Parshas Shmini


“And Aharon was silent” (10:3)

   Every person should learn books of Mussar. He should know Mesilas Yesharim, Sha’arei Teshuva, and Orchos Tzaddikim. He should read the chapter on anger in Orchos Tzaddikim to learn how not to get angry and how to remain happy in every situation, knowing that everything is for the best. Just as it is written about Aharon, “And Aharon was silent.” Aharon had suffered the greatest tragedy possible, the most horrifying event in his life: his two sons Nadav and Avihu, who were considered to be on the level of Adam HaRishon, were killed—slaughtered before his own eyes. He did not despair but continued on in his Divine service. “And Aharon was silent.” Nothing could make him confused.

   There is a higher level than “Aharon was silent,” which is, “In order that my soul might sing to You and not be silent” (Tehillim 30). This is seen in many stories from the Holocaust when the Jews danced and sang, even in the furnaces and the gas chambers. It is related that once the Nazis put 50 Vishnitz bachurim into one of the gas chambers on Simchas Torah and instead of falling into utter despair, they started dancing and singing, “Because from Tzion came forth Torah, and the word of Hashem from Jerusalem.” They had so much joy and enthusiasm just as if they were dancing in Jerusalem at the Western Wall—singing and dancing. When the Nazis saw them dancing they screamed, “What is going on here! Why are you dancing? Why are you singing? This is heresy!” They wanted to hear the Jews crying. What is this, a dance hall? What is happening here? Can it be that they’re dancing in Auschwitz ? The Nazis burst through the doors and screamed at them: “Stop dancing. Stop celebrating. This is not a theater! It’s not a dance hall!” But the Chassidim kept on dancing happily away, “Because from Tzion came forth Torah…” The Nazis told them if this is how they were behaving, then they were making fun of them. Get out of here right now and tomorrow at 9:00 AM we are going to torture you and cut you into small pieces. It won’t be a quick death with gas, but a slow painful death. Tomorrow we’ll see how you dance. And then next morning they were informed that they needed to transfer 1000 workers immediately to another camp, and they were 50 workers short. Somebody said, “There are 50 boys in this shack who are good workers. Let’s take them.” And they immediately put them on the truck and they were out of there. In the merit of their singing and dancing they remained alive, and this is the explanation of the verse “on the flame of the altar we will go out with dance.” A Jew doesn’t lost his faith for a moment or even for the slightest second, but only dances and sings even in the worst possible situations.

   When a person is having troubles or has a certain problem and he doesn’t fall into despair or lose his faith for a minute, but rather he strengthens himself with singing and dancing and joy, then he is not simply on the level of “Aharon was silent” which is accepting with silence. Rather, he is on the higher level of “In order that my soul might sing to You and not be silent” which is singing and dancing in joy within the misfortune, within the suffering. He sings to Hashem and thanks Hashem for each and every breath. What does it matter what you are going through? Your job is to always give thanks to Hashem for each and every breath, just as it is written about David HaMelech, “For the conductor with the neginos, a maskil by David. When the Ziphites came and said to Shaul, ‘Is not David hiding among us?’” (Tehillim 54:1-2). Shaul chased after him; everyone was informing on him. The Zephites informed on him when he was in Keilah. The people of Keilah then informed on him. And David was able to flee from them only because he sang and he would get up at chatzos and sing until the morning. “And the Plishtim caught him in Gat.” The Plishtim caught him in Gat and he said “Lamnatzeach” and started to sing and play music. When Shaul came into the cave to catch him he started singing and playing music. “They guarded the house to kill him” (Tehillim 59:1). He saw that they were already closing in on the house. They had the house surrounded and soon it would be encircled with soldiers armed with arrows and spears. The first thing that David did was to sing and play music. Whenever David found himself in trouble he would always sing and play, and this is how he was saved from all his troubles. 

   A person sees that he has such terrible problems, that he is going through such terrible suffering, the first thing he needs to do is to get up at alos hashachar and sing the zemiros haboker, and through this he will sweeten the harsh judgments. All the judgments and the troubles are sweetened though joy and song and music, as it is written, “May they sing in joy and be glad, those who desire My vindication” (Tehillim 35:37). David HaMelech said all of those that desired His vindication must be glad and joyful. What is this ‘vindication’? This is the harsh judgments that were sweetened though song and joy. The Zohar says in parshas VaYishlach that David HaMelech would sing all night long. He would strengthen himself with songs and praises until the morning light. A person must always make HaKadosh Baruch Hu happy, and one who makes HaKadosh Baruch Hu happy is thereby behaving the way Hashem requires from him and then HaKadosh Baruch Hu will accept his prayers and save him from all his accusers and from all tragedy.  

   When people don’t dance or sing and aren’t happy but go around in a state of brokenness, they damage everything around them. When a person is broken, he destroys all his potential, all his health. Why are you so broken? What disaster has occurred? Sing and dance, say a perek of Tehillim. Say “Lamnatzeach b’neginos mizmor shir” seven times. This brings salvation—shidduchim and healing—everything. The Arizal writes that whoever says Lamnatzeach seven times is guaranteed salvation—children, healing, etc. The songs and tunes are the way to sweeten all of the harsh judgments. Hashem is angry when a person doesn’t wake up and sing and play music. There is no way to sweeten harsh judgments other than though joy and dancing. This is the explanation of “on the fire of the altar we shall go out dancing”—that a Jew doesn’t lose his faith for an instant but dances and sings and is happy at all times of life and in every situation. Even in the fires of Auschwitz —it doesn’t matter where—he must always sing and dance.

   The word Jew (“yehudi”) comes from the word to give thanks (“hodaya”). He always gives thanks and sings. No matter what Hashem does it is always good. Hashem is always with us and will never abandon us for even a second. We are Hashem’s nation, His chosen nation, His unique nation. And what is our uniqueness? It is that we don’t stop singing and dancing, even as they are slaughtering us on the altar! 



   Master of the Universe, please help me to be worthy of having all the virtues, the high spiritual levels that the tzaddikim and tzaddekeses achieved, in the merit that of their awesome happiness in You, a joy that had no limit or end. Please help me merit to be like Yosef HaTzaddik, about whom it is said, “a successful man” because he would always rejoice and be happy, jumping and dancing even when he was in prison, even when he was in the pit of hell where no light shone, because You were the light of his world, because he didn’t take his mind off of You for a second, and he knew nothing but You.

   Master of the Universe, “who chooses songs and praises”, please let us merit to draw upon ourselves the spirit of the prayer and singing of “the sweet singer of Israel,” the holiness of the joy and the grace of the humility of “David, the small one,” who merited sitting on the chair of Hashem and returning the Kingship of Israel to its source through the tremendous joy which he had in You.



Shabbos Mevarchim

   Every Shabbos Mevarchim is a very special Shabbos during which a person can achieve the very highest perceptions. On Shabbos Mevarchim one should keep in mind the exact moment of the molad, because on the moment of the molad all of one’s prayers and requests are answered. At this moment, the abundance is drawn down for the whole of the rest of the month. At the moment of the molad all the gates are opened, and a person can achieve a higher level of understanding which will last throughout the month. All the abundance destined to be drawn down for the month is decreed, both material and spiritual. A person can achieve anything at the moment of the molad because it is such a propitious time. At this moment all one’s sins are forgiven. Whoever will say Tehillim, or Tikkun Klali, or will lean Gemara or Likutei Moharan, or will say Likutei Tefillos, or make hisbodedus at this time will merit to tremendous salvations.

   The molad will be on Wednesday night at 7:44 PM and 15 Chalakim.



B’Ohr Pnei HaMelech

   People are just so full of intelligence, they have so much advice to give to everyone, heaps of wisdom, recommendations and guidance for everybody, but for a person to see what is happening with himself, where he is holding in the picture, how his mind is guiding his heart—meaning how is he molding himself into a vessel for serving Hashem—this is much more difficult. This only the tzaddik can do. Rashbi said, “I am nothing but a symbol.” I do not exist. I am nothing. I am only a symbol. What am I a symbol of? I am a symbol of G-dliness. He purified himself until he had no connection to anything in existence, and his whole existence in this world was only to be a symbol. People see him and he reminds them of Hashem. Whoever looks at him remembers Hashem. “In all your ways, know Him” (Mishlei 3:6). Each and every moment you should know Him. Not only must you remember Hashem, but knowing Him also requires making a bond, a connection. ‘Knowing’ means ‘joining to,’ literally being bound together with Hashem. A person needs to see Hashem each and every second. In everything he sees he must see Hashem. Everything that happens to him, it’s all Hashem. Every movement, absolutely everything, he must see the hashgacha of Hashem Yisborach. He must believe that Hashem is guiding him and accompanying him, that he is completely bound to Hashem in each and every movement that he makes. True, this is the level of the tzaddik, but who are we? We are the followers of the tzaddik. What does it mean to be a follower of the tzaddik? It means that the tzaddik is our guide. He doesn’t give up on us, not on any single one of us. He doesn’t give up on us, and we don’t give up on him. And despite the fact that he is a tzaddik, one who returns in teshuva can reach up almost to a similar level that he is on. Hashem has so much love for those who return in teshuva. A person becomes filled with such love and longing for Hashem that he breaks away from everything he knows, completely abandons his old lifestyle, all because of love and a desire for self fulfillment. This can literally turn all his transgressions into credits. The more transgressions he has committed, the more merits he will now have! The fact that he now returns in teshuva shows that he actually had this potential inside him all along. It just hadn’t yet been revealed. It is only now exposed, retroactively, that even at the time he was living a life not in accordance with the will of Hashem, even so, there was burning within him all the time the desire to be closer to Him.



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