Parshas Tzav


“A permanent fire shall remain aflame on the altar; it shall not be extinguished” (6:6).

   The neshama comes from the upper worlds. The neshama came down to the world in order to withstand tests. “The soul that you placed within me is pure...” The soul is higher than the angels. It was created even before the angels. In the World to Come everyone will rule over the angels. Angels cannot rise from level to level but have remained as Hashem created them at the beginning of creation and will remain at that level forever. For a person to rise from level to level, he must take all the desires that are burning in him and turn them into a burning desire to serve Hashem: “A permanent fire shall remain aflame on the altar; it shall not be extinguished” (6:6). He needs to turn them into flaming fires for Hashem Yisborach—this is the reason the neshama was created and this is why it is greater than the angels.

   The Rebbe says in Torah 1:158, “Many people have related that upon occasion they have seen a fire burning off in the distance, but when they came close they saw it was nothing…There are also individuals like this. His heart occasionally burns for Hashem and he begins to serve Him. But after a while his enthusiasm dissipates and he goes back to the way he was before.” A person has enthusiasm and fire. Afterwards the enthusiasm dissipates. Why did the enthusiasm fly away from me? Why did my enthusiasm fade? Why did it evaporate? I came with such simplicity and with such fiery excitement for Hashem, and suddenly it disappears. It was taken from me. I didn’t sin or do any crime or anything intentionally wrong. Rabbeinu says that this kind of enthusiasm is really nothing. It was our imagination. It wasn’t real enthusiasm at all. It’s a good thing, a positive indication, that there is enthusiasm, but nothing more. If a person wants to achieve real enthusiasm and to really be on fire for prayer and learning, it takes a lot of very intense work. Rebbe Nosson says that all of a person’s enthusiasm is just an illusion. It’s certainly good that a person gets excited, at least it’s better than being like a block of wood or a stone, but this will not help him at all until he achieves true inner enthusiasm, enthusiasm with daas (intelligence), enthusiasm with depth, with deep intelligence.

   A person should know that he needs to achieve deep inner enthusiasm which is “a fire burning constantly on the altar which never goes out.” The Tamid fire would never stop burning. A person thinks that he has enthusiasm. That’s it: he’s already Moshe Rabbeinu. Any minute now he will be visited by Eliahu HaNavi. But if he would know that this enthusiasm would slowly dissipate, would fly away from him, then he would start intensifying [his service of Hashem]. And this is what Rabbeinu says that sometimes a person feels that his heart is on fire for Hashem Yisborach and he starts to serve Hashem, he gets excited and is happy and dancing. In truth, there is reason to dance and be happy. There is reason to dance for 120 years without stopping. A person makes teshuva—he comes from far away, leaves all his idolatry behind. Baruch Hashem, certainly this is a happy event. “I rejoice over Your word like one who finds abundant spoils” (Tehillim 119:162). But how long can a person dance, for a day or two? If it is not an eternal fire, if it is not an internal fire, if he isn’t working intensely on his character traits, learning Gemara in depth, if he isn’t working on “putting it into your heart” (Aleinu prayer), then it won’t take hold on him. He is not making an opening in his heart. He is not making a place for the fire, where the fire can get a hold, in order that he should have an eternal flame.

   A person is on fire. Why are you on fire? Is it a true fire? Is it a true burning from the depths of the heart? If not, it’s a momentary fire. Your blood is boiling, bubbling away. But in a short while your blood will calm down. The fire will finish and then that’s it. One burns for a month, another for a year, but after this…it ends. The Rebbe says in Torah 21 that the flame in the heart should rise up on its own. How do we get this flame in the heart? What ignites the heart? Only the mind can ignite the heart. The movement of the mind is what motivates the heart. By learning and understanding the Gemara on an ever deeper level, this creates movement in the mind which creates the warmth in the heart.

   If a person wants that he will have a mind that will be a self-rising flame, that he will have a fire in his heart, that he will have a true burning, the first thing he needs to do is to start learning Torah with a fiery enthusiasm and to understand that the one crucial thing that Rabbeinu wants from us is our minds, because only the mind can purify the heart, only the mind can bring us to heartfelt enthusiasm and bring us purity in the heart. If a person doesn’t have intelligence, if he doesn’t learn b’iyun (in depth), then his enthusiasm will last only for a day or two and then he could experience such a collapse that he will not believe that such a thing could happen to him! So, whatever a person achieves without learning Torah, all this enthusiasm will disappear. Only when a person learns Torah with real depth will he merit to true enthusiasm and to the “permanent fire that shall remain aflame on the altar; it shall not be extinguished.” 



   Master of the Universe, full of mercy, You can do everything and nothing is beyond Your ability. Please open my mind to enable me to learn Your Torah. That I should merit having tremendous desire to learn Torah day and night without ever stopping. So that nothing in the world should be able to stop me from learning Torah. And I should feel the joy of Torah and the love for Torah in all my 248 limbs and 365 sinews. And my whole body should be nourished through the enjoyment of learning Your Torah, and through this I should burn for You with a blazing fire. I shouldn’t want anything from this world other than You, as it is written, “As a deer longs for the brooks of water, so my soul longs for You, O G-d” (Tehillim 42:2).


B’Ohr Pnei HaMelech  

   Holiness is not something loud and flashy that jumps out at you, but rather, it is something simple and refined that is hard to detect at all. But its power is real. “Be holy because I am holy.” Don’t behave in such and such a way, because behaving that way is forbidden to you, because I am holy. This means consistently holy, at all times. That is to say, if I am holy, I want that you all will be holy. It shouldn’t be that Hashem is in the heavens and we are here on earth. We need Hashem here! We need Hashem in our lives so that He should help us, that He should make us happy, that He should give us an income, that He should give us intelligence, that He should give and give and give us. We have a textural source that obligates us even though we all are so far from perfection. HaKadosh Baruch Hu uses the word kedusha—holiness. Holiness is perfection. In holiness there is no compromising. Holiness is not something which can be treated lightly. Holiness cannot be measured. It is something mysterious, even though it shines though. It is a concept which is absolute. It is much higher than purity. Regarding purity—you have something which is impure, so you purify it. A thing can go out from being impure and become pure. It is relative. But holiness is an absolute. HaKadosh Baruch Hu doesn’t give up on us. He doesn’t accept that we are too weak. He doesn’t agree that we are incapable. He is not willing to compromise. He says over and over again: “Be holy because I am holy.” What kind of comparison is this? We are, after all, only flesh and blood and we have an evil inclination that tests us. Does He really expect so much from us? The answer is yes, HaKadosh Baruch Hu is not willing to compromise. He is not willing to accept any compromises whatsoever. I am holy, and you descended from Me and all your existence is in My existence. The only reason I created you is for My honor, and what I want from you is holiness. Regarding holiness, each and every person has to evaluate himself, where he is holding, to assess his own level. But one thing is perfectly clear: that holiness means separation. Some things are permitted and other things are forbidden!



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