Parshas Beshalach

The Baal Shem Tov said: How hard does a person have to work so that Eliahu HaNavi should wait for you at the entrance, but just one haughty thought about how you are better than some other Jew in the world and you lose everything…

   Every day the geula is supposed to come. The geula could come this very second. Any moment the geula can come. If we do what we need to do, the geula will come right now! So on what does it depend? Only if a person is truly humble, only if he believes that he is inferior to everyone else. Everyone is a bigger tzaddik--everyone is holier and more pure than I am. Rabbeinu said (Likutei Moharan 14:5), “For a person has to humble himself before 1) those who are greater than him, 2) those who are his equals, 3) those who are lesser than him, 4) and sometimes, when he actually is an inferior person, he must even humble himself relative to his own level. He should imagine himself lower than he really is, corresponding to, ‘Shvu ish tachtav’ (every person must sit beneath his place) (Shemos 16:29).” And Reb Nosson explains (Likutei Halachos, Orlah 5:6) that there are four periods in the year comprised of three months each. And during each period a person needs to work on a different type of humility. “And the four periods begin in Nissan. Therefore Teves is the fourth period which is the main rectification. This period is made up of three months, Teves, Shvat, and Adar, so that Tu B’Shvat is the middle day of this period…which is the fourth of the four stages of humility, the stage of being so lowly and humble as to even be on the level beneath one’s own level…”

   Rebbe Nosson explains that the four periods come to break the four types of pride, which Rabbeinu speaks about in Torah 14. The first level of humility depends upon believing in all the tzaddikim, in all the Admorim. One needs to believe that all the Rebbes and all the Rashei Yeshivos are all tzaddikim. The way of Breslov is to believe in everyone, to believe in every Jew, in every Admor, in every tzaddik. A person thinks that he is the greatest tzaddik there is, greater than all the Admorim, greater than all the Rebbes. He even dares to speak against them, about this Admor, about that Rebbe. How can you speak about Rebbes, the holiest and purist Admorim? The first thing to do is to recognize that you are on a lower level than all the tzaddikim, Admorim, Rashei Yeshivos, lower than all the Rabbis that are disseminating Torah day and night—even if you merited to know about the tzaddik that is on such a high level that no one has any conception at all of who he is, no one needs to know about this. You need to honor all the tzaddikim, to know that they can perform wonders, and to believe that they are truly tzaddikim! You need to believe that they can do miracles and wonders. Do you think you are being jealous on behalf of your own Rebbe? Does it bother you that there is some other “tzaddik” who is really serving Hashem? Or that there is another tzaddik that does miracles and offers salvation? You can’t stand it that there are other tzaddikim. It’s your problem that you’re a fanatic. You are so impure that you cannot stand any tzaddik in the world, because you yourself are sunk in infinite impurity. So Rabbeinu says that the first thing you must do is to stop speaking against the tzaddikim! Stop speaking disparagingly about Rebbes! Stop thinking that you are the greatest tzaddik in the world.

   The second level is concerning the average people. You need to know that you are on a lower level than a regular person. Do you think you can reach the level of a simple person who says Tehillim with tears running down his face? Did you even once cry when you said Tehillim? There are simple people—they’re average folk. They’re not Admorim. They’re not Rashei Yeshivos, but they cry when they say Tehillim. They only have to open the Tehillim and already they start shedding tears. Have you reached their level? You haven’t even reached the dust of their feet! So know that there are regular Jews that are all day clinging to Hashem, and you are on a lower level than they are.

   So what do you have to be so haughty about? You still think you are better than anyone? Perhaps you think that you’re better than evildoers and Shabbos desecrators, that you are a bigger tzaddik than they are. Rabbeinu says that this is the third level of humility: “Before those who are lesser than you.” Well, do you know what an evil Jew is—do you have any idea what a Jew is? In another second he will make teshuva and he will pass you by—by millions of levels and millions of light years. You could never keep up with his pace. You know how many Shabbos desecrators have made teshuva, how many people who ate on Yom Kippur that made teshuva? Today they are already Rashei Yeshivos. They are already great tzaddikim in their own right. Today, you can’t even reach the dust of their feet. Rebbe Akiva would say, “Who will bring me a talmid chacham and I will bite him just like a donkey does.” And in the end, he became Rebbe Akiva, the head of all Yisrael. So understand that you are actually lower even than evildoers.  

   The fourth level is the highest level of humility which is: “He must humble himself relative to his own level. He should imagine himself lower than he really is.” However much a person makes himself small and realizes his own lowliness, he needs to believe that he is, in actual fact, even lowlier than that!

   These four levels of humility parallel the four periods of the year. The months of Nissan, Iyar and Sivan are the level of believing that you are lower than all the tzaddikim. During Tammuz, Av, and Elul, it is believing that you are lower than the average person. Then in Tishrei, Cheshvan and Kislev, it is believing that also all the evildoers will do teshuva. And in Teves, Shvat, and Adar we can come to the epitome of humility, and Tu B’Shvat is the middle point of this fourth period in which we can reach the humility of Moshe Rabbeinu. Moshe had such humility that he thought he was the worst of the worst, and he felt lower than his own level—he saw himself as being on the bottom rung. He didn’t think he was better than any Jew in the world. The whole year a person should search for his own humility, to see his lack of intelligence, his lack of knowledge, his lack of understanding. Look: I made a mistake. Here, I made this kind of mistake and there I made that kind of mistake. And this is how a person comes to greater and greater levels of humility.

   The Baal Shem Tov said: How hard does a person have to work in order to merit to see Eliahu HaNavi in a dream, and how much does he have to work to merit saying “Shalom” to Eliahu HaNavi. How much so that Eliahu will return your “Shalom,” and how much does a person have to work on his humility in order to merit to learn with Eliahu HaNavi. How much does a person have to work that Eliahu HaNavi should wait for you at the entrance. But if you had a single thought of pride—that maybe you are better than a single Jew in the world—then you lose everything.

   Together with working on humility, a person needs to serve Hashem with all his might, so that he is actually trembling, and in this way he should serve Hashem. And this must be with tremendous joy and enthusiasm, because when a person merits feeling his own lowliness, suddenly he feels that he has a completely different blood pulsing through his veins. His blood is pounding at a different rate, in another form. Suddenly, he feels that everything is different: the circulation of his blood has changed. Suddenly, everything becomes easy. His limbs become light—something has happened to his limbs, his blood. And then he begins to feel the good life, the eternal life, a taste of The World to Come.



   Please, merciful Father, who raises the fallen trees and makes the tender trees flower, let me merit understanding the secret of Tu B’Shvat, which is the aspect of the pupil of the eye of the fourth period of four periods of the year. This is also the aspect of the pupil of the eye of the first three periods which subdues the three klippot of storm wind, the great cloud, and the flaming fire. Let me merit though the power of the true tzaddik to the aspect of Moshe and to subdue the fourth klippah which is the aspect of nogah, until we will be truly humble so that we see ourselves as being lower than our actual level, in the aspect of “Shvu ish tachtav” (every person must sit beneath his place) (Shemos 16:29). 



B'Ohr Pnei HaMelech

   Our purpose in the world is to remain happy no matter what happens, even if you are a king and get dethroned. Everything that happens to a person is designed to knock him off his perch—it has been planned from the outset. So what must we do? We have to remain happy. What is happiness? Happiness is the highest level of the soul. Happiness is the desire that fills the heart. But how can we be happy when we haven’t reached this level yet? We have to tell jokes, turn on the music and start singing, remind ourselves that everything is just a big joke, and all that will help us to understand that we are obliged to be happy. That way we can create and develop the joy that will enable us to rise from level to level in our personal growth. And even though afterwards it will all fade away, and we still will not have reached the level that the tzaddik is on. True, we are on a very low level, but we also have all the levels, in potential, inside of us. There is a point inside our hearts that incorporates all the levels, a point upon which the tzaddik is engraved. It may be the most miniscule point but it exists inside every one of us.

   We are required to completely nullify our corporality. What does that mean? Should I let myself become depressed? Absolutely not! I will lock the door, and start to sing and dance and give thanks to Hashem: to sing joyously and to say, “Baruch Hashem that You didn’t make me a goy. Baruch Hashem that I have legs and that I can dance and be happy.” And if I don’t have strength in my legs then I’ll just make movements with my arms. And if I am too weak today, then I will set aside an hour to work on being joyful tomorrow. This happiness will be a light that will spread out throughout the entire day. And when a day comes when this is impossible, I will say to Hashem, “Please just help me to spend five minutes of happiness with You.”

   Start smiling from time to time. Force yourself, just as Rabbeinu said, because acting is also genuine, because this is called conquering the Satan. You conquer him by force. You don’t let him have his way, rather you start laughing and making jokes. You cheer yourself up—artificially, but the will that is hiding behind the act is true. The means are artificial, but the will itself is true. With this true will, the joy will slowly spread out over all your limbs and will become part of you. And then it won’t be artificial at all!

   Don’t allow the depression to enter into you. When you start feeling depressed, imagine that someone really frightening is coming towards you. Then lock the door so he won’t break into the house—don’t let him enter. Why am I sad? Because I am made of matter, because I deserve it, because I didn’t feel the slightest elevation when I was praying today. I wasn’t successful and things didn’t go my way. I was an egotist. I didn’t do well enough. Even when I am successful, I don’t do so well. So I will “punish” HaKadosh Baruch Hu and be depressed. I’ll blow up into a rage. The truth is we really have nothing. We have nothing to do but to laugh and rejoice, even if it is forced, and to tell jokes, and to just act “as if”…but we must not get depressed, not even for a second. This is the minimum condition for achieving joy: that even though you are a total loser, you’re still happy! 



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