Excerpts from a lecture by Rav Eliezer Berland, shlit"a
Delivered in the Old City, Yerushalayim, 11 Tishrei, 5758.
In Likutei Halachos (Rosh Hashanah),
Rav Nosson discusses how the harsh judgements and negative decrees that
can be decreed upon a person stem from the sin of Adam HaRishon. At the
time that Adam HaRishon ate from the Tree of Knowledge, decrees were enacted
against every single soul, for they all took part in his sin. These decrees
were then partitioned out for each soul and spread out over the one hundred
and twenty years of his life. Even repentance cannot change this reality,
since repentance doesn’t mitigate that which was decreed from the sin of
Adam HaRishon. [Since his sin stemmed mainly from pride, in that he wanted
to be like Hashem,] the main sweetening of these judgements is achieved
through song and dance, because the essence of a person’s fixing is to
come to self-nullification. One must sing and dance very much during the
days between Yom HaKippurim and Simchas Torah to sweeten the judgements
which are derived from the sin of Adam HaRishon. It is our job during the
twenty–two days until Simchas Torah to repair this by coming to self–nullification,
for, through it, all the judgements are sweetened and all the Chassadim
(forms of kindness) are drawn down. This is achieved specifically
through singing and dancing.
It says in the Pri Eitz Chayim (Shaar Rosh Hashanah,
chapter 2), that the upright structure of Rachel is built between Rosh
Hashanah and Yom HaKippurim. On the first day of Rosh Hashanah, the vessel
of Keter is made through Binah, and during the blowing of
the shofar, the inner mentalities of Keter are drawn inside.
On the second day, the vessel of the sefirah of Chochmah
is made and during the blowing of the shofar, the mentality of Chochmah
is drawn inside. On the third day, the mentality of Binah is drawn
in. Awesome mentalities are drawn down through the blowing of the shofar,
[but on the third day, there is already no need for the blowing of the
to draw in the mentality.] The indication that a person has received these
mentalities is that, afterward, he immediately sits down to learn. If he
doesn’t learn, then this is an apparent sign that his channels were blocked.
All ten sefirot are built up in this way until Yom HaKippurim. On
Yom HaKippurim, which is the “seal,” the rectification is completed and
one receives all the mentalities which were drawn down. A person who was
in Uman for Rosh Hashanah merits receiving this “seal” on Erev Rosh Hashanah.
After Yom HaKippurim, the mentalities of Chassadim
are drawn down. Before Sukkos, the internal aspects of the Chassadim
are drawn down. The day following Yom HaKippurim is Chessed within
and after that, Chessed within Netzach. Chessed within
is reached on the first day of Sukkos. This is why these days between Yom
HaKippurim and Sukkos are really holidays—no less so than Chanukah and
Purim. Even though they are weekdays, they are holidays. This is why one
must encourage himself very must during these days to learn (“not to go
without a book in your hand”), to pray, and to dance.
The main manifestation of these internal Chassadim
is to bring a person to kindness and mercy in his home with his family.
Even if, sometimes, his wife is unable to prepare all the food that is
needed, he must say to himself, “Who knows what she has gone through?
Of course she’s falling apart. What, with the pressure at home, and from
the children…” On the contrary, he should do whatever needs to be done.
Particularly at the end of the fast, there are often quarrels that the
food is not ready, etc. In fact, the Vilna Gaon used to force himself to
eat very slowly after the fast when he would customarily eat salted fish
that was full of bones. Rabbi Nachman said (Siach Sarfei Kodesh
2:82) that the yetzer hara often provokes a person at such times
into getting angry, so he needs to strengthening himself very much to not
get angry at such times.
It says in the Gemara (Baba Metzia 59b),
that a person has to be very careful not to abuse his wife, since her tears
come easily. The Ari said (Sefer Likutim, Parshas Eikev) that the main
fulfillment of the commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself” is concerning
your wife. This is what Hillel said to that convert who wanted to learn
the entire Torah on one foot—that this principle represents the entire
Torah. It is only when a person is immersed in the holy Gemara and the
halachic decisions with all two hundred and forty-eight limbs of his body
that his heart begins to open a little so that he can hear what the other
person has to say, so that he can empathize. So the meaning of this is
not really to love the other person as yourself—since to merit this one
would have to be in the world of Atzilus—but rather, it means to
do just as Rabbi Akiva said (Shabbos 31a): “That which you despise,
don’t do to your friend.” When others humiliate you—when they speak about
you—it hurts you. So, don’t do that to another person, particularly with
your wife, since this is the main aspect of the commandment to “love your
neighbor as yourself.”
Before a man gets married, he is used to being among
his friends who often insult one another, but once he gets married, he
sees that every insult immediately reduces his wife to tears. (The Rav
joked that maybe while on a date one should look for a girl who can stand
being insulted and not cry—maybe Hashem will have created a complete innovation
just for him.) Therefore, one must be very careful about this for, Heaven
forbid, every bit of anguish stresses the heart and the mind and can shorten
a person’s life. A man must pray for his wife that she should live one
hundred and twenty years. As the Baal Shem Tov said (Avnei Barzel
58), if his first wife had lived longer, he would have been able to ascend
to Heaven in a stormwind like Eliyahu the Prophet—not in secret in the
desert either, but in the very marketplace of Mezhibuzh at midday, in front
Rebbe Nachman also said that if he had truly understood
the mystery of the first marriage, he would have prevented his wife from
leaving this world (despite the fact that she was very ill). He also would
have been able to achieve the same level that the Baal Shem Tov described.
A man must have the patience to listen to his wife when she pours her heart
out to him, because she is completely dependent on him, and she has no
other way to unburden herself of her pain. He comes to yeshiva, learns,
and dances. He can cry out in prayer for all the pain and hurts that he
has, and thus unburden himself. She, on the other hand, is closeted at
home with the children, and has no peace or ability to focus in prayer.
This is why she has to unburden herself to him. Therefore, this is a matter
of self-nullification and kindness that a man should try to attain during
days: having patience to listen to his wife. The husband must be like the
“Kotel” [The Western Wall, where people come to pour out their troubles]
for his wife.
It says in Sichos Haran 63, that the yetzer
hara sets many ambushes for a man regarding this matter, in order to
destroy the marital harmony of a couple. He achieves this through all kinds
of slyness because he knows that the moment that a man separates from his
wife, he falls into despair, and from despair one can fall to the very
A man has to come home with mental expansiveness.
Even if he is collecting money for charity, he can still merit having mental
expansiveness. There was one young yeshiva bochur who traveled collecting
funds in all kinds of remote places. People would come out to greet him
with joy, saying that they never thought they would merit seeing a Jew
with a beard and peyos. This young man said that there are many
such places out there, where the people are longing to see a Jew with a
beard and peyos. There are communities that at one time had been
very religious, and the Zionists uprooted them from Judaism and threw them
out to all kinds of far–off places where they still long very much for
the slightest taste of Judaism. When a religious Jew appears there, the
spiritual awakening they feel from it is indescribable.
There are many stories about the Yemenite immigrants
when they arrived in Israel. The community was characterized by the utmost
holiness and modesty. (For example, even young girls covered themselves
from their soles of their feet to their heads.) They were placed by the
Zionists into closed camps, and they were very quietly and secretly filled
with ideas which were intended to undermine their religion, to uproot them
from Judaism. They told them all kinds of stories like that Moshiach ben
David had come, and that he was, may Hashem save us, David ben Gurion.
They said that there was no longer a need to wear yarmulkes, beards, or
Heaven forbid. It was a miracle that one of the activists involved in this
plot divulged the secret to a certain religious personality who immediately
worked to get them transferred to religious places.
Similarly with the children of Teheran, the Zionists
gathered orphan children [from Europe] and brought them to Israel via Teheran.
On the way, they intended to undermine their religion. With various strange
plots, for example, they tried to make the boys remove their yarmulkes.
They forbade the children to enter the dining hall with a head covering.
When that proved unsuccessful and they came with them anyway, these cursed
people pounced upon the children in the night and threw their yarmulkes
into the sea and forcibly clipped their peyos. There was among them a boy
by the name of Nachman Elbaum, who would stir up the children and encourage
them not to listen to them, Heaven forbid. This Nachman Elbaum fought
fiercely over his yarmulke and peyos. When they reached a camp in
Israel, one of the activists in this devilish organization, Henrietta Szold,
upon seeing the boy screamed, “He’s still here?! Remove him from here immediately!
He’s ruining everything!” In this way, the cursed Zionists uprooted entire
communities and those communities are just waiting to see some sign of
Regarding the kindnesses that are drawn down at
this time, in truth, the main kindness is manifested in the home, with
one’s family. Everything a person goes through at home is only to bring
him to the self-nullification that draws down Chassadim. Moshe Rabbeinu
merited to attain ten levels of self-nullification, which is ten times
the word “MaH,” meaning “what” or “nothing” (Megale Amukos
112). Therefore Moshe, written in its expansion MeM—ShIN—HeH,
equals four hundred and fifty, which is ten times “MaH” (forty-five).
too is “CaLaS Moshe” (“Moshe completed”) ten times forty-five, as
is “LUChOS” (“tablets”).
Through song and dance (particularly the dancing
of Simchas Torah, for then we dance twenty–four hours (and some even dance
for thirty–six hours) and through not stopping learning during these holy
days, and by nullifying himself at home, a person merits ten times ”MaH.”
By doing this, he sweetens the judgements, so that there should not be
any harsh judgement during the coming year, and so that Moshiach ben David
may come and we will merit the complete redemption, speedily and in our
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