from a lesson given by HaRav Eliezer Berland, shlit"a, Parshas Chaye
In the story of the "King and the Emperor,"
a King and an Emperor who are both childless disguise themselves, and go
out to travel around and see if they can find a cure for themselves. They
meet in an inn, and each recognizing in the other a certain royal bearing,
they confide in each other, and make a pact between them, that if they
both go home and have children, a boy and a girl, under circumstances in
which the two can marry, they will marry them together. Eventually,
they reach home, and do have children under such circumstances, but the
pact between them gets forgotten.
Before the sin of Adam, it was supposed to be that
each couple that were meant for each other would be born together, and
then stay together all their lives, in the same way that doves do. But
since the sin, each couple are now born far apart, and everyone has to
pray and search very much in order to find their true partner. It says
(Vayikra 20:17) that if a man shall take his sister, chessed
hu: it is a wicked thing. Yet the word chessed also has the
simple meaning of an act of loving kindness. Similarly, it says in the
verse from Aishes Chayil (Proverbs 31:10-31), aishes chayil mi
yimtza, a woman of valor, who can find? The initial letters of
this verse spell out the word, achim, brothers. The Arizal said
that the farther apart the couple are from each other, in their place of
birth, upbringing etc. the more certain it is that they were truly meant
for each other.
This week's parsha opens with the verse
that the life of Sarah was a hundred years and seven years and twenty years.
The explanation given for the strange language here, is that at the age
of one hundred and twenty seven, she was just like she had been at the
age of seven, i.e. free from sin. So why did the verse not say, "one hundred
and twenty years and seven years," which would have told us the same thing?
What is the point of writing the word "years" an extra time, in the middle
of the count?
By Eliahu it is written vayira
(Kings I, 19:3) that he was scared of Jezebel. How could this be?
He was able to bring down fire from heaven, and on two occasions burn up
a captain and squad of fifty men. Why could he not just bring down a fire
and burn her also? In the Zohar, Rav Yosi explains that the tzaddikim
do not like to trouble the Creator by having Him perform miracles for them.
Rav Chiya said no, the real reason is that we are not supposed to read
the word as "vayira," he was scared, but rather as vayar,
he saw. What he saw was that the time had come when, finally, he would
be able to receive his true soul, which meant that he had reached the level
of Moshe when Hashem took him to the cave where He revealed to him the
thirteen attributes of mercy (Shemos 33:22.) Eliahu understood
from the speech of Jezebel that Hashem was sending him a hint from heaven
to go to the cave. He had been alive for five hundred years, ( first of
all as Pinchas, in Egypt,) and at last he would be able to achieve, after
waiting and praying for so many years, his final rectification.
One can be alive and serving Hashem for many years with
different souls inside him, either a righteous or an evil person, but not
necessarily his own true soul. The soul of Eliahu that went up to heaven
in a fire was on a much higher level than all the souls he had had up until
then. The Arizal explains that Nadav and Avihu, the two sons of Aharon
the Cohen, had brought down the fire from heaven before it's time, and
therefore it had burnt them up. They both then came back in reincarnation
as Pinchas, who was Eliahu. All the miracles that Eliahu did was with their
two souls inside him. This itself was after two hundred years of having
no ruach hakodesh, no holy spirit, resting upon him as a punishment.
Pinchas was the prophet at the time of Yftach, and he should have gone
to Yftach to cancel his vow (Judges 11:30). Because he did
ruach hakodesh was taken away. Those two hundred years
were spent working on himself to raise himself up again to his former level.
For, in fact, one can work all his life and not reach his true level. It
is written, vayar vayakum vayelech el nafsho, literally, "he saw
and he arose and he ran for his life." The verse can also be
translated, "he went to himself," i.e. to his true self, so that then he
would be able to achieve his true level.
At Mount Carmel, Eliahu brought down a fire from
heaven, and all Israel returned to Hashem, and killed all the prophets
of the Baal. This was the final rectification of the souls of Nadav and
Avihu, for on Mount Carmel it was really the right time for the fire to
be brought down from heaven. Their souls then left him, and he finally
merited to receive his true soul. He then went to the cave where Hashem
had revealed to Moshe the thirteen attributes of mercy, showing that Hashem
was infinitely merciful, being prepared to forgive even such a sin as the
Only through the true tzaddik can this ultimate
mercy be revealed. Hashem, out of his love for us, created this cave at
twilight, on the eve of the first Shabbos, in order to hide within it the
haganuz, the hidden light, with which He created the world. In the
Gemara, Masechet Megila, it is explained that if there were an opening
as small as a needle in the wall of the cave containing the or haganuz,
the light that would come out would burn up all the world. Therefore only
the true tzaddik is able to enter this cave, for, as the Pri Tzaddik
explains, only one who has worked on himself for many years, until
he has succeeded in canceling his body completely and become a completely
spiritual being, is able to enter a cave that has no opening.
Finally, after five hundred years, Eliahu merited
to his true soul. At that time, he merited to the or haganuz, and
because of this, he is able to atone for all the people who are present
whenever there is a bris mila, a circumcision, because he does not
enter the place of the bris mila until he has canceled all the sins
of all the people that are there.
This is the explanation of the verse about the wording
of Sarah's age. A person is born with two powerful forces inside
him, an inclination to do good, and one to do bad. In truth, both of them
are holy angels, as explained in the Etz Chaim. On one side there is the
force of chassadim, and the other a force of gevurot. Until
the sin of Adam they were both forces for good, but since the sin, the
force of gevurot turned into an evil inclination. The Tikuney Zohar
brings that at the sin, the yud in the name of Hashem, shakai
ran away and left the name shed, a demon. This is the evil inclination
that tries to confuse a person and turn him away from the desire to do
Therefore, one must take hold of his improper thoughts,
and force them over to the side of holiness, so that they should be like
a fire inside him, burning to serve Hashem, a fire of holiness, like that
of Eliahu. Just like Sarah who shone like the sun (Baal HaTurim, Bereishis,
23:1), Sara was one hundred years, and seven years. The initial letters
spell out the word shemesh, sun.
The Midrash teaches that when the Egyptians forced
Avraham to open the chest in which Sarah was hidden, (he had hidden her
in a chest when they went down to Egypt, in order that she should not be
kidnapped,) the light that shone out of it was so bright that it turned
the night into day. And that is what is written, "a hundred years and seven
years and twenty years"--not that her whole life she was like a seven year
old with no evil inclination, but rather that her whole life she was like
a twenty year old, with a very powerful evil inclination, that she had
to fight a tremendous battle in order to subdue it, through many years
of prayers and supplications before Hashem. Eventually she was successful
and managed to convert the fire of desires of this world into a light,
burning for Hashem, and this is the reason that she shone like the sun,
and also the reason that Rashi describes her as being like a seven year
old. In fact, she literally took herself back to being on the level of
a seven year old, as if she had had no evil inclination.
This is the answer that the wise men
of Israel gave to the wise men of the nations. The wise men of the nations
had argued that surely it is better to have no evil inclination, to be
always connected to Hashem, without any confusions. The wise men
of Israel answered that no, it is far better that we should have this evil
inclination, because by fighting it, through praying and crying constantly
to Hashem for help in the battle against it, we are able to raise ourselves
up to a much higher level of devotion to and serving Hashem than would
otherwise be possible.
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