A lesson given by HaRav Eliezer Berland shlit”a, on the 10th of Sivan 5761, 
celebrating the completion of Tractates Nedarim and Pesachim at the Yeshiva.

This lesson was sponsored by Moshe and Maxeene Weg in honor of their beloved parents, Moshe’s mother, Alti Esther Rivka bas R’ Moshe Strulovitz, and Maxeene’s father, R’ Mordechai ben R’ Eliezer Tzvi Weiner.

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    It is written in the Gemara Nedarim 91a: “A woman was very angry at her husband. He asked her, ‘Why are you so angry?’ She replied, ‘You have never caused me so much pain during intimacy as this time!’ ‘But we haven’t been together!’ he exclaimed. ‘If so,’ she said, ‘it must have been one of the gentile naptha sellers who was here today; if it wasn’t you, it must have been one of them!’” Naptha sellers is “naftuyei”—those who sell fuel, meaning the Arabs that sell fuel. “It must have been one of them I was with mistakenly, if you say that it wasn’t you.” 
    [The case was brought before Rabbi Nachman—the Amorah—to decide whether this woman had committed an act of adultery that made her forbidden to continue living with her husband.] “Rabbi Nachman said…” Rabbi Nachman is the true Tzaddik who tries to give the benefit of the doubt, and he says that her words are nonsense. It’s all lies—it never happened. Rabbi Nachman says to pay no attention to what she says. [She is lying because she has her eye on someone else, and wants a divorce from her husband.] 
    [A second case:] “A man was closeted in a house with a woman. Hearing her husband arrive home, the (would-be) adulterer broke through the fence and escaped.” This is similar to what is written about Raba bar Nachmeini, who broke through a wall to escape. “Rova said ‘The woman is permitted [to remain with her husband], for if some sin had been committed, he would have remained hidden.’” These are all very great mysteries. 
    [A third case:] “An adulterer visited a woman. Suddenly her husband came home, and the adulterer ran to hide behind the door. Some cress was lying on the table and a snake came and ate from it.” This is like the seven-headed serpent that came upon Rav Acha bar Yaakov. “The husband was about to eat from the cress, unknown to his wife. The would-be adulterer exposed himself and told the husband not to eat the food, because a snake had eaten from it.” The man was kind, and told him not to eat.
    A person has to overcome his lust for food. G-d forbid you should eat from it! It is a matter of life and death—a snake tasted from it, and a matter of life and death takes precedence over questions of what is forbidden. Rova here gives the woman the benefit of the doubt, and rules that she is permitted to remain with her husband. “For, if they had sinned, they would have preferred to let the husband eat the food and die. As the verse says, “For they have committed adultery, and blood was on their hands” (Ezekiel 23:37). We see from this verse that adulterers are not above suspicion of murder. The Gemara then asks what novel idea Rova introduced here. The answer is that one might have thought that the would-be-adulterer might have saved the husband anyway, since it is human nature to find a greater pleasure in indulging in the forbidden, as the verse says: “Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant” (Proverbs 9:17). We might have thought that he would find her more desirable while she was still married to another than had he been able to marry her himself. Rova rejects this logic, and rules that the woman is not forbidden to remain with her husband. We will return to you, Tractate Nedarim, [said upon conclusion of the tractate]. This is the end of Tractate Nedarim, and now we will open up Tractate Pesachim, where pidyon ha’ben is under discussion…
    “If one recited the blessing on the Pesach offering, he is covered for the blessing on the Zevach [the Chagigah sacrifice brought on the fourteenth of Nissan] offering” (Pesachim 121a-b). There are two different blessings: “…who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to eat Kodshim.” “The blessing over the Zevach, however, does not remove the need to recite the special blessing for the Pesach offering. This is Rabbi Yishmael’s opinion.”
    “Rabbi Akiva says that neither obviates the need for the other. [One could say that the root of their disagreement lies with the fact that they have different opinions on the manner in which the blood was thrown or poured onto the altar for either sacrifice. The Pesach offering differed from all others in that its blood was not thrown, but was instead poured slowly onto the specified place on the outer altar.] According to Rabbi Yishmael, although other sacrifices ought to have their blood thrown towards the altar, if the Kohen instead poured it from nearby, the obligation has still been fulfilled post facto. Therefore, the putting of the blood on the altar of the Chagigah [which is a Shelamim offering] and is normally thrown, is done in the same manner in which the blood was poured for the Pesach [offering]. This is why the blessing on the Pesach [offering] makes it unnecessary to recite a blessing on the Zevach. On the other hand, if the Kohen threw the blood of the Pesach offering from afar, it would not have fulfilled the obligation of placing the blood on the altar, even post facto.”
    “According to Rabbi Akiva…” Rabbi Akiva’s name is an acronym of the words: “There is a person who acquires his share in the world to come in a single hour.” “Yesh Koneh Olamo Bi’shaah Achas.” [See Heichal HaBracha, Parshas Mikeitz.] Rabbi Akiva was the one who was pained all his days for not having had the opportunity to give his life to sanctify Hashem’s Name. This is why Tractate Pesachim ends with the words of Rabbi Akiva, to tell us that a person can acquire his share in the next world in a single hour.
    “According to Rabbi Akiva, pouring the blood and throwing it from afar are mutually exclusive. Rabbi Samlai…” It turns out that the final Tanna who finishes off Tractate Pesachim is Rabbi Samlai. The Komarner Rebbe explains in his work “Heichal HaBracha” that the secret of Rabbi Akiva’s life was this idea of “a paschal offering to Hashem.” The fact is that the first question [of the Seder’s four sons] is the question of the wicked son: “What is this service to you?” What do we answer? “It is a paschal offering to Hashem.” A person has to kill himself—has to be willing to be killed—for Hashem. This is Rabbi Akiva, who sacrificed himself. That is why the tractate ends with the words of Rabbi Akiva—because he sacrificed his life for Hashem!
    This is how the Komarner Rebbe explains the esoteric meaning of the slaughter of the offerings, that this is the answer that we give to the wicked son: “It is a paschal offering to Hashem.” This is the secret of Rabbi Akiva. You want to understand the Torah? You don’t want to have any questions? You have to be on the level of Rabbi Akiva. This is why Tractate Pesachim ends with Rabbi Akiva. This is the Komarner’s idea: that a person can acquire his share in the world to come [in an hour], for in that hour all of his self-sacrifice rises to the highest heights!
    This is similar to what Rabbi Dosa said: “You are Akiva whose name has gone out from one end of the world to the other. There will be many like you among the Jewish people.” The words “like you” [“ka’motcha”] can also be read as a contraction of “k’mo motcha” which means, “like your death.” The alternative reading is: “There will be many deaths like yours among the Jewish people.” Deaths like yours, but not the same as yours. Rabbi Akiva’s flesh was torn from him with iron combs—it was for just such a death that you yearned your whole life long. “When will it come to my hands, that I may fulfill it [the commandment to love Hashem, ‘with all your life.’]?” And so you went to that death in pure simplicity and trust, to sacrifice your life. This is the meaning of the words, “like your death”—but not exactly the same death. This is why Rabbi Akiva cried. This is what pained him all his life long—when will I come to fulfill this verse? And they said to him, “Enough!!! [Continue with the Shema and] say the word ‘vi’ahavta’.” If he had said the word, “vi’ahavta,” he would have destroyed them all [the Romans]. This was why Rebbi [Yehudah HaNasi] wept. “I never merited rising to this level through self-sacrifice. One can acquire the world to come in a single hour.” It was this that inspired Rebbi to make his statement, “One can acquire his share in the world to come in a single hour.”
    “And all my people will be sustained through your words” [said by Pharaoh to Yosef] can be read alternatively as: “All My people will cleave to Hashem with kisses of love.” It says, “All My people,” for the Tzaddik elevates all those who are attached to him to the level of cleaving to Hashem with great love, to receive “kisses of love” from Hashem’s “lips,” as it were.
    Now we will explain the conclusion of Tractate Pesachim, with Rabbi Samlai’s discussion of the blessings on the redemption of the first-born son [“pidyon ha’ben”]: “It seems straightforward that the blessing over the commandment to redeem the first-born son, [‘…Who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us regarding the redemption of the first-born son,’] is to be said by the father, and not by the Kohen who is receiving the redemption money for the child, since the obligation devolves on the father, and not on the Kohen. However, the second blessing, ‘…Who has enlivened us and sustained us, and brought us to this time,’ remains in doubt. Who is to recite the blessing—the Kohen, or the father of the child? The possibilities can be understood as follows: perhaps the Kohen makes the blessing, because he is receiving a financial benefit of five selaim from the ceremony? Or, perhaps the father recites the blessing, since he is performing the mitzvah? Rabbi Samlai did not know what to answer. The question was put to the Beis Midrash, and he received the following answer: the father of the child recites both blessings! And so the halacha is: the father recites both blessings.
    [The Rav then repeated the statement, made at the conclusion of a tractate, three times: “We will return to you, Tractates Pesachim and Nedarim…”] May it be Your Will, Hashem our G-d and the G-d of our forefathers, that Your Torah will be our craft in this world, and will remain with us in the World to Come.
    “Chaninah bar Pappa…” all of the ten sons died as martyrs to sanctify Hashem’s Name. Why do we read this? Because this is the secret of Rabbi Akiva—for we have already said that Rabbi Akiva died as a martyr to sanctify Hashem’s Name. All of them died to sanctify Hashem’s Name. All of them, as described in the holy books died to sanctify Hashem’s Name. [The Rav then recited the prayer that is customarily said upon completion of a tractate.]
    The matter is thus: Hashem created both worlds through the two letters ‘yud’ and ‘heh’ of the Divine Name (Likutei Moharan I:101). The main thing is in-depth Torah study and being tested on the material. “In the beginning, Hashem created…” [‘Bereishis’ is read midrashically as ‘beis’ and ‘reishis,’ or, through the agency of that which is called ‘reishis,’ or primary.] For the worlds were created with the Torah, only through the agency of the Torah. The letter yud symbolizes the mind, using the mind for in-depth Torah study, and the heh represents the actual letters of the Torah itself—the broad but more superficial study of the Torah, or bekiyus. For the five [the gematria of the letter heh is five] books of the Torah parallel the five sound-producing parts of the mouth [tongue, lips, palate, teeth, and throat]. Therefore, Hashem created both worlds through the letters yud and heh, meaning the Torah that encompasses these two different aspects. “You are man…” (Ezekiel 34:31)—you, the Jewish people, are called man, but the other nations are not called man.
    For there are “seventy illuminated countenances,” and there are, “seventy darkened countenances,” and these seventy bright faces are only received through in-depth Torah study. [Note: The Sages referred to the seventy bright faces as the seventy facets of the Torah, and the seventy darkened faces parallel the seventy nations of the world.] For, there are two forces. “And this is the Torah that Moshe placed…” (Deuteronomy 4:44). [This is Midrashic play on the Hebrew word “sam” / “placed,” which also means “potion.”] As the Sages taught, “If a person is worthy, the Torah is an elixir of life (‘sam chaim’), and if not, it is a death potion (‘sam maves’).” The “elixir of life” is a reference to the bright countenances, and the “death potion” refers to the darkened faces. As the verse says: “He placed me in dark places, like the eternally dead” (Psalms 143:3. If a person does not study the Torah in depth, it is as though he is in the dark. And it is from these darkened countenances that the nations of the world derive their spiritual sustenance. This is why the nations have the power to rule over us.
    All of the nations possess all of the negative character traits, and the only difference between them is that each nation has its particular vice with which it is more obsessed than the others. This is the meaning of the verse, “…He appeared from Mount Paran…” (Deuteronomy 33:2). Hashem originally wanted to give the Torah to everyone, but each nation had its own reason to reject it because their own particular vice was forbidden by the Torah.
    Anyone who has negative character traits is subjugated beneath the nations. Anyone who has negative character traits…it is because he doesn’t study Torah in depth. Since he doesn’t study Torah in depth, all of the vices have a hold on him, and this is why we are ruled over by the non-Jewish nations. The seventy nations are the seventy negative traits, and the person who does not study Torah in depth succumbs to those nations that are connected to those particular vices. This is the meaning of the Sages’ words: “Anyone who shrugs off the yoke of Torah…” If a person does not study in depth, it is considered shrugging off the yoke of Torah, and he “…has the yoke of foreign domination and derech eretz placed upon him.” This means that he suffers both spiritual and physical subjugation. “Foreign domination” is physical, and “the yoke of derech eretz” means the vices particular to each land (“eretz”). Failing to study Torah in depth leads to this immersion within the vices of the nations.
    This is the yoke of derech eretz—shrugging off the yoke of Torah, which is the concept of the illuminated countenance. As it is written, “A person’s wisdom illuminates his face” (Ecclesiastes 8:1). [By failing to study in depth,] a person is overwhelmed by this aspect of the darkened faces, which symbolize both outer and inner subjugation to all the different types of vices, such as anger and physical lust. This is called subjugation to foreign domination and the yoke of derech eretz, since both the nations themselves as well as the vices they embody rule over the person. However, anyone who accepts the yoke of Torah upon himself has the burdens of foreign domination and derech eretz removed from him. If a person is willing to study Torah, those burdens are taken from him. Meaning whom? The person who studies Torah in depth!
    If a person has some other version of Likutei Moharan, I can’t be held accountable for him. This is the text of the  Likutei Moharan that I received, one that I’ve had for nearly twenty years. Perhaps there are new and improved editions available today, ones that say that it is not necessary to study Torah in depth. I don’t know; I just don’t know. Nowadays there are a million approaches within Breslov, and a billion leaders get up every day, “…new every morning, many are the leaders.” [A play on Lamentations 3:23.] Each one says the very opposite of the other, but Likutei Moharan remains the same. The original title page of Likutei Moharan says that it was first printed in Ostrov, but perhaps now we have new ones from Israel. I don’t know exactly what.
    [The Rav now reading from the front page...] The original Likutei Moharan passed the censor of Alexander Porvolichev; maybe that is why these new leaders don’t like the old Likutei Moharan—because it was Alexander Porvolichev’s. He was the Russian Czar at the time; maybe that is why these new leaders don’t like to learn from the old Likutei Moharan. I can give them the benefit of the doubt, because perhaps they don’t want to learn from a book that was published “under the authority of our master the Czar.” It should really say, “The Czar, may his name be blotted out.” Now I understand why they don’t read this edition of Likutei Moharan; apparently there are new editions that no longer say that one must study Torah in depth. Perhaps the Czar published this—who knows why he wanted people to study Torah in depth. In-depth Torah study would topple Russia. So it’s hard to understand in either case. Why the Czar? It was really Reb Nosson who published it, and so you see it was actually a miracle. I was perplexed as to why the Czar would have wanted to publish anything about studying Torah in depth. In-depth Torah study would topple Russia and the rest of the non-Jewish nations. Why would he want to publish this at all? But if it was really Reb Nosson who published this, then everything makes sense.
    In any event…. nowadays there are many new leaders who rise up practically every morning, and there will just be more and more of them until the Messiah arrives. Billions and trillions of them, but the earth stands forever. Likutei Moharan remains the same, and no one can get away from that fact.
    Likutei Moharan is about studying Torah in depth; this is what is meant by seeking out the wisdom inherent in everything. For myself, I cannot understand why people do not study bi’iyun. People say that being a Breslover means not studying bi’iyun, but I have yet to see a single lesson in Likutei Moharan that says that one should not study bi’iyun. All of Rebbe Nachman’s lessons are about studying bi’iyun, about looking into the wisdom in everything [Likutei Moharan I:1], for Yaakov means wisdom, as Esav said, “And he outwitted me.” [In Hebrew this is “va’yeakveini” which literally means “and he Yaakov’ed me.”] This is how the very first lesson of Likutei Moharan begins—that it is only through Torah study that all of a person’s prayers are answered. 
    If a person prays and does not study, then his prayers are not accepted. How do people publish editions of Likutei Moharan that say the opposite? Where do they get such backward thinking from, where do they find such backward publishing houses that print everything the opposite of what it should be? But this is Likutei Moharan, after all. Apparently it is some kind of antique; perhaps it even qualifies as Judaica!
    So it is only through Torah study that all of one’s prayers and petitions are answered. It is only if a person learns Torah bi’iyun that his prayers will be accepted. Then the prayers have a grace and significance in the eyes of the world. The nations of the world laugh at us, and they tread on us. But when the Jewish people study Torah bi’iyun, they will be elevated in the eyes of whomever they appeal to, whether the needs are spiritual or physical. Unfortunately during these times, because of our many sins, the true charm and stature of the Jewish people has fallen. We see ourselves that the Jewish people have no particular charm; everyone agrees that the Jewish people should be destroyed. The whole world conspired to destroy us fifty years ago, and they would like to do it again. Why? It is because we do not study Torah that the nations do not see our importance. The rest of the world says, “These people are just like everyone else. Who do they think they are, lording it over us?” But if they would see the light of the Torah—“And nations will walk by your light, and kings by the shine of your sunrise” (Isaiah 60:3) —if we were immersed in the Torah, all of the nations would bow down to the Jewish people. “Foreigners will come and shepherd your flocks” (ibid, 61:5). Failing this, the rest of the world wants to kill us. They say, “Who are you to… You are just one nation among many. Why should you dwell alone? Why are you alone?”
    This is what Rabin and Barak wanted to accomplish. They both said that the Jewish people had dwelled alone long enough. They should instead assimilate and intermarry with the non-Jewish nations, so that the rest of world will stop killing Jews. For the fact is that a great degree of charm and stature is to be found among the non-Jewish nations. But if we were to show the world our charm, if the world was to see the beauty and the light of the Torah, we would see the prophecies fulfilled—because everyone would want that light, and there is no light without the Torah. The sun has no light—it is darkness; it is not light at all.
    [Likutei Moharan I:1] “For now, the greater degree of charm and status is to be found among the non-Jewish nations, but through the Torah, the charm and status of the Jewish people is magnified. This is because the Torah is called, ‘A loving hind and graceful doe’ (Proverbs 5:19).” The term “graceful doe” (“yealat chein”) can also be read as, “that elevates charm.” It is only the Torah that can raise up the charm and attraction of the Jewish people. Without Torah study, there is no chein—a person seeks here and there, all over the world, but cannot find chein. It is only through Torah study, because Torah study is the only true type of intelligence in the world—not space exploration. They keep sending satellites to Mars, and another one goes down, and another fails. None of them arrive. You see how human intellect is unsuccessful—“A loving hind and a graceful doe.” They sent one last year on the day before Sukkos, and another right before Chanukah, and neither arrived.
    For, the Torah is called, “A loving hind that elevates chein.” The Torah magnifies the charm and grace of those who study it. The Torah is the only true intelligence, and it magnifies this chein. Through this, all of a person’s prayers and petitions are accepted. When a person begins to study Torah, he starts to see how all of his prayers are being answered. He gets out of debt, and the yeshiva will also have money. The reason why the yeshiva has no money is because people are not learning Torah. No one is learning Torah in the yeshiva. Where, then, should the money come from? “The ark bore those who carried it.” And if the ark is not carrying those who bear it, then we must close this yeshiva. [I.e. if the yeshiva can not support all the students, because they are not learning, then that is a sign that the yeshiva should close.] Should we really support people who are not learning? For what reason—is this some kind of club? Is this some kind of community center? Everyone should bring his own sandwiches and we’ll make ourselves a community center.
    Do you want to study Torah? Do you want to establish a yeshiva? Then it has to be a yeshiva of Torah. Breslov is Torah, it’s not… The Rebbe said in Siach Sarfei Kodesh (Part Two, Page 257) that people should be Litvaks first, and afterward he’ll be able to speak to them. “I want that the Litvishe hearts should follow my path.” Let people know the entire Torah to begin with. “For a Jew must always look at the wisdom inherent in everything, and see its intelligence.” Breslov is not about emotions; Breslov is about the mind. “Anyone who says that Hashem commanded the mother bird to be sent away before taking the eggs or the fledglings because of His mercy, should be silenced” (Brachos 5:3). This commandment, though, is the epitome of mercy—that Hashem is like a merciful Father to His children. Yet if a person says that Hashem’s mercy extends down to the bird’s nest, he should be silenced, because the commandments are decrees and not manifestations of mercy. The Torah does not speak of emotion but of the mind. When a person has a mind, then he can be worthy of receiving mercy. And if a person has no understanding, then it is forbidden to have mercy on him. How can one be merciful to someone who has no mind, no understanding? Breslov is all about coming to the very peak of intelligence. The Rebbe said that he wanted his followers to have the kinds of minds that haven’t been seen for generations. We find in Chayei Moharan (Part 1, Page 228) that such intelligence hadn’t existed for generations. A Jew must always look for the wisdom inherent in everything. Rav Levi Yitzchak Bender said that even though Reb Nosson did not hear this particular lesson from Rebbe Nachman himself, he still had it printed as the opening lesson. He did this to make it clear that Breslov Chasidus is about the mind, and not just emotion.
    When a person has a developed mind, then the flame of the heart rises on its own. [See Likutei Moharan I:21] When a person’s mind and intellect are working, the person automatically feels moved; he feels love of Hashem. The opposite is impossible, though. There cannot be genuine emotion without intelligence. Without a developed mind, there is no emotion—just hormones that dissipate little by little. Such activity is meaningless—the person’s hormones drive him to jump and act wildly, to fall in love, fall into other things—but slowly they dissipate. However, the Rebbe says that when a person’s mind is developed, the heart’s flame rises on its own. Without that, there is nothing at all.
    [There was a new groom at the celebration, and the Rav addresses him at this point.] Having a developed mind means learning bi’iyun, taking the exams, sitting six, eight, twelve, sixteen hours in yeshiva. A chasan needs to sit and learn for sixteen hours—you married a woman who will throw you out of the house. If you are learning less than sixteen hours a day, she will throw your right out of the house. I’m telling you: you’re really in for it now. You fell into the worse possible situation here. Your wife will not tolerate a single wasted word. This woman never spoke an empty word in her life. You are really in trouble now. You aren’t going to be able to speak about anything that isn’t Torah with her. You won’t be able to joke around with her or talk about all kinds of nonsense because she won’t stand for it. She won’t even know what you’re talking about. All she understands is Torah. You learn for sixteen hours—this is what gives a person’s wife her life force. All her vitality comes from the fact that her husband learns. He illuminates her with the light of his intellect.
    Rebbe Nachman once said, “Haven’t they broken us like potsherds? Didn’t I want you all to be great Tzaddikim with such minds that haven’t existed for generations?” (Chayei Moharan I:228). Is this what I wanted from you? To dance on tables for me? To hitch rides to see me? To rent cars to get to me? Until I was twenty years old, I didn’t even know what a car was. Until I was twenty or twenty-five, I would walk from Kfar Chassidim—I didn’t even travel by bus. I would walk from Kfar Chassidim to Haifa on foot, a two hour walk, and I would talk to Hashem in hisbodedus even though I was a Litvak. When I started to talk to Hashem a little, I thought, “What’s the worst that could happen?” I told my mother that I didn’t want to come home at all, but she started coming to visit me to see how I was doing. So I said to myself, “Fine, [I’ll make the journey].” I walked two hours each way. Sometimes a car would stop for me to pick me up, and that would shorten the trip. Today, everyone has a car and that is where the salary goes: to pay for the car and everything else. Today, everyone has his own car, but where have we gotten to?
If the Rebbe were to see this, he would be turning over in his grave! Pretty soon we’ll be traveling to Uman—but to go to Uman without a mind? It is written about Reb Meir Blecher, one of Reb Nosson’s students, that he would not go up to Rebbe Nachman’s grave to pray until he had finished reviewing all of the Shulchan Aruch. He would sit on one side, away from the grave, for three days until he finished, and only then would he approach to pray there.
    I heard about the same thing by the Pinsk-Karliners. During the shiva they would not go up to pray at the grave until they sat and learned a full four hours of Gemara. [The previous Rebbe of Pinsk-Karlin] said that it was forbidden to start anything at all without first learning four hours of Gemara. The Chassidim had a folio of Gemara that they had to learn every day, and the Rebbe would not allow anyone up to approach him at the tisch [the Chassidic gathering on Shabbos] who had not reviewed that week’s pages and the weekly Torah portion. One man tried to learn the material quickly, in time for the tisch, but the Rebbe said to him, “Do you think that this is what I meant?” The Rebbe showed him that he knew exactly what this fellow was up to. This is Pinsk-Karlin. This is also how it is in Gur and in every Chassidic group. There simply is no Chassidus without learning Gemara.
    Today there is something new: Chassidus without Gemara. But this is not Chassidus at all. It’s nothing, just a lie—a sham. This is not the point of being a Breslover. Here, we are sacrificing our very blood and paying out millions of dollars to establish yeshivas. We take the best instructors and the most prominent Rabbis to learn with you because we want to establish Chassidism the way it ought to be: with the Torah and the Shulchan Aruch.
Reb Michel [Dorfman] said that he knew all of Yoreh De’ah by heart by the time he was fourteen years old. He knew Yoreh De’ah by heart, together with its commentaries. There was a time when people sat and learned. But nowadays, being a Breslover means having your own car, traveling all over the place all night long, and sleeping all day. This is not what it means!
    We give a man a year or two to get over the wedding. He sees what kind of trap he’s fallen into, and he needs time to get used to it. But once that period is over, he needs to get back to himself. That’s it—you can’t switch wives. You’re married, and you can’t switch wives. [The Rav then turned to the groom.] You married a woman who only wants you to learn. She doesn’t want to hear a single wasted word out of your mouth.
    “So every Jew must always look for the wisdom inherent in everything, for the intelligence within everything. There is wisdom and intelligence in everything, and this wisdom should illuminate a person’s mind and show him how to come closer to Hashem through this particular thing. The intellect is a great light, and it illuminates all of a person’s ways. As the verse says, ‘The wisdom of a person illuminates his countenance’ (Ecclesiastes 8:1). This is the aspect of Yaakov, for Yaakov merited receiving the birthright, which is called ‘reishis’ (wisdom), as the verse says, ‘The beginning of wisdom (reishis chochmah)…’ This is the aspect of ‘And he outwitted me (ye’akveini) these two times.’ This is the intellect. ‘Ye’akveini’ is translated as ‘outsmarted.’ This is the sun, for the intellect… And when a person possesses this intellect, ‘A person’s wisdom illuminates his countenance.’ This is the aspect of Yaakov, for Yaakov merited receiving the birthright, which is called reishis.” 
    They say about the mind… Chassidus is all about the mind. Chassidus is the highest type of wisdom, “reishis chochmah,” the wisdom of a person that causes his face to shine. So both in general and in particular, Chassidus is all about this deep type of intelligence. As soon as people will start really learning, there will be enough to cover the budget, and people will have their salaries paid.
    “The birthright which is reishis…is named Yaakov after this second meaning of wisdom.” Esav suddenly realized that Yaakov had outsmarted him, “The wisdom of a man illuminates his countenance.” Learning in depth and getting tested: “This is the aspect of Yaakov, for Yaakov merited the birthright and Esav did not.” Esav, with all of his thievery and banditry, saw that Yaakov outwitted him. The Sages taught that in the womb they argued over the inheritance of two worlds. Why was there an argument? One takes this world, and the other the world to come! No, along comes Yaakov and says, “I’m taking both worlds, and you are going to end up with neither.” Esav was certain that at least he would get this world—he figured that he would come to his father and say that he had killed Nimrod. “Don’t I deserve a reward for killing Nimrod?”
    Avraham didn’t want to see it—he died an hour before the murder. Just recently, Faisal Husseini died and everyone went to the funeral. There were billions of people at Faisal Husseini’s funeral. Everyone is happy. Do they lack any Nimrods? Every Arab is a Nimrod; every Arab is another Faisal Husseini. They killed one big-shot and another, but everyone is a big-shot here. This will not end until the Messiah comes. If people do not study Torah properly, nothing will help the situation at all.
    So, Esav was happy. He said to himself, “I killed Nimrod. When I get to the next world, I’ll say that I killed Nimrod.” Avraham didn’t want to see this; he died an hour before the murder. Why did you kill Nimrod? You killed because you’re bloodthirsty. You didn’t kill him to save the world. What? Is there any lack of Nimrods in the world? I could understand the deed if there was only one Nimrod, but right behind him are new Nimrods.
    Esav thought that he could claim in the next world that he had killed a murderer here and a bandit there, but he did it all to satisfy his own blood lust. The Midrash Rabbah explains that he did everything to satisfy his own desires. This is discussed in Midrash Rabbah, Parshas Toldos. What does it signify, this killing for pleasure? The Midrash Rabbah relates that he killed murderers and robbers; he didn’t kill innocent yeshiva students. He planned to kill Yaakov, but never carried it out. He didn’t get involved with yeshiva students. They were sitting quietly and learning. What should he bother with them for? He deals with murderers, with bandits—that is why he never murdered a yeshiva student. In the next world, I will say that I killed robbers and murderers. So what if I took their money as well? Who cares? Either way, the money would have been abandoned. The Midrash says, “You think that for this you deserve a place in the world to come? You’ll get no share in the world to come at all!”
    The Midrash in Toldos (Midrash Rabbah, Toldos 63:80) quotes the verse from Song of Songs 5:10: “My Beloved is bright and ruddy.” When Shmuel the prophet saw that David was ruddy… The Torah only uses the term “ruddy” (”admoni’) twice, to describe two people. Those are the only times that the term is used! So when Shmuel saw that David was ruddy…he sent for him to be brought, saw that he was ruddy, and was struck with fear. This one will shed blood just like Esav [the other admoni]—another Esav.
    But Hashem told Shmuel the prophet, “No. David also has beautiful eyes.” Esav only killed for his own pleasure, on his own authority. According to the seven Noahide laws, a non-Jew can be executed as long as the executioner brings another person with him. [A Jew can only be killed for committing a major sin, seen by two witnesses, and tried before a court of twenty three judges, but by a non-Jew it needs only one witness and one judge.] One could kill every non-Jew. You could get imprisoned for a billion years. I don’t know how many life sentences one would get, but according to the halacha it is permitted, but one must always… For any non-Jew who drinks a glass of water without permission, who takes anything without permission, even if it worth less than a perutah, is liable to the death penalty provided that there are two people present: one to be a witness and the other to be the judge. In this way, one could really go from non-Jew to non-Jew—perhaps he drank some water without permission or took a piece of paper without permission—whatever. The non-Jews are not lacking sins. So there have to be two, and if there are, one could conceivably go from one gentile to the other and kill them all. But, Esav did not bring another with him. He knew who was a murderer and who was a bandit. He knew everything about everyone, but take a second person with you, at least!
    He wasn’t able to control himself; his bloodlust was so overwhelming. Everything he did would have been technically permissible had he taken another person with him and said, “I’ll be the witness, and you be the judge. Make a judgment and I can execute him.” Even today, the testimony of a single witness is sufficient. “I say he stole less than the value of a perutah.” Even if he had used someone’s pen without permission, he would be liable to the death penalty. A drop of water, a piece of paper… Had he even used someone’s pen without permission—that drop of ink is worth less than a perutah—but he would still be liable to the death penalty! There doesn’t need to be any prior warning or anything. So, it is conceivably possible to go from non-Jew to non-Jew with a second person acting as judge killing transgressors. But, since it was bloodlust that drove Esav—it burned within him so powerfully that he couldn’t be bothered to find a second person to accompany him.
    So, Hashem said to Shmuel, “You think that David is like Esav, but Esav killed on his own authority! Esav killed on his own! This one, David, will only kill on the authority of the Sanhedrin. He will not make a move without the Sanhedrin. He will also shed blood, a great deal of blood, before Me, but it will always be through the instruction of the Sanhedrin.”
    So they fought over two worlds—Esav thought that he would come to the next world with the claim that he had killed this murderer or that bandit. “I eliminated a murderer.” Who were his friends? Murderers and thieves. “I killed so and so many murderers, so and so many thieves. True, I took their money, but it would have been free for the taking anyway.” So the Midrash says, “No, you killed on your own authority, and you cannot enter the world to come and claim that you did the world a favor by killing Nimrod or by eliminating murderers and bandits. You did it all on your own, because of your blood lust. Because you are bloodthirsty, that is why you did it.”
    What then—should he then be gifted with this world? If he has no share in the world to come, then maybe he should have his portion in this world? He was a robber anyway. He stole Nimrod’s garments, the “precious garments” that were worth billions of dollars. There hadn’t been such garments since the time of Adam. The Zohar says that they were not Adam’s garments, but they were like Adam’s garments. So what was the result of this robbery? Esav had no place to put the garments. Rashi says that he had no place to put his garments. What kind of this-worldly pleasure is that? You stole something and had no place to put it, so you had to entrust it to your mother. And in the end, even his mother stole the garments from him [giving them to Yaakov to wear]. What kind of this-worldly reward is that? The thief has no place to put his loot, and everyone steals it from him. His wife will steal it; his mother will steal it; or perhaps, his brother will steal it. The minute you steal something, all your belongings are free for the taking. What honor is there in this? What ever happened to common courtesy?
    Esav was afraid of his wives. He knew that they were thieves, He knew them well. But, that his mother should steal from him—of that he never even dreamed. He caught his own mother stealing, so naturally he is a Tzaddik. Even his mother is a thief!
    In any case, he didn’t have this world or the next world. He didn’t have a place to keep his own belongings, and he didn’t have a share in the world to come because he did everything on his own. So, Esav and Yaakov fought over the inheritance of two worlds. Esav claimed that he would enjoy this world—he would steal and rob and would have immeasurable wealth. Bu, in the end, he had no safe place to keep what he owned. Wherever he hid his loot, it was found and stolen from him. He didn’t even have a place to keep his own clothes, nor would he have a share in the world to come, because he did everything on his own authority. He didn’t execute according to halacha. You either had to be the witness and bring along another to judge, or you had to be the judge, and bring along a witness.
    So we see from the Midrash that Esav had neither this world nor the next. This is the meaning of the statement that they argued over two worlds. Yaakov claimed that he would enjoy both this world and the next, that he would have everything. As the verse says about Yaakov, “And the man expanded very greatly” (Genesis 30:43). We also find written about Job that the goats were killing the wolves. [In Baba Basra 15b, it is written “paratz paratz.” Just as Job’s goats killed the wolves, similarly by Yaakov “paratz,” meaning that the whole world was his.] In the end, Esav saw that Yaakov was smarter than him. “A person’s wisdom illuminates his countenance.” This is the aspect of Yaakov, for Yaakov merited receiving the birthright, which is the aspect of reishis, as in, “the beginning of wisdom” (Psalms 111). Yaakov merited showing Esav that he was smarter than him. The Esavs think that they are the wisest people in the world, but they ultimately see that the Jewish people are even wiser.
    The verse says, “And he ‘ye’akveini’ these two times.” Targum Onkelos renders the term as “outsmarted me” (Genesis 27). This is the aspect of the sun, for when a person studies Torah in depth, everything shines for him! He doesn’t need any advice, for everything enlightens him! When a person learns in depth, everything enlightens him! All the advice he needs shines out for him, because a person can find himself in a quandary, not knowing which advice to follow at a particular time, but when a person learns Torah in depth, everything enlightens him! Everything enlightens him!
    This is the meaning of the verse, “A person’s wisdom illuminates his countenance.” For, the mind is a great light, and it shines the way for him wherever he goes. If a person engages his mind when he learns, then his mind is the sun. “And the sun set”—Yaakov is called the sun. “A person’s wisdom illuminates his countenance”—this is the aspect of Yaakov, for Yaakov merited receiving the birthright, which is the aspect of reishis, as in, “the beginning of wisdom.” This is the aspect of, “And he ye’akveini these two times” which Targum Onkelos renders as “outsmarted me” (Genesis 27). This is the aspect of the sun. The intellect is the first thing; the mind is the foundation of Chassidism. After one has developed his mind, there is love of Hashem and attachment to Hashem. All of this comes only after developing the mind.
    The mind lights a person’s every path just like the sun. This is expressed in the verse, “And the path of the righteous is like a shining light, walking in the broad day light” (Proverbs 4). This is the aspect of the letter ches, which expresses the concept of vitality (“chiyus”), for wisdom and the mind are the life-force that enlivens everything. As the verse says, “Wisdom gives life to those who possess it” (Ecclesiastes 7). However, since the light of the mind is very great, one needs to incorporate the idea of ye’non. One needs the nun. [The letter nun expresses the idea of humility.] Since the light of the mind is so great, one needs to be humble and modest. If a person is not humble, if he is proud, then his mind becomes a tool with which he accomplishes bad things. His pride can lead him astray. “His name will increase (“ye’non”) before the sun.” Before the sun, before a person can receive this intelligence, [one must have this aspect of humility.] Rashi explains that the word ye’non implies kingship [Malchus, which is the sefirah that is associated with humility], and this is the aspect of the moon, for the moon has no light of its own—it only reflects the light of the sun. This is the sefirah of Malchus that has “nothing of its own.” She receives all of her vitality from the “ches,” from the aspect of wisdom which is the sun. Ultimately the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun. This is our entire task: to transform the moon’s light into the sun’s light. 
    Anyone who does not connect himself to the intelligence and wisdom—the life-force— within everything is like Esav, for Esav was convinced that he was wiser than Yaakov. The non-Jews are certain that they are smarter than the Jews, but this will not help them in the end. Ultimately it will all become clear who is truly wise. Esav rejected the birthright, he scorned the intelligence of Yaakov, and he despised all of Yaakov’s Torah study. This is what is going on now among the secular Jews in Israel; they despise the Torah study of the observant Jewish people, but in the end they fall from the frying pan into the fire, into such trouble that they can’t get out of it. Then the light of the moon will be like the light of the sun. 
    “Anyone who does not connect himself to the intelligence and wisdom—the life-force—within everything is like Esav, who despised the birthright. As the verse says, ‘And Esav despised the birthright’ (Genesis 25), meaning that he despised this wisdom. As the verse says, ‘The fool does not desire understanding, but only the exposure of his heart’ (Proverbs 18). The kingdom of evil is symbolized by the moon of the ‘other side.’ As the verse says, ‘And the moon will be shamed and the sun will be abashed’ (Isaiah 24). These are the good inclination and the evil urge, for the good inclination is called ‘miserable and wise’ (Ecclesiastes 4). This is the aspect of Malchus which is poor, having nothing of its own but that which it receives from Chochmah.” This is why the Sages said that Moses “received” the Torah from Sinai. Moses was a vessel fit to receive, and he received the Torah and passed it down to Joshua. Only Moses was a vessel that was fit to receive.
    Our entire task is to become vessels that are able to receive, not to innovate anything ourselves. We don’t need to say anything new or beyond that which is already have written down. We have holy books that we received in the chain of tradition going back to G-d at Sinai. The Zohar is also such a work, a transmission of tradition that went down from one person to another. Everything that we have is like this—the Midrashim—everything is a tradition handed down from one person to the next. Anything beyond that is forbidden. “These are the words that you shall say to the children of Israel…” “These are the words”—i.e. “these words,” no more and no less. It is forbidden to add a single word to what was originally transmitted by G-d. We are forbidden to add a single word or even a single letter to the holy Torah. We only have that which we have already received in the holy books, and more than that we are not allowed to add.
    The Sages therefore said that Moses received the Torah from Sinai, and that is why he was able to bring it down to us. This is the opposite of the action of the evil urge, of Esav, who despised this wisdom. He laughed at Yaakov’s Torah, but in the end Yaakov bested him. Esav tried to bite Yaakov, but his own teeth were broken when Yaakov’s neck turned to marble. The word for marble, “shayish” is an allusion to the shai [310] worlds [given to the Tzaddikim] that Yaakov merited attaining. “The fool does not desire understanding…” “And, everyone must strengthen this aspect of the kingdom of holiness [Malchus di’kedushah], so that it can overcome the kingdom of ‘the other side.’ As the Sages said, a person must always incite his good inclination against his evil urge (Berachos 5). How can one strengthen the kingdom of holiness? By studying the Torah energetically.”
    A person must study energetically (“bi’koach”), and this means studying Torah in depth. As the Sages said: If that lowly one [the evil urge] meets you, drag him into the house of study (Kiddushin 30b). “For, through Torah study one strengthens the kingdom of holiness, and then Malchus, which is this aspect of the letter nun, receives energy from Chochmah, which is this aspect of the letter ches. And the ches and the nun…then the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun.” When the ches and the nun will increase, when there will be Torah study combined with modesty and humility, then the light of the moon will be like the light of the sun, for when one rises, the other falls. [When the aspect of Yaakov is strengthened, the natural effect is that the aspect of Esav falls.] The moment we really begin to study Torah, all of the nations will topple. “Then the kingdom of evil will fall and cease to be. As the verse says, ‘The ways of Hashem are straight; the righteous walk in them, and the sinners stumble in them’ (Hoshea 14). That is to say, through the ‘ways of Hashem,’ i.e. the Torah, through it, the righteous who cling to the kingdom of holiness are strengthened and empowered and the sinners [the kingdom of evil, or the evil urge] stumble and fall into submission.”
    We return now to Likutei Moharan I:101, which discusses in-depth Torah study. There is an entire lesson about this that cannot be disputed! This is what the Rebbe was speaking about when he says in Lesson 3 that one rectifies the six rings [of cartilage] in the throat through the study of the six orders of the Mishnah, the Gemara, the Oral Torah, and the Babylonian Talmud. He is explicit about the need to learn the Babylonian Talmud. If a person will say that perhaps Rebbe Nachman meant some other area of Torah study, it should be clear that he meant learning Babylonian Talmud, the Babylonian Talmud—plain and simple. Rebbe Nachman explains that the Oral Law is the aspect of night, and this is the Babylonian Talmud. “And the darkness was called night” (Genesis 1). This means that a person must study the six orders of the Mishnah, and this is what will rectify the six rings of the throat. Then a person has a voice; his voice can go out. If not, then it is forbidden to listen to him sing; he is called an “evil singer.” If a person doesn’t study the six orders of Mishnah, he is called an evil singer even if he is singing Breslov melodies. It doesn’t help. If he doesn’t study the six orders of the Mishnah, he is considered an evil singer, for what is his mind filled with, aside from evil thoughts? “The pit is empty, it has no water.” It has no water, but it has plenty of snakes and scorpions. Rabbi Eliyahu Lopian would scream—“If you aren’t learning Torah, I know what you’re thinking about!” If a person doesn’t study Torah he is just a mass of desires, so what is he singing for? What is he singing to Hashem for? His entire body is filled with desire, and he is singing to Hashem? He is singing to be famous, to impress people. So the Rebbe says if a person doesn’t study Shas, all of his melodies are impure, and this is what brings on all kinds of destruction. 
    The impure melodies bring on all kinds of destruction. The Gemara in Sotah says that the impure melodies bring on all kinds of destruction. They cause a person’s livelihood to disappear. If a person sings when not in a state of connection to Hashem, then he has no livelihood. He has nothing, and no miracles happen to help support the yeshiva. It is all because of the impure melodies. So the Gemara says (Sotah 48a) that when the Sanhedrin was disbanded, song ceased to be. If there is no Sanhedrin, there is no song. If there is no Torah, there is no song. It is impossible to sing. Singing isn’t called true song. “What does it mean that since the Sanhedrin was disbanded, there is no song? Rav Huna the son of Rav Yehoshua quoted the verse (Lamentations 5) ‘The elders ceased coming to the gate.’ If the elders ceased sitting at the gate, it is impossible to sing. “Rav said, ‘Any ear that hears a song should be torn out.’” All cassette tapes are not kosher—all of them! If a person does not sing with attachment to Hashem, if he is not a Torah scholar, if he is not a true Tzaddik, then all of the songs that he sings are not kosher. They are a product of bad thoughts, and they cause the children to have earaches. All of the earaches come from the impure songs. And, the ear that hears the singing of a person who is not attached to Hashem should be torn out. This is what Rova said. He said that songs in the house destroy the house. The cassettes in the house destroy the house. Then, a person cannot make a living, and he racks up debts. All of the cassettes heard in the house ultimately destroy the house. They cause all of the destruction in the house. Sickness, trouble—it all comes from the cassette tapes that people listen to. And then they move on to videos—G-d forbid! That’s even worse, and it causes all of the children’s illnesses, and the wife’s sicknesses too. 
    “Music in the house ultimately leads to destruction in the house.” As the verse says, “When there is a voice singing at the window, there is a sword on the doorstep, for the house fortified by cedar is disturbed” (Tzefania 2). What does it mean, “the house fortified…is disturbed?” All of the tapes that we hear bring on the six major types of illness. The wife brings home tapes, the children bring home tapes, everyone brings home tapes, but if they are not the songs of people who are truly connected to Hashem, then the wife gets sick from them, and the children get sick from them. All of the illnesses come only from these tapes. Rabbi Yitzchak explains that this fortified house means even a home that is surrounded by cedar trees can be upset. Even if it is the strongest home in the world, if the family listens to tapes produced by people who are not truly connected to Hashem, who are not learning Shas, then all of the songs are impure, because they are the products of an impure mind, for the study of Talmud is what cleanses the mind. The study of Talmud in depth and getting tested on the material is the only thing that can purify the mind—studying Yoreh Dei’ah in depth and getting tested on the material.
    So any song that you bring home, if it isn’t coming from people who are learning Shas and who are truly connected to Hashem… Today there is “The Voice of Brisk.” One can listen to the sound of Brisk Torah twenty-four hours a day on 104 FM. The gematria of the word “kadkod”—a reference to the blessing of Binyamin, and an allusion to his mind—is two times 104. If a person wants to study Torah in depth, there are tapes, songs of attachment to Hashem, the Brisk radio station—that’s where he can hear the melody of truly G-dfearing people who learn Torah day and night. They learn eighteen, twenty, hours a day in great attachment to Hashem. As for the rest of the music… If the person singing is not attached to Hashem, then all of the songs are impure. They come from an impure mind. “And to Binyamin’s head, of his brothers the one who was dedicated to Hashem.”
    “Rav Ashi said: We see from this that once destruction is on the doorstep, ‘desolation strikes at the gate’ (Isaiah 24). Mar the son of Rav Ashi said, ‘I saw [this impure spirit] once, and it gored like an ox.’” When one brings bad songs into the house, a demon enters the home that gores the walls, gores people, and injects people with illness. “I saw this demon, and it had the form of an ox.” This is also discussed in Tractate Bava Kama 21a, this demon in the form of a goring ox in the home that destroys it. Apparently no one was home. The house began to fall apart; the plaster was falling down and no one could figure out why. The Gemara says that there is a kind of demon that can attack an unoccupied house, that bores into the walls and causes the plaster to fall down. All of a sudden, the window is broken, or it falls without anyone even touching it. All of a sudden a piece of the ceiling falls down for no reason. The Gemara in Bava Kama 21a says that as soon as people leave the house, a demon enters and begins to gore and bore into the walls, and the plaster falls and the house falls apart. 
    “Mar the son of Rav Ashi said that if a person goes to live in his friend’s home without permission, he is really doing the homeowner a favor—he benefits, and the homeowner loses nothing. Rav Huna says in Rav’s name that if a person goes to live in his friend’s courtyard without permission, he does not have to pay rent, for the verse says, ‘and desolation strikes at the gate’” (Isaiah 24). Mar the son of Rav Ashi said, ‘I saw it, and it gored like an ox.’” I saw it! What emerges from this is that if a person went to live in his friend’s courtyard, he is actually saving his friend, the homeowner, from this demon. [If the house is desolate, then the demon called “desolation” strikes at the gate.] Rav Yosef gave another reason to waive the obligation of rent for the person who is living in another’s courtyard, because a house that is lived in is considered inhabited since those who dwell there see what needs to be taken care of and attend to it. What case would distinguish between these two opinions of Rav and Rav Yosef? The answer is that if the homeowner was using the courtyard for the storage of lumber or straw and another comes to live there….” [In the first situation, he has to pay rent because even without him being there the demon will not enter, because it is being used for storage. In the second situation, he does not need to pay rent, because he will fix anything that needs fixing. The connection to the lesson is that just as in an empty house the demon can come in, similarly in a full house, if they are listening to cassettes…] Even using the space for storage is sufficient to keep away that demon. The Gemara is telling us that people who listen to impure melodies in the house are allowing a demon to enter that then begins to gore the walls, it damages the house, and it causes people to get sick and the wife to get ill, the children to fall ill. Mar the son of Rav Ashi said that a sword is on the doorstep—“There is a voice singing at the window, and a sword on the doorstep” (Tzefania 2). If there is a voice singing, then there is a sword on the doorstep. It begins with the sword on the doorstep.
    [Sotah 48a:] “There is another proof that destruction in the home begins at the doorstep, for the verse says, ‘desolation strikes at the gate.’ If a home is uninhabited, demons enter and break down the gates; this is the beginning of the destruction of the house. Mar the son of Rav Ashi said that he saw such a demon, and it gored at the walls like an ox. Rav Huna said, ‘Songs like the singing of the rowers on ships [meant to spur them on] or of farmers as they plow [meant to keep the drovers in line] are permitted. But the songs of weavers are prohibited [since they are only meant for pleasure].’ Rav Huna decreed that people living in his time should not sing in their homes or at feasts, and this caused blessing to come into the world, resulting in a glut of grain and a lowering of market prices. One could purchase one hundred geese for a zuz, and one hundred se’ah of wheat for a zuz. And, despite the low price, people did not want to buy because there was such an overabundance in the merit of Rav Huna’s decree. Afterward, Rav Chasda came and made light of the decree [meaning, he did not rebuke a person who ignored the ruling], and this blessing terminated. The prices went up so high that it was no longer even possible to find a single goose for the price of one zuz.” The Gemara tells us all of this here, it explains here that it is impossible to sing if a person does not learn Shas; he cannot cleave to Hashem if he doesn’t learn Shas.
    When Moses was on Mount Sinai for forty days and nights, he studied Gemara. Torah study at night—the study of the Oral Law—is what rectifies a person so that he can sing and make music, and hear music. Gemara is the aspect of night, as the Midrash Shochar Tov on Psalms 19 writes, “When Moses was up on Mount Sinai, he had no way of knowing when it was daytime or nighttime. How did he distinguish between them? When he learned the Written Torah, he knew it was day, and when he learned the Oral Torah, he knew it was night.” We see, then, that the study of the Oral Torah is the study of the six orders of the Mishnah; it is the study of Gemara. As the Sages said in Sanhedrin 24, “He placed me in dark places.” This is the Babylonian Talmud. As the verse says, “And He called the darkness night” (Genesis 1). That is to say, the study of Shas rectifies the six rings of the throat which gives rise to the voice. The six rings of the throat that produce the voice can only become rectified if the person learns Shas. This is alluded to in the verse, “Arise, sing out at night” (Lamentations 2). It is the study of the night [the Oral Torah] that raises song up. You want song to rise, to ascend? You want to be able to sing and make music for Hashem? It can only be done through this aspect of the night, through Gemara and Shas. The Rebbe repeats this again: Gemara and Shas. At first he only mentioned Gemara, but afterward he repeats “Gemara and Shas.” This is on the condition, though, that one learns ‘lishmah’ [for the sake of the mitzvah itself]!
    One must take care to learn only lishmah! If a person learns for ulterior motives, his Torah study does not ascend. A person instead must learn for Hashem’s glory. Just like a person puts on tefillin—does he feel proud from putting on tefillin? He puts on tefillin. He puts on tefillin every single day, and doesn’t feel any conceit about it. Torah study has to be just like putting on tefillin. One cannot feel any conceit about it, since one does it because Hashem commanded. One learns Torah in order to unify Kudsha Brich Hu and His Shechinah, and to raise the Shechinah up out of the dust. I want to do Hashem’s Will, and I derive no personal benefit or pleasure from the learning. When a person has no ulterior motive, he can accomplish all of the spiritual rectifications associated with the study of Shas. Then the charm and stature of the Jewish people rise because of his learning. But if he studies Torah so that others will call him “Rabbi,” his Torah study is less significant. “When a person studies Torah at night, a stream of loving-kindness is drawn down upon him.” What is this stream of loving-kindness? That he is saved from thoughts that are not lishmah. A person must stop every few moments and say as he learns, “For the sake of unifying Kudsha Brich Hu and His Shechinah, and to raise the Shechinah up out of the dust.” He has to dedicate his learning so that the letters he studies will arouse the Jewish people to return to Hashem in repentance. 
    Every single letter of Torah studies can have this effect and draw people back to Judaism. The Rebbe explains in Likutei Moharan I:14, that every letter of Torah studies brings people back to Hashem. He explains this afterward in the lesson, that every letter…and that it is impossible to draw non-Jews and non-observant Jews closer through any means other than the Torah. If you want the Jewish people to return to Hashem, it can only be accomplished through Torah study. People travel from Metullah down to Eilat to bring people back to Jewish observance, and that is all well and good, but true repentance only comes about through Torah study. Every letter parallels a soul, every letter is connected to a soul, and when we study the Torah we must strive to arouse that letter, to arouse it to return to Hashem. For, it is impossible for the wicked among the Jewish people and for converts to be aroused to draw closer to Hashem except through the Torah, for it illuminates the place where they are. Only the Torah can bring the Jewish people back to Hashem in repentance. Such people returned to Jewish observance, people like Uri Zohar—who brought him back? He brought himself back. No one brought him to return to Judaism. After he had already become observant, he went looking for a Rabbi. But initially, he returned all by himself. Someone, somewhere, learned Torah lishmah, and it illuminated the root of Uri Zohar’s soul. So, people do return to Jewish observance on their own, without working to bring them closer and speaking to them directly. Afterwards, they seek out this or that Rabbi, this or that yeshiva. Tens of thousands of people return on their own, because it all depends on learning Torah lishmah
    It could be that since nowadays it is so hard to study Torah, it could be that any Torah study qualifies as lishmah. There are no salaries; there is no money in it, so perhaps it qualifies in any case as lishmah. It is just this type of study that arouses people to repentance. Then people wake up all by themselves, without being approached by anyone directly. Out of the blue, they see some kind of light and they begin the teshuvah process on their own. So when a person studies Torah lishmah…every Jew parallels a letter of the Torah, a letter of Rashi, a letter of Tosfos, a letter in Yoreh Dei’ah or in the laws of issur vi’heter or of ta’aruvos. Every Jew has his letter, and when this letter is spoken lishmah, when the learning is purely for the sake of fulfilling Hashem’s command, then that Jew must feel some arousal to repentance. He too must feel some kind of light.
    There are six hundred thousand letters and there are six hundred thousand root souls. Every soul has its source in the upper world, in the mind of Hashem. Each soul parallels a single letter, for the souls of the Jewish people arose in Hashem’s mind at the very beginning. Through unifying the souls—when a person speaks words of Torah he unifies the souls—the souls of converts are generated. When the souls are aroused through the letters of the Torah that one pronounces, they shine into one another by being strung together as words and sentences and new souls are created. All those letters that are joined together by Torah study create new souls. “And when the souls awaken through the joining of each two letters of the Torah that one utters and when they shine into one another, this is the aspect of zivug [intimate joining], for each receives illumination from the other. The joining caused by the shining of one soul into the other within a person’s mind generates the souls of converts, for some of the souls of converts were originally created at Sinai, and some were created only later on.
    And this is true for even the sinners among the Jewish people. This is as long as they are still called Jews, for they are known as “sinners among the Jewish people.” “Even though he sins, he is still a Jew” (Sanhedrin 44). He still has a grasp and a source in the Supernal mind, and when the letters shine into one another, the source of his soul among all the others also experiences that illumination, which then reaches this sinner. It is this illumination that brings the person back in repentance.
    This is what the Sages referred to when they said that we sometimes see Torah scholars whose sons do not follow in their fathers’ footsteps. This is a punishment for not learning with the intention to bring light to the souls of the Jewish people. This is what the Sages meant when they said: “Why are the sons of scholars not scholars themselves? It is because their fathers did not first make the blessing over Torah study” (Nedarim 81).
    When we learn Torah, we must make it our intention and believe that every letter uttered lishmah is right now bringing another person back to Judaism, with each and every letter. This is why the sons of scholars are not themselves scholars, because their fathers did not first make the blessing [meaning, they did not have this intention]. We have to have this intention in mind when we study Torah, that each and every letter should shine some light into the root of souls in Hashem’s mind above, for that is where our souls are sourced. When this light is brought into the source and root of the souls, the Supernal mind, then the souls themselves begin to shine and are blessed. If a person merits learning Torah lishmah, then when he draws a soul down into his future child, it will be a very elevated soul. In order to draw down souls for your children so that the children will want to learn Torah… You have fourteen children, and they all want to learn Torah. You want them all to have a desire and a drive to learn Torah, so that no child will have a hard time learning, a hard time getting up in the morning to go and study. Everything depends on learning Torah lishmah: learning for the sake of the mitzvah itself and uttering every letter with the intention to draw down a clear and illuminated soul for one’s future child. You must pronounce each letter with the intention to draw down the souls of converts and for the sake of the entire Jewish people. Completely new souls come into being through this, through this joining together of the letters.
    Our source is in the letters of the Torah, so when illumination and blessing is brought into the beginnings of Divine thought, the souls spark into life and are blessed. We see from this that if a person merits to study Torah lishmah, with the intent to illuminate the roots of souls, then a pure and rarified soul can also be drawn down to inhabit his own future child, so that his future child will also grow to be a scholar someday. But when the Torah scholar fails to bless his own study, fails to bring this light to the roots of souls, then the kind of soul that he draws down for his future child is in the aspect of: “I am sleeping” (Song of Songs 5:2)—asleep, and not illuminated. This is why it may be that a scholar’s child will not himself be a scholar. “I am asleep” and not illuminated. So the scholar has a sleepy child. He doesn’t want to get up in the morning; he doesn’t want to learn. You have to nudge him all the time and press him so that he’ll agree to learn a little bit—a sleepy neshomah’leh: a sleepy little soul. Why? It is because the father was asleep while learning too. He was sleeping while he learned, so he has sleepy children.
    If, on the other hand, a person learns with vitality, with inspiration, lishmah, and focuses on arousing the roots of the souls as he learns, then he brings life to all of the upper worlds. Wide-awake and energetic souls descend to this world, full of fiery enthusiasm to serve Hashem. But if he learns with the aspect of sleep, then everything is asleep. Then his children will also be sleepy. Everything will be asleep. A person has to learn with energy and with joy; he has to learn Torah lishmah. When a person is sleeping while learning, then even if he is a scholar, he will not have sons who are scholars. This is because they didn’t make the blessing first, meaning, they didn’t learn for the sake of the source of the souls of the Jewish people who arose first in the mind of Hashem.
    So what is necessary? Humility. As it is written, “And from the desert, a gift…” (Numbers 21:18). [The Sages remarked on this phrase that if a person makes himself bare (humble) like a desert, he receives the gift of Torah.] A person must first break his pride and believe that everyone else is righteous. There are four aspects of humility. A person must realize his smallness in relation to those who are greater than him. He has to believe in all of the Rebbes, in all of the Tzaddikim, and in all of the Roshei Yeshivas, and not think that since he is a Breslover, he is smarter than anyone. On the contrary: I am a Breslover, so I am less than everyone else. I have to believe that I am less than everyone else. Why did I come close to Breslov? Because I was unsuccessful everywhere else, that was why I drew close to Breslov. A person must believe that he is less than everyone, and realize his smallness in relation to those who are greater than him and even to those who are on his level. He has to believe that they are all more righteous than he is.
    And sometimes, when he is already the smallest of the small, he has to see that he is really smaller than his own estimation of himself. He has to make himself smaller than his own level, and imagine himself as beneath his own level. This is the aspect of, “Each person should remain beneath himself” (Exodus 16). What does it meant to remain “beneath yourself”? There are two mitzvos relating to Shabbos in the Torah.  One is to remain in place [the halachic meaning is the prohibition against leaving the immediate precinct of an inhabited area, techum Shabbos], and the other is not to light a fire in one’s dwelling. The Zohar explains that not lighting a fire means avoiding anger, and remaining “beneath” oneself refers to humility. This means that no matter how small you think you are, you really are lower than that.
    The Gemara in Rosh HaShanah 9a discusses the verse, “You shall rest during the plowing and the harvest seasons” (Exodus 34:21). There is a dispute between Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Yishmael regarding this phrase, as to whether it refers to Shabbos or the Sabbatical year [Shemitah]. Therefore, “Do not light a fire” refers to anger. That is why the Torah writes it. The Zohar says in Parshas VaYakhel that anyone who falls into anger lights the fires of Gehinnom. The fires of Gehinnom are banked on Shabbos for one who had desecrated Shabbos in his lifetime. But who re-lights the fire anyway? It is those who fall into anger. They light the fire of Gehinnom for the punishment of the wicked who desecrated the Shabbos. If it wasn’t for them, even the Sabbath desecrators would not burn, since the fires are extinguished by Hashem. So, it is the angry person who lights the fire. 
    Rabbi Akiva explains that the phrase isn’t referring to the actual year of Shemitah [but rather, to certain prohibited agricultural tasks right before and right after the seventh year.] Rabbi Yishmael says that the phrase really refers to Shabbos. The new piece of information we learn from the phrase is that all plowing and harvesting is prohibited, except for the harvesting of the omer offering of grain, which takes precedence over Shabbos because it is a mitzvah that must be done for forty-nine consecutive days. Rabbi Akiva learns from the phrase the principle that one must add from the time of the mundane [in this case, from the six and eighth years of the shemitah cycle] onto the period that is holy. [Part of the sixth and eighth years become incorporated into the sanctity of the seventh year of the cycle.] He learns this out from Yom HaKippurim: the need to add on from the time of chol to the period of kodesh
    Of the thirty-nine categories of forbidden labor on Shabbos, the only one that is mentioned is that, “each man must sit [in/beneath] his place.” The Torah doesn’t mention any of the thirty-nine major categories of forbidden labor explicitly. The Torah doesn’t write about them at all—about the thirty-nine types of work. It only mentions the prohibitions against lighting a fire, and leaving one’s place. This is the matter of techumin, which is itself a Rabbinic injunction. Techumin is not a Torah prohibition at all. When the Torah mentions it, it only meant for that generation of the desert, that they were forbidden to leave the camp to collect the manna on Shabbos. It was a temporary prohibition so that they would not collect the manna on Shabbos, and there is even an opinion that there is no prohibition of techumin at all in the Torah, that it was possible to go as far as twelve mil away from the camp on Shabbos (Shabbos 70a). [This would mean that even the temporary Torah prohibition for that generation only applied to excursions that went past twelve mil from the camp.] There is such an opinion. So, it turns out that the only absolute prohibitions mentioned in the Torah are the one against lighting a fire, which is the only prohibition mentioned distinctly [two opinions: one, to learn out that it is a prohibition and not deserving the death penalty; and two, to teach that one is responsible for each separate malacha] and the second, regarding the phrase, “in the plowing and the harvesting,” which, according to Rabbi Yishmael, alludes to the fact that the prohibition is suspended in the case of the cutting of the omer offering.
    “Each man must sit beneath himself.” How high was Mount Tabor? It was four parsang, alluding to the fact that a person must make himself smaller in four different degrees. He must see himself as smaller than those who are great, than those who are small, and than those who are mediocre. And no matter how small he makes himself, he still must know that he is smaller than everyone: he is the smallest. I am the smallest of all!
    We return now to Likutei Moharan I:101, where we were discussing in-depth Torah study. Rabbeinu says there that a person must study Torah in depth and be tested on the material, and once people are doing that, everything will fall into place. People will understand the wisdom of the Torah, there will be enough money, and there will be an abundance. Anyone who really wants to help the yeshiva should go and sign up with Tikolski. Anyone who really wants to go now, this month, to raise money in an organized fashion should sign up with Tikolski. Tikolski will organize it. Right now, people are traveling all over the country without any organization. At least, if they are going to travel at all, let it be organized. How much he collected; how much he brought in. If a person really wants to help so that we can pay the salaries, “He should delve into and bring out the Torah’s wisdom. This is the ‘shining countenance’ as in, ‘A person’s wisdom illuminates his countenance’ (Ecclesiastes 8). Through this, the burden of kingship and derech eretz is removed from him. If a person truly studies Torah, then all of the subjugation of the nations and all of the unholy rulership in the world will cease to exist completely. Whatever a person grasps intellectually is called ‘shining faces,’ and whatever he does not grasp intellectually is called, ‘dark faces.’”
“Therefore, when a person merits delving into the Torah until he grasps its wisdom, its ‘shining faces,’ then the vices and lusts of the non-Jewish nations are subdued, for they have a hold on the ‘dark faces.’ This is the aspect of, ‘He established the borders of the nations to parallel the number of the Jewish people’ (Deuteronomy 32).” [The seventy nations parallel the seventy children of Israel who went down to Egypt.]
    “‘The number of’ [‘li’mispar’] shares a grammatical root with the word for brilliance and illumination [‘sapir’]. This is because in-depth Torah study is brilliant and shining like the ‘sapphire stone’ that the Jewish people saw in a prophetic image (Exodus 24). These ‘shining faces’ are the aspect of the number of the Jewish people. The ‘borders of the nations’ are the ‘dark faces.’ And this applies to each and every person.” Every person has his ups and downs. Sometimes he learns in depth; sometimes he finds it difficult. This concept of “shining faces” parallels the concept of the inherent sanctity of the Jewish people, and this sanctity stems from wisdom. The Rebbe says in Likutei Moharan I:80, “What is holiness? Wisdom.” It says in lesson #80, “What is wisdom? Holiness.” One who has no wisdom can have no sanctity. It cannot be otherwise. If the mind is unwise, there cannot be holiness.
    What does he say here as well? “What is holiness? Wisdom.” The general principle arising from this… Yosef was the aspect of peace. “The generations of Yaakov—Yosef.” All of the flow of Divine abundance and blessing comes through this, because Yosef was the provider for the entire land. If you want to draw down blessing for the yeshiva, you have to be like Yosef. If you want the yeshiva to have an abundance of what it needs, you must be like Yosef. Yosef was the provider for the entire land. Yosef embodied the sanctity of the covenant [moral purity], but there cannot be personal sanctity without wisdom. “These are the generations of Yaakov—Yosef.” When there is this aspect of Yaakov, which is wisdom, as in “and he outsmarted me these two times,” then you have the product of Yaakov which is Yosef. Yosef embodies personal purity—Yosef the Tzaddik. The Torah doesn’t mention Yosef before Yaakov. A person cannot be holy without first being wise. [As it is written regarding] Yaakov: “and he outsmarted me these two times.” Then there can be a test, for Yosef embodies the sefirah of Yesod, which is linked to the sefirah of Tiferes. Tiferes is the Torah, so then there can be a sefirah of Yesod. But, there can be no sefirah of Yesod without Tiferes. So, “These are the generations of Yaakov—Yosef.” If a person wants to reach this level of Yosef who was the provider for the entire land, if he wants there to be an abundance of material blessing coming through him, then he has to be holy and pure. Then all of the flow of blessing will come down to the Jewish people. “Hashem designed the system this way, so that every Jewish person will be able to speak holy words before Him. And what is this holiness? Wisdom. For, wisdom is called holiness, as is known.”
    A person speaks words of Torah or prayer with wisdom and intelligence. What is holiness? He says that holiness is wisdom. Wisdom is called holiness. So when a person speaks words of Torah or prayer with wisdom and intelligence, he hears and understands what he says. It is only called holy if he understands the Torah—if he delves into the Torah. Then, it is called holiness. And then, Hashem has great pleasure from his learning, because he is developing his higher spiritual/mental faculties of wisdom. Speech is the aspect of Jerusalem, as in, “Hashem is the builder of Jerusalem” (Psalms 147:2). For, Jerusalem is the aspect of speech. As the verse says, “And Malkitzedek was king of Shalem” (Genesis 14). Targum Onkelos renders Malkitzedek as, “King of Jerusalem.” And justice [“tzedek,” the quality associated with Jerusalem] is the aspect of speech, as the verse says, “Speak justice” (Psalms 58). And Hashem is this aspect of the higher mental faculties (“mochin”), as is known. When is Jerusalem built? When, “the dispersed of Israel enter” (Psalms 147:2). All of the souls, they all have to enter in our Torah study; each and every letter can bring all of the souls back to Hashem in repentance. The implication of the verse is that Jerusalem is built when those who are dispersed and separated from the spiritual essence of being a Jew are brought in.
    Through peace, one is able to speak in holiness and purity. Peace connects two opposites: the aspects of loving-kindness and stern judgment (“chassadim” and “gevurot”). These are like permutations of Hashem’s Name which are applied to Abaye and Rova [the quintessential arguers of the Talmudic dialectic]. What are these permutations of Abaye and Rova? They are the sum of all the numerical values of the permutations of Hashem’s Name. It comes to a total of 232. One set of permutations is 72, another form is 63, a third form is 45, and the final set is 52. All together, it adds up to exactly 232. So the number 232 includes all of the four types of permutations of the Divine Name. There are other permutations beyond these, but these are the fundamental ones. They parallel the four letters of Hashem’s Name. The permutation equaling 72 parallels the yud; the first heh parallels the set equaling 63; the vav parallels the set equal to 45; and the final heh parallels the set equal to 52. All together, it is 232. This is equal to the numerical value of the phrase, “Abaye and Rova.” 
    The entire phrase “the permutations of Abaye and Rova” (“havayos Abaye vi’Rova”) is equal to the numerical value of the name Esther (661). The word “havayos” equals 427; Abaye equals 23, and Rova equals 209, which adds up to 232. The entire phrase together is equal to 659 [adding two for the two kollel numbers of the names Abaye and Rova]. Abaye and Rova are all of the Divine Names. When you learn Abaye and Rova, it is like saying the Divine Names. One must know that when he learns Gemara he is reciting Divine Names; it is all permutations of Hashem’s Name. “The permutations of Abaye and Rova” is equal to the value of Esther’s name. All of Queen Esther’s endeavors were an aspect of this concept of the permutations of Abaye and Rova [even though she came long before them]. “They sat and learned for three days, they learned the permutations of Abaye and Rova.” It is written about Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai [the Tanna, who also came long before Abaye and Rova,] that he studied the permutations of Abaye and Rova (Baba Basra 134a). Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai was the least of them [the students of Hillel] and he knew the permutations of Abaye and Rova. Rashi says that even then they learned this way, but they just didn’t call it by this name [i.e. according to Abaye and Rova] but used the same methods. Right after the destruction of the first Temple, they began to learn Mishnah, and everyone studied this way. This is why the numerical value of the phrase, “the permutations of Abaye and Rova” is equal to the value of the name Esther. Esther’s power was taken from the holy Gemara, and her insight to have Haman hanged was taken from the power of Mordechai who studies the permutations of Abaye and Rova. They learned Torah non-stop for three days—even the children—everyone learned Torah. He [Haman] came to imprison the children, and saw them learning Torah. The children said, “We want to die together with the heads of the yeshivos.” It comes out that all of this is [that all the miracles of Purim were brought about through the] permutations of Abaye and Rova; it was all done through permutations of the Divine Name. 
    This is holiness. When is there holiness? When there is wisdom. Without wisdom, there is no holiness. This is all the matter of being killed in sanctification of Hashem’s name. As soon as a person studies Torah, he encounters the issue of martyrdom. When a person learns Torah with the right intentions…Here we enter into the matter of Rabbi Akiva who was the conduit for the transmission of the entire Oral Torah. He had the strength to sacrifice his life and to cry out the Shema even as his flesh was torn from him with iron combs. The moment that a person studies Torah with the self-sacrifice of Rabbi Akiva, he comes to a level of being able to give up his life to sanctify Hashem’s Name and to cry out the Shema even as his flesh is torn from him with iron combs. If a person studies Torah in this way, in such holiness, then he can even give up his life as a martyr, and still feel a burning love for Hashem.
    We return now to lesson #101, on the subject of in-depth Torah study. A person’s entire task in life is to study Torah in-depth. “He established the borders of nations to parallel the number of the Jewish people. They were ‘bright and illuminated’ like the sapphire block. ‘Shining faces’is the aspect of the number of the Jewish people. And only then, ‘He established the borders of nations.’ The fact that nations rule over us is only because we do not study Torah in depth—‘dark faces.’” Every individual has within him both of these aspects, the “bright” faces and the “dark” faces. The dark faces represent vices and lust, for we are subject to the seventy nations, the “dark faces.” “And they mingled with the nations and learned from their deeds.”This means that the individual is an admixture of negative traits that are sourced in the non-Jewish nations, as we said.
    And when a person sins,G-d forbid, the sin becomes engraved on his bones, as the verse says, “And their sins were on their bones” (Ezekiel 32). A person has no way of escaping this except through the Torah, which is this aspect of the “shining face.” It is the very opposite of all vices and lusts, the “dark faces,” which are the roots of all sin, G-d  forbid. For, a person must struggle in Torah study; everyone must struggle in Torah study and kill himself over it. “This is the Torah. If a person should die in the tent…” The Sages commented on this verse, “The Torah only has permanence within those who kill themselves over its study.” What does a person have to kill? He has to murder his own ego, his vices and lusts, and all of the flaws that are engraved on his bones. A person must struggle in Torah study until he merits understanding it. A person must work and struggle in Torah study. “If a person should die in the tent [of Torah study]” refers to in-depth Torah study. He has to emerge from this aspect of the “dark faces,” which is darkness and mental obscurity, and enter the aspect of “bright faces,” which is mental clarity and intellectual grasp of the Torah. Only then is he considered a human being. “This is the Torah. A person…” When is he called a person? When he studies Torah in depth! “You are called human beings, and the non-Jewish nations are not” for a person is only considered truly human by virtue of the Torah, which is this aspect of the “bright faces.” The Torah is the opposite of all lust and vice, and that is why its study allows a person to be considered truly human. Yet the non-Jewish nations are distant from the Torah’s wisdom, from the “bright faces,” for they themselves embody the concept of the “dark faces” since they are immersed in all of the vices and lusts. That is why they are not considered truly human.
    The main meaning of humanness is having a genuine intellect that grasps the Torah’s wisdom. There are three general categories of these higher mental faculties. Wisdom (“chochmah”) is the comprehension of information in a straightforward fashion, a primary level of insight. Understanding (“binah”) is the second level of insight; it is inductive reasoning, or understanding one thing from another. Once a person knows what he has learned well and internalized it to such a degree that it is engraved on his bones, he has achieved true knowledge (“da’as”). These three mental faculties are the three “hands” of the Torah: the “great hand” is wisdom, the “strong hand” is understanding, and the “high hand” is knowledge. When you have these three “hands” [each hand, yad, equals 14], you have 42 all together. [42 is the total of one set of permutations of Hashem’s Name.] And three times 15 [the value of Hashem’s Name yud-heh], which alludes to the three faculties of wisdom, understanding, and knowledge, is equal to the numerical value of the word “man.” [Adam = 45]
    “When evildoers drew close to me to consume my flesh,” to consume and kill my essence, “they stumbled and fell” (Psalms 27). They got caught in the “dark faces” and stumbled and fell. When the aspect of “dark faces” ceases to be, then he merits attaining the level of “bright faces,” which is the Torah’s wisdom. When a person merits attaining the wisdom of the Torah, the “bright faces,” then he will be blessed with every kind of abundance.
    “Two friends that do not part from one another.” [This is how the Zohar refers to chochmah and binah.] It is through this in particular that the Jewish people are considered truly human. This is what distinguishes the Jewish people from the other nations of the world. The other nations cannot study Torah in depth. They can study Gemara, but not in depth. Therefore, all of the enemies and oppressors who are caught in the “dark faces” of vice and lust will fall, for the Jew has merited attaining the level of “bright faces.”
    Rebbe Nachman continues in lesson #105 in the same vein, that Torah study draws down all of the flow of blessing and mercy. Hashem wants to give us infinite abundance.  Yosef was the provider for the entire land, and it sanctifies Hashem’s Name when the Jewish people are gifted with an abundance of blessing. Yet everyone seeks mercy and no one knows where to find it. There are two types of mercy. There is the simple mercy of Zeir Anpin, and there is the great mercy of the hidden level of Atik. [The former is the mercy drawn down through the lower sefiros; the latter is when one accesses the highest level of Hashem’s expressed mercy.] If you want to access the mercy of the hidden level of Atik, it can only be done through Torah study. “I will gather you in great mercy” (Isaiah 54). But, in this generation, there is no one who can pray for this level of mercy. Why not? Because no one knows how great Hashem is, how infinite Hashem is, how good Hashem is. And, since no one appreciates the greatness of Hashem because there is so much poverty and pressure, it is up to Hashem alone to pray for this. As the Gemara says, “From where do we know that Hashem prays? The verse says, ‘And I will cause you to rejoice in the house of My prayer.’ It doesn’t say, ‘your prayer, but ‘My prayer.’ This is how we know that Hashem, Himself, prays.”
    How can we bring Hashem Himself to pray for us? Through Torah study. We want to arouse Hashem “and cause you to rejoice in the house of My prayer.” May Your mercy overcome Your anger. Hashem, Himself, should pray for us, and this can only happen through Torah study. The only one who can sweeten the decrees is Hashem, Himself. How can this be brought about, that Hashem Himself will pray for us? It is through Torah study.
   Every person contains within himself a unique portion of the totality of the universe and the combinations of holy letters that formed it. When a person joins himself to Hashem, he brings along his little bit of the universe with him. But, when he follows after the desires of his heart, his unique portion of the universe gets thrown to the Other Side, where the letters and combinations are confused Da’as is likewise thrown into chaos. This is the exile of the Shechinah.
    Anyone who has no da’as also has no capacity for mercy. If a person does not study Torah, then he simply has no capacity for mercy. As the verse says, “Anger rests in the bosom of fools” (Ecclesiastes 7). This is why the Sages said that it is forbidden to show mercy to a person that has no da’as (Berachos 33), for he himself has no quality of mercy. And when a person repents completely…What does it mean to repent completely? It means that all of the elements of his soul—he has to know that infinite elements of his own soul were scattered throughout the world. Repentance [literally, “return”] means restoring all of those elements back to his soul. It is like when a war breaks out, and a person wanders to Siberia, wanders to the North Pole, wanders here or there…During the Holocaust, people were scattered to every corner of the globe, to Shanghai, all in order to gather up the sparks that were scattered throughout the world.
    By studying Torah for its own sake, a person can gather up the sparks without having to actually go to such places. When a person does not study Torah for its own sake, then without even meaning to, he scatters his own Divine sparks all over the world. However, when he repents completely, all of those elements of the universe that were uniquely his are restored to their original place. Then knowledge is complete, and Hashem’s mercy is aroused. As the verse says, “And the L-rd, your G-d, will restore your captives” (Deuteronomy 30). What will Hashem restore? The element of the universe that is held captive in the wrong place. Then, “He will have mercy on you.” It is because the knowledge will then be whole. The Sages commented on the verse (Yirmiyahu 48:11), “Moav was never taken into exile, and by remaining in their place they retained their composure and their knowledge is complete” (Megillah 12b).
    The main element of repentance depends on the Torah, for everything holy goes through three stages: gestation, nursing, and mental development. Once these three stages are gone through, repentance can be considered complete. Repentance requires Torah study, for it is through the study that one restores the lost portions of one’s soul. Torah study is considered the stage of mental development. It itself has three stages. When a person sits down to learn, focuses his heart and mind on the Torah, and becomes absorbed within it, this is called gestation. It is like a fetus that is absorbed and hidden within its mother’s womb. When he studies and understands what he learns, this is called birth and nursing. As the verse says, “Her breasts satisfy you always” (Proverbs 5). Afterward, when he understands one thing from another and wants to generate new Torah ideas, he has reached the stage of developing the mental faculties. As the verse says, “She brings her bread from distant places.” [Weaning from milk to bread symbolizes a child’s development into knowledge.] New ideas must be brought from “distant places” because the Torah is called, “poor in one place, and rich in another.” A person must bring proofs from all over the place. When a person studies Torah, he must be able to bring proofs from Shas, from this Gemara or that Gemara, from Pesachim, from Zevachim, from Nedarim; he has to jump from Shas to Shas, and that is why it is called wisdom. It is called wisdom when a person knows how to bring all of the topics in all of the six orders of the Mishnah together. 
    Rabbi Chaim Brisker said that until one has learned all of Shas with Rashi’s commentary one thousand times, one cannot even begin to study in depth. We don’t hold according to this opinion, because one would have to begin learning at the age of three. Rav Chaim Brisker had already learned through Shas one thousand times by the age of thirteen. When he sent his son Rav Velvel of Brisk to the post office to buy stamps, Rav Velvel walked in the street with a Gemara. This is a well-known story. His father told him to go and buy stamps in the post office. When Rav Velvel passed by the grocery store, the shopkeeper said to him, “Velvele, where are you going?” Rav Velvel said: “Post office—stamps!” The shopkeeper said, “Why go there for stamps—I have here in the store!” Rav Velvel answered, “My father said that I should go to the post office.” Even though the store was right there, and there was no line, and he could have gone in and bought them and gone straight home… In the post office he would have had to wait in line for half an hour; he stood with a Gemara and didn’t see a single thing. He bought stamps at the post office even though the grocery store was right near the house. “My father said that I should go to the post office!” It is written that honoring one’s father and mother, one instant of honoring one’s parents, is equal to the entire Torah. Obeying one’s father—a single statement of one’s father—is equal to the entire Torah. 
    So, Rav Chaim Brisker had already completed the entire Torah a thousand times by the time he was bar mitzvah. As for us, whoever can go through all of Shas one thousand times without breaking his concentration or seeing anything—then of course that is much better. Then afterward, he can put everything together. This is what Rav Chaim Kanievsky has done; this is how he attained all of his greatness. When I lived on Rashbam Street, I lived on the Steipler’s block. He had already been through all of Shas a few hundred times. He [Rav Chaim Kanievsky] was gifted with such an incredible mind that now there is no book in the world that he doesn’t know. Whatever he sees immediately finds its place in the rubric of his knowledge, and he does not have to review a second time. There is no book that he does not know; he knows all of the books. There is nothing today. Rav Chaim Kanievski has the greatest mind that there is now. When a person learns, he studies and studies and doesn’t stop studying.
    [The Rav now returned to the subject of marriage.] This is what the Zohar is saying here [Genesis 49a], “‘And the L-rd, Hashem, built the rib/side…’ Just as the creation of man incorporated Hashem’s full Name, so too did the creation of woman. The aspects of father and mother [the two Names, representing Chochmah and Binah] repaired her until the time that she was brought face to face with her mate. ‘The rib’—as the verse says, ‘I am black, but comely, daughters of Jerusalem’ (Song of Songs 1). [This describes the sefirah of Malchus in its contracted and immature state, when it is just a point below the lower six sefiros. This is the concept of it being a rib. At that point, it is called black.] It is like a mirror that has no illumination of its own, but after father and mother repair her and ornament her [so that she takes on stature in relation to her mate]… From here we learn that a father and a mother prepare their daughter to be brought to her mate at the chuppah, as the verse says, ‘My daughter whom I gave to this man…’ (Deuteronomy 22). From that point, it is the task of the groom to approach the bride to be alone with her; she should not approach him. For, she is what defines the house, and so he has to come to her, to her house. As the verses speak of Yaakov (Genesis 29) when he married both Leah and Rachel, scripture quite explicitly says that he came to them.”
    This means that it is forbidden for a man to do anything without his wife’s permission. Once a man gets married, he is forbidden to do anything without his wife’s permission. He cannot take a step without her permission, unless she tells him to not study Torah, G-d forbid. But if a woman is as she should be and permits him to learn Torah, then the husband is duty-bound to inform her of his actions so that she shouldn’t be distressed, G-d forbid. The Gemara describes how Rav Rechumi was a few hours late coming home, and he was punished for it by falling to his death from the attic. This was after he had been away an entire year [and his wife was upset with him that he arrived a few hours late]. Nowadays, some men run home every hour. We aren’t talking about such avreichim who run home every hour. We’re talking about those who learned for a year, or two, or three. The Gemara in Ketubos 62b relates that Rav Ada the son of Rav Ahava used to come home only once every three years. Rav Eliezer came home only once every thirty days. Rav Ada bar Ahava holds that one may go to study for three years without permission from one’s wife. Rova said that there were those who relied on Rav Ada bar Ahava’s opinion who were damaged by it, because later generations were not as strong. So this person [Rav Rechumi] sat and learned for a year and was supposed to return home Erev Yom Kippur. After being delayed for a few hours, his wife began to cry. [Her crying aroused a heavenly judgment on her husband, and that caused the accident.] The flooring fell, and he was crushed.
    A man must not do anything without his wife’s permission. He has to speak to her and placate her with pleasant words (Zohar 49). “He should not lie with her unless she agrees; rather their wills should be united, and she should not be forced, for that is forbidden. As the verse says, “And he took from the stones of the place and put them beneath his head.” Even if you have a bed made of gold, if your wife says that you should sleep on the ground, you should leave your golden bed and sleep on the floor.
    “[See what Adam said to Chava:] ‘This time…’ These are the sweet words that Adam said to his wife to draw her to him with affection to share his will, to arouse love in her. See how sweet the words are that he told her: ‘You are bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.’” We are one; you are a part of my bones and my flesh. A woman asks her husband, “Do you want me? You don’t regret marrying me?” You have to tell her, “No. you are a part of my bones and my body.”
    “He must do this to show his wife that they are one, and that there is no division between them at all.” We are one, we are one soul. “After Adam spoke loving words to her, he began to praise her, by saying, ‘This one is called woman.’ He meant to say, ‘This is a woman to whom none can compare! She is the glory of my home, all other women are like apes compared to her. Chava is the paradigm of womanhood, because she is more perfect in her attributes than all others.” A man says to his wife, “You’re not so perfect; you’re not so great.” Your wife has to be the most perfect, the greatest, in your eyes. “This one is called woman.” A man must always say to his wife, “This one is called woman. You are the most perfect, the greatest. You are the most special; there is no one like you in the world!” He has to tell her that all other women are like monkeys compared to her. “Compared to you, all other women are like apes!” One has to say this to one’s wife all the time. This is what the Gemara says in Ba’meh Madlikin in Tractate Shabbos, that a man must ask his wife “gently” whether or not she lit the candles . One must ask her gently. Rav Huna said, “I myself fulfilled this precept.” I, myself, fulfilled this.
    The Gemara in Sanhedrin 40b actually speaks about this. “Rav Yossi said to the Sages: If we follow your opinion [that one needs to ask the witnesses seven different questions], what happens if someone comes and says that they saw people committing murder yesterday. Will the judge then ask, ‘What seven-year period of the yovel did it happen in? What year of the sabbatical cycle? What month? What day of the month?’ [Such questions would be superfluous—it would be sufficient to ask the day, the time, and the place.] The Sages responded: This same problem applies to your opinion as well. If someone came to the court and testified that he just witnessed a murder, would the judge ask him, ‘What day? What time? Where?’ The resolution of the problem is as follows: Despite the fact that it is unnecessary to question the witness with such questions, they are still put forth much in the way that Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar explained. [They used to transfer the witnesses from room to room when they came to testify, and would tell them, ‘We won’t be rendering decisions in this room, but in another room.’ This was done to wear down the witnesses, and weed out false witnesses who would eventually retract or contradict their testimony.] So too, were all the questions asked, in order to wear down the witnesses and weed out any false testimony, as Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar said. Why, then, does Rabbi Yossi hold that only three questions are necessary? Because the other four questions [yovel, year, month, and day of the month] are superfluous in most cases. Most witnesses come within a day or so of witnessing a crime, and a few arrive on the same day. They ask the witnesses, ‘Do you know/recognize the murderer? Do you recognize the victim? Was it a non-Jew who had murdered a Jew? Did you warn the murderer [of your witnessing and his punishment]? Did the murderer accept your warning [and say that he intends to commit the crime despite the fact that you have reminded him of the Torah’s warning]? Did the murderer accept his liability for the death penalty? [Did he say that he is going to commit the crime even if it means he will be put to death for it?] Did he commit the murder immediately after the warning [within the time it takes to say, ‘Shalom aleicha Rebbi.’]?”
    Now we have a section dealing with a law that will help us understand why Moses was unclear about the law concerning the case of the man in the desert who had cursed Hashem. Was Moses really perplexed about the law in this case? Hashem taught him the entire Torah! Hashem taught Moses that the blasphemer is liable to the death penalty by stoning. What did Moses have to be unclear about? In the case of the one who gathered wood on Shabbos, there was some doubt about the form of death he was liable to. This is discussed in Sanhedrin 80b. The Gemara asks what the doubt was in the case of the wood-gatherer. “They knew that it was the death penalty, but they didn’t know which form. This is true in the case of the wood-gatherer; they gave him a general warning. But, with other cases involving the death penalty, the sinner is not put to death unless there is valid testimony of eye-witnesses who warned him and also warned him of the exact punishment for his intended crime. But, according to the first opinion, it is sufficient for the witnesses to tell the would-be criminal that he will be liable to the death penalty, without specifying which form of execution it will take. 
    According to Rabbi Yehudah, however, the form of execution must be explicit in the warning. The previous opinion, though, maintains that it is sufficient for the witnesses to say [in the case of Sabbath desecration] that those who desecrate it are put to death.” Hashem did not inform Moses what the specific form of execution would be. He wanted to wait until it was a practical matter to reveal the law. Hashem would inform him then, at that point. Hashem had a particular purpose in withholding the information, but according to Rabbi Yehudah, it is necessary for the witnesses to inform the would-be sinner of the exact form of execution, in this case stoning. So, according to this Gemara, if Hashem had withheld the necessary information until after the fact, how did the witnesses warn the wood-gatherer? Rabbi Yehudah’s answer is that the case of the wood-gatherer was an exception to the rule! It was a temporary exception. According to the strict letter of the law, the wood-gatherer was not liable to the death penalty, but according to the Sages, warning of any death penalty is sufficient.  As for the blasphemer, they knew that he was liable to stoning. It was only in the case of the wood-gatherer that the Gemara says that they didn’t know for which form of execution he was liable, but they knew in the case of the blasphemer. What was the area of doubt, then? The area of doubt was in the law of, “And the community shall save the killer.” The Rambam writes in Judges, Hilchos Eidut 2, that… 
    We will read now the Likutei Halachos on the subject of the blasphemer. In the laws of Birchas HaPeiros (Sefiras HaOmer, Chapter 2), it says that this is the aspect of the four laws that were hidden from Moses. The question begs itself. Why were there four laws, and what was hidden about them? He writes that Moses actually did know the true sentence for the blasphemer; he knew that the punishment was stoning. But Moses had killed the man’s father, long before in Egypt, and had been sentenced to exile for it. The Zohar explains that the sixty years that Moses was in exile [in Midian] were punishment for having killed the Egyptian taskmaster. It was forbidden for Moses to have killed him. Instead, he should have injured him or had him imprisoned. Moses was the prince, after all; he could have tried some other way. The Egyptian didn’t have authority to beat the Jew for no reason, and he had his own, personal reason for beating the Jew. The Egyptian didn’t beat the Jew because he wasn’t working hard enough. For such a thing, the taskmaster had no authority. As a prince, Moses could have called over one of the other officers to imprison this particular taskmaster who beats workers for no reason, because, after all, the worker was doing his job.
    With the decision about the blasphemer, Moses had already erred by killing the man’s father back in Egypt, and Moses had been sentenced to exile for this. He was in exile for sixty years for killing this man’s father, so Moses was afraid to execute the blasphemer. At this point, he reminded himself that the verse says, “And the community shall save the killer” (Numbers 35:25). There is a law that the community must try to save the killer. This is why Moses did not know what to do with the blasphemer. The area of doubt was in the law of “and the community shall save.” For, there is such a law, and for its sake it is also possible to disallow inquiries posed to the witnesses. If there are two witnesses there, one may ask questions like, “What shirt was he wearing? What kind of socks was he wearing? What kind of hat? Was it a yerushalmi-style, a plain fedora?” It is sufficient to confound the witnesses in some minor detail. You can try to trip them up over some minor detail. The Rambam says that you are permitted to try to confuse them over a detail like a shirt—was it white or black? If they both say that they don’t know, then that is acceptable; it is good testimony. But, if they know, then it is a problem. It is never good to be too sure that you know. If the witness didn’t know what sort of shirt, or collar, or some detail about the suspect, whether the shirt was open or closed… But if they are confused, and one says the shirt was closed and the other says that it was open, then the testimony is not admissible. The whole thing is already in doubt. The Rambam says in Hilchos Eidut 2:2, “If one said black vessels and the other said white, the entire testimony is invalid.” Even if they conducted all seven inquiries and both witnesses were fine, if they slip up in a single detail like what color sock he wore, or what sort of shoes, what kind of sandals, something…one says sandals, and the other says shoes. 
    This holds true even if there were three witnesses and one of them was confused or if four witnesses arrived together and presented their warnings one immediately after the other. There is actually a dispute between the Rambam and the Ra’avad about this issue of the immediacy of the warnings. In chapter 20:3, there is a major dispute between the Rambam and the Ra’avad about whether or not the witnesses themselves have to offer their warnings one immediately after the other. The yardstick of immediacy is the time it takes to say, “Shalom aleicha, Rebbi u’Mori.” This is Rashi’s opinion. The Chafetz Chaim did a calculation, and according to him this amounts to about two seconds. He wrote that people generally speak at the rate of three words per second. So this four-word phrase should take under two seconds to say. If more than that amount of time passed, the witnesses’ warnings are invalid. Rashi explains in Sanhedrin page 40b, three lines from the bottom, that immediacy means the amount of time that it takes for a student to greet his teacher, and if this amount of time passed between the warning and the sin itself, then it is possible that the suspect already forgot the warning by the time he committed the crime. One person gets angry at another, “How could you forget?” “Didn’t I tell you?” But one can already forget after just two seconds. The person suddenly got a glimpse of some nice car, he got confused and looked at this car—a person can get distracted by any little thing. A person can be angry. “Why did you forget? I told you. Why didn’t you remember?” But how can you put a person to death if after two seconds he already forgot the warning? It could be that he forgot the warning.
    But that isn’t all. It even says in chapter 20 that the witnesses also must give their testimony within two seconds of one another. In chapter 20:3, we find that even if there were three witnesses, even if there were one hundred witnesses who gave testimony one after the other with no greater pause between their testimony than the minimum time of two seconds, if two were found to be false they are not judged as false witnesses until the other ninety-eight falsify their own testimony. If a group of witnesses came and testified in such a block and two of one hundred, or two of a thousand, were found to be false, they cannot be convicted and punished as false witnesses until the others are as well.
    But if there was a pause longer than the minimum between sets of testimony to separate the two false ones from the rest, then the two false witnesses are punished and the others [two, in the case of a set of four witnesses, as described in the Rambam] are not. This is despite the fact that the testimony as a whole is invalidated. Since there was an inconsistency in the testimony between the two sets, no testimony is admitted at all. But why is this so? The Ra’avad asks why it should all be dismissed. If you say that the pause was longer than the minimum and the four are not a single block of testimony but two separate groups, then why should the testimony of the valid set be dismissed because the other set was found false? If you invalidate the entire group’s testimony, then apparently they are all a single block of testimony, and if half of them were no good, then the other half must not be either.
    So the Ra’avad questions this apparent contradiction in the Rambam. In one place he says that the pause renders the group into two distinct segments, leaving the two false witnesses liable for punishment. Yet on the other hand, he says that even the testimony of the “good” witnesses becomes invalid, and that testimony might otherwise have been used to convict the suspect and sentence him to death. If the first set (the false ones) was invalid, then the rest are too, but they are not invalid enough to punish them as false witnesses. You don’t punish the “good” ones, but you don’t accept their testimony either. The over-long pause between testimonies makes them into two separate accounts. 
    The Ra’avad, however, questions this apparent contradiction in the status of the “good” testimony. If in the case of one hundred witnesses who all testified within the minimum amount of time and two were found false, we don’t punish the false two until the remaining ninety-eight perjure themselves. But, with this group of four who left a longer pause between sets of testimony, the false witnesses can be put to death. If the “good” testimony is distinct from the “bad”, then why is it insufficient to put the murderer to death? If it is a case of the hundred witnesses where the remaining ninety-eight do not perjure themselves, then the testimony should be sufficient to sentence the murderer. [But, it is not admitted.]
    The Ridvaz attempts to explain this apparent contradiction. He says that in the case of the hundred, if there was more than the minimum pause between the “bad” and the “good” testimony, then the false witnesses are indeed put to death, and the rest are not punished. Even so, the testimony [of the ninety-eight] is invalidated. The Ra’avad asks if there was a pause and they are two distinct groups, then why should the murderer be executed based on their testimony. If there were one hundred witnesses who all testified without more than a two seconds’ pause between testimonies, and a single person who is not permitted to testify was found among them, then all of them are invalidated. If there were one hundred who gave a single block of testimony and one of them was a blood relative of the murderer or the victim, then the entire testimony of all of them is invalid. 
    But here we are discussing two separate groups of testimony [since there was more than the minimum pause between groups], and Rashi says that for all intents and purposes they are two distinct groups, he says… It is all in the section of Perek HaMerubah. Rashi explains here (Makos 6) that one hundred can give testimony and be considered a single unit like one pair, but an over-long pause renders four into two distinct groups that are separate for all intents and purposes. So, according to the Ridvaz, the murderer should be put to death based on the testimony of the two “good” witnesses who formed their own group. The two “bad” witnesses perjured themselves, but the testimony of the two “good” witnesses ought to remain viable. The Tosafos argue on this, and the commentators all agree that the Rambam follows the approach of the Tosafos, that they are separate for all intents and purposes, except for the fact that there is an overriding priority for the community to “save the killer.” 
    It is the court’s duty to disqualify testimony on any pretext so as to save the life of the suspect. This was Moses’ doubt about the sentence of the blasphemer. He knew that the penalty was death by stoning, but he wanted to fulfill the command to “save the killer.” Moses was worried—he had been exiled for sixty years over killing the father when there had been other options—perhaps now too he would be punished for not extending himself to save the son’s life? The Tosafos [in the section beginning “Rabbi Yossi said…” quoted below] said that the commandment “and the community shall save the killer” places the responsibility on the court to disqualify prosecutorial testimony in capital cases on any possible pretext, even it is something as minor as the color of the suspect’s shirt or of his shoes. This was Moses’ area of doubt, for he knew that the blasphemer’s punishment was death by stoning.
    [The Rav quotes the Tosafos on Makos 6a, “Rabbi Yossi said…” He only quotes the problem from there, and then continues with the words of the Tosafos that begin, “Rova said…” He only quotes part of that section of the Tosafos, but in order to help the reader understand the matter properly, we will add the missing sections of the Tosafos distinguished by the brackets used here.]
    [Tosafos: Rabbi Yossi said that the subject matter here is Capital cases. Rashi explains that this is because there is a scriptural command to “save the killer”, to invalidate testimony on minor pretexts in order to save the life of the suspect.] This interpretation is problematic, because surely we should learn out the law in monetary cases from the law regarding capital cases, since the verse says, “You shall have a single law.” Furthermore, it is with regards to monetary cases that the verse says, “The matter will be established through the testimony of two or three witnesses. And surely we can compare three to two.” 
    [Tosafos:] “Rova says: And this is when all who give testimony do so without interruption. And when the Mishna speaks of one hundred witnesses who are considered like a pair, we mean that they testified without interruption between each testimony. But, if two testified and then some time later the rest came to testify, they are considered like two distinct groups for all intents and purposes. And it seems that this applies also with regards to the testimony of relatives or other factors that invalidate testimony. This is problematic, because we see later regarding the testimony of a relative or an invalid witness, that it is not dependant on giving testimony as a single block, but rather the actual witnessing of the event.” Now, there is a dispute between the witnessing of the actual event and the testimony presented to the court. As witnesses of the event, they are considered as a single unit since they all saw the event together, But, as providers of testimony to the court, if they arrived separately they are not considered a single unit. This is the approach of the Rambam, that they are a single unit as witnesses of the event, but not as providers of testimony to the court. This is what the Ridvaz clarifies [for further explanation, see the Kesef Mishnah there]. 
    [The Tosafos continues:] “Even though they testified with a significant break between testimonies, as [Rav Papa] later says, ‘why not let the murdered man himself testify,’ [i.e. since he is ‘related’ to himself, and he ‘saw’ the murder, he is also a witness that is ‘related’ to one of the parties. Therefore, he is disqualified to give testimony, and thereby also disqualifies all the other witnesses! This takes the fanatical insistence on avoiding capital punishment to its logical conclusion.] This is why it seems that this does not only apply to the law regarding false witnesses, and so it says that they all must prove false [before the two who are definitely false can be punished].” But if some testified within the minimum amount of time and some did not, then the entire group breaks up into two separate units, not with regard to them all having to prove false before the two false ones can be punished, but rather with regard to any factor that can invalidate their testimony to make it easier to acquit the suspected murderer. If the period under discussion was when they saw the event itself as a group or when they all warned the suspect as a group—one must add here that they all did indeed give warning and witness the event as a group—if later they arrive separately and do not provide testimony all at once, then any invalidating factor will invalidate them all.
    This is not the case as far as finding them false is concerned; rather, it only serves to invalidate their testimony. [The Tosafos continues:] “And if one should posit that they should be considered as a unit of testimony even if there was a lapse between them, this would only apply if there was some invalidating factor, for instance, one of the witnesses is related to either the murderer or the victim, since they are all speaking the truth. If so, their testimony begins from the moment that they actually witnessed the event and gave warning. For, without warning, it is not considered as having witnessed a crime. All of the witnesses saw the event at the same time and gave warning at the same time, but in the case of some of them being false witnesses… In the first situation, where there is some invalidating factor, all of them were telling the truth, but in the second case, some of them are false witnesses. It becomes clear that some of the witnesses are lying outright, so the false witnesses do not form a single unit with the others. It turns out that the testimony that they presented before the court…they didn’t see the event at all. They neither saw nor warned the suspect. It is an outright lie. And the other set [of “good” witnesses] think that this is the truth.
    [The Rav now brings the words of the Ridvaz on the Rambam; whatever is not the Rav’s words will be enclosed in brackets as was done above.]
    Now let us finish the commentary of the Ridvaz, and with this we will end the lesson. We’ll be done with the Ridvaz in another five minutes. I saw in the Tosafos, and this is obvious from the topic discussed in Perek Merubah, that two groups of witnesses who testify one after the other do not automatically result in the rejection of all the testimony. This is the innovation of the Ridvaz, which no one else mentions, that we are speaking about several groups of witnesses who all arrived together at court. When they were asked as a group, “Why are you here?” they answered, “We came to testify against Mr. X, that he murdered Mr. Y.” The moment that they all came together [and proclaimed their purpose together], even if later there is a lapse between sets of testimony that is more than the minimum, they are still considered a single group for the purpose of invalidating their testimony for any legal reason. If one set of the entire group proved to be false witnesses, the entire testimony of all of them is still invalid even if there was a significant pause between the testimonies. They all arrived together, the true witnesses in a group with the false, and so they are all invalidated if some of them are proved false. This is what we are talking about here, that they all arrived together, and they only broke into groups separately for the purpose of giving testimony. Since they all arrived in a group, the Rambam—following the approach of the Tosafos—says that the “good” ones have been influenced by the false ones, since they all came as a single group. 
    If a person joins together with wicked people, then they also are suspect. It is impossible, then, to accept their testimony, even if they did not perjure themselves, because they transgressed the commandment: “You shall not put forth your hand with the wicked, to be a false witness.” You need to know who you are coming with—you needed to check that out. “You’re coming with us? You really saw? Did you really see what happened?” Just like that… If they all came together, then even the good ones are classified together with the wicked ones. This is how the Ridvaz explains the Rambam’s statement that the second group of “good” witnesses is found invalid even if only the first perjured itself. Everyone arrived together before the court and they were asked, “Why did you come?” A lot of people come, guests come, spectators come—some come for no reason at all. “Why did you come?” “We came to testify against Mr. X.” Everyone says that they came to testify against Mr. X. The court hears their testimony, but before they ever began, the court asked the group, “Why did you come?” 
    The court heard the testimony of the first group, and after a lapse longer than two seconds, they heard the testimony of the second group. Afterward, the first group was found out to be false. With regard to whether or not we view the second group also as false witnesses, they are judged to be two distinct units because there was a lapse between the sets of testimony. So as far as being judged as false witnesses and punished [by death, lashes, or fines—depending on what the punishment of the suspect would have been had he been convicted based on their false testimony], only the first group is punished. But as far as the testimony itself is concerned, the entire testimony of the whole group is invalidated, because they originally arrived at court together, the good with the bad. 
    The “good” witnesses joined together with false witnesses, and so transgressed the prohibition not to, “raise one’s hand with the wicked to bear false witness.” Rabbeinu [Rambam] writes that their testimony is a single entity, since they all arrived together. The Rambam emphasizes the fact that if there was a significant pause between the presentations of each set of testimony [longer than the amount of time it takes for a student to greet his teacher], the second “good” group is not punished as a group of false witnesses. This is despite the fact that their testimony is invalid because they came as a group, The Rambam explains that they all arrived together—this renders them a single group—and since part of the testimony was invalid, the rest is dismissed as well, since the “good” group had transgressed the prohibition mentioned above. 
    The Ra’avad is talking about a situation where the groups of witnesses actually arrived separately, and this is how the Ridvaz shows that both the Rambam and the Ra’avad’s opinions are not in opposition to one another. The Rambam is speaking about several groups that arrived together, and the Ra’avad is speaking about two groups that came separately. In such a case, the testimony of the second (“good”) group stands, and can be used to convict the suspect.
    This was my [the Ridvaz’s] conclusion from a careful consideration of his [The Rambam’s] words, “They did not come within the minimum time period.” The Ra’avad says that they also came separately to court; however, the Migdal Oz says that perhaps he had an entirely different version. He says that the Migdal Oz writes, “I came to the ‘land of the deer’ [Israel] and saw the original manuscripts of the Rambam.” He means to say that the Ra’avad apparently had an alternate version. The Migdal Oz is making an effort to resolve the contradictions: “If there were three witnesses, or even if there were one hundred witnesses, if they testified in court one after the other [immediately, without any lapse] and some were found false, the rest are not punished as false witnesses until they themselves are found false. But, if there was a significant pause between them, a lapse long enough for a student to greet his teacher, then the testimony is divided, and the two who committed perjury are punished while the others are not. Even so, the testimony itself, of both groups, is invalidated by the falseness of one group since they all arrived together, and if part of it was invalidated, all of it is invalid. This is the end of the original manuscript of the Rambam, signed by him, which I myself read out letter by letter.” The Migdal Oz says that he is quoting from the original manuscript of the Rambam, which he only saw when he came to the land of Israel. Apparently he died here, and the Migdal Oz says that he was privileged to see the actual signed manuscript of the Rambam. “And the copy that the Ra’avad had access to apparently was a different version, and some transcriber must have inserted some minor change. The Ra’avad must have used a different version—what the change was, I have no idea.”
    But now the Ridvaz completely invalidates the Migdal Oz. He explains that the groups arrived separately. “And so I concluded after a careful consideration of the Rambam’s words—that the groups did not arrive within the requisite time period. He did not write that the groups did not present testimony within the requisite time period, but that they did not arrive within the period. So, we see that both their opinions [the Rambam and the Ra’avad] are compatible with one another. It is then possible to answer the question posed: what punishment do they deserve? This is consistent with his opinion that they arrived at court separately. But, according to the Rambam’s opinion, they arrived together. 
    They [the second group] are not punished. True, they transgressed the prohibition not to join together with the wicked to testify falsely, and so they should have deserved some lashes or to be put in the stocks or imprisoned. They should be punished in some way so that they will not do the same thing again. Why aren’t they punished, then? Even though they transgressed the above-mentioned prohibition, they are still not obligated to interrogate the other witnesses who arrived with them. Both groups came, and the second “good” group does not have to examine the other, “How did you see?” One group saw through one window, and the other group saw through another window. Perhaps the others also gave warning and went unheard. So, even though the good witnesses transgressed such a serious prohibition of not joining with the wicked, they still do not receive a punishment, because perhaps they really didn’t know that the others were false witnesses. The verse says, “When you joined together with Achazyahu, Hashem broke open your deeds” (Chronicles II:20:37). [The Ridvaz ends:] “And the truth is that the Migdal Oz did not fully understand the Ra’avad’s words, even though he brought proofs from Makos and Perek Merubah, but his explanation did not actually resolve the difficulties posed by the Ra’avad. But I have been able to reconcile them, and the problem is fully resolved.”

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Home Lessons given by  the Rav HaRav Levi Itzchak Bender, zt"l.