“And his hand was holding Eisav’s heel.” (25:19)

At Chatzos Layla when Rachel Imainu is weeping so bitterly, how can it be that we manage to find so many other things to do?


All of the work of the Tzaddikim is to extract the sparks that the Sitra Achra has swallowed up into the klippot. It is written about Yaakov Avinu, “And his hand was holding Eisav’s heel.” Even when he was still in his mother’s womb, he had started the process of drawing out the soul of Rebbe Akiva from the heel of Eisav. And this is why Eisav asked Yitzhak “How does one tithe straw?” (Rashi, 26:27). Why should the wicked Eisav ask how to tithe straw? “How does one tithe salt?” The Baal Shem Tov says that this is a hint referring to the soul of Rebbe Akiva which was in the heel of Eisav, and that this is what caused Eisav to ask all these questions, because any good thing that an evil person says is only because the soul of a Tzaddik has attached itself to them. As it is told (Nedarim 50:71) that Rebbe Akiva and his wife didn’t have pillows and blankets but would sleep on straw. And when Eliahu HaNavi came to them disguised as a poor person, Rebbe Akiva gave him straw (tithing the straw). And from here we see that when Eisav asked how to tithe straw, this was because of the soul of Rebbe Akiva that was attached to him that caused him to ask these questions, because only Rebbe Akiva tithed straw…

   The whole mission of Yaakov was to draw out the souls from the heel of Eisav, where the souls of converts had been swallowed up, souls of the greatest people. And the best time to draw them out is at Chatzos. Rebbe Pinchas from Koritz said, “There are some souls which are so holy, the holiest souls in the world, which fell from a high place to a deep pit, to the deepest depths of the lowest klippot. And when the time comes to say Tikkun Chatzos, we can raise up the highest souls from there, and with each and every letter, another soul and yet another soul is raised up.” Just as David HaMelech had the greatest soul, and he came out davka from Sodom, extricated from the lowest depths.

   Tikkun Chatzos is the most difficult prayer to say because it is in the middle of the night. People want to learn at that time, “If I already got up, then I’ll learn Gemara. What! Do I have to repeat the same pesukim? Those same lines? The same chapters of Tehillim?” A person thinks that today’s prayers are like yesterday’s, so he has no desire to say them; he wants something new! But in truth, getting up at Chatzos, this is what builds the new day. This is what renews the person! And however much a person starts his day earlier, at the time of Chatzos, and continues through to the morning, praying slowly, word by word, letter by letter, with songs and tunes, this is how he builds a foundation for the new day and saves the nation of Israel from all the bad decrees. And this is what Rebbe Pinchas from Koritz said, “Only if a person says Tikkun Chatzos word by word, letter by letter, does he raise up all the souls in the world, the greatest ones that fell into the depths of the klippot.” All the souls that return in teshuva are dependent on those who say Tikkun Chatzos, who cry out at night. They are the ones that pull these souls out of the depths of Hell.

   If a person would really know what the Beis HaMikdash is, he would mourn and cry out every night at Chatzos. But almost no one feels that it is missing—almost no one needs the Beis HaMikdash. Everyone has plenty of cake at home, bottles of Coca Cola. He’s got food, drink. He doesn’t need the Beis HaMikdash. Baruch Hashem, everyone is lacking nothing. But there are those who really feel that the Beis HaMikdash is missing, just like it is told of Reb Nachman Shuster, who was a simple Jew that spent a period of time in Uman and learned how to pray with enthusiasm, how to say Tikkun Chatzos with tears. And when he returned he started saying Tikkun Chatzos and crying about the Beis HaMikdash. Everyone laughed at him because they saw that he didn’t know how to say the words properly. He would get them wrong. They said to him, “Why are you saying Tikkun Chatzos—first learn Aleph-Beis.” Reb Nachman answered them, “You don’t feel that the Beis HaMikdash is missing. You are talmidei chachamim, ga'onim. You are tzaddikim, so you don’t need to say Kinnos or Tikkun Chatzos. But I, a simple shoemaker, I feel that the Beis HaMikdash is missing.” Reb Mordechai Sokolov and Reb Shlomo Gavriel who were tremendous ga'onim were there, listening to his prayers, they approached him and asked, “Where did you get such a heart?” And he told them, “ I received it in Uman.” They said, “In that case, we’ll also travel there.” And this is how they merited coming to Breslov—through a simple Jew that cried during Tikkun Chatzos.

   Reb Shimshon from Ostropol saw in a dream that his place in Gan Eden was next to Hershel from Krakow, who was then a Rav in Lublin, an important Rosh Yeshiva, and the head Dayan in Krakow. And he was placed next to him in Gan Eden. But this knowledge was like an evil spell cast on Reb Shimshon. He started worrying about it. “I will be next to this Rav? What will be with me? Maybe this Rav is steeped in the desires of this world, running after money—rich—with a beautiful house. If so, maybe it’s really a punishment! Maybe I need to pray to cancel this decree?” So, he decided to travel to him and check him out. Reb Shimshon dressed up like a poor beggar and knocked on his door and asked, “Would it be alright for me to stay here a few days?” What did Reb Shimshon do there? What was he looking for? What did he want to check? He wanted to check if the Rav from Lublin cried at Chatzos. One day he heard a crying from one of the rooms, and he drew close to it and heard terrible cries. He opened the door and found the Rav from Lublin
in a sea of tears, sitting on the ground and crying over the Churban. Reb Shimon said, “Baruch Hashem, now I know that I will be able to rest in peace.”

   A person needs to feel, “Rachel is weeping bitterly over her children.” If Mother Rachel cries, then one needs to get up at Chatzos and cry together with the mother, one needs to join in with her crying. A mother cries over the 6 million that were killed in the Holocaust. A mother cries over all those that are killed every day. A mother cries over the souls that they should return in teshuva. How can one know that Mother Rachel is crying at Chatzos and do other things during this time? Rachel is the holy Shechina! Wouldn’t it be proper for you to join in with Rachel? Isn’t it proper that you should join with her crying? A person needs to have a drop of a Jewish heart, a drop of feeling—to say Tikkun Chatzos, to feel the crying of Rachel, the pain of all the generations, of all those who were killed. And with all that a person hears—that Jews are being killed—or if he reads some horrifying story from the Holocaust, through this he can feel regret and shed a tear at Chatzos.

   At Chatzos everyone is crying. The whole world is crying: the stars are crying, the constellations are crying—everyone is crying with Rachel, with the Shechina. It is told of Reb Zusha from Anipoli, that in his old age, he saw that he was already weak and couldn’t get up for Chatzos. Therefore, he informed everyone that he would no longer be going to the shul to pray, even so, at the time of Chatzos he appeared in shul. They asked him, “Why did you come? You said you were too weak.” And he told them, “The old woman is crying. What can I do? The old woman is crying. Her cries don’t let me sleep.” And when we give power to the Shechina, crying for the holy Shechina, crying together with Rachel Imainu, she will give us everything, she will guard over us all day long. Rachel rules over the whole world, over all the treasures—she just wants to see someone crying with her. She just wants to see someone feeling her pain. And when a person says Tikkun Chatzos, sitting on the ground, taking a piece of paper and lighting it and putting some ashes on his forehead, then these ashes sweeten all the judgments on him.

Pnei Melech

   What does it mean “to prepare vessels? It means to know that I am nothing. To know that I am a nobody. This is a proper vessel, an empty vessel. And what is a full vessel? Me and me and me and me. Then I have a lot of vessels, but all my vessels are full of all kinds of garbage. Hashem wants that I will love everybody, that I will try to love everybody. But I wasn’t successful, and I offended. I ask forgiveness; I appease. Before going to sleep, I will ask forgiveness, from them, from Hashem. I will phone them tomorrow, or even before I go to sleep. “I’m sorry I upset you, I realize now that I treated you badly.” I will try to make some kind of reconciliation. I will send flowers. I will give charity. I will try to do something.

   This is what is referred to as ‘not having a vessel’. Hashem wanted to shine a light down to me, but I was sealed up. But once I realized this and understood that it wasn’t the truth, so then I opened my heart, I emptied it, and with this I lowered myself and I admitted that I am not the way I was supposed to be. I thereby emptied my vessel so that there would be a place in it where I could receive the Heavenly Light.

   HaKadosh Baruch Hu created the world with love, with a great love. The love is composed of two types. Hashem love us, and we love Him. In essence, first He loves us, because how would we know how to love? We only love ourselves, but He loves us, and when He loves us, He connects us to something otherworldly, and then we receive His light, and we can begin to love Him.

   What does it mean to love Him? To love Him means to relinquish our desires in order to do His will. And then Hashem says, “You really love Me? Then first of all, I want you to love your friends. This comes first. “Love your neighbor as yourself; this is a general principle of the Torah.”

   Before you can love Me, I who am high up in the heavens, first here you have a friend, there a relative, a spouse, a neighbor, and this one and that one and so on: they are all G-dly. There all are a part of Divinity. So first of all, love my children. Let’s see you pass the simple tests, before you start doing unifications and reaching all kinds of high spiritual levels. Let’s see if you can handle being simple. You know that every Jew has a Heavenly spark of Divinity. Start by loving him. If you don’t love him, if you aren’t able to love him, then ask. Pray, “Please Hashem, help me that I should feel for others, that I should love others, that I shouldn’t just love myself.”

   “Love your Neighbor as yourself.” You want to achieve, to rise ever higher. You must have vessels. What are vessels? Vessels are a heart. You have a brain, but you also need a heart.

   “And you should place them upon your heart.” If it stays in the brain and doesn’t go into the heart, then it is nothing. You must have a heart. And this you cannot receive alone, only once you are connected to others. (from Ohr Pnei Melech Chaim)

Parparos L’Torah
“These are the generations of Yitzhak ben Avraham; Avraham gave birth to Yitzhak.”

   Rashi says that even though it says “Yitzhak ben Avraham,” it was still necessary to write, “Avraham gave birth to Yitzhak” because the mockers of the generation said: “From Avimelech (King of the Pelishtim) did Sara conceive” So many years had passed that she was with Avraham and did not become pregnant from him! What did Hashem do? He made the face of Yitzhak to resemble that of Avraham, and testified to everyone, “Avraham give birth to Yitzhak.” And this is what is written here, that Yitzhak was the son of Avraham, so there would be evidence that Avraham gave birth to Yitzhak.

   But those that argue with Rashi ask: Why specifically now, when Yitzhak was already 60 years old, did the Torah refute the mockers of the generation that Avimelech had impregnated Sara? Why wasn’t this matter addressed when Yitzhak was born?

   The Holy Alshich answers that specifically at this time, when Yitzhak the Tzaddik got married to Rivka the Tzaddekes, and from these two tzaddikim was born an evil son with such bad character traits as Eisav, it was then that the mockers of the generation woke up to argue that Avimelech had gotten Sara pregnant. For it wouldn’t make any sense that from a Tzaddik like Avraham and a Tzaddekes like Sara would have a grandson like the wicked Eisav. So, it was written precisely here, that Yitzhak was in fact the son of Avraham.

Parparos L’Torah

   Success in child raising –this is an issue that confronts all parents. The main work of education is to cope with holding on to two extremes. On one hand, one doesn’t want to neglect the child and should always care for him and take an interest in how he is doing. What is he up to? And on the other side, one should not be overly stringent. Really, one should incorporate both aspects all the time, with the objective of always showing the child that “you are the most important thing to me in the world,” so that the child should feel that he is number one with his father, that he has no better friend than his father.

   This is what gives the child the fortitude to pass over all the obstacles in life: the knowledge that my father is with me, and the recognition that my father is always thinking about me. When a child knows that someone loves him, expects him to really grow up to be good, truly wants him to be successful, and loves him however he is. In such a situation a child will be incapable of disappointing his father and doing the opposite, chas v’shalom, of how he was brought up.

   Even when coping with educating children is difficult, and we don’t immediately see the results of all our hard work, time will show that this is the surest form of success, in the aspect of “many waters could not extinguish the love, and rivers will not erode it.” One should remember that one of the most propitious times to give this message over to our children is at the Shabbos table, that at this time, during the Shabbos meal when one is sitting peacefully with the children, that this is the time to give the children warmth and connection with calmness and true happiness. We should merit raising our children and grandchildren to Torah and mitzvos, amen.

Story on the Parsha

   Rashi comments here according to the Midrash: When Rivka would pass by the house the entrance to the yeshiva of Shem and Ever, Yaakov would try to exit the womb, and when she passed by houses of idol worship, Eisav would try to exit.

   It is told about the Gaon Rebbe Aryeh Leibush zt"l, the Rav of Kishinev, that when he was only six years old people recognized in him signs of fiery tziddkus. One time a talmid chacham asked him why, when Rivka was going by the houses of idolatry, didn’t Eisav actually exit the womb? For, there was no one to stop him, since he was placed first in the womb. The child answered that truly, Eisav was yearning to get out, but he feared that once he left, there wouldn’t be anything to prevent Yaakov from getting out and going to study Torah…

   This question was also asked by Rebbe Yehuda son of Betzalel (the Maharal) when he was he was a child, and he explained it thus: Eisav did not have the desire to leave without Yaakov because what could Eisav do in this big wide world without Yaakov? Who would he hit? Whose life would he make bitter? Who would he be able to slander and libel? Regarding whom would he make evil and cruel decrees? True he was dying and yearning to get out, but without Yaakov it would be pointless.

Story on the Parsha

“And Yaakov was a simple man who sat in tents” (25:27)

   Rebbe Yaakov ben Meir was one of the Baalei Tosafos in France and the son of Rashi’s daughter. Due to the greatness of his piety and his exalted simplicity, he was referred to as “Rabbeinu Tam,” according to the pasuk, “and Yaakov was a simple man who sat in tents.” There is a famous argument between Rashi and Rabbeinu Tam regarding the order of the parshiot in the tefillin. According to Rashi (and the Rambam) the parsha of “Shema” (Devarim 6:4) comes before “V’hayah im shamoa” (Devarim 11:13). And Rabbeinu Tam holds that “V’hayah im shamoa” should come first. (His arrangement was accepted amongst the Babylonian community and Rashi’s opinion was followed in Israel. Although we might mention that the tefillin that were found in the Dead Sea Caves during the 1950’s, dating from the time of Bar Kochba followed the order of Rabbeinu Tam.) However, regarding this argument between Rashi and Rabbeinu Tam, the halacha goes according to Rashi. Chasidim who are exacting with mitzvos also lay tefillin of Rabbeinu Tam (without a blessing) and say Kri'as Shema a second time while wearing these tefillin at the end of Shacharis. It is told about the Gaon and Tzaddik Rebbe Yisrael from Radin, the Chofetz Chaim, that most of the days of his life, he used only one set of tefillin, according to the halacha. However, during the last years of his life, he also began to lay the tefillin of Rabbeinu Tam. Once when one of his followers asked him to explain the matter, he answered: “Baruch Hashem, I have grown old and soon I will come to the World of Truth. There I will certainly meet Rabbeinu Tam, and surely he will ask me, “My tosafos you learned a lot. My explanations were good in your eyes. My elucidations on Shas enlivened your soul. If so, why didn’t my tefillin find favor with you?”

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