the city for it was full of idols [Rashi on Shemos 9:29].) Now, how was it in regard to prayer which is of light importance [in comparison with a communication from G-d], he did not recite the prayer inside the city! Then, in the case of a Divine communication which is of so weighty importance does it not follow all the more that this was also so! and why, indeed, did He not converse with him inside the city? Because it was full of idols. (Rashi, loc. cit.)

Although several questions were raised on this verse as is often the case the most weighty of all the paradoxes was overlooked. A careful reading of the Rashi will reveal a glaring contradiction in Rashi's words.

Rashi begins with the assumption: "In the land of Egypt -- ...outside the city," which would indicate to us that the words "land of Egypt" themselves have the connotation of being suburban. This deduction however is negated by the next words in the text of Rashi: "or perhaps this is not so...but...inside the city." This would indicate that from the words "in the land of Egypt" we cannot know whether it was in or out of the city! To clarify that point Rashi therefore goes on to introduce outside proofs which clarify whether it was in or out. It therefore would appear that Rashi's commentary is self-contradictory.

This leads to another problem. Why does Rashi follow a long roundabout route to reach his point. Mentioning the different possible interpretations does not seem to add any clarity to the ultimate conclusion, which is based on an a fortiori deduction. Rashi could have just as well begun by saying, in this case Moshe certainly left the city to hear G-d's word, etc.

Another point that bears clarification, why does Rashi use the term "k'rach" for "city" instead of the more common term "Ir." Especially as the word "Ir" appears in the verse which Rashi quotes in his text, and which he uses to prove that Moshe left the city.

We may mention one more question which was raised regarding this general rule, presented by Rashi, that G-d's word could not come to Moshe in an idolatrous city. If this was so, how was it possible that G-d conversed with Moshe and told him the warning of the final plague of the firstborn while he was standing in Pharaoh's presence? Rashi clearly states:

While he was still standing before Pharaoh this prophecy was spoken to him, because after he left him, he did not see his face again. (Rashi, Shemos 11:4)

Pharaoh's place was surely filled with all sorts of idols, why did G-d speak to Moshe there?!

Another verse:

It is a night of watchfulness for the L-rd, [preparing] to bring them out from the land of Egypt, this is the L-rd's watchnight, for all the Israelites for all generations.

(Shemos 12:42)

Rashi comments:

This night is protected, and comes as such [from ages past], against all destructive forces, as it is said (verse 33) "and He will not allow the destroyer [to enter your houses]." (Rashi, loc. cit.)

The question is, since Rashi comments on the words: "watchnight for all the Israelites," why does he also cite the term "for all generations"?

This question takes on greater magnitude when we realize that "for all generations" refers to the ultimate redemption which will also take place on the fateful night of Pesach (see Mechilta). This raises several questions:

  1. At the time of the future redemption we are assured -- "For not with haste shall you go forth and not in a flurry of flight shall you go..." (Yeshayahu 52:12); if so, it would not be necessary to protect from the "destroyers."

  2. When the five-year-old Chumash student asks Rashi whether the future redemption will take place at night, Rashi's answer will be that the future redemption will take place by day, and so, there will be no need for a protected night!


The Explanation:

At first glance when we read the verse, "G-d said to Moshe and Aharon in the land of Egypt," we wonder why it is necessary to tell us that the discussion took place in Egypt. And if in fact the Torah wanted us to know that G-d spoke to Moshe and Aharon in Egypt that could easily be deduced from the fact that both Moshe and Aharon were in Egypt at this time. Aharon had been there all along and Moshe was sent back there -- at G-d's behest.

Obviously, the words "in the land of Egypt" must teach us something else. Here Rashi suggests that it means "in the countryside -- not in the major city," because in the cites there were also found many images and idols. Only out in the fields were there no idols, since the people did not carry their idols out to the suburbs.

Here Rashi purposely uses the term "k'rach" rather than the word "Ir" to show that he is not speaking only of the particular city where this story took place, the capital of Egypt, rather it refers to any metropolis where there are many pagan people concentrated. Such a "k'rach" would certainly be filled with idols and therefore G-d would not speak to His prophet in such a place.

Now that Rashi proposes that G-d's talk to Moshe took place outside the city by virtue of the words "in the land of Egypt," he stops for a moment to reconsider. After all, we could also infer that the words "in the land of Egypt" came to emphasize in the same place where all the previous occurrence took place, right in Pharaoh's city. The content of this prophecy to Moshe dealt with the Pascal sacrifice, and the subsequent plague of the death of the firstborn, all of which would be followed by the Exodus. This would cause Pharaoh much anguish and therefore should be told to Moshe in Pharaoh's proximity.

Judging by the words alone we cannot know which approach to take in our case. For this reason Rashi is obliged to invoke another source, as proof that in fact the prophecy came to Moshe outside the city. Rashi quotes the verse, "when I leave the city" (to pray). If he could not pray in the city because of the idols how much more so could he not receive G-d 's word because of the idols.

Here a powerful question crystalizes; the previous prophecy, which bore the warning to Pharaoh about the death of the firstborn, was spoken to Moshe while he was in the presence of Pharaoh, in his palace, which was full of idolatry -- how could this be?

Should you say that the prophecy only came to Moshe's mind and therefore would not be affected by a place filled with idols, this will not explain how Moshe could transmit G-d's words to Pharaoh in such a place. This question of course applies to all of Moshe's previous warnings and admonitions to Pharaoh. They were all G-d's words, how could they be spoken in a place filled with idols?

We might even ask how could it be that G-d should perform miracles in a place of idolatry, or to mete out punishment to the objects of Egyptian idolatry as in the case of converting the River Nile to blood, a miracle performed with an idol!

The simple and direct answer to this question is that when there is no choice, even G-d's word must be spoken in a place of impurity and tumah! When Moshe had to warn Pharaoh to free the Jewish people from bondage and threaten him with plagues, he could not summon Pharaoh to the Land of Goshen -- to meet him outside the city limits -- for quite obviously Pharaoh would simply not have gone! Not having recognized G-d, how could we expect Pharaoh to follow Moshe to an out of the way place to hear the warnings of G-d?

Moshe was left with no choice but to go to Pharaoh in his place -- the palace -- or to catch him on several occasions when he went out to the river.

For this same reason G-d wrought His miracles in Egypt, and on Egypt's idols. There was no other way to get the point across.

In the case of the warning about the firstborn plague, since Moshe had said that he would not see Pharaoh again, G-d had to speak to him on the spot in the presence of Pharaoh and all other unholy things.

The second Rashi under discussion talks of the night of Pesach as a watchnight "for all generations." The Mechilta explains that this refers to the ultimate redemption, "for just as we were freed on this night, so too, will the future redemption come on this night."

However, it must be stated that this midrashic commentary is not the plain meaning of the verse. Why speak of another diaspora at the time they were being liberated from bondage? So the term "for all generations" in plain meaning cannot refer to the future redemption. What does it mean? That every year the night of the 15th of Nissan is protected from the destroyer -- for the night is a time of danger and on this night there is special protection. Rashi deems it necessary to quote the words "for all generations" because only by rejecting the Mechilta's interpretation of those words does he come to the plain meaning of the verse.


3

In the section of Rambam studied today we find:

No war is declared against anyone before peace offers are made. This obtains both in an optional war and a war for a religious cause (Milchemes mitzvah), as it is said: "When you draw near to a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it." (Devorim 20:10) If the inhabitants make peace and accept the seven commandments enjoined upon the descendants of Noach, none of them is slain.... If they refuse to accept the offer of peace, or if they accept the offer of peace but not the seven commandments, war is made with them; all adult males are put to death.... This applies only to an optional war, that is, a war against any other nation; but in war waged against the seven nations or Amalek, if these refuse to accept the terms of peace none of them is spared, as it is said: "Thus shall you do unto all...however, of the cities of these peoples...you shall save nothing that lives." (Devorim 20:15-16) So too, with respect to Amalek it is said: "You shall blot out the remembrance of Amalek" (Devorim 25:19)...we derive that the (above cited) command refers only to those who refuse to accept terms of peace....

(Rambam, Laws of Kings and Wars 6:1-5)

It is apparent from this ruling in Rambam that the command to destroy the seven Canaanite nations and Amalek apply only when they refuse to make peace and accept the Seven Noachide Laws. However, if they accept the Seven Noachide Laws and make peace then no one is hurt in the cities.

This opinion of the Rambam (and the basis for his ruling) has been thoroughly argued and debated by the later commentaries and codifiers. What seems especially surprising is his ruling that even Amalek may be offered peace, despite the unequivocal command of Torah "to utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek." After all the discussion on the subject we remain with several unclear points.

On the verse, "First among nations is Amalek, but in the end he will be destroyed forever," (Bemidbar 24:20) Chassidus explains: Amalek is the first of the seven nations and the root and source of all evil (kelipos), therefore the seven nations may be purified, but the only way to rectify Amalek is by destruction. This seems to contradict the Rambam's ruling that if the Amalekites accept the peace proposals and the Seven Noachide Laws they should be pardoned.

The explanation for this may be found in the following manner. The Mishnah tells us: "All that the Holy One, Blessed be He, created in His world, He created solely for His glory...." (Avos 6:11)

We may deduce from this that even in the lowest things there is a potential to glorify G-d in a positive way. Consequently, although the Torah reiterates and warns us concerning the utter destruction of Amalek, we must still say that there is some room for purification so as to add glory to G-d. Where is that possibility? When the Amalekites accept the peace offer and assume the Seven Noachide Laws they are no longer considered the "family of Amalek" whom we are commanded to destroy.

In fact we find an amazing statement in the Talmud: "descendants of Haman (the Aggagite-Amalekite) learned the Torah in Bnei Brak." (Gittin 57b) This was the city of Rabbi Akiva where the sages gathered to speak of the Exodus. How can this be? Evidently this came as a result of the acceptance of the peace offer by their forefathers and we see that the glory of G-d could be exalted even by the descendants of Amalek.

This brings us to an important lesson in our Divine service relative to dealing with the spiritual Amalek -- doubt and indifference.

There are those who are often faced with the call to do good actions by they are paralyzed by doubts as to what they should be involved in. They contemplate and agonize, but since they reach no conclusion they consequently sit back and do nothing.

When the question is put to someone: "Have you made preparations for Yud Shevat?" "Have you studied the appropriate Torah sections?" the answer is: "No I was too busy thinking and worrying about what to do." Being sharp-minded, no sooner did one positive thought enter the mind than it was confronted by an equal but opposite rationalization. Meanwhile the sun set and the moon and stars appear and Yud Shevat arrived -- but he remained only with his doubts and thoughts.

A bit of careful introspection will reveal that the doubts always creep into one's mind just when the opportunity for good action presents itself. The Previous Rebbe once spoke of the concept of "intellectual discernment" (as opposed to moral choice) and he told a story of the Tzaddik R. Nochum of Chernobyl:

R. Nochum once received a large sum of money and soon afterwards one of his chassidim entered his study seeking advice. He poured out his troubled heart and his difficult financial state, which had come under severe pressure because his daughter was soon to be married. When R. Nochum realized that the sum at hand was the exact amount required by the chossid to satisfy his pressing needs, he immediately decided to give the entire sum to this poor chossid. No sooner had he made this mental decision than doubt popped up in his mind, "Was it proper to give so large a sum to one person when it could be divided to help support several needy families?" Since both thoughts were equally noble, he was at a loss for what to do. After deep contemplation he decided that his second thought, to divide the money, did not come from his good inclination since he did not think of it as soon as he received the funds. It was only after deciding to help one family with the total large sum that the second thought came to his mind.

Even a good idea may not come from the good source -- and one must judge when, and in response to which activity, the idea came to mind, in order to make the right intellectual choice (there was no moral choice).

In our own experience we know that when one is approached with a request for charity to a particular institution, he suddenly begins to doubt the importance of such charity, after all, he has never contributed a cent! However, this observation should make it crystal clear just where these thoughts stem from!

Similarly, when one is asked why he is not fulfilling the directives of the Mishnah, "To provide yourself a teacher to help you rid yourself of all doubts," his ego responds: "How dare you suggest that I must find a Rav, when I am the biggest scholar and Rabbi." Can you possibly find anyone who is greater than he?

What advice can be given for such problems? Wipe out Amalek, the source of all evil! At the moment of doubt you can turn things around to increase holiness. When you make a proper accounting of your present situation it might lead you to depression, G-d forbid, and it could paralyze you, and cause you to sit and cry.

Or, to the contrary, -- say Le'Chayim with joy and glad hearts, accept upon yourself from now on to study the daily sections of Torah and to be involved in spreading Torah and Yiddishkeit and the wellsprings of Chassidus to all who hunger and thirst for the word of G-d. The prophet describes this condition at the end of time:

Behold days are coming...I will send a famine in the land, not a famine for bread, nor a thirst for water but for hearing the words of the L-rd. (Avos 8:11)

These thoughts must now be utilized for further positive action. For despite his doubts and indecisions G-d has still brought into his mind thoughts of repentance.

Use the remaining time till Yud Shevat to complete and increase all forms of preparation; whatever may be done on Shabbos do on Shabbos and other things after Shabbos. May our acceptance of these good resolutions bring us the reward -- the true and complete redemption, through out righteous Moshiach, speedily and truly in our days.


  Rosh Chodesh Shevat, 5747Yud Shevat, 5747  
  
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