The #1 Ultimate Way to Alleviate Suffering in This World (and it sure ain't easy and maybe even seems impossible, but even a little bit still helps)
At one point, I was feeling all out of sorts and having a difficult time lifting myself out of the doldrums and despondency.
So I did what a lot of people do, and I decided to open up at random a book written by a tzaddik and use that as a direct message from Hashem about how I should proceed.
People do this with the Chumash, the Lubavitcher Rebbe's letters, Rebbe Nachman's Likutei Moharan – anything written by either Hashem or one of His tzaddikim will work.
I chose Volume I of Words of Faith by Rav Levi Yitzchak Bender because his words always speak to me so meaningfully, and I always feel he's so full of love and understanding.
Page 133 turned up with the sub-heading:
Thinking of Tachlis Alleviates Harsh Devotions
"Tachlis" can be translated as "the Ulitmate Goal" – meaning, completing your own rectifications, sweetening and bringing the Geula, influencing Am Yisrael & the world positively (albeit invisibly), and earning yourself a fabulous portion in the World to Come.
Rav Bender starts off this section by discussing how holy men in his time were able to carry out such harsh devotions, like immersing in a roofless mikveh among chunks of ice. Or doing hitbodedut outside in a forest for hours in searingly cold weather while hopping from foot to foot just to prevent freezing to death.
The answer is:
The more a person is bound to Tachlis [Ultimate Goal], the easier it is for him to serve Hashem Yisbarach. Despite all the difficulties and toil, the pain and suffering – thinking of Tachlis turns it all to a good sweet life...
(Full disclaimer: Needless to say, we're discussing an idea that is way, way beyond me right now. So I'm going to quote Rav Bender directly throughout this post so you can get it straight from his pure & holy heart.)
Despite how far we feel from this level, it is still a good goal to keep in mind.
Rav Avigdor Miller spoke a lot of focusing on all the wonders and pleasures of Hashem's world. Mesillat Yesharim spoke of how we are supposed to take pleasure in This World, even though that is very difficult for many of us, practically speaking.
But it is a beneficial goal.
It's a quintessentially Jewish idea at the root of our whole system of emunah & daas.
And this is the paradox we live in.
Rav Bender goes on to acknowledge that "The world is filled with pain and bitterness."
Correct! Couldn't have said it better.
For indeed there is strong bitterness in this world. It is there whatever you do...
Then Rav Bender says (pg. 134):
However, when one is bound to the Tachlis, he doesn't experience any bitterness and difficulty... It is possible to jump into a frozen mikveh, to rip raw wounds easily... Because the heart that is attached Above in a strong bond doesn't feel any pain.
Why the Heck is This Uplifting?
Why IS this uplifting?
Many of us might feel like this is yet another level we can never reach.
Like, "Uh, binding myself to the Tachlis and attaching my heart Above in such a strong bond that I no longer feel any pain? Well, gosh. Yet another thing to just plain fail at again...thanks a lot."
But the truth is that knowing that the joy is out there can bring a glimmer of light to a long, dark, claustrophobic tunnel.
The truth is that people who have worked on connecting to Hashem, finding meaning in yissurim, and focusing on the Tachlis tend to be happier and deal with suffering better than those who don't do this at all.
Yes, they may still find themselves down in the dumps at times.
But they are still better off overall.
Furthermore, people who at least try to fulfill this idea find themselves not only behaving better, but actually feeling better in situations that used to stress them out.
People who at least work on binding themselves to the Tachlis (or whatever words they use to describe it) will tell you that there are situations that used to hurt them or really throw them off balance, and now those same situations either make them laugh or they respond with emotional equanimity.
Not with EVERYTHING, but I personally know people for whom this is true at least some of the time.
I'm not talking about repressing or lying to themselves or faking their outer behavior (although there is also value in the "fake it 'til ya make it" method).
I'm talking about regular people who affected such a real inner change in a particular area that their heart, their actual emotions truly changed (at least in some situations that previously used to knock them out of the game).
So whether or not we reach the level of "suffering without actually feeling any suffering whatsoever," connecting to this idea still can grant us extra light in our life, extra happiness, and more emotional equilibrium.
Connecting to this idea even a little can still make us better people, even if only in some small way (which is still a million times better than not improving at all).
The main way to do this, says Rav Bender throughout the book, is to talk to Hashem as you would a Best Friend who truly loves and understands you, and is always forgiving.
Why on Earth Do We Beg Hashem to Grant Tzaddikim a Good Reward?
Rav Bender brings a chiddush from another Breslov tzaddik, Rav Avraml.
In Shemoneh Esrei, we say, "V'Ten sachar tov l'chol habotchim b'Shimcha b'emet — And grant good reward to all those who trust in Your Name in truth."
Who are the people who trust in Hashem's Name "b'emet" – for real?
They are the people who live every moment with the Tachlis in mind. Their hearts are always connected Above.
And who are they?
But think about that for a moment.
Why on earth do we need to beg Hashem 3 times a day to grant TZADDIKIM a good reward?
After all, they're tzaddikim.
Of course they get reward! If they don't, then who does?
The answer is: They live in a state of sweetness.
Suffering doesn't pain them.
So how can suffering atone for them?
As Rav Bender explains: "not only do they not feel the pain of meaningless worldly suffering, they also experience good life."
What's more, we have further elucidation from Rav Yaakov HaLevi Dov (who attended the shiur from which this page was transcribed & apparently said the following in the middle of this shiur):
The idea here outlined is in line with a statement of the Rebbe:
And that's why we need to beg Hashem to still grant them a good reward: Even though they're experiencing pleasure and not the cleansing pain of yissurim (suffering), their enjoyment still shouldn't detract from their Ultimate Reward.
So that's where it's at.
And I don't think I'm anywhere near this level, and I still have my falls, but I do see that at least attempting to grasp onto this concept really does help at least a little.
And hopefully, people will take from Rav Bender's words whatever they're able, whatever level they happen to be at right now, b'ezrat Hashem.
"I have sunk in a whirlpool & there is no place to stand..."
The word translated here as "whirlpool" is metzulah in the original text.
Rashi and others translate it as like a muddy mire (more companionable with the previous post).
But Rav Avraham ibn Ezra describes it as in the middle of the sea -- a whirlpool.
Rav Levi Yitzchak Bender acknowledges the simple meaning of the verse:
This person is not only in the terrible quandary of getting stuck in a whirlpool; he can't even stand there — there is additional pain & suffering.
All hope seems lost.
How to Win the Massively Unfair Fight between You & the Giant Muddy Whirlpool
But the Breslover Sages provided an insightful twist on these words:
"There is no place to stand" can also mean that one is not stuck there.
Do not stand in place.
Rav Bender exhorts (Words of Faith Vol. I, pg. 405):
"Deal with it and wrestle and make all effort to get out."
Rav Bender explains that even if all the person sees is mud and he simply cannot wrench himself free, however hard he tries...nonetheless, if he remains stuck and does not move to free himself, "he will certainly sink deeper with no possibility of being saved, chas v'shalom."
The way of struggling is one foot in, one foot out.
"I give a blow, I take a blow," says Rav Bender.
Taking a blow or getting caught in the mud, getting all wet & dirty — this itself is the nisyon, it's not the final judgement on you.
Too many people condemn us when they see us struggling and muddy.
Heck, we condemn ourselves for our clumsy desperate flailing & our muddily soaked appearance.
But according to Rav Bender and according to David Hamelech, that's not how Hashem sees things at all.
Rav Bender insists that the main thing is to try. We must be strong and ensure that last foot steps out...
As long as we WANT to escape the muddy whirlpool and the mire, as long as we TRY to free ourselves, we're beautiful to Hashem.
And He'll make us win in the end.
One of the most discouraging aspects of self-improvement is the up-and-down aspect of doing teshuvah.
It feels manic-depressive: When you're up, you can feel high as a kite.
When you're down, you can hate both yourself & the world.
Of course, the ups and downs may not always be as extreme as that, but it can still be discouraging if, for example, your Rosh Hashanah davening was full of flavor & inspiration, then the 10 Days of Teshuvah see you waking up on the wrong foot and feeling generally irritable or despondent.
Or maybe you wake up with a song in your heart, but throughout the day, events get you down and you go to bed feeling like a failure.
It helps a lot to know that this is a NATURAL part of the process, and not necessarily a negative reflection on the innate "you."
The Mud Parable
Rav Bender explains that it's like being stuck in a type of sinking mud-bog.
If you just stand there, you will surely sink deeper and deeper.
But if you try to wrangle one foot out?
Ah, now there's hope!
Yes, you're still in the mud.
But at least you resist getting swallowed whole.
So you end up in this wonky balancing act: You're up to your knees in mud and you've got one foot in and one foot out. And then you switch them. And then you switch them again. And again.
It's exhausting, it's messy...but it's exactly what you're supposed to be doing.
For many of us, whether we realize it or not, there's actually no other choice.
And the Winner is...The Exhausted Muddy Person Still Sunk in the Bog, But Who at Least has ONE Foot OUT!
Rav Bender explains that as long as a person has one foot out of the mud, there is hope that this last act will be in his favor, that he will win.
"One foot in, one foot out. But the main thing is that the last foot should be outside."
It sounds so strange, but this is the pure unadulterated truth:
Despite the fact that the rest of you is covered with mud and still caught in the bog, that mere one foot out declares you a winner.
But how can you know with all the constant switching, that the last foot will be out in the end?
Rav Bender assures us that it all depends on your desire. Ratzon.
If you really wholeheartedly want to get out of the mud, you will win in the end.
You can't know when — hopefully, it will be soon with a sweet Geula — but as long as you really want it, you WILL win in the end.
Spiritual Bipolar Disorder - Part 1
In Words of Faith, Rav Levi Yitzchak Bender cautions us against falling into the trap of the "frum" yetzer hara.
The "frum" yetzer hara seems very pious in his negative evaluations of any mitzvah we do.
Nothing is ever good enough.
And while it's true that maybe we didn't daven with so much kavanah, this oh-so pious yetzer hara sucks any joy we feel out of the mitzvah.
Furthermore, he makes us feel like Torah & mitzvot are too hard, that we'll never perform any mitzvah "well enough," and then he convinces us...why bother? It's not worth even trying.
And that's the killer clause of the pious yetzer hara.
When 5+5 equals 1 in 10,000
So we must defeat this oh-so seemingly pious yetzer hara by listening to what our real talmidei chachamim say about baby steps.
They for sure know better than even your frummest yetzer hara.
In a recently transcribed lecture Rav Avigdor Miller on 10 Minutes to Make You Great, Rav Miller tells us to spend 10 minutes in preparation for the New Year, for Rosh Hashanah.
And what do we do in those 10 minutes?
If you do this, then Rav Miller considers you "great;" you're head and shoulders above the rest.
Those ten minutes will be a great accomplishment.
If you've been visiting Toras Avigdor or listening to Rav Miller's shiurim, then you know that here's a Jew who does not mince words.
Especially when it comes to avodat Hashem, Rav Miller is straight as they come.
And while I think the whole frum awakening toward gratitude and thanking Hashem has picked up since 1976, there are, tragically, enough assimilated Jews and enough by-rote Jews that you really stand out with those 10 minutes.
And the more of us who take these 10 minutes to thank Hashem for all the good of the past year while making specific resolutions for the coming year, the more we can sweeten din and reap blessing for ourselves and others.
One of the many things I love about Words of Faith (a 2-volume compilation of Rav Levi Yitzchak Bender's talks) is the examples of people who did teshuvah.
I think it's so important to speak about the accomplishments of externally unremarkable people.
Or seemingly hopeless people.
And I mean REALLY hopeless-seeming people.
For example, Rav Bender describes a man who is basically a bum who hogs the heater in the Uman shul all the tefillah. (This is my terminology; Rav Bender's description is far more refined.)
For impoverished & cold attendees like Rav Bender, this meant they never had a chance to warm up. Ever. Due to the man's choice of language and topics, Rav Bender and others could not stand near the jerk, even to enjoy the heat.
Yet this same worthless bum later did complete teshuvah, and even made a very good name for himself.
(For the full story, please see: 2 Examples of Unforeseeable Personality Transformation.)
Interestingly, Rav Bender mentions no observation of a certain kind of "spark" or hidden potential during the time he knew the boorish man. Instead, Rav Bender sounds pleasantly surprised that after immigrating to America, the man made a deep & gradual change.
So the point is that you do not need to be some kind of special person to do teshuvah.
You don't even need to be a decent person or even someone with an ounce of EQ (emotional intelligence).
I just love the story of the boorish meat-selling bum because to me, his teshuvah is more inspiring than that of a big rasha (as featured in The True Story of How a Murderer Did Teshuvah).
After all, big reshaim can be a charismatic. They can be intelligent & savvy.
The story of the insensitive boor who is not embarrassed to hog the shul heater right in front of tremendous tzaddikim is the one that gives me the most hope.
The Inspiring Story of Dovid Heisener
And Rav Bender offers us another inspiring story (pg. 178, Vol I).
Originally, Dovid Heisener was "a secular Jew devoid of Torah and mitzvos" who was also "a material person whose entire aspiration was to 'live it up'."
Dovid Heisener fearlessly risked his life to amass great wealth via the illegal transaction of dollars & gold.
Yet despite being a savvy & careful guy, Dovid Heisener was caught in Moscow with dollars on him, which earned him the punishment of banishment for 3 years.
Oddly, the court allowed him to choose where he would spend this banishment.
Even more oddly, he chose Uman in the Ukraine.
After arriving in Uman with his wife & family, Dovid Heisener heard there was a "Breslov theater" in Uman.
So, being a "happy scoffer" (as Rav Bender described him), Dovid Heisener made his way to the Breslov shul to see these "strange people who danced and jumped and practiced bizarre customs not like others..."
And indeed, Dovid Heisener found it all strange and entertaining at first.
It's obvious from Rav Bender's description that Rav Bender and the shul rabbi, Rav Avraham ben Rav Nachman, understood exactly why this "happy scoffer" was sitting in their shul.
You can also imagine how they were made fun of among the townspeople after watching this "Breslov theater," as Dovid Heisener called it.
But as always, they held by Rebbe Nosson's original custom that if someone attends the Breslov shul, there must be a reason for it, and to allow the person to attend in peace.
It doesn't mean you hang out with that person.
It doesn't mean you invite the guy for Shabbos.
But don't push him away, either.
Gradually, Dovid Heisener noticed the "deep seriousness" and "fear of Heaven" resting on the faces of the chassidim.
His attendance became regular, then he started participating in the davening and also attended the Torah classes.
Ultimately, Dovid Heisener did complete teshuvah.
And with the proceeds and materials from his leather business, Dovid Heisener provided warm coats & snow shoes to all those who wished to go out into the fields for hitbobedut during the harsh Russian winters.
In the words of Rav Bender (pg. 180):
"He was transformed from one extreme to the other. Until he actually turned into a tzaddik. That light-headed scoffer was transformed into a serious simple servant of Hashem who was a pleasure to gaze at..."
I hope that we can all derive inspiration from the fact that even if you're just a money-loving, adventurous, entertainment-seeking scoffer, you can still do complete teshuvah.
And even more so, if you're NOT starting out on such a low level.
But either way, there's definitely hope!
Here are the some of Rav Bender's stories of inspiring teshuvah:
In general, our biggest tzaddikim don’t shove us toward grand gestures and massive gulps.
They tend to advise smaller steps to advance in ruchaniut and middot.
Yes, sometimes, grand gestures are needed—like the fashion-addicted woman who saved her own life by plucking out all her immodest clothing and making a happy bonfire in her yard.
She’d been diagnosed with something like a fatal brain tumor.
Yet after meeting with Rebbetzin Batsheva Kanievsky a”h, the young woman made this grand gesture of commitment to tsniut and the tumor (or whatever it was; can’t remember exactly) disappeared.
And sometimes, a massive gesture IS called for, like a prayer gathering or saying the entire Sefer Tehillim/Book of Psalms in one go (which takes some of us 5-6 hours).
How to Transform Your Life with Rebbetzin Kanievsky's Advice
What did Rebbetzin Kanievsky a"h recommend in order to generate more blessing in life?
Again, please note the small numbers:
Climbing Mountains One Step at a Time
Again: Yes, there is a place for grand gestures.
Malky Feig’s Mountain Climbers 2 tells of a family that saved the life of a young boy in their family by being ready for Shabbat by the halachic noon of Erev Shabbat.
He was diagnosed with a fatal illness, yet this family, who usually came crashing into Shabbat by the skin of their teeth, got their act together for an early Shabbat and the boy remained alive and healthy.
(Their source was the Chafetz Chaim’s advice to another couple generations earlier, based on the fact that Shabbat is mekor habracha—the source of blessing; so adding more Shabbat into one’s life increases one’s blessing.)
But Malky Feig also brings examples of people who reaped blessing from very small gestures—acts that regular people might scoff at if you told them.
For example, a young frum woman overcame a bleak diagnosis by resolving to stop using a soft-bristled hairbrush on Shabbat (because it unintentionally pulls out hairs, which is forbidden on Shabbat, even though she’d bought the soft bristles to avoid such a thing—but it pulled out some hair anyway).
Rav Avigdor Miller's 10 Steps to Greatness
Rav Avigdor Miller is famous for his 10 Steps to Greatness (Tape #706):
After recommending carrying out these steps out for 30 days, Rabbi Miller advised, "If you feel exhausted, take a break and come back slowly. To become great, you have to be extreme."
For a more detailed version of Rav Miller's ten steps, please see: 10 steps to Greatness by Rav Avigdor Miller z''l (tape #706)
Stream-Lined Advice from the Kaliver Rebbe
Likewise, when asked how to prevent another Shoah and protect the Jewish people in general, the late Kaliver Rebbe Menachem Mendel Taub ztz”l, who survived the horrific human experimentation of evil Mengele yemach shemo in Auschwitz, recommended focusing on the following:
Granted several of the above are hard to achieve.
Regardless, even the tiniest progress in these particular areas is very, very powerful.
And out of 613 mitzvot (and any feel-good derech-hateva efforts, like politicking), the Rebbe pared it down for us to focus on the above 6 ideals.
In other words, he didn’t insist on us being perfect in every way and taking on massive chumras or grand gestures.
Instead, a stream-lined focus on solidifying our emuna, loving our fellow Jews, Shabbat observance, saying Shema Yisrael and Aleinu L’Shabayach, and doing it all with joy were his recommendations.
For more, please see this article: Kaliver Rebbe: “Each day is its own Yom HaShoah.”
(His emphasis on saying Aleinu L’Shabayach was in another article, but he did emphasize its importance, so it’s included here in the above list.)
The 4 Guidelines of a Hidden Tzaddik
The hidden tzaddik, Rabbi Yehuda Zev Leibowitz ztz”l, recommended the following 4 major guidelines to focus on as we approach Redemption:
1. Help Others
2. Be Merciful
3. Give In & Let It Go
4. And the main point: Not to Yell
(For a more detailed elucidation of these guidelines, please see Remembering Rabbi Yehuda Zev)
Chabad Path to Salvation
The last Lubavitcher Rebbe is famous for his mivtzo'im (mitzvah campaigns).
While he of course personally upheld and encouraged solid adherence to halacha down to the last detail, he had Jews shine extra focus on mitzvot like:
And it imbues a really strong focus you can still see today.
For example, I personally know guys who are either secular or somewhat off the derech, but are makpid to at least put on tefillin—even during the most pressured morning—simply because of this emphasis of Chabad.
Yes, they should be upholding all the mitzvot, but this one adherence means they still bring Hashem into their lives on a daily basis and it can be the springboard for them to return to full mitzvah observance.
These 10 biggies weren’t the Rebbe's only mivtzo’im.
As is commonly seen, he made a big deal about having lots of children, Chanukah lighting, and a Lag B’Omer Parade.
On an individual level, Lubavitcher Chassidim need to learn a portion each day of:
This is excellent because it means that a Jew connects with the parsha on a daily basis, makes a personal davening that sweetens din, and gets a daily dose of mussar and other deep stuff.
But even what’s mentioned here weren’t the only mivtzoim. For more, please see Chabad Mitzvah Campaigns.
It sounds like a lot, and it is a lot, but they weren't introduced all at the same time, and there are 613 mitzvot to perfect. So these were a way to focus (which leads to upholding the rest).
Breslover Baby Steps
Rebbe Nachman of Breslov opposed unnecessary chumras and focused on speaking with Hashem in your own language an hour a day, plus maintaining a state of joy and resisting a state of fear.
Of course he himself was dedicated to every mitzvah and encouraged full mitzvah observance for every Jew, but again, the big Sages understood that people need focus.
You can’t swallow everything in one gulp.
One of the Brelovers from generations past, Rav Yankel Zhitomer (spelled "Zatamer" in the English translation of Words of Faith), spring-boarded the complete teshuvah of a hitman-for-hire (!) by suggesting that he start putting on tefillin.
Rav Yankel Zhitomer didn't even request that the lapsed Jew stop killing people or stop stealing! Like, "Hey, Moshe, why don't you start with the 10 Commandments?"
Baby steps: First, tefillin.
And this led to a complete turnaround in which this former hitman ended up regularly risking his life for Torah and mitzvot, and to help other Jews, including bringing life into the world and preserving life (he gave lots of tzedakah).
The Breslovers stated that his repentance was like coming back from the dead.
(Just to give you an idea of how low he'd fallen, the band Moshe joined was so fearsome that when the evil Communists took over, people were relieved that this band had less power — life actually improved! That's how bad this particular gang was — and Moshe was a part of them.)
And his complete teshuvah all started with tefillin.
(Actually, it really started with him coming to shul ONLY for kaddish for his father; he didn't even stay for the whole davening. Then Rav Yankel Zhitomer approached him as he tried to make his dash out.)
For more on this story, please see:
The True Story of How a Murderer did Teshuvah
For a woman very discouraged by years of infertility, Rav Shalom Arush recommended that she write down a gratitude list of 20 things—included the nisayon of infertility—with the intention that this would enable her to have children.
I was shocked that he didn’t recommend at least 5 minutes of hitbodedut.
But I guess he knew whom he was dealing with.
For some people trapped in a certain mindset, even the minute it takes to list 20 things can seem overwhelming.
Are You Crushed Under a Load of Rocks or Dancing with a Sack of Diamonds?
In order to give GOOD advice, it’s necessary to understand what level a person is at and what step they need to take to bump themselves up a bit.
People get discouraged by too heavy a burden.
"Mentors" who insist that you jump very high through very convoluted hoops while juggling bowling balls—and to do this consistently—are probably not Gadolim.
They might be very well-intended and they might perform a lot of great acts themselves.
But the question is whether you should listen to them.
If their advice and proclamations contradict the above recommendations of real Gadolim (or if their advice goes far out beyond what the above focused on), then you should find out what the real Gadolim advise and emphasize.
Because Judaism is a sack of diamonds, not a sack of stones.
And a sack of diamonds is much easier to carry with a happy heart than a sack of stones.
Focus and take baby steps.
That’s the way to save both yourself and the world.
May we all succeed in completing our tikkun in this gilgul in a sweet way without nisayon or bizayon.
For a related post, please see:
Judaism's Secret: Achieve the Glorious Maximum by Doing the Bare Minimum
Rav Miller’s dvar Torah on Parshat Behar is a very pleasant whomp right between the eyes.
One of my favorite aspects of Rav Miller on the parsha is his description of the true-to-life experience of Jews millennia ago in the Tanach.
Using plain & simple language, he brings it all to life.
Yovel, Plus You as a Ger in This World
In the Pele Yoetz chapter entitled Ger, Rav Eliezer Papo also discusses ger/geirut according to this interpretation. With Rav Miller, you get a glimpse into what Duties of the Heart/Chovot Levavot says about this idea, plus a modern-day analogy to make things clearer, what a mezuzah should inspire within us, and then the following amazing yet true story of a connected Jew with his heart & mind in exactly the right place:
I once knew a Mr. Herman zichrono l’vracha from the Lower East Side.
Gadlus. And that was a so-called “regular” Jew no one has ever heard of!
Everyone can be great. It’s not at all a matter of renown or charisma.
Just quietly live for the Next World.
No one will write a book or even newspaper obituary about you (may you live in good health until 120), but you’ll be written in Hashem’s Book, and that’s all anyone really needs.
This section also helps you figure out how much you should invest in your material world here on Earth.
It goes according to individuals and their different situations, so Rav Miller doesn’t offer hard ‘n’ fast rules, but pages 7-11 can help you figure out how to clarify things for yourself.
God's Truth is Even Better than Science Fiction
(This is not depressing, like how it is in sci-fi novels, but actually very comforting and inspiring.)
The Pre-Mashiach Jewish Reality: Stuck between a Rock & Hard Place
Do you ever find yourself irked by the following, as described by Rav Miller?:
"… a Jew is always hounded in this world; the Jew walks on the street in Europe and the goyim cast slurs on him; they tell him, 'Get out of our country you dirty Jew. Go to Israel!' And if he does, so the Arabs tell him to get out, the U.N. tells him to get out."
Jew-haters are simply impossible to please! (So why bother trying? Hint, hint…)
One Torah, One People
Despite differences in custom, dress, culture, time, and language, real talmidei chachim keep coming up with the same themes and lessons from Torah.
Because all the real talmidei chachamim glean from the same sources and come to the same conclusions.
It ends on the heart-warming note of what you should remember about Olam Hazeh / This World whenever you look at a mezuzah:
Note: After the dedications at the end of this dvar Torah booklet, there is a brand-new section for children: Toras Avigdor Junior, a 2-page large-print supplement accompanied by a pleasant drawing of Rav Miller with a child in the woods. After that, there is a Q&A regarding how to break the habit of losing one’s temper.
So even if you’re in Eretz Yisrael and already past this parsha, it’s very worth reading Rav Miller’s dvar Torah on it for the wealth of soul-nourishing Torah hashkafah it contains:
Rav Avigdor Miller on Parshat Behar: We Live in You
On page 220 of the first volume of Words of Faith, we encounter Rav Levi Yitzchak Bender’s Talk #17: Pe-sach — Only Tefillah!
Sach: sach—to channel in another direction (when spelled with a samech), to converse (when spelled with a sin)
So we see from this that Pesach is about a personal & verbal relationship with Hashem.
This makes sense because in the Torah's whole saga of slavery and redemption, Am Yisrael rouse Divine Mercy whenever they cried out to Hashem.
Rav Bender recalls the Ari’s promise that whoever is careful from a little bit of chametz on Pesach is guaranteed not to sin the whole year.
And Rav Bender stresses that if we really want to achieve this, it can only happen through tefillah.
There are 2 advantages to doing this:
Like Elul, Nissan is a month of teshuvah.
I’m not the only one to notice that a lot of kaparahs happen during Nissan leading up to Pesach.
Sometimes, it’s hard to see them because it looks like part of Pesach stress, but closer introspection often reveals something similar to what happens to you in Elul.
The Elul-Nissan Connection
Rav Bender quotes Rebbe Baruch of Medzibuz, an uncle of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, by comparing Elul preparations to Nissan preparations.
In Elul & the 10 Days of Repentance, Jews are busy with fasting and repentance.
In Nissan, says Rebbe Baruch, Jews are “busy with preparing geese and fat ducks, fish, and eggs for the sake of the festive banquet” (Leil HaSeder).
If only we would switch the order, says Rebbe Baruch, and do in Nissan what we do in Elul, and repent and pray to be saved from a little bit of chametz on Pesach, then we would be sure not to sin the entire year, and THEN we wouldn’t need the fasts and mortification of Elul & the 10 Days of Repentance because we never sinned. (Yay!)
Rav Bender emphasizes the importance of tefillah in Nissan, especially in the days leading up to Pesach when it is hardest to find extra time for prayer.
“All beginnings are difficult,” he acknowledges as he encourages us to do our best.
You can also talk to Hashem while you’re scrubbing or sweeping or making charoset.
You can thank Hashem and force yourself to smile at least for a millisecond even when you’re stressed out.
Let's finish off with Rav Bender's final words on the topic on page 223:
Adar and Nissan are two months that a person has to make a special soul-accounting.
Feedburner subscription no longer in operation. Sorry!
I'm a middle-aged housewife and mother in Eretz Yisrael who likes to read and write a lot.
Daf Yomi Review
Jewish Current Events
©2015-2022 Myrtle Rising