Excerpts from a lesson given by HaRav Eliezer Berland, shlit"a, Parshas Vayera.

     In the story of  "The Seven Beggars," on the sixth day, the beggar with no hands comes to the celebration. The tzaddik is able to retrieve any of the ten types of arrows, coated with the ten types of poisons, even after they have been shot. When a person decides to raise himself up in his level of holiness, the powers of evil throw all ten types of arrows at him, to try and hold him back. Only by being close to the tzaddik is one protected from the poison. 
    The story continues with one of the men present boasting that he had such a power in his hands, that whenever he took anything from anyone, he was giving to them even more than he took, such that his taking was actually an act of giving. But he admitted that the only type of charity that he was able to give was a tithe. The tzaddik, however, is able to give all ten types of charity. This is the level that one must strive to reach, to give and to keep on giving, without counting the cost. To fill ones life with helping others, and acts of loving kindness. 
    In the story, the Princess runs away to the Water Castle, a castle made completely of water, even the walls and gates, the floors, trees and fruit and so on--everything made of water. She eventually gets hit by the ten types of arrows, and her cure comes to her through the tzaddik, who is able to cure her through the ten types of niggunim, tunes. This world also is made of water, Hashem separated between the upper and lower waters, and we are in the place of the lower waters. Even the land we are standing on is floating on water. Nothing is fixed and stable, as we see from earthquakes, etc.
    Rabbi Nachman said about his teachings that they were filled with niggunim and dancing. How important it is to  be able to hear the specific niggun of each teaching. He said if the world were to hear one of his teachings with it's niggun, everyone would be completely canceled to it, even the animals and the trees and stones, the pleasure would be so great. But in order to be able to hear the tune, one must be very well versed in all the sacred literature: the Gemara, the Shulchan Aruch, and their commentaries. Shabbos is also filled with niggunim and dancing. The Zohar  teaches that, every Shabbos, Hashem dances with the angels in heaven.
      In the story, one of the men present boasts about the wisdom that he can bestow with his hands. The tzaddik tells him that only one who possesses all the ten types of wisdom can heal the Princess. Rabbi Nachman (Likutei Moharan I:5) brings a quote from Masechet Sanhedrin 37a: a person must say "all the world was created only for me." It therefore follows that if all the world was only created for me, then I must be responsible for everything going on here, that the fixing of the world is down to me, and that I should be praying that everything that happens should be only beneficial. [The Rav pointed out here that in order to protect the world, one must have shmiras habris, guarding the covenant of sexual purity, at a minimal level, and constant raising up of holiness. The word "bris" in gematria is four times the number of the word mechitza, "fence."  Thus, someone who guards the bris, it is as if he is putting up four fences, shielding the world from all four sides. As we see, the word tzaddik, in Hebrew, is made up of the initial letters of the words for the four directions: tzafon, darom, yama, and kedma, north, south, east, and west.] 
    However, in order to be able to pray for the world, one must know where the world is presently holding. One must know whether it is before or after an evil decree has been passed in order to be able to pray for its cancellation. One is only able to know this through the mitzvahs he performs, by doing each mitzvah, leshem shemayim, completely for the sake of heaven, without any desire for a reward, other than the reward and happiness of being able to do another mitzvah. Only then one can tell if it is before or after the passing of the evil decree. By performing each mitzvah for the sake of heaven, one can come to feel the happiness that Hashem receives from the mitzvahs. This was the aspect of prophecy that Moshe was able to achieve.  No one either before or after him achieved such a level. 
    One must pray for all the world, both Jews and non Jews, alike, that they should all repent and return to Hashem. The Midrash teaches that during the time of Avraham, no ship sank at sea. In other words, his prayers were actually able to prevent disasters. As it says in the Zohar, certainly one should never pray that a wicked person should die, rather that he should mend his ways, because it is possible to go from one extreme to the other, from wicked to righteous, and even to then bring righteous children, as we see by Terach, one of the greatest idol worshippers of his time, and yet he became the father of the Jewish people. Avraham wanted to repair the soul of Job, as is hinted at in the initial letters of the verse, "and Hashem appeared to him in the oaks of Mamre," which spells out the name Job, who was said to be a reincarnation of Terach.
      Noach did not pray for his generation as he should have done, and the Midrash says that that was the reason the whole generation was destroyed, and that, as a punishment, the flood was called after his name, mei Noach, the waters of Noach. Avraham also didn't pray  for Sodom the way he was supposed to. He prayed only for the righteous, as it says, "would it be proper to kill the righteous as well as the wicked" (Bereishis 18:23-4, see Rashi there). Avraham's prayer was essentially that even if Hashem should kill the wicked, at least do not kill the righteous with them. This was one of the reasons that Israel had to go into Exile in Egypt. (Another reason was that Avraham took people away from learning Torah in order to join him when he went to rescue Lot. The Rabbis teach that it is forbidden to prevent someone from learning Torah, even to build the Beis HaMikdash.) 
    The King of Sodom said to Avraham (Bereishis 14:21), "give me the people, and all the property take for yourself." Avraham gave him back both the people and the property, but it would have been better to have kept the people for himself. This way, he would have been able convert them and make them into righteous people. Since he did not do this, they all had to be reincarnated as his descendants. One who does not put himself out to pray for and encourage wicked people to return to the proper path, they come back as his descendants. All of the people who lived in Sodom at the time it was overthrown, were all reincarnated as Jews during the exile in Egypt. Moshe was the only one who was able to completely shield his generation. He was prepared to give up his soul for his people. When he prayed to Hashem to wipe his name from the Torah he was even able to annul a judgment of extermination on the whole people for the sin of the golden calf.
In truth, one who has complete belief in the effectiveness of his prayers, complete trust in Hashem, can bring down such salvation from Heaven. To not believe this is, in a way, almost belittling Hashem. Elisha requested that Eliahu bestow upon him a double portion of his spirit, ( Kings II, 2:9).  The spirit of Eliahu being included in the spirit of Elisha resulted in Elisha being able to do miracles twice as great as his master. Everything that Elisha did, he did only through prayer. In fact, the miracles that Elisha did were infinitely greater than those of Eliahu. By Eliahu (Kings I, 17:14) the flour in the jar and the jug of oil did not run out until the end of the famine. The Midrash Tanchuma brings (Kings II 4:7) that when Elisha said, "Go, sell the oil, and pay your debt, and live, you and your children from the remainder," that the oil will not run out until the Revival of the Dead. 
    So we see, simply through praying one can actually bring about miracles. This is not something that is restricted to the Prophets. Anyone who finds himself in need of any kind of salvation, whether it is regarding health or children, marriage or a business or whatever and who prays very much to Hashem, is guaranteed to see miracles.
      Hashem told Avraham to do a bris mila on his whole household. The Midrash Tanchuma on the parsha, relates how Avraham went to consult with his friends, Aner, Eshkol and Mamre. Aner said to him, "Do not do it, Hashem has just given up on you, you are ninety nine years old already, and this is an easy way to get rid of you. You will do the circumcision and while you are weak, your enemies will fall upon you and destroy you."  Eshkol said the same, "Do not do it, for if you do, perhaps you will get sick and die." Only his friend Mamre strengthened him to do the will of Hashem.  In fact, he said exactly the opposite, "Do it out in the open, on a stage, let the whole world come and see it, for sure you have nothing to worry about. Hashem will do miracles for you." 
    The inhabitants of the town of Chevron were completely stunned. Could anyone imagine that a person can
simply go ahead and slaughter his whole household, out in the open, and even on a stage! How many people are going to die from it? But Avraham went ahead and did it. He built a stage, right out in the open, in the middle of the day, and the first volunteers were his three friends. For, even though Aner and Eshkol had advised against it, once they saw that the whole congregation of gerim that Avraham had made were going ahead with it, they decided that since Avraham had been their associate for so many years, they did not want to desert him at such a time. Aner was the first to undergo the operation, and he died.  The town of Chevron watched in amazement. Eshkol went second and he also died. The reason was that neither of them were doing it for the sake of heaven. Mamre went third, he came out of it safe and well, as did all the gerim.  In fact, anytime one decides to come close to the Tzaddik, to go according to his teachings, one has to go through a certain amount of suffering. A kind of spiritual circumcision, to cut away all the impurities in his heart. But by agreeing to undergo the slight suffering, if it is for the sake of heaven, to raise up one's level of holiness, he will, for sure, see a much improved quality of life!

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