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Yud-Aleph Nissan, 5745

Yud-Gimmel Nissan, 5745

Tzivos Hashem

Acharon Shel Pesach

Yechidus: 25th Day Of Nissan, 5745

Parshas Shemini

   29th Day Of Nissan, 5745

Pirkei Avos: Chapter 1

Acharei-Kedoshim

Pirkei Avos: Chapter 3

Lag B'omer

Behar-Bechukosai

Pride And Humility

Convention of N'shei uBnos Chabad

Tzivos Hashem

Erev Shavuos

Bemidbar

Shavuos, 5745

Yechidus-Shavuos

Parshas Nasso

Prison And Reform -- A Torah View

Graduates Of Bais Rivkah

Shabbos Parshas Shelach

Sichos In English
Volume 26

Parshas Shemini
29th Day Of Nissan, 5745
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  Yechidus With Grooms And BridesMishnah 1 & 12  

1

The Zohar says: "Every day performs its own function." We understand this to mean that the unique quality of each day constitutes the essential theme of that day. It also acts as a "gateway" for the sublimation and ascent of all aspects of the other days of the year.

This characteristic applies to all days -- not only special days -- for although the preceding days may have had some outstanding significance, the unique quality of this day makes it "first" today and it leads all other aspects of all other days through the "gateway."

An illustration may be brought from the Talmudic discussion of "preferential observance." The Gemara relates:

R. Yosef asked R. Yosef the son of Rabbah: "Of what is your father most observant?" "Of fringes," (tzitzis) he replied.... (Shabbos 118b)

There was a particular mitzvah of which he was "most observant," heedful and careful. This special care lavished on the particular mitzvah was in no way relative to the weightiness or severity of the particular mitzvah, for if it had been, then: (1) the Amora'im mentioned in the Gemara would have chosen "hard" or "difficult" mitzvos to be careful about, not tzitzis which the Gemara considers an "easy" mitzvah, and, (2) those mitzvos which are weighty or hard are equally difficult for everyone, and the Gemara would not tell us that one Amora was careful in one mitzvah while another Amora was heedful of another mitzvah.

Rather, the Talmud was discussing the matter of the style of personal Divine service of the different sages. Each one had a special leaning to a particular mitzvah, because his soul root was connected to the individual spiritual "light" generated by that mitzvah. So he showed special care to that deed, as Tanya tells us:

Even so, the special care with a particular mitzvah is necessary only for the sake of an increase, and prudence and additional zeal -- with exceeding uplifting and strength, doubly and manifoldly surpassing the zeal for the other commandments.

(Iggeres Hakodesh chap. 7)

By giving this special heedfulness to this mitzvah, its light illuminates his soul in a revealed and intense manner -- it is radiant and bright and it then becomes the "gateway" for all other mitzvos.

Coming back to the subject of days, we see that even a day which seems to be ordinary compared to some special days, nevertheless, relative to its own function, it constitutes the essence and becomes the "gate" for all days of the year.

Since today is Shabbos Mevorchim Iyar and comes at the end of the month of Nissan, we might compare it to the glorious days of Pesach, which stood on a very lofty level. Therefore we must recognize that "Every day performs its own function" in respect of which its attributes are essential and highest -- and this day will serve as a "gateway" for all aspects of the preceding days.

In elaborating on the quality of this day, we must keep in mind that the sublime qualities of the special days of Pesach are evident and obvious even to a simple Jew. We must therefore discuss the qualities of this day in a manner that will make it clear even to the average person.

The special quality of the month of Iyar is that all the days of the month are connected to the mitzvah of Counting the Omer. Nissan and Sivan are only partly connected to the counting of the Omer.

This quality includes several details. When an entire month is connected with a mitzvah this forms a special attribute which shows the force of the relationship; the mitzvah is regular, daily and continual. The days, too, have the quality of all being connected to the mitzvah, without exception.

When we realize that the contextual theme of Sefiras HaOmer [Counting of the Omer] is the preparation for receiving the whole Torah, the importance of the month of Iyar becomes all the more impressive.

Having extolled the greatness of the month, we still say that it must be blessed. What blesses the month? -- the Shabbos Mevorchim. Now you can understand the amazing greatness of this Shabbos -- which gives blessing to the lofty month which prepares us to receive the whole Torah. The blessing which Shabbos Mevorchim bestows is directed specifically to the day of Rosh Chodesh which combines, includes and elevates all the days of the ensuing month. This magnifies the loftiness of Shabbos Mevorchim, for it is capable of blessing so lofty a day as the Rosh Chodesh of Iyar!

This precipitates a difficulty. How can a day in Nissan confer blessing on the month of Iyar? Turning to the Chassidic view will compound the perplexity.

Nissan, called the "first month," is associated esoterically with the first state of Divine service -- the "suppression" of the forces of evil -- similar to the Divine service at the time of the Exodus. Later in the second month, Iyar, the second stage of Divine service applies, which is "conversion," to transform the bad to good.

Accepting that the Divine service of Iyar (conversion) is more sublime than the Divine service of Nissan (suppression), how can the blessing for Iyar come from a Shabbos in Nissan?

Let us reexamine the service of Nissan. True, it is mainly involved in suppressing the forces of evil, however, there is the additional aspect of "skipping" and "springing." Despite the fact that the Jewish people were in a state of deep abasement, nevertheless, "The King of kings, the Holy One, Blessed be He, revealed Himself to them." This was a form of "passing over," for G-d:

... skipped over and sprang across the normal order of systematic spiritual digression and the light of the Infinite, Blessed "Ein Sof,' which transcends all spiritual orders of all the worlds, was revealed and illuminated their G-dly souls.

(Likkutei Torah, Tzav 13d)

This effected the Exodus -- it was the power of jumping -- "for the Jewish people exited from all the restrictions and limitations."

A reexamination of the month of Iyar will reveal that although its main emphasis will be in "conversion," a loftier service than "suppression," it is however organized in a systematic fashion, measured and limited -- no skipping. In this respect Nissan has a more sublime quality than Iyar. It is as a result of this quality that the month of Nissan has the ability to bless Iyar, and the content of the blessing is that Iyar should also incorporate the power of springing as a better preparation for Mattan Torah -- which initiates the union of upper and lower worlds. Coming on a Shabbos, it also includes the aspect of perfection, as Shabbos introduces a time when, "All your work is done," completion and perfection.

The blessing which emanates from the Shabbos Mevorchim in the month of Nissan carries with it the perfection of the Divine service of advancing by springing and skipping.

We may now understand the unique quality of that day in Nissan which serves as a Shabbos Mevorchim for the month of Iyar. What is the aspect in which it serves as a "gateway" for all the days of the year? The concept of springing applies to every day of the month -- for the entire month is a "Month of Redemption." The outstanding days of the month have a more intense component of redemption -- springing. And Shabbos Mevorchim adds the aspect that it radiates the power of redemption to the next month and on to the rest of the year.

What lesson do we draw from this? Standing at the close of Nissan, one might assume that the springing approach will no longer apply, that now everything must follow a measured and metered procession of development. Shabbos Mevorchim Iyar enlightens us to the point that the springing of Nissan must permeate the measured service of Iyar, and then on to the entire year, just as the steady counting of Iyar brings the revelation of Mattan Torah (giving of the Torah).

Simply speaking, "Mivtza Pesach" did not end the day before Pesach, or even the day after Pesach. We must continue to reach out to those Jews who are down in the depths of Egypt and redeem them by attracting them to holiness and Yiddishkeit.

Now, when someone is approached to go out and get involved with average Jews, who are far away from the knowledge of Torah, he might argue, "What good will come from dealing with someone who is only on the level of learning the aleph-bais? Is it really worthwhile for me to descend from my level and expose myself to the alien world in order to deal with such simple people?"

To this we must answer: In approaching another Jew the month of Nissan teaches that every Jew has the potential to spring up. If the Jews at the time of Exodus were able to spring back from their low level of impurity and rise to receive the Torah, how much more so can every Jew at every time sprint over the barriers and reach the loftiest levels. Especially now that we have already received the Torah. And if you will diligently apply yourself to encourage another Jew to make that jump, you too will be helped in your own Divine service to be able to spring to incomparably higher levels.

The Baal Shem Tov placed a great emphasis on visiting small villages and towns where he would go out into the market place and talk with the local populace about simple worldly matters, like earning a living, their personal health, etc. In the course of their conversations the Baal Shem Tov would lead them and encourage them to express their appreciation of the simple things in life by saying "Boruch Hashem" [Blessed be the "Name" of G-d], in Hebrew, Yiddish or whatever "jargon" they spoke.

On the face of it, what is so amazing about a Jew who says "Boruch Hashem"? Did the Baal Shem Tov really have to waste his precious time speaking about simple, mundane matters just to get someone to say "Boruch Hashem"?

While it is true that there is a commandment to thank G-d when we partake of the benefits of the physical world, e.g. the blessing we say before we eat, there is no halachah [or even a recommended stricter level of observance] which says that one should spend time, standing in the street, conversing with simple people about simple matters to influence them to say "Thank G-d!" Seemingly one could put the time to much more beneficial use.

The incongruence is heightened when we realize the loftiness of the Baal Shem Tov and his central role as the Yechidah [unique one] level of the collective soul of the Jewish people, as discussed by the previous Rebbe. Yet, the Baal Shem Tov did this not only occasionally, but it was his custom on a regular basis and it became a part of his confirmed life style.

If, however, we take a moment to contemplate the true lofty level of the simple Jews we will realize that the quality of pure and plain simplicity, which expressed itself in their expressions of "Boruch Hashem," or "Thank G-d," caused a close bond between their essential spirituality and the essential existence Above.

A student of the Kabbalah meditates on the supernal spheres when he recites a blessing, reaching to the "secret of the supernal source." The simple, ignorant person, before drinking water, says a blessing in all sincerity, "Blessed are You,... by whose word all things come to be"; he knows no Sefiros, but speaks directly to the Essential Being, thanking G-d for the water that quenches his thirst.

It is this same purity and sincerity which expressed itself when the simple person speaks about his worldly needs, wants, or possessions, etc. He is imbued with a genuine thankfulness to the Holy One, Blessed be He, and says so by his words "Boruch Hashem" -- "Thank G-d." There is a connection to the essential existence.

Quite clearly this is a case of sprinting. Although he is a simple, unlearned Jew and speaks of simple, mundane matters and needs, at the same time he is connected to the source. Naturally this conduct did not lower the Baal Shem Tov, but caused an ascent in his personal Divine service. The boost was greater than his normal rate of advancement, which every tzaddik follows, and is described as "Rising from strength to strength."

Having acted openly in this manner, and having transmitted this mode of conduct to us, we must learn something from it for our own Divine service. As we learn in the Gemara:

Our Rabbis taught: The halachah may not be derived ... unless one has been told that the halachah is to be taken as a rule for practical decisions. [That it was actually practiced.]

(B.Basra 130b)

Therefore, everyone should awaken the "Baal Shem" aspect of his soul, and with that force go out into the public domain to awaken in others the power of springing and skipping. In your own advancement "from strength to strength," you will achieve the force of springing!

Thus the Shabbos Mevorchim in the month of Nissan bestows the power of springing, albeit in the form of "suppression," to the month of Iyar, which has the quality of "conversion," that it too shall be with the added quality of sprinting.

May the good resolutions in all these matters be connected by G-d to many good deeds and in fact motivate good action, as discussed in Chassidus. In this manner the Divine service of Counting the Omer will be perfected and we will reach the lofty level of accepting the Torah. And the promise will be fulfilled, "And the world will be filled with the knowledge of the L-rd as the waters cover the sea" (Yeshayah 11:9).


2

There is a rule in studying Rashi's commentary on Torah that Rashi does not discuss matters which are not connected to the plain interpretation of Scripture. At the same time Rashi does not omit anything which is necessary for us to fully understand the simple meaning of the verse.

In this week's portion, Shemini, there is a subject which needs elucidation in order to comprehend its simple meaning, but Rashi ignores the subject.

The opening of the portion begins:

On the eighth day, Moshe summoned Aharon, his sons, and the Elders of Israel. He said to Aharon, "Take yourself a calf for a sin offering ... Speak to the Jewish people and tell them to take: a goat...."

The five-year-old Chumash student has learned and knows that all commandments of Torah were transmitted to the Jewish people by Moshe. Why, suddenly, do we find Moshe telling Aharon to speak to the people?

Being that the Elders of the community were present at that session, why was it at all necessary for either Moshe or Aharon to subsequently teach the people? The Elders were the representatives of the Jews, and certainly Moshe could have turned to them and requested that they go out and teach the people.

Several commentaries refer to this question and attempt to answer it on many levels, including also the plain meaning. Yet Rashi, whose sole purpose is to "... explain the simple meaning of Scripture," ostensibly does not deal with this problem.

We must, of course, deduce that Rashi relies on a commentary which he previously explained, which simultaneously answered this question. Our question was, why did Moshe direct Aharon to teach the Jewish people -- something which was normally done by Moshe himself?

At the beginning of Vayikra, Rashi had taught:

"And He called Moshe and spoke to him" -- this is intended to exclude Aharon. Rabbi Yehudah said, "Thirteen Communications in the Torah are stated, [according to the wording of the text] to have been spoken to Moshe and Aharon together; but corresponding to these there are thirteen [which include] expressions with a limitative force, to teach you that they were spoken not to Aharon but to Moshe only, with the view that he should communicate them to Aharon." (Rashi, Vayikra 1:1)

Rashi states this very clearly, but does not give us a reason why certain commandments were told only to Moshe and others were to be told to Aharon. Evidently, when we study Torah on the level of plain translation we have no dilemma and we need no explanation for the different ways G-d transmitted His mitzvos. It is perfectly acceptable to say that some commandments the Holy One, Blessed be He, said in one style while other commandments the Holy One blessed be He transmitted in a different manner. This does not bother us and we need no explanation for these differences.

Similarly, when we asked why Moshe was told to tell Aharon to teach this mitzvah to the Jews, the answer is that, here too, it was a question of G-d's manner of transmission and our question does not apply; it is irrelevant. In fact, if Rashi had stopped to explain this matter here, we would ask for an explanation in all thirteen places where Aharon was also addressed (albeit, through Moshe), something which Rashi likewise, wisely ignored!

These points are simply not disturbing to us, within the framework of p'shat -- the simple translation of Torah. There is however still a point to ponder.

While normally there would be no need to worry about this change in style, and we would accept that it was G-d's desire that Aharon should teach this command to the people, here however, the Elders of the community were present when Moshe spoke to Aharon. Why could they not be given this job of teaching the Jews, which is what they normally did?

Here we will answer that telling Aharon to teach constituted the normal system of study. As Rashi tells us at the conclusion of Ki Sissa:

The Rabbis have taught: How was the system of teaching? Moshe used to learn the Law from the mouth of the Al-mighty; Aharon entered and Moshe taught him his lesson.... Then Aharon's sons entered and Moshe taught them their lesson.... The Elders then entered and Moshe taught them their lesson. (Rashi, Shemos, 34:32)

Theoretically one might question: "Why must Moshe teach Aharon separately, then the Elders; why keep them waiting outside -- let them in and allow them to study together with Aharon?" But we don't ask this question -- for we realize that this was the system of teaching the Torah.

Similarly in our case, we do not ask, "Why did Moshe command Aharon and not the Elders?" -- this was the order and system of teaching, which G-d instituted.

However, having said all this, a sharp student may come along and press the question: Agreed that there is an order of teaching, but there still must be some explanation for it. Especially as there is a perplexing angle: Why should Aharon's sons, and the Elders, and everyone else have to wait outside while Moshe taught Aharon? Similarly when Moshe taught Aharon's sons, why did the Elders have to wait outside again? Why did they not all enter and study with Moshe right from the start, all together?

Furthermore, the Gemara goes on to tell us [although Rashi does not quote this point] that the order of teaching was such that each group ended up learning four times:

At this stage [after teaching four times] Moshe departed, and Aharon taught them his lesson, then Aharon departed and his sons taught them their lesson. His sons then departed and the Elders taught them their lesson. It thus followed that everybody heard the lesson four times."

(Eruvin 54b)

Why could they not all learn the lesson four times from Moshe? Here we have a case where the five-year-old Chumash student does not ask such a question. The young student studies Chumash with his teacher. He is aware that in the same building there are additional classes where older students study with other teachers. The ten-year-old studies Mishnah, the fifteen-year-old students study Gemara, etc. So he asks his teacher, "What is Mishnah and Gemara?" To which he receives the reply, "Mishnah and Gemara explain the Chumash on a higher and deeper level, while now you are learning the simple meaning of Chumash. Learn well now, and when you grow up you too will learn Mishnah and Gemara."

Having heard of the different levels of study he understands that he cannot study together with the older boys. If so, he immediately draws a parallel and grasps the idea that Moshe could not have taught everyone together, because each group was taught on a different level. Aharon certainly learned on the highest level of "PARDES" [acrostic for -- Plain, Symbolic, Homiletic, Esoteric] of Torah, the others were taught according to their relative ability. For this reason Rashi does not have to approach these questions as they are not asked by the young Chumash student.


3

There is a timely subject connected with the onset of summer. As the summer months draw near, when school will be closed for an extended vacation, parents' thoughts turn to the subject of proper summer camps for their children. It is important to utilize this period to encourage parents to send their children to kosher, proper, Torah-oriented summer camps.

The influence and education of a proper summer camp can be much greater even than a good school. In camp the children spend the entire 24 hours of the day under the influence of the educators. At school the child returns home after classes and therefore it only has a partial effect on the child. A camp where the spirit of holiness and Yiddishkeit envelops the child all the time, without interruption, can make an enormously good impression on the mind and soul of the child.

A day camp can also have more good influence than school. School is something the parents make him attend; the child would rather play, so during class he longs for the free time when he can go out again and play. But he wants to attend camp. There, in addition to studies, he will have games and other activities which he enjoys. So the religious influence will penetrate deeper into his open and receptive heart.

Thus, all effort should be expended to influence parents to send their children to camps where they will receive maximum exposure to holiness and spiritual values.

In material matters the parents surely want to give their children the maximum. They should understand that in spiritual matters it is even more vital. And if the choice is between a camp where the material comforts will be maximal but the spiritual services will be minimal, or vice versa, they should opt for the camp with the spiritual maximum.

Without spiritual values the material is worthless! This is especially evident in present times, when we see the result of children growing up without spiritual values.

As "one mitzvah brings about another," we should mention the other mivtzoyim. Ahavas Yisroel (love of fellow Jews) and unity of the Jewish people. Also the Education campaign, self-education and education of others, Torah, Tefillin, Mezuzah, Tzedakah, Houses filled with Jewish books, Candle lighting, Kashrus, Family Purity, Study of Rambam, and inscribing letters in the Sefer Torah.

This will lead to the fulfillment of the whole Torah, the 613 Scriptural commandments and seven Rabbinic commandments, which together add up to 620, the number of letters in the Ten Commandments.

[The next sicha, an analysis of chapter 1, mishnah 1 and chapter 1, mishnah 12-14 of Pirkei Avos, has been published as a separate essay.]


  Yechidus With Grooms And BridesMishnah 1 & 12  
  
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