Emunah Based on the Teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov

Archive for March 5, 2010

Meshivas Nefesh 30 – “Ayeh”

A person sometimes falls from his spiritual level, and the fall and descent can be very immense. There are those who fall into disgraceful, impure situations. They fall into doubts about their faith and terrible, disgraceful, strange thoughts. The forces of Klippah warp and surround their hearts with bewilderment, as they become dizzy and all sorts of confusion overtake them.

Although in such situations it’s impossible to find Hashem, still, even then there is hope, through searching and seeking Hashem and asking, “Ayeh?, Where is the place of His glory?” As much as one sees himself distant from His glory and honor, he should use his distress to continue asking and seeking even more, “Where is the place of His glory?”

The searching, seeking and yearning for Hashem’s honor, and shouting and asking, “Where is the place of His glory?” in itself causes a tremendous ascent, up to the point of Ayeh, which is a very exalted and holy spiritual level.

This is the most important practice in Teshuvah, to constantly search and seek, “Ayeh, Where is the place of His glory?” and through this all falls can be transformed into great climbs. This is the “going down for the purpose of climbing up” which is discussed in all the holy works.

This is a very deep concept which you should be study in the original source and be sure to understand well.

Based on Likutei Moharan II 12

This teaching, which is known as “Ayeh”, is amongst the principal directives of Hischazkus, together with “Azamra- Nekudos Tovos”, searching for the good points. Reb Noson in Hil’ Eruvei Techumin 6 explains that these ideas are crucial for anybody who wants to be true and everlasting in his Yiddishkeit.

Revealing the Honor of Hashem

There are times when a person merits honoring Hashem. By studying Torah and performing Mitzvos, feelings for Hashem’s honor awaken with him, and his soul is spirited with love and awe of His Greatness. This is in fact the purpose of creation, as everything which Hashem created is only for His honor, meaning that people should recognize His glory in their hearts.

On the other hand, there are times when a person feels distant from Hashem’s honor. These are times when anguish overcomes him, and he falls into the illusion of feeling that he’s not accomplishing enough that day, or that ‘today is not a day.’

There are also personal needs which people need to take care of, such as eating, sleeping, running a family, as well as fiscal requirements. All of these are called ‘Klippas Nogah’, which refers to all things which are permitted activities, but are a ‘mixture’ of good and not. The holiness of these activities depends upon whether or not a person is thinking of Hashem when performing them. But there is a Klippah which surrounds and bewilders a person’s heart when occupied with these necessities which makes it difficult to think of and recognize Hashem at those times.

Sometimes, the Klippah overcomes a person to the degree that he actually causes a dishonor of Hashem, by falling into impure places of sin, G-d forbid.

The situation in which a people find themselves most of the day is more or less one in which it’s hard to discover a possible way to draw close to recognizing Hashem’s honor. Darkness covers the world, and Hashem’s glory remains unrevealed. This klippah is the primary cause for the distance which people feel from Hashem.

Everything Receives its Life-Force from Hashem

The truth is, that a person must be very strong with the fundamental belief that Hashem’s honor is found everywhere in the universe, as ‘the whole world is full of His Glory’. The only thing is, is that there’s many levels in the revelation of His Glory.

It’s imperative to know that in reality, all the klippah and forces of evil also receive their life-force from Hashem. The life-force which they get is actually from the highest levels of His glory and honor, which is called ‘The Hidden Utterance’, and from there is drawn energy for the entire world, including the powers of concealment and evil. The Ariza”l teaches that ‘sheviras keilim’ came about when the supernal light was too great, which teaches us that the life-force from Hashem gives existence even to those ‘broken’ places which are concealing Him, in aspect of a ‘hidden utterance’.  It is impossible to truly understand how Hashem’s glory is really found in all evil places too, and we are forbidden from trying to comprehend it.

The ‘hidden utterance’ is referred to as ‘Ayeh, where is the place of His Glory’, which is the sefirah of Kesser, from which infinite divine mercy and compassion comes forth. We don’t see or understand this, and therefore it’s called “Ayeh, Where?” because Hashem’s honor is hidden within it. On Shabbos by Mussaf when we recite the Kedushah of Kesser, we are elevated to this exalted plane, and we then ask, ‘Ayeh, Where is the place of His Glory?” because then the source of divine mercy is revealed, the great light which cleanses sin and brings a person close to Hashem even if he is now in the darkest places.

Searching Ayeh, Where is His Honor?

Thus, the Rebbe reveals to us this wonderful and crucial directive, that when a person sees that he is in a situation in which he’s fallen into concealment and he cannot discover Hashem’s honor, he should attach himself to this exalted place called Ayeh, which is the light of Kesser which shines every Shabbos morning. He should lift himself up from his feelings of distance and his habit of looking at and measuring his successes. He should know that Hashem’s honor is certainly to be found in these places, and the reality is that if not for Him sustaining them, they wouldn’t even have any existence.

He should cease to follow his own mind and understanding, in which he’s accustomed to differentiating between ‘successful days’ and ‘days of failure’. Instead he should be constantly aware that Hashem is everywhere, and all his negative feelings are baseless. Hashem is certainly here, and He is very great. This that a person doesn’t feel it is because he’s missed the mark in his ‘nogah’ activities, and he repairs himself through the discomfort which he is now experiencing and his asking “Ayeh, Why is my sin concealing His honor, I don’t want this concealment!” Through this searching he connects himself to the understanding that even in this emptiness and void, wondrous things are taking place, and he learns for the future that in every activity there is a wonderful way how to serve Hashem and come close to Him, by revealing His honor in every place to where he’s been sent.

Being strong to continue to want to reveal Hashem’s glory even in those places, in itself rectifies the concealment, and draws upon a person great divine compassion, through which every fall can be transformed into a climb and ascent. The power of Ayeh is very great, and it’s the source of cleansing from sin. All depends and is rooted in a person not following his own understanding of the situation, and being ready to yield his own feelings.

The main thing to keep in mind is that in these places and situations it’s impossible to see Hashem’s glory revealed, and the only solution is through searching and seeking Ayeh? This in itself will break the confusion he feels in his heart, and the concealment which is fooling him into thinking that Hashem’s honor can’t be found here.

This is amazing guidance through which a person can hold fast in any situation it may be, whether in days when he’s feeling down, or when he’s busy with nogah activities. No matter what, he can ask and seek, “Ayeh, Where is the place of His honor?” Hashem’s glory is certainly to be found here. He shouldn’t follow his own understanding and feelings which are tricking him. He should instead be aware that there are many levels of Hashem’s revelation, and the highest level is the honor which is hidden in Ayeh, and the way through which to connect with it is through searching and asking Ayeh, and through this he ascends to exalted levels of holiness.

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Laws pertaining to Preparing the House for Pesach – Part I

By HaRav Shimon Anshin shlit”a

Many people are mistaken in regards to preparing the house for Pesach in that on the one hand, they clean more than is necessary according to the Halacha, yet on the other hand, they overlook those areas that are halachically obligated to be cleaned.   In the upcoming weeks we will B”EH try to clarify these points.

General rules

i) The goal of cleaning the house for Pesach is specifically for the preparation of the Mitzvah of “Biur Chametz” (“Burning the Chametz”).  And since it is impossible to remove all the Chametz in one short period of time, we need to start preparing by cleaning the house well in advance.  Therefore, in preparing for the mitzvah it is appropriate only to clean in those places that are likely to have Chometz, and it is certainly not necessary to clean or check those places where there is no chance of Chametz. 

That being said, our sages give us the guidelines as to which places are most likely to contain Chametz, thereby to check and clean in those places specifically, and which places that are not likely to contain Chometz and can be ignored without checking or cleaning.

ii) The mitzvah of Bedikas Chametz (“checking for Chometz”) is on the night of 14th Nissan and it is possible to bring forward the search up to thirty days before Pesach.  Since today we have significantly larger homes with many cupboards etc the need for checking versus that of previous generations, makes it very difficult to remove all the articles from these places for the requirement of checking on the night of the 14th Nissan, as is required. Therefore, it is not merely good advice to start checking in advance, it almost becomes an obligation.  And so, there are definitely places that one can check early in advance and which do not have to be re-checked on the night of the 14th itself.

iii)  Checking for Chametz must meet three conditions:

1. It must be at night.

2. It must be by the light of a candle.

3. One must guard the place that was checked so that no Chametz will have a chance to enter there again.  If one does not guard this place after checking, one will need to re-check it on the night of the 14th.  (For example, those places where small children go, need to be securely sealed.  That being said, if it is impractical to protect the place appropriately, then one needs to check it as close to Pesach as possible.)

iv) Checking for Chametz as we mentioned needs to be done with a lit candle.  However, any search that is performed before the 14th can be performed l’chatchila (to begin with) using a flash-light!  In fact, it would seem preferable when performing a check before the 14th to use a flash-light, since checking with a candle makes it difficult to check appropriately due to the fact that people are afraid to burn/damage fabric or char the walls etc.  On the 14th however, we must check with a candle as we have no power to chance the decrees of our Sages.

Note:  One cannot rely on the light of the room itself when performing the checking, because it does not adequately illuminate the corners of the room, or under/between the furniture, and these places specifically are the main places halachically obligated for checking.

v)  For what does one need to search and remove?

According to the Poskim, it appears that one is Halachically obligated to remove even small “clean” (edible) crumbs.  However, crumbs that are “dirty”, where “there is no concern of them being eaten” do not require checking or removal.  And so, crumbs that are found on the floor are not obligated by the Halacha for removal.  Also, crumbs that are “not clean” and which are found in cupboards do not need removal either.  However, cupboards that contain food or vessels that are specifically used for Pesach, one would need to remove even such “dirty” crumbs because we are concerned that they may end up in the food and one will eat them inadvertently.  Therefore, only where such crumbs would not be considered “fit for a dog to eat” would we not need to remove them.

vi)  Can one rely on the cleanliness of a place without having to perform Bedikas Chametz?

In practice, there are various types of cleanliness:

1. General cleanliness of a place does not nullify the obligation.

2. If the place is cleaned with specific attention to there not being any crumbs, one does not have to perform Bedikas Chametz there.  Therefore “smooth” places that are cleaned well, would not require Bedikas Chametz.

3. With regards to places that have holes and grooves like corners of a cupboard, drawer, or window sill, it would not suffice to rely on cleanliness and not perform a check. However, if these places were cleaned with a needle or cleaning-cloth in such a way that deem the crumbs inedible, then it would in fact help in removing the obligation to check such a place.

That being said, one who is stringent about Bedikas Chametz in respect to those places that have holes and grooves, even though they were cleaned well before, will find Blessing and the Poskim write that the reason for this is that, even though we are sure that we have cleaned there in an appropriate way, our Sages obligate us to ascertain that the cleanliness is in fact valid (in the same way that for example, a factory needs to perform “Quality Assurance” on its products after manufacturing.)

Next week, I”YH we will clarify what is considered to be a place that has had Chometz in it and that which is not.

The Purifying Effect of the Red Heifer – A life of Divine Providence

The night of the Pesach Seder, a little after midnight, Reb Chaim sits in the company of his family around a table laden with silverware and delicacies. His eyes are becoming heavy and making their way with great difficulty through the text. Nishmas, Hallel, Hodu La’Shem, one page after the other. He is struggling to articulate the words of the story; they seem heavy, as if each one weighs a ton. He searches for a melody to arouse his heart but this too evades him. A sigh of distress escapes from inside him: ‘what’s happened to me, what is missing? I prepared so well and performed all the Mitzvos meticulously, nothing was missing, neither physically nor spiritually…’

The truth is that from the very commencement of the Seder things weren’t going smoothly. The heart simply refused to take part and nothing in the story touched him in particular. He sincerely tried to do what he could, made use of insight, searched in the commentaries for an idea – something to create a connection. Yet his heart only sank even deeper – it just wasn’t interested and nothing seemed to speak to it. When nothing happened by Kiddush, Reb Chaim was sure it would come by the telling of the story and when nothing got moving there either, he placed his hope in the eating of the Matzah – surely then, at such an auspicious moment, something would happen.

When his heart refused to budge even then, Reb Chaim raised his hands in despair; until now he was somewhat patient but what the continuation of the story after Benching demanded of him, was just too much. The songs and praises appeared one after the other as if they would never end. ‘Seriously,’ he bitterly thought, ‘what do they want from me? I have no connection to all this – it doesn’t speak to me – I’m just not in the right frame of mind for this whole celebration.’

Suddenly a more logical thought entered his mind: ‘where did this whole story begin, wasn’t it by the actual exodus from Mitzrayim? The original Pesach was a result of the Jews leaving Mitzrayim.  They experienced firsthand the suffering and the miraculous redemption that followed, they surely rejoiced with all their hearts. If I would have seen the ten plagues and splitting of the sea, I too would have sung the songs and praises with tremendous liveliness and passion. But NOW, what do they want from me, how can they demand of me in the middle of real life, amidst a sea of problems and troubles, to forget everything and celebrate freedom, I’m not at all there!’

Honestly, what do they want from our dear friend…?

Okay, so let’s try and tell this same story with a few minor changes:

On the outskirts of a quiet town stood a small house built of mortar sunk halfway into the ground with its roof stooping to the ground. In it lived Reb Chatzkel the wagon driver, together with his twelve sons. Reb Chatzkel’s Shabboses were as destitute as his weekdays – anything rather than to be dependent on others.  Spring arrived, and with it the Chag of Pesach, but there was not too much work to be done in the house whose floors had never seen bread crumbs. Yet just as a crumb of bread was not to be found, neither was a crumb of Matzah; wine and other necessities were not even a dream. The eve of Pesach arrived and Chatzkel the simple Jew, put his faith in Hashem. Already at midday he donned his ‘Yom Tov clothes’, took his Machzor and made his way to the Beis Ha’knessess. Then, as in all good stories, out of nowhere – a horse and wagon appeared and stopped next to his house. Rugged porters emerged from the wagon carrying baskets filled to the brim with meat, fish, wine, Matzahs and more. The family members stood mesmerized with their eyes peeled wide open and when the wagon went on its way they heard the echoing call of the wagon driver: “More work to be done, hurry, sunset is on its way…”

That wondrous Pesach night, Reb Chatzkel looked like one of the great Tzaddikim. His face radiated with a heavenly light, Kiddush was made with a loud and passionate roar, with awe and trepidation, and with tremendous joy. The ancient story of the Exodus from Mitzrayim flowed from his lips with a sweetness from another world. The wine tasted as if it was from the finest of wineries and the Matzos seemed to come from the jar of Mann that was kept in the Holy Ark. During the recitation of the Hallel the whole family came close to Hispashtus Ha’Gashmiyus (Shedding of Physicality) and during Nishmas it was as if every limb took part in the praises.

Let us look closely and see what is the difference between Reb Chatzkel and Reb Chaim.

It’s very simple. The night of the Seder it supposed to take us to another world completely – to the pinnacle of emunah to which Klal Yisroel were uplifted at Yetziyas Mitzrayim, to the place where the da’as (holy awareness) is freed from the chains of nature and Chametz-like thoughts. Every Jew is obligated to see himself as if he left Mitzrayim. The problem is that it is impossible to attain this when the heart is overloaded with Chametz.

Chametz is a heavy load. It weighs down the soul and doesn’t allow it to spread its wings and ascend to clear emunah.

This is exactly the purpose of the Mitzvah of eradicating chametz. Klal Yisroel fulfills this with tremendous meticulousness and G-d forbid to suspect a Jew like Reb Chaim of making light of such an important Mitzvah. Even from the day after Tu B’Shvat his family members are toiling in eradicating Chametz. Reb Chaim puts no limit on the time and money involved – anything to make sure that his home has no trace of Chametz. Every room, shelf and corridor is checked, cleaned and scrubbed. Reb Chaim works with all his strength yet he doesn’t know that the Chametz has found its hiding place in his heart and mind.

This is how Reb Chaim sat down to his Seder, with his house clean to the extreme, but his heart clogged with Chametz.

The Chametz that accumulates in the mind and heart is the most stubborn of all, being rigid and sticky. It seems as if it is impossible to get rid of it. Everyone knows how hard it is to rid oneself of a bothering thought. These thoughts visit our minds every day and they take over to the extent that the person thinking them becomes unsure of who really is in charge.

So what can be done?

The true problem with Chametz is that it is rooted in tumas meis (the impurity of the dead). Chametz-like thoughts defile the soul with tumas meis – with lifelessness, low-spiritedness, sadness and heaviness. It is absolutely impossible to receive Pesach with tumas meis. A good and pure thought revives the soul with a spirit of purity and happiness, and conversely a negative thought envelopes the soul with a spirit of tumah (impurity), sadness and despair.

For tumas meis there is only one solution – the ashes of the Parah Adumah (Red Heifer). But where can this be found?

This necessity can be found on one day only – Purim. The Rebbe explicitly teaches (Likutey Tinyana 74): “For originally all beginnings were from Pesach and this is why all the Mitzvos are in commemoration of the exodus from Mitzrayim, but now…. (The Rebbe did not finish his statement).” The intention is, as is evident from the lesson, that now all beginnings are from Purim. Why? Because from ‘Purim’ is created the ‘Parah’ (The root of both the word Parah and Purim is the two letters Pey Reish). The tremendous light of Purim reveals that even in the greatest darkness and concealment Hashem can be found. Purim paves the way for Pesach, for if not for it, we would have no connection to the celebrations of Pesach. For how can it be demanded of us to see ourselves as if we left Mitzrayim – we cannot even imagine such a thing? We can, however, be spoken to in the language of Purim, one that penetrates into nature and shows that everything is truly a miracle.

Once the beginning was from Pesach – when did this change? In the days of Mordechai.

When Mordechai saw the frightening troubles, he knew that Pesach would not help as everyone was already sunk in utter despair. There was no option – it was necessary to reveal to them an entirely new illumination, to show them that absolutely everything is guided by Hashem, not that which is above nature but nature itself too.

If Mordechai had not written the Megillah, the story could have slipped by as a completely natural sequence of events, nothing more than politics. The king killed the queen, took another in her place, got frustrated with his minister, had him hanged and a wise man like Mordechai was just the natural choice to fill the position. Yet when we read the Megillah, we see that everything was perfectly orchestrated to the finest detail, everything perfectly timed. This is how the miracle of Purim took place, completely within the course of nature. Mordechai reveals and illuminates the world with the knowledge that there is no nature and miracles, but only miracles; miracles outside of nature and miracles within nature.

Baruch Hashem we merited to Purim and now as we approach the holy days of Pesach, let us not forget that in order to ascend to where this chag is supposed to take us, we must purify ourselves of tumas meis. The ashes of the Parah we take from Purim, from the knowledge that the Tzaddikim reveal that there is no nature at all and that everything in only Hashgacha (divine providence) and miracles. This knowledge envelopes the soul with a spirit of purity, cleanses the mind and the heart of the stubborn and sticky Chametz, and implants the elated feeling of living on miracles.

It is pleasant to think about the story of Chatzkel the wagon driver, but we are more like Reb Chaim – we specifically need the story of Purim. Our simple everyday lives are filled with miracles, the influx of bounty doesn’t have to come on a mysterious wagon on the eve of Pesach. Even if it arrives through completely natural means, it is no less of a miracle.

And if we thought that we covered the expenses from our own pockets, let us be careful not to cover the miracles with nature.

 You can download the entire parasha sheet here.

 

 

 

 

 

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