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:
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
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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