Rav Eliezer Berland on Parshat Mishpatim

Rav Eliezer Berland on Parshat Mishpatim

PARSHAT MISHPATIM:

“SIX DAYS OF THE WEEK YOU WILL DO YOUR WORK, AND ON THE SEVENTH DAY OBSERVE SHABBOS”[1]

(Teachings[2] From Rav Berland Shlit”a)

A child that sees his father sitting calmly and happily and singing at the Shabbos table, this soothes a child’s heart and makes him feel good.  A beautiful Shabbos table is a child’s whole life and all his happiness.

Rabeinu[3] (Rebbe Nachman of Breslov) said, Shabbos is like a great big wedding, like a great big wedding with many people being happy together and dancing.  And there is one person in his finest most honorable clothing and he runs fast and wants to get into the wedding and be a part of the happiness but it is not so easy to get in, one needs merits[4] even to see the wedding through a hole in the wall, through a tiny crack.

When the holy Shabbos arrives there is a wedding in Heaven, This is a wedding of 26 hours from Kabbalas Shabbos[5] until Havdalah[6].  Every Jew has to join this wedding he has to join the Niggunim (melodies – songs) and the dancing of this wedding in Heaven.

Immediately during Kabbalas Shabbos when we pray the words, “Lcha Dodie” Hashem (G-d) enters the Garden of Eden[7] to dance with the Tzadikim.  The whole Shabbos is as if Hashem dances with all the Tzadikim and all the angles in the Garden of Eden.  All of them are dancing in a circle around Hashem (G-d) saying[8], “This is Hashem that we have been longing for, we will rejoice and be happy in his salvation.”

While dancing around Hashem everyone sees Hashem face to face and during this dancing, everyone receives his nourishment from the light of the shining mirror[9] (Aspeklariyah Hameira).  All the goodness we have in this physical World comes from the happiness drawn down on Shabbos from the dancing and the Niggunim (melodies – songs) of Hashem with the Tzadikim in the Garden of Eden.

The Rebbe[10] says, Shabbos is just like a wedding meaning literally Shabbos is a wedding.   Shabbos is like a big and important wedding that everyone attends, but the problem is that not everyone successfully gets into the wedding hall since the wedding hall does not have space for everyone.  Similarly, to the weddings of the Chassidic Masters[11] where 30,000, 40,000, and 50,000 Chassidim[12] all want to attend, yet there is not enough room for everyone.

Some Chassidim try to climb up to the window and some stand on the roof in order to get a glimpse of the Choopah, to see the great happiness of the wedding, to see the groom dancing.  Perhaps there is a small crack in the wall or maybe from a nearby rooftop one can catch a glimpse of the happiness of this wedding, maybe one can see the dancing…

The Rebbe[13] says, “Shabbos is like a wedding,” but how does one merit to see the happiness of Shabbos, how does one get into the wedding hall?  To see this happiness of Shabbos is not simple, the Rebbe[14] explains, “One requires great merit just to be able look through a hole in the wall.”

To sing the Shabbos songs with complete devotion and in complete happiness, this is how one joins the wedding.  Shabbos is only for dancing, for singing, for Niggunim (melodies – songs).  Once Shabbos arrives, a person needs to be happy, and to sing and to dance!

Shabbos is happiness without end, a happiness that never finishes.  On Shabbos It is forbidden to have any thoughts of sadness, any worries, and any feelings of anxiety, and one’s Judaism totally depends on this.  The more a person is happy on Shabbos, and the more he dances, the more he merits receiving the light of Hashem (G-d) the whole week, since the light of Hashem shines for a person according to how happy he is on Shabbos.  There is no permission for anyone to have any sorrow or any complaints on the holy Shabbos, a person needs to feel[15] “as if all of his work is completed” and no tasks await him.

When the father of the Great Chassidic Master Dovid of Lelov[16] was asked, “how did you merit a son like this?”  He replied, that when he would sing the Shabbos Niggun ‘Baruch Adokai Yom Yom[17],’ and when he would arrive at the words, “and may you all merit to see children and grandchildren toiling in Torah and in Mitzvos (commandments),” he would say these words with tears.

He would cry out these words with complete devotion to Hashem for at least a half hour with the intent that he should merit to have children and grandchildren that are true Tzadikim (righteous people).  A person wants his son to keep his peyas (sidelocks), but why should he keep his peyas since he sees his father on Shabbos only sleeps and eats, and sleeps and eats repeatedly Heaven Forbid!

If his son would see his father singing with excitement, and dancing with his children, and making his children excited over the holy Shabbos then no child would cut off his peyas.  No child would become obsessed with his vices[18] because children want to serve Hashem (G-d), but children do not know how if they do not see their father and mother serving Hashem.

And for a child serving Hashem begins with happiness and singing at the Shabbos table.  Therefore, if a father sings with devotion the Niggun of Shabbos, “and may you all merit to see children and grandchildren toiling in Torah and in Mitzvos (commandments),” all the fathers and sons will keep their peyas and merit to live in Torah and Mitzvos.

make a prayer

A PRAYER[19] TO MERIT A HOLY SHABBOS:  Ribono Shel Olam – Master of the Universe, give me the merit to keep Shabbos in all its intricacies and details and I should always merit to receive Shabbos in holiness and purity, in happiness and in joy, with song, with melodies, and with dancing.  Please may it be that in all my days I sing all the Zemiros (songs) of Shabbos in the height of enthusiasm.

And I should never skip one Shabbos song, not from the three Shabbos meals and not from the songs of Malva Malka[20], because in these Shabbos songs, in the happiness of these Shabbos Zemiros lies all of one’s abundance and salvation.  And may it be your will before you Hashem my Lord the G-d of my fathers, since you are completely filled with mercy and strength, may you help me and give me the merit in your abundant mercy and great kindness to receive every Shabbos with great happiness and abundant joy and in great love.

Give me the merit that I myself should toil in Shabbos preparations with strength and speed.  Help me Hashem to always bathe and go to the mikve[21] before Shabbos and as I bath and immerse in the mikve in this World, please purify and sanctify my body, and my Nefesh (lower soul), my Ruach (middle soul), and my Neshama (higher soul) from your high holiness.  Please remove from me and from all of the Nation of Israel all the evil that cleaves to us and may we merit to be a part of your external goodness forever.

A BAAL SHEM TOV STORY FROM TODAY

Story 1/2:  Rav Berland Shlit”a was invited to a meal (a seudah) with Rav Weiss, the Giavi”d[22] (the chief judge to this day) of the Beth Din Tzedek[23] of Jerusalem the Eida Charaedis.  The Rav arrived on time and was escorted into the Giavi’’d’s room.  There were other important members of the Beth Din Tzedek[24] of Jerusalem present at the seudah as well as other important rabbis.

When the Rav entered the room the Giavi”d immediately stood up for him and everyone there looked at the Rav in amazement that the Giavi”d would give him so much honor (kavod[25])!   The Giavi”d began the seudah by washing his hands and everyone followed.  The Rav also filled his washing cup and stood near the Giavi”d away from the sink.  Then the Rav took the washing cup and poured it over his hands making sure to spill the water directly onto his shirt and pants, and NOT into the sink.

The Giavi”d, a Jew from Hungarian descent, could not stand this messiness since it is known that Hungarian Jewry have a custom of being extremely orderly and neat, and for the rest of the seudah no one gave the Rav any honor or esteem.

Story 2/2:  During one of the first periods of controversy over the Rav, after the Rav brought the Shuvu Bonim Yeshivah to Jerusalem from Bene Brak, word got out that someone had donated an extremely large sum of Tzadaka (a pidyon) to the Rav.  These individuals against the Rav were so jealous that they could not stand it.

They decided the Rav needed to be “taught a lesson” and these individuals received permission from a Jewish authority to hire two Jewish ruffians (tough guys) to beat up the Rav, Heaven Forbid.  During this time, the Rav went out every night to do personal prayer (heisbodidus[26]) by the field near the Burial Site of Shmuel the Prophet (Shmuel Ha Navie by Ramot) and these individuals told the two ruffians that the forest by Shmuel HaNavie would be the best time to catch the Rav.

That night at around Jewish midnight[27], the Rav went out to the field and as he began to walk into the forest, the two ruffians jumped out and began to knock the Rav around.  They hit him and pushed him over and the Rav fell to the ground.  The Rav’s students that accompanied him had no time to react.

As one of the ruffians began to tell the Rav who had sent them, before he could say the names…the Rav jumped up, brushed himself off and said, “Thank you so much, I really appreciate it!  Here is 100 shekels for you and 100 shekels for you for all your work.  And if you do it again, I have another 100 shekels for each of you,” and the Rav braced himself for another round.  These two ruffians turned to one another and muttered, “This guy really is the Baal Shem Tov – MAMASH[28]!”

Meaning the Rav literally was on the highest spiritual level these two ruffians had ever seen and they left the Rav and Shmuel HaNavie completely bewildered and embarrassed.  Later on, these two ruffians revealed to Rav Nachman Horwitz that they had each received 20 shekels to beat up the Rav which was considered at the time an extremely large sum, and when the Rav whole heartedly gave them each 100 shekels they could not help but do Teshuvah (repentance) on the spot.

THE MESSAGE: PARSHAS SHEKALIM

Why would Rav Berland Shlit”a embarrass himself in front of the Giavi”d?  Why would the Rav willingly get beat up and even pay for it?  Rebbe Nachman[29] wrote, “That every person needs to minimize his own personal honor, and to increase G-d’s honor.”

And the Rav[30] taught, “Everyone goes through what they go through in order to know that they are not Hashem.  Because if a person did not have difficulties, he would think that he is a big Tzadik, an angel from Heaven, he would think he is literally G-d.  All the work one must do in Judaism is to nullify oneself to G-d’s eternal light[31].  And this is Purim, since the word Purim (פורים) shares the same root word as the word crumbs (פירורים)[32] since on Purim a person is turned into crumbs.

“This starts from the reading of Parshas Shekalim – the Half Shekel.  To begin the work of Purim of turning into crumbs one starts by knowing that he is only a half.  If a person thinks that he is complete perfection, then the Mitzvos (commandments) he performs are not worth anything.  A person needs to see himself as only a half, as only a small crumb, a small piece connected to the Nation of Israel.”

The Mitzvah of donating the Half Shekel[33] “is a cherished Mitzvah” since it literally connects the Nation of Israel together as[34], “a positive commandment on each man in the Nation of Israel to give half a shekel every year so each person has a portion in paying the costs for sacrificing the communal offerings.”

And, Reb Nosson of Breslov[35] writes that this Mitzvah instills, “that it is necessary to be humble in the pinnacle[36] of humility and to literally be nothing.”  How does one practically live with humility? How does a person practically[37] “minimize his own personal honor and increase G-d’s honor,” how does a person turn himself into crumbs?

Rebbe Nosson[38] explains, “That when a person hears someone embarrassing him and he remains unmoved[39] and stays quiet, and when a person will endure[40] embarrassment…through this one merits the honor of Hashem.” And Rebbe Nachman lived this path of embarrassment, as Rebbe Nosson[41] told over, “That Rebbe Nachman of blessed memory purposefully brought upon himself embarrassment in all sorts of ways, and Rebbe Nachman said…that these embarrassments will be extremely good for him…and the embarrassments saved his life.”

So, why would Rav Berland Shlit”a embarrass himself in front of the Giavi”d?  Why would the Rav willingly get beat up and even pay for it?  Because this is how Rebbe Nachman achieved the pinnacle of humility[42] “to minimize his own personal honor, and to increase G-d’s honor.”

TWO HALACHOS

Do we still have the Mitzvah of the Half Shekel today?  No. However, there is the set custom[43] to give money “as a remembrance to the Half Shekel” before Purim.  And the Chafetz Chayim[44] writes, “And even a poor person that lives off of Tzadaka needs to give [a donation as a remberance to the Half Shekel] from what others gave him, according to several rabbinical authorities (achronim).”

Who should receive the Tzadaka given “as a remembrance to the Half Shekel?”  HaRav Idan Ben Ephriam[45] explains, “Since the main element of giving the Half Shekel was for offering sacrifices, this Tzadaka should be given to Torah Scholars, or to Yeshivas or to Kollels that produce Torah Scholars.  Because from the day the Beis Hamikdash (the Holy Temple) was destroyed Hashem only has in this World 4 amos[46] of Jewish law.  Also, the level of learning Torah is greater than the level of offering sacrifices.  Furthermore, in this time since there is no alter for sacrifices to atone for the Nation of Israel, Torah Scholars and their students atone for the Nation of Israel through their Torah learning.”

 HaRav Eliezer Ben Etyah and the Rabbaneat Shlit”a, Chayim Eraza Ben Lucy Lea may his Neshama have an Aliyah, Matisyahu Yisrael Ben Rachel Malka, Ester Rachel Bas Nurit, Menachem Ben Ester Rachel, Moshe Ben Ester Rachel, Sarah Bas Ester Rachel.                  

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Good Shabbos – Good Chodesh!

[1] שמות פרק כג פסוק יב ~ ששת ימים תעשה מעשיך וביום השביעי תשבת

[2] Translated from the “Tzama Nafi” parsha sheet 33

[3] שיחות הר”ן סעיף רנד

[4] זכות

[5] The prayer service of receiving and welcoming the Shabbos’ arrival

[6] The prayer service at the end of Shabbos

[7] גן עדן

[8] ישעיהו פרק כה פסוק ט ~ ואמר ביום ההוא הנה אלהינו זה קוינו לו ויושיענו זה יקוק קוינו לו נגילה ונשמחה בישועתו:

[9]Rebbe Nachman writes that, “The Aspeklariyah Hameira (אספקלריא המאירה) is like a person that sees something clearly since it is close by…and this is the level of a person that does a Mitzvah (commandment) with great happiness.”  And Rav Arush translates “Aspeklariyah Hameira” as “the shining mirror.”  Likeutey Moharan part 1 Torah 5 subsection 2 and the explanation Shalom Malchus

[10] שיחות הר”ן סעיף רנד

[11] אדמו”רים

[12] Congregants of these Chassidic Masters

[13] שיחות הר”ן סעיף רנד

[14] שיחות הר”ן רנד

[15] רש”י שמות פרק כ פסוק ח ~ ועשית כל מלאכתך – כשתבא שבת, יהא בעיניך כאלו מלאכתך עשויה, שלא תהרהר אחר מלאכה:

[16] Meaning from the city Lelov

[17] “יצוה”

[18] תאוות

[19] This prayer is from Reb Nosson’s book Likutey Tefilos and Rav Berland’s book Tefilah LiAni

[20] The meal after Shabbos has ended in which we accompany the Shabbos as it leaves.

[21] Ritual bath

[22] גאב”ד – גאון אב בית דין

[23] The “Badatz” or in Hebrew: בד”ץ – בית דין צדק העדה החרדית ירושלים

[24] The “Badatz” or in Hebrew: בד”ץ – בית דין צדק העדה החרדית ירושלים

[25] כבוד

[26] התבודדות

[27] Meaning the Jewish midnight known in Hebrew as חצות (chatzos)

[28] Meaning; Really, literally

[29] לקוטי מוהר”ן חלק א תורה ו סעיף א

[30] שיעור בפורים דמוקפין ט”ו אדר תשנ”ח – מודפס בספר ‘גדולת ימי הפורים וסיפור המגילה’ עמוד 12-13

[31] האין סוף

[32] The word “Purim” and the word “crumbs” share the following root letters: פ-ו-ר.  Hebrew as the holy language consists of “root words” so when two words share the same root a connection exists between them.

[33] ספר תודעה – חודש שבט ד”ה פרשת שקלים

[34] ספר תודעה – חודש שבט ד”ה פרשת שקלים

[35] לקוטי הלכות אורח חיים הלכות תפילין ו סעיף כד

[36] Height, apex, or in Hebrew תכלית

[37] לקוטי מוהר”ן חלק א תורה ו סעיף א

[38] קצור לקוטי מוהר”ן הישן חלק א תורה ו סעיף ב

[39] This translation is from the Breslov Research Institute’s Likeutey Moharan for the word דום.

[40] יסבול מלשון סבל – לסבול

[41] שחבי הר”ן חלק ‘סדר נסיעות שלו לארץ ישראל’ אות י

[42] לקוטי מוהר”ן חלק א תורה ו סעיף א

[43] ש”ע אורח חיים סימן תרצד סעיף א

[44] משנה ברורה סימן תרצד סעיף א סעיף קטן א

[45] עידן המועדים הלכות פורים אות ד

[46] An “amah” (the singular form of the word “amos”) is a unit of measurement.  One amah is 48 cm or according to the Chazon Ish 57.7 cm.

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