A lesson given by HaRav Eliezer
Berland shlit”a, on the Yortzeit of Rebbe Nachman,
18th of Tishrei, 3rd day of Chol HaMoed
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name “Nachman” has the same gematria as the phrase, “Hashem is Elokim.
Hashem is Elokim.” [“Nachman”=148; “Hashem is Elokim”=124, plus 2 x 12
letters of the repeated phrase.]
is written in the Midrash on Vayikra 16:17, #21: “And no man should be
in the tent of meeting when he comes to bring atonement in the sanctuary.”
Rabbi Abahu asked, “How, then, could the Kohen Gadol enter? If no man can
be in the tent of meeting, how could the Kohen Gadol enter? If no man can
enter, then it must be that it is forbidden for the Kohen Gadol to enter
Rabbi Abahu asks, “If it says that no man should be in the tent of meeting
when he comes to bring atonement in the sanctuary, how then could the Kohen
Gadol enter?” What was his answer? “With this shall Aharon come to the
sanctuary!” (Vayikra 16:3). Rabbi Abahu says, “Who said that the Kohen
Gadol was a human being at all? The Kohen Gadol, the one who atones for
all of the sins of the Jewish people, the Tzaddik of the generation—he
isn’t a human being at all! He’s an angel!” He might look like a man, but
the Kohen Gadol really just has a human form. The Tzaddik of the generation,
who is an aspect of Moshiach, is not really a man at all! If the Kohen
Gadol had been a man, he would have died right there on the spot! If the
Kohen Gadol was still human in the slightest respect, he would have died
immediately, or he would have died in the Holy of Holies, and they would
have had to drag him out of there with ropes.
the time of the second Temple, all of the Kohanim Gedolim entered the inner
sanctuary with a golden chain attached to their legs. People were aware
of the fact that the Kohen Gadol might need to be dragged out. They should
have been screaming, “Hatzalah! Call for Hatzalah!” There wasn’t any Hatzalah
back then, so they would bind a golden chain to his leg, because if the
Kohen Gadol were to faint in the Kodesh Kodashim, he would need CPR! But
what is this business of dragging him along the ground? Is he a dog or
a lamb that he should be dragged along the ground? Is he a cat, perhaps?
Maybe being dragged along the ground would be enough to kill him altogether!
of the Universe, I don’t understand this Gemara at all! I don’t understand
what is going on here!
answer is that if the Kohen Gadol didn’t emerge from the Kodesh Kodashim,
they already knew that he had died, and there was nothing left to do. Nothing
could help. If he died, it meant he was not an angel. It meant he was just
a man. They should have screamed for Hatzalah. If they saw that he wasn’t
coming out, they should have waited five or ten minutes, and if he didn’t
come out they should scream for Hatzalah so that someone could go in and
give him artificial resuscitation or get in there with an oxygen tank.
Maybe he had choked because of the incense? It’s a wonder that he didn’t
choke from the incense, since he had to wait in there with it [smoking]
all that time…
Sadducees would raise the incense cloud first, so we can understand how
they were able to enter and leave the Kodesh Kodashim. They thought that
way they would be able to get out alive—they were afraid of choking on
the incense smoke since the space is completely enclosed, without any windows.
So the Kohen Gadol would enter with the incense, with the shovel of coals.
The Sadducees would [do something?] on beforehand, so there was a little
less smoke, so that either way they managed. I have no idea! They also
had to drag all of the dead Sadducee Kohanim Gedolim out. But the Kohen
Gadol would enter with the incense, with a shovelful of coals on which
he would pour the incense. He would hold the shovel with his right hand
because it was heavy [and he needed to use his stronger hand], and he would
hold the incense in his left hand. It is from this fact that we learn that
there is no Torah obligation to carry the incense in the right hand, because
if there had been, they would not have been able to switch.
the commentators explain there, in the Rambam, that if the act had been
of Torah origin, that one has to bring the incense with the right hand,
then it would have been impossible to switch under any circumstances, even
if the shovel was really too heavy for him to hold with his left hand.
Heavy or not, they would have had to find an alternate solution. They could
have tied it to him with a rope or something. But since it was only Rabbinic
in origin, they said that if the shovel is too heavy—he was also fasting
that day—it was permissible for him to carry the incense in his left hand.
So he would enter with the coals in his right hand, the incense poured
onto them from his left hand, and in the Kodesh Kodashim the smoke would
rise straight up, if the Jewish people were found worthy. It would ascend
in a column, like a palm tree, just as the smoke would from the sacrifices
brought on the copper altar in the outer courtyard where animals were sacrificed.
The smoke would also rise straight up on the golden altar in the inner
courtyard. If Hashem had accepted the sacrifice, it would ascend vertically,
like a pillar, straight up to the heavens. But if the Jewish people were
found wanting, the smoke would disperse.
inside the Kodesh Kodashim. There were three places were the smoke ascended:
the copper altar in the outer courtyard (designated for animal sacrifices
like the Asham, the Chatas, the Shelamim, and the Olah), the golden altar
in the inner courtyard (designated for the incense offering brought every
day), and within the Kodesh Kodashim (once a year on Yom HaKippurim, and
the smoke needed to rise straight up and gather at the ceiling.) The ceiling
was ten meters high—that is twenty cubits—which works out to be about four
or five stories high. Let’s say it is four stories. If each storey is an
average of two and a half meters tall. The smoke needed to rise straight
up, all the way to the top, not veering one way or the other, and the Kohen
Gadol needed to wait inside until it rose the entire height, gathered at
the top, and then diffused throughout the airspace of the Kodesh Kodashim.
“Lovely, lovely—it’s rising just as it should, perfectly symmetrical, as
if the line had been drawn with a ruler.”
the smoke would rise and rise until it filled the space completely, and
when that happened, the Kohen Gadol would barely be able to breathe because
of the smoke, so it was permissible for him to leave. “He’s choking! CPR!
Get him some oxygen!” No, if the Kohen Gadol didn’t emerge after the five
or ten minutes it took to pray that the kingship should not leave the House
of Yehudah, that the Jewish people should not be dependent on any other
nation, and also not dependent upon one another for charity, and that no
woman should miscarry—this is the most important part of the prayer.
there is a Kohen Gadol, a Tzaddik, then there are no miscarriages—none
at all. “And there shall be no infertile animals among your cattle.” The
Tzaddik of the generation… It is forbidden for there to be murderers. If
anyone commits an unintentional murder, right away the women have to bring
him proper clothing and food. If a person commits negligent homicide, they
bring him a Volvo, a Mercedes, the best house, whatever he wants…the very
best food—just as long as he doesn’t pray for the death of the Kohen Gadol.
[Because according to Torah law, the death of the Kohen Gadol meant that
all those confined to the cities of refuge were permitted to go free, and
would be protected under the law, and a member of the family of the one
who had been accidentally killed would no longer be protected from prosecution
if he took revenge.]
a person commits negligent homicide, he would receive [in the city of refuge]
one hen a day, one fish a day, and he could sit there for fifty, seventy
years. If the Kohen Gadol were to live eighty or a hundred years—perhaps
he began his service at the age of twenty—so the murderer could have a
good eighty years of paradise there in the city of refuge. He could sit
there and eat and drink to his heart’s content. And they’d buy him a Volvo,
a Mercedes. Once upon a time, a person who had committed an accidental
murder lived the very best life.
a person murdered willfully, it was another matter altogether. The Kohen
Gadol had to make sure that there would be no accidental murders among
the Jewish people, because if there were, it was his responsibility to
take care of all their needs [in the city of refuge]. He had to make sure
there were no murderers, no infertile couples, no miscarriages. The Kohen
Gadol, the Tzaddik of the generation was responsible to pray for everything
and everyone. That is why he would pray that the leadership should not
pass from the house of Yehudah, and that the Jewish people should not be
dependent on any other nation. He would make three requests—also that no
woman should miscarry. Everyone says this [during the Yom HaKippurim prayers
when we recite the] Order of the Service of the Day. And it’s forbidden
for him to make more than those three requests. If he were to do it, they
would beat him to death! “Why are you belaboring and frightening the Jewish
people?” They would have an eye on their watches, on their stopwatches,
keeping track of the seconds. Make your three requests and come out already!
Everyone is terrified. Will the Kohen Gadol come out alive or not? They
don’t know. He went in with his golden chain, and instead of calling for
Hatzalah, they drag him out along the ground like a cat, like a dog. L-rd
have mercy, what a disgrace, what humiliation, for the Kohen Gadol to be
dragged out that way.
if he was a Sadducee, they would see a mark on the dead body that looked
like the hoof print of a calf. A Sadducee Kohen Gadol would be killed by
the “kick” of an angel, and it left a mark on his shoulder that looked
like a hoof print. But a regular Kohen Gadol who was unworthy would simply
die. They would find no mark on him, because he died only because he was
not on the level of an angel. “If you’re no angel, do not dare to enter
the Kodesh Kodashim!” The verse says that no man may be present in the
tent of meeting when the Kohen Gadol enters the Kodesh Kodashim. This means
that if he has an iota of “man” left within him, he may not enter. He cannot
have a single trace of human weakness left within him! But if he was indeed
worthy, the Kohen Gadol would cause a spirit of purity to descend upon
the Jewish people, so that no one would fall into anger. What is murder?
It’s anger! A person gets annoyed, but if the Kohen Gadol was worthy, no
Jew would be provoked to murder out of anger or irritation. So a spirit
of purity, a spirit of sweet melody, would descend.
is the meaning of Sukkot. The festival of Sukkot is all about drawing down
this spirit of sweet melody. Reb Nosson explains in Hilchos Sukkah #6,
that Sukkot draws down holy melody for the entire year. Right now, melody
descends for the whole year, and we dance all night long until the morning
at the Simchas Beis HaShoevah. We don’t sleep at all. We don’t sleep; we
just dance and dance and dance. The Gemara (Sukkah 53) explains that when
there was a Simchas Beis HaShoevah in the Temple, we wouldn’t sleep a wink.
A man wanted to be blessed with children? Let him dance all night! If a
man wants to be blessed with children, let him dance until the morning!
A person wants to be saved from illness? Let him dance until the morning!
Rabbi Yehoshua ben Chananya says there, “When we rejoiced during the Simchas
Beis HaShoevah, our eyes didn’t get a wink of sleep.” The Tanaim would
dance for seven days, only the great Tanaim would be permitted to dance
there. “Our eyes didn’t get a wink of sleep! Our eyes didn’t get a wink
of sleep! Our eyes didn’t get a wink of sleep!”
was their schedule? The Gemara continues.] “At the first hour of day, the
Tamid offering of the morning was brought. From there we went to pray.
Afterward, we sacrificed the extra offerings for the festival, said the
Mussaf prayers, and then went to the study hall where we then ate and drank.
Afterward, we prayed the afternoon prayers, and then made the Tamid offering
of the afternoon.” The Minchah prayers were at twelve-thirty exactly, half
an hour after midday, and straight after the Amidah of Minchah, the afternoon
Tamid was brought. That would bring them to two o’clock. So, at about two
in the afternoon, the dancing would begin. They would then dance from two
in the afternoon until sunrise! Not like we do here, where we only start
at two in the morning. We dance two hours and then leave. Some go home
to sleep, and some go straight to pray. During the time of the Temple,
they would begin at two in the afternoon, and go on until five-thirty in
the morning. Today, sunrise is at quarter-to, ten-to-six in the morning,
so they would dance and dance and dance until five-thirty without a break,
they wouldn’t know what sleep was at all! They wouldn’t know what sleep
was at all!
Gemara then asks how was it possible that they went for seven days straight
without sleep. [We find in the Gemara] that anyone who says he will go
for three days without any sleep is given lashes [for taking a false oath]!
If a person makes an oath that he won’t sleep for three days, he is given
lashes! [It is impossible to do, so it is considered as] taking G-d’s Name
in vain! The Gemara answers: No! They would drift off during the dancing.
They would lean over on one another’s shoulders and sleep a minute here,
a minute there, just like a person might lay his head on the table suddenly
[in the middle of the shiur].
the Kohen Gadol needed to draw down such a spirit of song from above.
the Gemara (Makos 7a) says, “Any Sanhedrin that puts a man to death once
in a “week” [in seven or seventy years] is called a ‘murdering court.’
Even if there were actual witnesses—two witnesses who warned him ahead
of time—there is still a mitzvah for the “community to save him” (Bamidbar
was why Moshe did not know the sentence to be meted out for the one who
had cursed Hashem. What, hadn’t Hashem told Moshe the law? Yet there is
another law: “and the community shall save him.” [This refers to the perpetrator
of negligent manslaughter. He is to be protected from the vengeance of
the victim’s family through the provision of the sanctuary afforded by
the cities of refuge. It has a further meaning in the Gemara, though, that
the Sanhedrin should do its best to acquit whenever possible.]
Hashem said to him, “Here, there is no obligation for the community to
attempt to acquit him.” [If they had been trying to, they could make excuses
for him:] “He wasn’t in his right mind; he didn’t know what he was doing.
Even though the witnesses warned him, he didn’t understand what they were
telling him. He didn’t hear the warning at all. He said that he heard,
that he understood, but he didn’t really know what they were saying.”
are endless possibilities how one might judge the sinner favorably. You
could say that he didn’t hear, that he didn’t hear their warning, that
he said “yes” without meaning it. If they were to ask him the same question
now, “Did you hear the warning?” He would answer, “I said yes without really
meaning to.” But who says he even heard? He was confused, nervous, now
he’s decided…that he never heard the warning at all. He said “yes”—who
knows what he meant—what if he said “yes” and meant “no?” Sometimes no
means yes, and yes means no. The Gemara in Bava Kama says that sometimes
no means yes, and yes means no. But when they want to save the life of
the murderer, there are endless possibilities, endless ways one can save
his life, endless excuses that can be made for him. Did Moshe not know
that one who curses G-d is liable to the death penalty, that he is sentenced
to stoning? Rather, his question was, “What about the law that the community
shall save him.”
Gemara says that one execution in seven years is enough. There is a duty
to save the murderer’s life, but one execution in seven years is enough
to deter others from murder. Rav Elazar ben Azariyah said that once in
seventy years is sufficient. “That they might hear and see” so that society
will be deterred from wanton murder. That can be accomplished by
a single execution in seventy years. People need to know that such a thing
happened, but the main obligation is that, “the community should save his
Tarfon and Rabbi Akiva said that had they sat on the Sanhedrin, no one
would have ever been executed. So Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel asks, "How then
would you deter people from committing murder?" If you would never
consent to execute a murderer, you yourselves would cause there to be more
murderers among the Jewish people! The answer is if Rabbi Tarfon and Rabbi
Akiva had sat on the Sanhedrin, there would have been no murderers at all!
People would have seen Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Tarfon, such great Tzaddikim
whose light shone from one end of the world to the other. Why does the
murderer kill? Because he doesn’t see the light—everything is dark to him!
does a person stoop to murder? Is a Jew capable of committing murder? The
children of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov? Think about what a Jew is… All
of the Jewish people are descendents of Hevel—Jews get killed, they don’t
do the killing! How, then is it possible that suddenly someone could be
so deep in the darkness that he suffers under the delusion that everyone
is out to get him, everyone wants to oppress him, and he doesn’t even know
what is going on inside himself? Could a clear-minded Jew do something
Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Tarfon were to sit on the Sanhedrin, they would draw
down such light, such clarity, such melodies, and such song to the world!
Rabbi Akiva was able to draw down all of the melodies. They raked his flesh
with iron combs, and he still said, “Hear O Israel, Hashem is our G-d,
Hashem is One!” “One” [“Echad,” dalet=4] alludes to the four types of song.
There are four types of song—simple, doubled, tripled, and quadrupled.
Rabbi Akiva was able to draw down these four aspects of song. All a person
had to do was see Rabbi Akiva, and he could never stoop to murder. A person
would be filled with a new spirit. If a person sees the Tzaddik, he cannot
possibly ever commit murder. The Tzaddik removes all of his anger, all
of his bitterness and his delusion that everything is black. Nothing is
dark at all!
Rebbe says that suffering doesn’t really exist at all! Naturally, it hurts
if someone loses a finger, if he has surgery. But what really hurts a person?
It is that this one has gotten ahead in life, that this one was voted Prime
Minister? This one is the head of the office, this one is the CEO? What
is causing you pain? What bothers you?
of a person’s suffering is a product of jealousy and hatred. What, you’re
jealous that this one became a Rav, that this one is a Rebbe, that this
one is a Rosh Yeshiva? Why should it bother you? Learn! Start to learn!
The Rebbe says: first things first, start to learn! The Rebbe says start
to learn Choshen Mishpat, Yoreh Dei’ah. We’re on the verge of such a lofty
day, such a yahrtzeit. The Rebbe is the aspect of Moshiach, the name of
the Rebbe has the same gematria as the phrase “Hashem Elokim” with the
kollel added [add a 1]. Hashem’s Name [Ad-noi] is equal to 65, plus the
gematria of Elokim is 86. That comes to 151. [Nachman = 148 plus the kollel
makes 149. Then add 148 plus 4 for each of the four letters of the name
Nachman, and then add the kollel to Hashem Elokim = 152. But we’re really
not sure!] “And no man shall be in the tent of meeting when he comes to
atone [for] the sanctuary.” The Tzaddik was not a man!
the old man…” It is written that an old man entered—this “old man” was
none other than the Holy One, Blessed is He. [“During Shimon HaTzaddik’s
final year, he told the Sages that he would soon die. They asked him: How
do you know? He answered, ‘Every Yom HaKippurim, I would see a vision of
an old man dressed and shrouded in white entering the inner sanctuary with
me and leaving with me. Today, I saw an old man dressed and shrouded all
in black entering with me, and he did not emerge with me.’ After the Festival,
Shimon HaTzaddik fell ill for seven days and died, and his brother Kohanim
could not bless the people using G-d’s Name” (Yoma 39b).]
Tzaddik really is the Holy One descended in the form of a human being.
This is what we learn from that Midrash [on Vayikra]. Regarding the Gemara
in Yoma about Shimon HaTzaddik, this was said after forty years of serving
as Kohen Gadol. Rabbi Abahu said, “Who told you that the old man he saw
was really a man?” It was the Holy One, Blessed is He! We see from here
that the Holy One can descend in the form of the Tzaddik, and this Tzaddik
is not a man at all! “No man shall be in the tent of meeting!”
Tzaddik is the Holy One who has descended in the form of a human being.
In section #21, the Midrash Rabbah says that the true Tzaddik is the Holy
One descended in human form, and that is why he can atone for all of the
sins of the Jewish people. This was the “old man” who entered together
with the Kohen Gadol, Shimon HaTzaddik. This “old man” had two hands, two
feet, eyes, a nose, a mouth, perhaps even teeth. Everything was just fine.
So, how was he able to enter together with Shimon HaTzaddik? “No man may
be in the tent of meeting…!” Of course the Kohen Gadol was not a man, the
Torah says, he was an angel. So who was this “old man” who entered with
him? It was the Holy One Himself!
Tzaddik, says the Midrash, is the Holy One Himself, descended in the form
of a human being! Who descended in the form of a human being! And the Holy
One can do anything. He can atone for the sins of the Jewish people; he
can bring them to true repentance. The Holy One can enter into a person
and tell him to donate the money to pay for four thousand tickets to Uman!
We see that the Holy One can manifest inside a person and tell him to give
away four thousand tickets to Uman! Next year, He can tell the person to
give away forty thousand tickets, fifty thousand tickets—Hashem is infinite.
We are limited human beings, but Hashem is absolutely infinite. Hashem
can atone for the sins of the Jewish people, and that is infinite. The
Tzaddik is the Holy One Himself, descended in the form of a human being,
and He can overturn the entire world in a single instant.
is what is written in the work “Derech HaMelech,” I don’t know who the
author is. He quotes an ancient Midrashic source, an amazing Midrash that
could be as old as the first Temple, it could go back three thousand years.
He says that when the Torah was given at Sinai, Hashem repeated everything
that Moshe said. The verse says, “Moshe spoke, and Hashem answered him
aloud” (Shemos 19:19). This was true of all the 613 commandments. Moshe
would transmit one commandment, and his words would be conveyed from one
end of the earth to the other. This was how it was for every single commandment
that he taught at Sinai [from the sixth of Sivan] until the twentieth of
Iyar. All 613 commandments were transmitted by Moshe to the Jewish people
when he called out, “In this jubilee year, each man will return to his
portion” (Vayikra 25:13), a heavenly voice proclaimed, “One thousand nine
hundred and thirty-eight years after the destruction, the gates of redemption
will open.” The destruction of the second Temple was in the year 3828 (see
Rashi on Avodah Zarah 9). The first Temple was destroyed in the year 3338
(338 = gematria “shelach”/”send”), alluded to in the verse, “And you shall
surely send the mother away” (Devarim 22:7). If so, then Hashem gave
over the prophecy that the first Temple would be destroyed in the year
338. Seventy years later brought us to the year 3408—the gematria of
the word “[with] this”/”bi’zos” [shall the Kohen Gadol enter]. The word
alludes to the year when the second Temple was built. And four hundred
and twenty years later, it was destroyed, in the year 3828. Now add one
thousand nine hundred and thirty-eight years to 3828, and you get 5766
book “Derech HaMelech” says that this Midrash dates back to the second
Temple, perhaps even to the time of the first Temple. The gates of redemption
will open in the year 5766, and sparks of the redemption will begin to
burst forth, the spark of Moshiach. In that year, Rebbe Nachman’s path
will become widely known in the world, his teachings will begin to spread
throughout the world, and a new light will come into the world. People
will come and donate free tickets to Uman.
is similar to what the Gemara relates [???]. It says in Midrash Rabbah
on Parshas Toldos that when King Hadrian decided to rebuild the Temple,
he gave away sacks of gold. From Antioch all the way to Jerusalem, he had
emissaries set up with tables at every crossroads giving away gold pieces
to the Jewish pilgrims making the journey for the festivals to Jerusalem.
It went on this way until the Samaritans came [and slandered the Jewish
people] and ruined everything. But until then, they were giving away gold
also reach the stage when they’ll not only give away a ticket, but ten
thousand dollars too! If a person will just go to Uman, he’ll have all
his debts paid as well! “How much money do you owe? A million dollars?
Here—have a million dollars! A billion? Go ahead, here’s a billion dollars!”
People worry where they’ll get the money from to repay all their debts.
Travel to Uman and all your debts will be paid!
1,938 years after the destruction of the second Temple, each man will return
to his portion, the signs of the redemption will begin to appear. And one
year after this will already be the “great jubilee” (“yovel”). One hundred
thousand people will travel—the whole Jewish people—will travel to Uman!
It will be the great jubilee year, and in the jubilee year the Torah teaches
that all debts are cancelled. This will already start happening from 5767
onward. There will no longer be any debts or any sins among the Jewish
people. Everyone will repent, and the entire Jewish people will return
to the Land of Israel. And afterward all of the debts and all of the sins
will be cancelled. This is alluded to in the verse, “Truth will sprout
from the earth” (Tehillim 85:12). The word “truth” (”emes”) is an acronym
for one thousand nine hundred [alef = elef 1000, tav = teisha 900, mem
= mei’ot, hundreds].
now all of the gates have opened, people are given tickets for free. And
those who didn’t receive free tickets didn’t pray. Anyone who prayed received
a free ticket. Anyone who went to the field [to pray] received a free ticket.
Anyone here can attest to this.
it says here in the Imrei Binah, in the work “Derech HaMelech,” that the
gates will open now! The year 5766 arrives…[the stone above her head.]
This teaching of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai is on the very highest level,
this teaching of ben Yochai. The Sifra Di’tzniyusa contains the most ancient
and hidden concepts, ideas that are sealed away and bound with a thousand
chains. This was this “stone above her head,” Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai himself,
who taught that this heavenly voice proclaimed that the jubilee year will
come 1,938 years after the destruction of the Temple, and at that point
the gates of redemption will open. New gates will open, new salvations
will come down to the world, and people will see Hashem “eye to eye” (Yeshayahu
is what we see from the Midrash Rabbah on Vayikra that was brought above.
Who was this “old man” who entered together with Shimon HaTzaddik? It was
the Holy One, Himself in His Glory!
you travel to the Rebbe, you are really traveling to come closer to Hashem
Himself. You are traveling to come closer to the Holy One Himself! As soon
as people arrive there, they start to cry—people who never shed a tear
in their lives. Why do people go to the Rebbe? A person goes there to ask
that the Rebbe’s eyes should be embodied within his own eyes, that the
Rebbe’s mouth should be embodied in his mouth, and the Rebbe’s ears should
be embodied in his own ears. If a person begs that the Rebbe should be
embodied within him, if he begs that the Rebbe’s eyes should enter into
his own, that the Rebbe’s ears should enter into his own, and that the
Rebbe’s mouth should enter into his own, it means that he is really asking
that every word he speaks should be the Rebbe’s words. What I speak should
be the Rebbe’s words! The words that I pray should be the Rebbe’s!
that point he receives a completely new apprehension of G-dliness, he understands
that even with the Rebbe [the same concept applies], that the Holy One,
as it were, Himself in His Glory descends into a human form, as we find
in that Midrash about the “old man” who entered together with Shimon HaTzaddik.
Rabbi Abahu asks there on the spot: “And who says that it was not the Holy
One, Himself, in His Glory?” We see from there that Hashem can descend
in the form of a human being! We see from there the deep concept of the
Divine Name “Eh-yeh” the idea that the Holy One can descend in the form
of a human being, and through this atone for all of a person’s sins. He
does this provided that the person does not sin defiantly with the intention
that he can repent for it later on. If a person comes to Rebbe Nachman’s
grave and resolves to begin anew, to accept anew all of his duties upon
himself, to start to learn the way he should…
any event, why are we gathered here at the Yahrtzeit of Rabbeinu? To eat
another piece of chicken, another rooster? What are we doing here?
sub-section #25 of the section called “The Greatness of His Achievements”
[in Chayei Moharan], the Rebbe says that he had started to study Choshen
Mishpat just a few days earlier. “I started to study Choshen Mishpat a
few days ago.” What is Rabbeinu? Rabbeinu studied Choshen Mishpat! Rabbeinu
learned the Parsha!
are some people here who think that it isn’t allowed to learn the Parsha
here in Shuvu Bonim! I don’t know why anyone would think that. If you want
to be able to pick out someone from Shuvu Bonim, you can know him by the
fact that he doesn’t know the Parsha! Let’s say you meet him at the Kotel
and ask him, “Do you know what Parsha it is this week?” If he answers,
“No!” you’ll say, “Aha! You must be from Shuvu Bonim!” A man gets
on an airplane and they ask him, “Do you know the Parsha?” Sometimes there
are people who try to disguise themselves. But if he answers, “No!” they’ll
say, “Aha! You must be from Shuvu Bonim!” So everyone already knows that
if you find someone who doesn’t know the Parsha, he must be from Shuvu
Bonim. Twenty years ago, a man showed up at the airport with a German passport.
So they thought he was a German spy. They asked him, “Do you know which
Parsha it is this week?” “I don’t know the Parsha!” “So you’re a German!”
Eventually, they released him. So if you see someone who doesn’t know the
Parsha, know that he’s from Shuvu Bonim. I don’t know why people think
it’s allowed to not know the Parsha. I don’t know why. The Rebbe also learned
the Parsha. Every Jew reviews the Parsha twice, and once with the Targum.
can start after Shabbos; you can start right away after Mincha. But the
Rebbe didn’t only learn the Parsha, he also learned Choshen Mishpat. The
Rebbe learned Choshen Mishpat! He just went and learned 91 sections, together
with the Sha”ch and the Sm”a, straight through to section #91 which is
one of the most difficult. Thirty-eight and ninety-one are two of the most
difficult sections. In them, we see how hard it is to understand the straightforward
meaning of the Gemara.
see here the Rav, the Tur and the Beis Yosef…and this is where I really
started to learn, to learn straight through with the Tur and the Beis Yosef.
The Komarner Rebbe said that one must know them just as well as one knows,
“ashrei yoshvei beisecha.” One must know all of the Beis Yosef that way.
So I’m opening it right here now, the Rebbe said section #91 [subsection
householder said to a storeowner, ‘give me a dinar’s worth of fruit,’”
and the storeowner weighed out the fruit for him. According to the Rambam
and the Ri”f, this is talking about something that occurred in a public
area. Here the Gemara (Shavuot 45a) says, it brings the Mishnah, “If the
householder, the customer, said to the storekeeper, ‘Give me a dinar’s
worth of fruit,’ (it must have been Rabbeinu’s yahrtzeit) ‘and the storekeeper
gave him the fruit.’” Let’s say he gave him a thousand cartons of fruit,
he gave it to him. The customer said, “Give me,” and the storekeeper gave
it. “Now the storekeeper says, ‘Give me the dinar that you promised.’”
The storekeeper gave him a thousand cartons of fruit, now he wants to be
repaid a thousand dollars. But the customer protests, “I already gave it
to you.” You weren’t paying attention, you were busy with your customers,
but I gave it to you already! “And you put it (without thinking) inside
your wallet, your pocket (Rashi explains this means your wallet).” In such
a case, the customer must swear before the court that he did indeed pay
for the merchandise, and he is absolved. There is a problem here, though.
Is this a situation where the one who swears, “swears and takes” (is compensated),
or is it that he “swears and is absolved” (does not have to pay the plaintiff)?
According to the Ri”f, we are speaking about a situation where the fruit
is standing in a public area, and the storekeeper gave the customer the
fruit. But what about the dinar? The customer came and said, “Give me the
fruit.” [That was the first situation.]
we have the reverse. The customer [claims that he] paid in advance, and
then returned to the storekeeper to get the fruit he paid for. The storekeeper
says, “I already gave it to you; I delivered it to your home. I myself
did it. I didn’t send a messenger to your house.” Because perhaps the customer
will say that the messenger didn’t find the address, or his wife wasn’t
home to receive the delivery, or perhaps it was put somewhere and you don’t
know where. So in such a case, the storekeeper must swear in court [that
he delivered the fruit he was paid for, and the fruit standing in the public
area of the marketplace is not the fruit that was paid for by the customer
already]. The storekeeper is considered as one who “swears and takes” [meaning,
he has rights to the fruit that remains in the public area]. This is according
to the Ri”f, that we are speaking about who has rights to the fruit that
remains in the public area. The question here is whether this is a case
of “he swears and is absolved” (“nishba’in vi’niftarin”) or “he swears
and retains the rights to the items under question” (“nishba’in vi’notlin”).
According to the Torah, swearing in court is the means through which a
person is released from having to compensate the plaintiff. If it
is a “Torah” oath, as we find in the case of someone who accepted responsibility
for someone else’s property and claims he has no responsibility for damages
incurred (a “shomer”), then the oath only helps the one who swears to avoid
paying. But if the oath is intended to allow the claimant to take possession
of some asset, this is an oath of rabbinic origin where he is suspected
until he swears, and so he has to swear to take possession.
now, the question is whether we have a situation that calls for an oath
mandated by the Torah itself, which just means that the defendant does
not have to compensate, or if we are speaking about an oath mandated by
the Rabbis, where the one who swears will then have rights to the object
in question. How could this be a case of “he swears and takes possession?”
It is only if we are speaking about fruit that was sitting in the public
area. And the money was also laid in the public area, on a rug or on a
small stool. He took out the money. In those days, they did not have stores
like we have now. A store was just a little “hole in the wall,” and all
of the merchandise was laid outside. There was a rug outside and a counter/stall
where the fruit was displayed, and it was in the public area.
the Ri”f explains here in Shavuot 45a, the Gemara says here: What sort
of a situation are we speaking about here? Is it like a money changer,
where a customer comes and says, “Give me a dinar’s worth of small change,”
and the money changer hands over the coins, and when he asks for the dinar
the customer claims that he already paid him the money and the storeowner
already put it into his purse/pocket? In such a case, the customer swears
that he paid, and he does not have to pay again (“nishba vi’niftar”).
is taught in the Mishnah: Rabbi Yehudah says, ‘When is this so?’” When
the fruit is collected together and left in the public area. So according
to the Rambam and the Ri”f, this is in the public area, but according to
the Tur, there is a difference of opinions and the question here is where
it is, whether the fruit under dispute is sitting inside or outside the
store. Because the fruit was originally inside the store [meaning, in an
area clearly known as the private property of the storeowner], so the Ri”f
says that what Rabbi Yehudah means in the Gemara is that the fruit is now
located in the public domain. This is not clear from the words of the Gemara,
it does not state clearly exactly where the fruit is—in the store, or outside
in the public domain. And if the fruit is indeed still within the store,
it is unclear exactly where it is—is it still within the container belonging
to the storeowner, or has it already been transferred to the customer’s
container? And if it is in the public domain, the same questions also arise:
is the fruit inside a container belonging to the storeowner or the customer?
there are four possibilities: the fruit is still in the store, but it is
already in the customer’s container, or the storeowner has only weighed
out the fruit and is waiting to transfer it into the container of the customer.
So there are really six possibilities: The fruit is in the container belonging
to the storeowner still inside the store, or it is in the customer’s container
inside the store, or it is outside in the customer’s container, or it is
outside in the store owner’s container, or we could say that the storeowner
hasn’t even begun to weight out the fruit yet and it is still together
with the bulk of the store owner’s fruit in a container belonging to the
owner of the store. And the customer claims that he has already paid the
dinar agreed upon. The question is then, when exactly did he pay? Did he
hand over the dinar before the weighing out of the fruit, or afterward?
If the customer claims that he paid after it was weighed out, [then we
need to take account of what] Rav Yehudah says right afterward: “It is
not the custom of a storeowner to hand over [goods/coins in exchange] until
he is paid his money.”
afterward, a variation on the same question arises, in this case about
the exchange of money. A shopkeeper changes dollars to shekels, let’s say.
Someone comes to change ten dollars. Let’s say he’d like to get fifty shekels
for the ten dollars, so the shopkeeper says, “First give me your ten dollars,
and then I’ll give you your fifty shekels.” In the Gemara it says, “The
customer says to the shopkeeper, ‘Give me a dinar’s worth of small change,’”
like saying, “Give me fifty shekels for this ten dollar bill.” And the
shopkeeper handed over the fifty shekels, and then said, “Give me the dinar
now.” You haven’t yet given me the ten dollars. The customer then says,
“Well, go and look for it! I already gave it to you; it’s not in my pocket.”
The shopkeeper says, “But it isn’t in my pocket. Where could it be?” The
customer answers, “It’s not in my pocket either.” He has already taken
his fifty shekels, and he claims that he already paid the shopkeeper. “I
know that you put it in your wallet. You don’t find your wallet now? Go
and look for it!” The customer has to swear that he did indeed pay the
money, the dinar, the ten dollars. But [the shopkeeper] is still out the
explain all of this there, and the Rebbe explains that a person must study
the first ninety-one sections of the Choshen Mishpat, and before he does
that he cannot be a Breslover Chasid. Without knowing Choshen Mishpat,
he isn’t a Breslover—he’s a walking desecration of G-d’s Name! Rabbeinu
asked, “What have you brought me? A bunch of hungry bellies that just want
to stuff themselves?” What have you brought me? If a person doesn’t learn
Choshen Mishpat, doesn’t learn the Sha”ch and the Beis Yosef like Rav Mashinsky
managed to bring into the yeshiva… The Beis Yosef…the Komarner said in
“Derech Emunah” on the subject of faith, that one must know the Beis Yosef
as well as one knows “ashrei yoshvei beisecha.”
we see afterward that Rabbi Yehudah says that it is not the way [of a storekeeper
to hand over cash or goods without receiving money in exchange. We are
not speaking here about buying on credit, because that would involve signing
down the debt in a ledger, and that involves different laws.] But now the
situation is the reverse. The shopkeeper claims that the customer received
his fifty shekels, but the customer claims the opposite: that he paid ten
dollars and never received the fifty shekel in exchange. “I already gave
it to you! What do you mean, I already gave it to you, and you put it in
your pocket. You have your fifty shekels—go and check your pocket.” The
customer answers, “But I checked my pocket and it isn’t there!” The shopkeeper
answers back, “Well, maybe it fell? Maybe you put it in a different garment?
Maybe you took off the jacket and it was in the pocket of your other coat?
You said that you would carry your coat home because it got hot. Go home
and check if it’s in your coat. You came in with a coat, an overcoat, because
it rained yesterday. But today it’s boiling out, so you took it off. You
ran to the store with your coat, you then gave it to your boy. Go home
and check your coat. The customer answers, “Why should I go home? Give
me the fifty shekels right away! Why on earth should I go home? You never
gave me any fifty shekels. I remember that you didn’t give it to me.” So
the customer has to swear. “I gave it to you, and you tossed it into your
pocket. It’s my fault that your son walked off with your coat?” So the
storeowner has to swear.
Yehudah says that it is not the practice of moneychangers to hand over
money without first receiving cash. So it is clear that the customer did
pay the dinar, the ten dollars. If you go to any moneychanger, it’s
certain that he is going to insist that you put the money on the table
before he counts out any shekels or Euros or any other money, francs. You
must first hand over the ten dollars. Rabbi Yehudah knows the practices
of merchants, so why is this not said explicitly ahead of time in the Gemara,
that the practice of moneychangers differs from the practices of grocers?
moneychanger always insists on the customer putting down cash first. “Give
me your ten dollars, your thousand dollars, and you’ll get your five thousand
shekels.” But the practice of grocers is to sell on credit as well. “Do
you have a case of fruit?” “Sure—go ahead and take a case! Pay me tomorrow.”
So the Beis Yosef, the Sha”ch, and the K’tzos HaChoshen commented at length
on this issue. Nowadays, it is impossible to understand the Sha”ch without
the K’tzos HaChoshen. In the Rebbe’s time, they only had the Sha”ch. It
was easier for the Rebbe! The Rebbe learned the Sha”ch and the Sm”a, but
today it is really impossible to understand without the help of the K’tzos.
Look at the Sha”ch that we have here [the Rav showed it to someone]. What
a Sha”ch! He brings one explanation, a second, a third, a fourth, a fifth,
after that a sixth. The sixth explanation—what a Sha”ch! One, two, three
pages, and then the K’tzos HaChoshen on the Sha’ch.
a person doesn’t know the entire Sha”ch, if he doesn’t know this, what
is he a Breslover Chasid for? Just so he can commit sacrilege in the name
of the Rebbe? People will say, “This is a Breslover Chasid?” No one will
want to have anything to do with Breslov! The truth is in Breslov. There
is truth here, and people heap shame on the truth! The truth [is to be
found] when people sit and learn! This is the truth!
is such a great and lofty yahrtzeit; there will be dancing until the dawn.
Reb Nosson says that this dancing draws down dancing for the entire year,
and through it one can come to receive the spirit of prophecy. It is possible
to receive the spirit of prophecy in the Sukkah. It is written that Yonah
ben Amitai received the spirit of prophecy during Sukkos (Bava Metziah).
The Gemara says that when Eliyahu the prophet came to Tzorfis—Tzorfas—up
until a few years ago it was still called by that name. On the signpost
it says “Sorfan.” There is a place called Sorfan there, there is a camp
called Sorfan near Assaf HaRofeh hospital, and there is a place called
Sorfan between Tzur [Tyre] and Tzidon [Sidon]. It was to this place that
Hashem referred to when He told Eliyahu the prophet, “Get up and go to
Tzorfas that is by Tzidon…and I have commanded a widow woman there to care
for you.” The Zohar asks (Parshas Pikudei), “When did I command? Before
the world was created!” Before the world was even formed, Hashem established
who would be responsible to feed him!
person worries: Who will provide me with money? Who is it going to be?
Before a person is even born, forty days before the fetus is formed, a
heavenly voice proclaims whom he will marry, what home he will live in.
The voice calls out what street, what number on the street, which exposure—the
best is to have both a Northern and a Southern exposure! North is good
for the summer, and South is good for the winter. Whoever has both Northern
and Southern exposures is surely the happiest person around. So the verse
says, “I have commanded a widow woman there to care for you.” Before a
person is even born, a heavenly voice has already proclaimed what home
he will live in. He can still pray for a good house. Hashem declared that
he would have the very best house—the fact that he lives in a house with
only one exposure is because of his own sins. But he could pray, he could
go to the field, he could travel to Uman to pray that he should have a
house with all four exposures! So even before a person is born, a heavenly
voice proclaims just what sort of house he will have, what field he will
have, what the source of his livelihood will be. Rabbi Yehudah said in
the name of Rabbi Shmuel, such proclamations are made every single day.
Every day, a heavenly voice declares what house you will live in; the heavenly
voice calls out, “This is your house! See here, this is your house!” Every
day! And it calls out who his destined mate is going to be—every day.
is what Lavan said here. We are about to begin the book of Bereishis. Whoever
has yet to learn through the Parsha that we will begin right after Simchas
Torah. We are about to read Parshas Bereishis on Simchas Torah, it is still
possible to begin to say it, to go through all of Parshas Bereishis with
Rashi and everything. And if you learn it with Rashi, it is something else
altogether. Then you understand what the Parsha says. Like when the verse
says, “And Hashem said to Avraham, everything that Sarah tells you, listen
to her voice.” Rashi says that it means that she had the spirit of prophecy.
Rashi explains every single detail to us. Starting with Bereishis, next
week we will begin Bereishis, and after that we will be starting Parshas
Noach, ten days after Simchas Torah we begin Parshas Noach. Starting from
today—today is the 18th of Tishrei, and Parshas Noach is read on the 3rd
of Marcheshvan. So we have exactly fifteen days. Today is Friday, so there
are exactly fifteen days until Parshas Noach.
in that Parsha we find, “And Haran died before his father Terach in Ur
Kasdim.” The Midrash teaches that Haran was the very first child to die
in the lifetime of his own father. From the Flood onward, there was no
one else who had died during his father’s lifetime. So we then have a question
about Peleg. Peleg was said to have died during Ever’s lifetime. It is
also written that Noach’s father Lemech died five years before the flood,
which was within his own father’s lifetime. So it appears as though quite
a few people died before their fathers. What does it mean, then, that Haran
was the first? It is referring only to those who died an unnatural death,
and Haran was the first. Haran was the world’s first unnatural death. He
died tragically, and that had never happened before, that a person should
die of a tragic accident, should fall off a cliff or into a fire. Haran
was the first to die this way in his father’s lifetime, of an unnatural
death. “And Haran died before his father Terach, in Ur Kasdim.”
tradition tells us that Avraham was thirteen years old when he left his
cave—at what age did he break his father’s idols? He went out at the age
of thirteen and saw Hashem face to face. “What are these idols?” He began
to smash them. There was Noach, and there was Mesushelach—Yered—they were
all Tzaddikim. There was Ever and Peleg. No one went and smashed
any idols! “What are you doing breaking those statues? Do they belong to
you?” “What is it any of your business? Go and serve G-d. Who is standing
in your way? Go and sit in some cave and serve Hashem? Why are you breaking
these idols? What’s going on here? You think this is Shuvu Bonim here?
What is this chutzpah?!” There had never been anything like this before!
All of a sudden, a person comes out of his cave and, boom! He starts to
smash up idols, he grabs a stick and smashes statues, someone else’s property.
He’s a public menace. He’s destroying public property. Those idols were
public property. What’s going on here, what’s going on?
well, they bring him before Nimrod. Nimrod asks, “What’s all this?” Avraham
answers, “Listen, they’re just sticks and stones. They can’t hear. They
can’t speak.” “What are you talking about—they created the universe!” Avraham
protests, “But they’re just dumb statues! Dumb statues!” “Fine,” says Nimrod.
“We have a fire burning here. Why not bow down to the burning fire?” Avraham
answers, “Fire? Water can put that out!” “So worship the water, then!”
“But clouds bear the water.” “So worship the clouds!” “But the wind drives
the clouds away.” “Then worship the wind!” “But a human being carries the
wind,” meaning, that a person breathes the air. He has the power to take
it in and draw it out. A person is full of wind, full of air.
finally said, “You know what? Listen, either you bow down to a human being,
or I’m going to toss you into the burning fire!” Avraham said to Nimrod,
“You tell me, who created the world?” “Who created the world? Why, I did!
I created the fire, and I created the water and the wind!” “And who created
the sun and the moon?” Nimrod answered, “I did! I formed the sun and the
moon!” Avraham said then, “If it was you who created them, then why don’t
you move them for me. Just move the sun for five minutes. Let’s see you
moved the sun for ten hours, Moshe Rabbeinu did it three times, and Yehoshua…“Sun,
be silent in Givon, moon in the valley of Eilon.” Nakdimon ben Gurion was
just a very charitable man. What did he do already? He filled his tzedakah
box, and in his merit twelve huge cisterns were filled with rainwater.
my old house [in the Old City], on HaShoarim Street, there was an enormous
pool of water beneath the house. The dentist [a neighbor] found it; he
excavated, and discovered a whole network of underground tunnels and pathways.
He found a huge pool underneath the building that certainly had enough
drinking water in it to last at least a year. It took three full days to
empty it, three days using a special pumping device, and in the end he
filled the space with sand. Huge underground cisterns, there were pools
like this in Yerushalayim [during the time of the second Temple], and each
one could hold enough water to last a full year.
ben Gurion took twelve such pools and said [to the Roman governor], “If
you’ll fill these twelve cisterns for me from your private stores so that
all the people who have come to Yerushalayim will have water to drink,
I’ll return the water to you on the day we agree upon. If not, I’ll pay
you twelve talents of silver (gold).” The Roman said, “Fine.” This was
during Pesach. So they agree that by the first of Tishrei, the third of
Tishrei at the latest—that’s the fast of Gedalyah—the water had to be repaid.
“I want to see that water returned to me. And if it doesn’t rain,
I’ll give you a few extra days, until the third of Tishrei.” So it was
the third of Tishrei and there still was no rain. He went to the Temple.
First he went to the bathhouse. It was already past four in the afternoon
and the sun would set at five-thirty. They met at the bathhouse. “Listen,
have you got your ten talents of silver ready to pay me?” Nakdimon ben
Gurion answered, “Hold on. I still have another hour and a half!” The Roman
scoffed at him, “What, do you think that you’re going to see rain within
the next hour and half?”
Nakdimon ben Gurion went to the Temple. He was a charitable man. He prayed
and a flood started to come down from the heavens! A flood! Every cistern
was full within five minutes. All of those twelve giant cisterns filled
right up, and each one could hold a year’s worth of water: twelve cisterns.
They met again as Nakdimon ben Gurion was leaving the Temple, and the Roman
was returning from the bathhouse. He had gone to bathe so that he could
be in a good mood when it was time to get paid. You see from here how important
it is to be happy, you even have to be happy when it comes to money. Everything
comes through joy. Very well. The Roman was leaving the bathhouse, and
they met over there, near the stairs that come up from the Kotel. He was
heading up the stairs. He lived up there on Rechov HaYehudim or on Rechov
Chabad. I don’t know exactly where he lived, but they ran into each other
on the way. The Roman was on his way out of the bathhouse, out of the Turkish
baths, who knows, the Arab bathhouse there, and he said to Nakdimon ben
Gurion, “Listen, everything worked out for you—the rain came. There was
even a flood. But you owe me anyway!” “What do you mean?” “The sun set
at five-thirty on the dot, and the rain only began at five thirty-two!
Two minutes after sunset!” Fine. Nakdimon ben Gurion turns around and heads
right back to the Temple. It was already six o’clock, six-fifteen, and
he began to pray. Suddenly, the clouds parted, and the sun was shining
like it was the middle of the afternoon! Once upon a time, even simple
Jews could move the sun. The Midrash Rabbah says that this is true of the
we were talking about Nimrod—that Avraham told Nimrod to move the sun.
It is written that Hillel had eighty disciples: thirty of the caliber of
Yehoshua bin Nun, and thirty of the caliber of Moshe Rabbeinu. Moshe moved
the sun, and had the sun stand still at three different times: during the
war against Sichon and Og, during the war against Amalek (which continued
“until the sun set,”) and also when the Jewish people received the Torah
at Sinai. It says that we received the Torah in the morning, then we went
home to eat a dairy meal, and after that we returned to Sinai to hear all
of Parshas Mishpatim. [What is written there?] “If a man shall curse his
father or mother, he shall surely be put to death; his blood is ‘in him’”
(See Shemos 21:17). If he wounds one of them, his punishment is only strangling.
That’s for wounding. But cursing is even more grave. About cursing, the
verse says, “his blood is ‘in him.’” [This refers to stoning, the “most
severe” of the four types of execution.]
is written in the Margenita Tava, in the Sefer HaMitzvos Margenita Tava,
that cursing one’s parents is much more serious than wounding them! In
Parshas Kedoshim (Vayikra 20:9) the phrase is repeated twice. It is very
strange. “And you shall guard my injunctions and do them; I am Hashem who
sanctifies you.” Then it says, “For any man who curses his father and mother
shall surely be put to death. He cursed his father and mother [therefore]
his ‘blood is in him.’” So the Margenita Tava asks, "Why should this verse
be any different than what we find with other prohibitions? Does the verse
say about eating chometz on Pesach, for example, “It is forbidden to eat
chometz on Pesach, anyone who does so receives the punishment of kareis
[spiritual excision from the Jewish people], because it is forbidden to
eat chometz on Pesach.” What? Is it forbidden to eat chometz on Pesach?
Why? Because it is forbidden to each chometz on Pesach! [This clearly is
circular reasoning—why then do we find that the verse about cursing one’s
parents does exactly this kind of repetition?] “For any man who curses
his father and mother shall surely be put to death. He cursed his father
and mother; therefore, his ‘blood is in him.’” Why is it written this way?
The Margenita Tava answers, “It is in order to juxtapose ‘his blood is
in him’ with ‘his mother.’”
mother is the one who really raises you. Your father is in yeshiva all
week long, he comes home once a week on Shabbos. Who is really raising
you? Your mother. To curse your mother, to cause your mother distress,
this is much graver [than to curse your father.] This is what the Margenita
Tava says in the third section. At the end of the section, he explains
that it is more serious because your mother is the one who cares for you,
who worries about your needs, who feeds you, who stands beside your bed
while you sleep. And you go and curse your mother because she said some
word [that offended you]? She spent twenty years raising you and after
saying one little word you go and curse her? So cursing one’s mother is
more grave than cursing one’s father, and that is why the words “his blood
is in him” have to be juxtaposed with the words for “his mother.” The emphasis
of the verse is on the mother. Why is it repeated? To let you know that
causing your mother distress is more serious than causing distress to your
father! And a person who does so is liable to the death penalty! To stoning!
A person is about to be executed. What has he done? He caused his mother
anguish one time, and now he’s liable to stoning! He is liable to stoning!
He is liable to stoning!
we were talking about the Midrash Rabbah in Kohelet, about a simple person
named Nakdimon ben Gurion, who caused the sun to run backwards. Nimrod
couldn’t even move the sun for an instant, but any Jew, even the simplest
Jew, can move the sun! Hillel had students—thirty were of the caliber of
Yehoshua bin Nun, and thirty were even greater—they were of the caliber
of Moshe Rabbeinu. They could move the sun at any time. Moshe caused the
sun to stand still at Sinai, because the Torah was given at twelve noon,
and they still had time to go home and eat a dairy meal and return to hear
all of Parshas Mishpatim. Why did they need to hear Parshas Mishpatim right
away? Because even if a person has just heard Hashem give the Torah at
Sinai, he can right away turn around and curse his father and mother, or
wound them, or kidnap someone. A person makes the mistake of thinking that
he’s already finished dealing with his evil inclination.
seen it written in a holy work that Rosh Hashanah embodies the idea of
“rising in order to fall.” [This is the reverse of the familiar concept
“falling in order to rise.”] People ask: “How can it be that right after
Rosh Hashanah I still have such a powerful evil inclination?” Quite the
contrary! Rosh Hashanah comes in order to empower us to withstand the challenges
that are yet to come. You think that you just press a button, and it’s
over. You got to Uman—you got to the Rebbe’s grave—and the evil inclination
is done for? The evil inclination is without end! A person needs to be
reincarnated over and over again to really deal with the evil inclination.
So, Rosh Hashanah is “rising in order to fall.” This means that right now
you are being given the means, the ability… You prayed, you cried out.
During this yahrtzeit, we’ll dance until five-thirty in the morning so
that we can be empowered to deal with the evil inclination. The evil inclination
is not finished off in a single moment!
Nakdimon ben Gurion moved the sun, Moshe Rabbeinu made the sun stand still
three times—at Sinai, during the war against Sichon and Og, and during
the war against Amalek. Nakdimon ben Gurion, King Chizkiyahu, and thousands
of righteous men and women made the sun stand still. It is written that
during the war against Sisera, they made the sun stand still. It says the
same about king David during his war against Amalek, which stretched out
over a day and night. The Midrash in Kohelet tells a similar story about
a very simple Jew named Abba Techinah, who was going to get married. It
really says that someone named Tachaniah was getting married, and Abba
Techinah was an extremely simple Jew.
ben Gurion was a very charitable man. When he would go out to the Temple,
his servants would spread expensive carpets out before him to walk upon,
and the poor would follow behind, roll them up, and take them away for
themselves (Kesubos 66b). Still, this wasn’t enough, [he didn’t give enough,
considering his great wealth. His daughter was eventually reduced to penury—she
foraged for grain among the dung of the beasts of the Arabs.]. Rabbi Yehudah
HaNasi told a story about the daughter of Nakdimon ben Gurion. Rabbi Yochanan
ben Zakkai met her on the road. She asked him for charity, and he asked
her how she had come to such a state. “Your father gave charity. He was
the most charitable man in Yerushalayim.” She answered, “Charity
preserves wealth, like salt preserves meat.” No matter how much he gives,
he’ll still have billions left. He should have given all his billions away!
He should have given away all of his billions!
a person has a million dollars, he’ll give away one hundred thousand. But
he should really give away nine hundred thousand! If a person has a billion
dollars, he gives ten million away, and keeps nine hundred and ninety million.
What is this? You have a billion dollars? Give away nine hundred and ninety
million, and you’ll have ten million left!
was a story about something that happened in Terhovitza. There was a Breslover
Chasid in Terhovitza named Reb Sender. He was something of a joker. One
day, he went and got involved with Breslov. He had meant to make a mockery
of the Breslovers, but he saw such truth among them that he stopped his
mockery, became a Breslover, and wound up bringing all of the merchants
of Terhovitza close to Breslov Chassidus. He was a merchant, one of the
most successful, and this group of merchants in Terhovitza had a very strange
practice: they used to live on the ma’aser alone [on the tenth of their
income normally given to charity]. They would take the tenth for themselves,
and the other ninety percent was what they’d give away to charity! This
was their practice.
what is this? You have a million, keep one hundred thousand for yourself,
and give the other nine hundred thousand away! What do you need nine hundred
thousand dollars for? What will you do—eat the money? You can eat the same
bread as everyone else. You have a million, a billion, a trillion, but
you can eat the same slice of bread and drink the same glass of water,
just like everyone else. You can’t have anything more than anyone else
anyway. You wanted to have more, but you’ve got diabetes or some other
problem, and you can’t. So what do you need the trillion, or billion, or
million dollars for?
the Midrash here, 23b, tells us a story about a simple Jew name Abba Tachaniah.
“Go and eat your bread in joy, and drink your wine with a good heart, for
Hashem has found your deeds pleasing” (Kohelet 9:7). The simplest Jew!
We spoke about the students of Hillel. We spoke about Nakdimon ben Gurion
who was the most charitable man in Yerushalayim. We spoke about king Chizkiyahu,
and about Yehoshua bin Nun and Moshe Rabbeinu, but now we have to speak
about a simple Jew.
said to Nimrod, “Move the sun!” Impossible! It is written that he couldn’t
do a single thing! Dumb statues—a dumbstruck man. “Even if a man shall
rise to the heights of heaven…” (Iyov 20:6) What is a man, after all, but
a piece of nothing! He cannot do a thing! A person is just dust and ashes!
What is a man? What can you do? If you have no connection to the Tzaddik,
what can you possibly do?
is the amazing concept that we find here, in this story in the Midrash
Kohelet 23b, in the third segment on the verse, “Go and eat your bread
in joy, and drink your wine with a good heart, for Hashem has found your
deeds pleasing.” “The story is about a simple Jew named Abba Tachaniah,
a pious man. He’s called a pious man there. He used to spend all week traveling
around the little villages selling—buying and selling pins, household items,
trading to get some shoes for his kids. The shoes had gotten torn, the
winter had come, they would go all summer long with torn shoes—ten children,
ten pairs of shoes. He finally got to town for Shabbos and it was already
half an hour before sunset. He rushed to make it in time for candle-lighting
with his pack over his shoulder. They called him Abba Tachaniah the pious
man, always pleading [“mit’chanein”], always crying before G-d, always
arrived in the town and he suddenly came across an ailing man, suffering
from sores on his body, and the man couldn’t move. He was lying there,
unable to move, perhaps he had been badly burned by the sun, and the man
said, “I cannot walk. Carry me into the town.” Abba Tachaniah answered,
“But how can I carry you into town and get there before sunset?” I brought
shoes for my children. I brought some clothes. The winter is upon us. How
can I carry you and my pack too?” But the man begged him, “Save me. Save
me. I cannot do it alone!” “I can’t. I can’t lie here all Shabbos long.
I cannot walk myself. I am covered in boils. I cannot move!”
Abba Tachaniah decided to leave his pack there at the crossroads. He carried
the man to some house in the town, and raced back to get his pack because
everything he needed for his children was in there—the shoes, the clothes—and
how could he leave all of this there in the road? The children haven’t
seen me for weeks. I traveled all over trading just to get these things
for them, to bring them these shoes. But the man said, “I’m covered in
boils, how can I…my life. Don’t leave me here. Try to save me. Save me!”
He left his pack outside the town and went into town carrying the man.
Then he raced back out to the road and managed to get his pack and rush
back home a few minutes before sunset, with the last rays of the sun’s
whole town spoke of him, “This is a pious man, this Abba Tachaniah Chassidah?
He violated the Shabbos! The sun had already gone down when he came to
town. It was dark.” They hadn’t really seen. The sun can appear to set
ten minutes before the real time. It was impossible to know exactly because
they didn’t have clocks then like we have now. Perhaps there were some
great people who had timepieces, but simple people judged by what they
could see, and they thought that it was dark when you arrived.
had pity on Abba Tachaniah. He saw how the townspeople were putting him
to shame, and so the sun emerged. The sun shone out in his honor so that
people shouldn’t slander him or disgrace him. The sun shone out after it
had already set to save the honor of this Jew, Abba Tachaniah! At that
moment, Hashem rolled back the sun for his sake. As the verse says, “A
righteous sun with healing upon its wings shall shine forth for you, those
who fear My Name” (Malachi 3:20). Those who fear the Name of Hashem are
worthy of having Hashem roll the sun back for their sake, for the sake
of those who fear His Name! Anyone with true fear of heaven is assured
of having the sun stand still for him, if he needs to get somewhere the
sun will not set until he gets there, even for the simplest Jew.
we are left here with a question: why is the great story about Avraham’s
miraculous salvation from the fiery furnace in Ur Kasdim not actually related
in the holy Torah itself? The verse only says, “And Haran died during his
father’s lifetime, in Ur Kasdim.” This wonderful story doesn’t appear in
the Torah at all! We only find information about Haran. He said, “I’ll
go with whoever comes out on top. I’ll see who wins the argument. If Nimrod
wins, I’ll go over to his side. If Avraham wins…” And by the way this is
also a level of self-sacrifice. It is no simple matter to jump into a burning
fire, even if he did just witness a miracle performed for Avraham!
he burned to death. But he did merit that his daughter Sarah married Avraham
(Bereishis 11:29). His grand-daughter Rivka married Yitzchak, and his great-granddaughters
Rachel and Leah married into the Jewish nation as well. He merited having
daughters. Leah married as well. He merited having daughters, Leah married
as well. He merited having daughters, grand-daughters, and great-granddaughters
enter into the Jewish people. He even jumped into the fiery furnace! But
he was not on Avraham’s level, that he could do it with absolute self-sacrifice
for the sake of heaven, to be willing to die for the sake of heaven. A
person has to be willing to burn to death for the sake of heaven!
why is this story not actually written in the Torah? It’s only alluded
to, by mentioning Haran’s name, that he died in Ur Kasdim. “Go forth, for
your own sake, from your land, from your birthplace, and from your father’s
house” (Bereishis 12:1). Anyone can learn to throw himself into a fiery
furnace—even an Arab can do it. An Arab can commit suicide for the sake
of murdering twenty or thirty Jews, or even a hundred Jews. He’s willing
to kill himself for that. They’re ready and willing. There are ten thousand
Arabs ready and willing to kill themselves as long as they can murder Jews
with themselves. Ten thousand Arabs are willing to kill themselves for
the sake of killing a single Jew. To leap into the flames, to commit suicide—even
an Arab can do that. But to overcome the evil inclination, to “go forth
from your land, from your birthplace, from your father’s house,” to break
one’s lust for food, one’s desires, to guard one’s eyes when you’re out
on the street—this is what it means to separate from Nachor, from Haran,
from one’s brothers and sisters, “from your birthplace and your father’s
house.” This is something that only a Jew can do. “Go forth, for your own
sake!” Only a Jew can do it! To leave your father and mother, your brothers
and sister, to develop your fear of heaven—this is something that only
a Jew can do! A non-Jew cannot handle even the smallest spiritual challenge.
Maybe he can leap into the flames once in his life, but then it’s over
and his challenges are done. A Jew, on the other hand, has to be willing
to leap into the fire every single moment!
is what we are trying to explain here, that all that the Rebbe wants from
us is to really and truly study Choshen Mishpat. Choshen Mishpat—just like
the law here that we find in Shavuot, this law that is clarified in Choshen
Mishpat #91. Everyone should make a resolution that from now until Reb
Nosson’s yahrtzeit. We have ninety days, exactly ninety days. Today is
the 18th of Tishrei, and the last day of Chanukah is ninety days after
the fast of Gedalyah, so we have a total of seven days. We have ninety
days minus seven, that’s eighty-three days all together, until the tenth
of Tevet. That just about fits the ninety-one pages exactly, and you can
review the beginning sections very quickly! Together with the commentaries,
it will take a full week, but let’s say you start at section seven or eight,
that’s one section a day. One section a day will take you up until #91,
and really that is what the Beis Yosef says….
mentioned this long commentary of the Sha”ch, and the Beis Yosef says that
what we are really talking about here is the first part of the Mishnah.
We need to refer back to the beginning of the Mishnah. It comes out from
there that, the money in question, the dinar… What is under dispute here?
According to the Tur, the fruit is still sitting in the storekeeper’s property.
Everything here is referring to a situation where the cases of fruit are
still in the store. The customer said to the storekeeper, “Give me a dinar’s
worth of fruit,” and the storekeeper weighed it out and placed the fruit
before him in an area that was his own property. He then asked the customer
for the dinar, and the customer claimed that he had already paid him!
the situation is that all of this is taking place within the confines of
the store. The customer swears on an object that has Hashem’s Name in it
(like a Torah scroll, or a pair of tefillin), and he gets to take possession
of the fruit. This is because it is not the practice of grocers to allow
the merchandise to leave the store area without being paid. But if they
were… How do we define the merchandise leaving the possession of the storekeeper?
see here that the fruit was indeed sitting “outside.” There is a contradiction
here in the Tur, that allowing the fruit out of his domain showed that
they were indeed sitting outside. It was in the public domain. According
to the Rambam and the Ri”f, this dispute took place in the public domain,
and it is to this that the Beis Yosef is referring. The Rambam and the
Ran wrote that they are having a dispute over the fruit in the public domain—that
the judgment [about who swears and takes possession] is when the fruit
was in the public domain. And the customer wants to take the fruit home.
It must be that he paid the dinar to the storekeeper, because otherwise
the grocer would never have allowed the fruit to leave his shop. Rabbeinu
wrote that they are arguing over the dinar, meaning, where was the dinar
the dinar had been laid down outside on some box… The Rabbis taught that
when it says that the customer paid the dinar to the storekeeper, it means
that it was laid down in the public domain. [How do we know this?] The
later fact in question [the placement of the money] is related to the earlier
one—the fruit was in the public domain, and the money was also. Why then
does it say that the customer placed the money “before the storekeeper”?
[Wouldn’t that imply that it took place inside the store? Not necessarily.]
He placed it down outside the store, in the public domain, because if it
had been otherwise (that the money was laid down within the store), it
would be incumbent on the storekeeper to swear [but not on a holy object,
that he had not received the money], and he would not be forced to allow
the customer to take possession of the fruits in question. So it seems
should help us that now, on this yahrtzeit, everyone will make a resolution
to finish up all of the first ninety-one sections of Shulchan Aruch [Choshen