Thursday, December 24, 2015

"Tranquility that is good to bend ones shoulders and bear" Rabbi Eliezer Berland on Parshas Veyechi

"He saw tranquility that it was good…yet he bent his shoulder to bear…" (49:15)

   Yissaschar was the only one of all the tribes that had no connection to this world! The only bond that Yissaschar had to this world was the study of Torah. This is the tribe that everyone has to make the effort to assist, with each tribe contributing something. Zevulun does business—"Zevulun rejoiced in his going out"—Yehudah wages war, Levi serves in the Beis HaMikdash. But Yissaschar takes nothing from this world…only the study of Torah. Yissaschar was only interested in learning Torah, because the study of Torah is greater even than serving in theBeis HaMikdash, as it is written, "It is more precious than pearls" (Mishlei 3:15). It is greater than the Kohen Gadol going into the Kodesh Kodoshim. A talmid chachamwho is a mamzer is greater than a Kohen Gadol who is an am ha'aretz—even though he is a mamzer who came from a forbidden relationship and has such a terrible blemish. If he learns Torah day and night, he is greater than the Kohen Gadol.

   The only way a person can escape from his yetzer hara is through studying Torah in depth—by learning until he feels that he is about to die, until he feels like he wants to die—"regarding a man who would die in the tent," (Numbers 19:14).He needs to toil in Torah, to kill himself for it—not to study slackly, casually. Torah study is not done in a relaxed manner! A person has all kinds of desires, and he also has a desire for nachas—serenity. All of a person's desires were hinted at in the generals of Eisav and one of them is the "general of serenity, [aluf nachas]." A person loves to walk at a leisurely pace, to be stress-free, to learn with peace and tranquility. But truthfully, the real nachas, the true serenity is only Torah study. "He saw tranquility that it was good…yet he bent his shoulder to bear"—this is the yolk of Torah (Rashi). The only genuine form of relaxation is the calmness which emanates from the soul. By learning Torah the soul is polished, cleaned, and all the filth is scraped off—all of the dirt is removed, and only then can one achieve this menuchas hanefesh.

   A person needs to know that he is responsible for the work of creation. Each day he needs to create the world anew. The world runs according to those who learn Torah—the world is created through Torah learning. "Because all the innovations of the work of creation that Hashem renews each day come through Torah study…One day there is rain the next is dry, one day the air is cool and moist, etc. etc." (Likutei HalachosYibum3). Rebbe Nosson explains that you are building the world. You slept, and a tragedy happened. You were dreaming, or spoke with someone when you were supposed to be studying, and there was a disaster. A person needs to know that there's no reason to read the newspaper or to know what is happening in the world. Even if just for a second you take an interest in what is happening in the world, then this will cause a tragedy to happen. A person should know that if he wastes time when he should be studying Torah, then a disaster will occur! You need to realize that all the changes that are going on in the world are according to your Torah study. When a person learns, then the whole world starts to love us, because all the nations sometimes love us and sometimes hate us. Whoever learns history knows that one year they love us and another year they hate us and want to exterminate all the Jews, because everything is dependent on our Torah study—not on the politicians or anything else. When a person learns Torah in depth, he plugs his intelligence into the Torah, and so he creates the world anew. He creates a new reality. He lives a new reality! Suddenly he has enough money to go to Uman! All of a sudden, he feels an influx of spirituality, an influx of material bounty! This is because he created a new world. He had previously been in a world where he didn't have money, but now he is in a world where he has money, because he is now in a completely new world, because each moment a person creates new worlds. If a person learnsb'iyun, then each moment he is creating new worlds.

   The Rebbe brings in Torah 101, "When a person does a sin, chas v'shalom, then the sin and the crime are engraved on his bones", as it is written (Yechezkel 32), "And their sins will be on their bones." The Rebbe said, "Do you want to be forgiven for your sins? You want to erase your sins? It's difficult, since your sins are engraved on your bones." The sin breaks your bones. All of a person's bones are broken—this one hurts, that one hurts—but it's only because of the sins. Each and every sin is etched on to the bone. "And your sins will be engraved on your bones." The bones are hollow. They have been engraved on, and now they break from so many engravings. If a person wants to reconnect his bones, to build his bones anew, to escape from "and your sins will be on your bones," it is only through learning b'iyun, taking the exams, being examined, and learning b'iyun. Doingteshuva doesn't help for damage already done since the bones are already broken and engraved upon. How can doingteshuva help after that? The answer is one needs to draw new mentalities into the bone, to renew the bone, and this can only be done through Torah study b'iyun. Through Torah study you activate all the cells that were already damaged, weakened, and had started to wither away. Studying renews them, activates them and gives them new life. The Torah rebuilds you and makes you a new person. A person is always looking for advice on how to break his bad character traits. So there is hisbodedus and chatzos. Everything is fine and dandy, but if he is not learning Torah b'iyun nothing will help him. If a person is not learning Torahb'iyun, then he is missing the essential factor—he has no brain, because a brain only comes from learning Torah b'iyun. This is like a person who does hisbodeduswithout using his intellect. There is no way for him to receive—Hashem wants to give him! Tomorrow, he will pray withkavannah, and after praying he runs out to eat. He is ready to run out of there—he runs out to talk with his friend. As they are saying Aleinu he is already taking off his tefillin and talking to his friend. Then Hashem says to him, "I want to give you. After praying, you should say some pasukor learn two or three halachos, or you should learn a few lines of Gemara, and then you will have a wonderful brain and will understand everything. When praying we request that "you should put in our hearts binah to understand and become intelligent, to hear, to study, and to teach, to guard and to do." Hashem wants to give him now all the mochin, but here, he is already starting to talk with his friend, or he runs out before Aleinu, and he is already taking off the tefillin, and he is already outside, talking, fighting, hitting, eating, and Hashem says, "I wanted to give you wonderful mochin. Why did you bolt out of here?"

   The Rebbe says that without learning Torah b'iyun, a person has no brain, and anything that a person does is lacking in essence, because the most important thing is learning b'iyun. Therefore, the Rebbe said that discipline in learning is more important than keeping the mitzvos. The Rebbe brings in Sefer HaMidos 33, that "learning is the basis of all the mitzvos." A person needs to become accustomed to studying, as we request every morning, "make us study Your Torah regularly"—that we should get used to studying Torah. And the Rebbe says that getting accustomed is not enough! Reciting Gemara the same way one recites Tehillimis not good enough. Only studying b'iyun is called "study Your Torah regularly"! Take a RashbaRambamRitba, and the Shita Mekubetzes, and the Rosh and the Rif and the Ran, and the Nimukei Yosef, all the commentaries. The Maharam Shif, and theMaharsha, and the Bach, all that there is. And if the Maharsha is difficult for you, then use a commentator who is easier to understand, but this is the way your head must be working, all the time b'iyun—your basis should always be b'iyun. So the Rebbe says that if a person always learnsb'iyun, "when one plumbs the depths of and understands the wisdom of the Torah, then he will have the burden of government and making a living removed from him." But this is only for learning which reaches the depths of understanding of the wisdom of the Torah. Then he merits anpin nehirin—a glowing face. And then when all of a person's thoughts are only in learning Torah b'iyun, understanding the Gemara well, knowing the sugyah well, understanding all therishonim, all the achronim, and summarizing it, and writing it down, and in the meantime making a few newchidushim. Then, at that moment, he merits to such an anpin nehirin, a glowing face, that the whole world makes teshuva. He receives such anpin nehirin that the whole world makes teshuva just from the light of his face alone. "The wisdom of a person enlightens his face," and though this, the burden of government and making a living is taken from him. Then, there is no burden of making a living in the world. There are no Russians, no Arabs, no goyim, nothing—there is no burden of government. For one person who will put his head into Torah b'iyun, Hashem is ready to remove the burden of government from the world, and all the kingdoms—to cancel the kingdoms—so that only Israel rules—only the Torah rules.

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Monday, December 21, 2015

Live Broadcast is over. You can see a replay on the Shuvu Banim International website

Live video shiur from South Africa by Rabbi Eliezer Berland Shlit"a

In honor of the yartzeit of Reb Nosson of Breslov, Rav Eliezer Berland will be giving a live video shiur right here on Shuvu Banim International. The shiur will begin at around 6:00pm Israel time (11:00am EST) Monday December 21st (asara b'teves). STAY TUNED AND SPREAD THE WORD!

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Friday, December 11, 2015

Parshas Mikeitz - Bringing about miracles through prayer by Rav Eliezer Berland Shlit"a

Parshas Mikeitz - Bringing about miracles through prayer

Transcribed and translated from recordings of the Tzaddik
Rav Eliezer Berland Shlit"a

"Elokim has made me forget (all my hardship and) all my father's household" (41:51)

   Every Jew comes into the world in order to do miracles and wonders. The only reason the Hashem created the world was so that there should be miracles and wonders. Miracles and wonders are not just for when there is no choice or other way to do it.

   Rabbeinu HaKadosh says in Torah 97, "Before the creation of the world, HashemYisborach refined and adorned Himself with the prayers of the tzaddikim." Hashem saw that there would betzaddikim who would be able to do whatever they wished, who could change the systems and laws of nature with their prayers. And this is the impetus forHaKadosh Baruch Hu's creating the world: for the pleasure that He would get from the tzaddikim who would be engaged in prayer and would change the laws of nature. Even before the creation of the world, Hashem delighted in all the miracles and wonders that each person would bring about with his prayers, and this was His pleasure and delight, and this is the reason that He created the world. And this, Rabbeinu continues, "is the explanation of 'for me is Gilad': that the pleasure that Hashem had before the creation of the world should be revealed." "Gilad" refers to the revelation of his refinement ("gilui ha-eidon"), the revelation of his pleasure, because there is no pleasure as great for Hashem Yisborachas when he sees how a person is using prayer to achieve his desires and draw miracles and kindness into the world.

   If a person wants to change nature and do miracles, he needs to pray with humility and a sense of his own lowliness. He needs to have focused intention and to feel that "I am a small person, smaller than every other Jew in the world." Then, he can do anything he wants to through prayer. This is the secret of why Yosef called his son "Menashe," because "Elokimhas made me forget all my hardship and all my father's household." How can we seemingly understand Yosef? How could he give a name like Menashe to his son, a name whose meaning is, "I forgot about my father. I forgot about my brothers, from all the mothers. I forgot everyone—the entire house of my father?" Could Yosef give a name in order to forget his father? Only according to that which Rabbeinu explains in Torah 97, can we understand this secret: Yosef merited reaching the level of "Menashe," which is humility and a sense of lowliness. And this is the explanation of the verse, "Elokimhas made me forget all my father's household" meaning his yichus, "and all my hardship," that he worked hard to serve the Creator. A person strengthens himself in prayer, in avodas Hashem, because he has an important father, an important mother, and important grandfather, but Yosef HaTzaddik said, "I serve Hashem." I am not praying because I have an important father or grandfather. I am praying for Hashem's sake! My strength comes from the fact that Hashem created me, from the fact that there is a G-d in the world. Hashem Yisborach is alive and exists! I see Him alive and existing and so I serve Hashem. Yosef drew his life force from Hashem, and this is how he achieved all of his levels. And this is why he called his son "Menashe," in the language of forgetting. "I forgot all my hardship and all my father's household." To merit powerful prayer which can create miracles in the world, a person needs to forget his yichus and all his work in avodas Hashem.

   Rabbeinu revealed that there is such a power in the world, which is the power of prayer, and with this power a person can get whatever he wants, everything. And every single Jew can reach this level, of control through his prayer. "Your nation is all tzaddikim." This applies to each and every Jew, because every Jew can achieve through prayer, because every good thing that a Jew wants he can achieve. Every Jew can bring about miracles and wonders through prayer. This is the purpose of creation. This is Hashem's will, that each and every person will bring about miracles ad wonders. Hashem is the Master of Miracles. Hashem is the Master of Wonders. He intended this even before the creation of the world. All of the miracles and salvations Hashem prepared before the creation of the world, but in order to reveal them, to activate them, to bring them out of hiding and into the open, we need prayer. If we don't pray the miracles won't happen. Hashem prepared for everyone unlimited miracles and wonders. Prayer is the strongest thing in the world. There is nothing stronger than prayer. No gate is sealed closed before prayer. There is no force that can stop prayer. Prayer is like knives and swords which can rip apart the heavenly firmament and all the barriers. All your salvations are prepared and waiting. Everything is ready. Just ask, pray, and Hashem will hear you! Every Jew should have an unlimited number of miracles. You just need to pray and request.

   Hashem stipulated with each act of creation, before the actual creation of the world, that when a Jew would stand and pray, he would be given everything he asked for. Hashem stipulated with the sea, even before the creation of the world, that it would split for the Bnei Yisrael. Hashem stipulated with the fire, and said, "Know that there will be Chanania, Michael and Azariah, and you do not have permission to burn them." When Hashem created the lions on the sixth day, he said to them, "I am creating you on the condition that you do not swallow up Daniel, and you shouldn't swallow up any tzaddik." He made this condition for every lion in the world, for all the generations, that if a Jew would stand and pray then no lion has permission to touch him. So, Hashem made conditions before the creation of the world that everything that a person would ask for, everything that he would pray for, Hashem would give him. You want an apartment, wealth, health, children? Hashem will give you everything, if you just pray. Open your mouth: everything is promised to you. Even before Hashem created you, he already prepared everything for you, all the miracles, all the salvations. Just know that the channel is prayer; the vessel is prayer.

   Every day Hashem makes a new prevention for a person—a new problem, a child who is sick, a sick wife, lack of income. It is all in order that a person should pray. The result will be a miracle followed by another miracle, etc. This is why Hashem created the world, so that there should be miracles and wonders. The work of every Jew is to feel as if he is non-existent, to be completely cancelled to Hashem. It is hard for a person to pray, because it is hard for him to be cancelled to Hashem. It is hard for him to humiliate himself before Hashem. A person thinks, "How will Hashem help me? Will he give me an income? I'll manage on my own. I have brains. I have two hands. I have two legs. Do I need Hashem?" This is terrible! The curse, "the snake will eat dust," refers to such an attitude, because the snake doesn't need to pray and doesn't need to request. And this is essentially the punishment of the snake, that wherever he goes he finds food. The food is ready for him like dust, and he doesn't' need to pray. All the animals cry to Hashem, "like a deer yearning for rivers of water." The deer cries to Hashem. The deer asks for rivers of water, and he cries to Hashem. "Like a horse amassed, so I will neigh." The horse neighs to Hashem. All the animals cry to Hashem. The only animal that doesn't cry to Hashem is the snake. If a person doesn't cry to Hashem, doesn't pray the way he should, knows how to manage on his own, doesn't need Hashem's help, then Hashem have mercy: this is the curse of the snake.

   A person prays three prayers a day, prays mincha for two minutes, ma'ariv for five minutes, and that's it. He goes home and discovers that his child is sick. His wife is sick. There is no money. So he asks, "Why is my wife sick? Why don't I have money?" I have paos and a beard, etc. But, in truth, everything is dependent on prayer. What about praying? Where is the prayer? Did you ask Hashem for healing? Did you say barech aleinu very slowly? Start opening your mouth and say the words very slowly. Don't rush—don't run. All the miracles and wonders are prepared already for every Jew. Just start asking. Don't just look for the quickestminyan so that you can run home. "My wife is waiting for me; I have to run." In the end, when he arrives home his wife is sick. Pray the shmonei esrei very slowly, and when you get home your wife will be healthy, your children will be healthy—you will see miracles and wonders.

   True humility is: "There is nothing but Hashem." Only Hashem—humility is knowing that only Hashem can help me. If a person would know how great Hashem is, how infinite Hashem is, how much He can help me, he would pray to Hashem and get everything in the world. During the three prayers, one can get everything. One needs to ask for all his wishes, everything that he needs. Pray. Request! Don't have mercy on HaKadosh Baruch Hu. Don't have mercy on Him. Hashem wants that you should ask for everything in the world, and you have mercy on Him? Should a person ask, "Give me another month to live?" "Give me a little bit of money." No! Ask for everything. Ask for everything you need. For you, for your wife, your children, shiduchim, money, long life—ask for everything. Pray and create wonders because Hashem created the world only so that you should have wonders and miracles.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Rabbi Berland strengthening the youth in South Africa

Rabbi Eliezer Berland Shlit"a hadlaka on the second night of Chanukah

The holiness of Chanukah - by Rabbi Eliezer Berland Shlit"a

The Holiness of Chanukah

  By Rav Eliezer Berland Shlit"a

   On Hanukkah, a fire is burning, a flaming fire of love for Hashem which cannot be stopped. It is a fiery blaze that comes down from Heaven through the Hanukah lights. Rabbeinu brings in Torah 249, "Suddenly a person is enclothed in the spirit of gevurah" and then he can do acts of strength because, "the essence ofgevurah is in the heart." A person whose heart is strong is not afraid of anyone in the world—he has no fear. Nothing exists for him at all except "Ein Od Milvado – Nothing exists but Him"—only Hashem. This spirit can be accessed on Hanukkah just like Chana merited this "Hanukkah"חנוכה , which has the letters of "כו חנה"  (gematria 26, which is the gematria of theShem Havayeh). The meaning is that Chana was completely dedicated to Hashem. And this is as it is written, that "Chana prayed על Hashem." She saw only Hashem. She was attached completely to Hashem. Therefore, all of Hanukkah is drawn from Chana. Rebbe Nosson writes in Likutei Halachos, Choshen Mishpat, that all of Hanukkah comes from the light of Chana, from the neshama of Chana. She never stopped praying or fell from her level of emunah. She didn't let go of her faith for anything in the world. From the age of ten, she started praying that she would merit having a son who was atzaddik, and at the age 130 she received her reward. For 120 years she prayed constantly to Hashem and succeeded in bringing down the soul of Shmuel, who was on par with Moshe and Aharon.Shmuel anointed both Shaul and David. The most important was David who isMoshiach, as it is written, "I set up acandle for my savior," which is the light of Hanukkah. When a person decides to havemesirus nefesh for Hashem Yisborach, he receives the spirit of might and strength, and through this spirit, he can wage great wars and achieve victory over all the evildoers, over all those who have adopted Greek culture, and bring the Geulah, just as Chana merited through the light of Hanukkah to bring down the soul ofMoshiach.  חנוכה is "כו חנה" because Chana had mesirus nefesh for Hashem Yisborachand did everything only for Hashem. She begged for a son only so that he would serve Hashem. And today, to have mesirus nefesh means to sit and learn! It is not waging war with anyone. It is simply to sit and learn and to put one's head in the holy Torah, in the holy Gemara.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

“Wander the world to bring lost Jews back to Hashem” - Parshas Vayishlach by Rabbi Eliezer Berland Shlit”a

“Wander the world to
bring lost Jews back to Hashem”

Parshas Vayishlach

Transcribed and translated from previous recordings of
HaRav Eliezer Berland Shlit”a
Yaakov arrived safely at the city of Shechem” (33:18(

      In Torah 27, Rabbi Nachman explains the pasuk “Yaakov arrived safely at Shechem,” which is a concept of “worshipping Him with a Shechem Echad, a united resolve” (Tezfania 3:9). This is awakened through Shalom, peace, and comes through the aspect of Yaakov, who is he’aras panim, the radiant countenance.

   When Yaakov arrived at the city of Shechem, where the worst murderers resided, he came with he’aras panim, with such a shining face that there was an immediate awakening in the town. Everyone wanted to make teshuva—to keep Shabbos, to throw away all their idols, to stop their running after money, and to start serving Hashem. Yaakov Avinu already made them Shabbos boundaries, fixed a currency, and established bathhouses. Everything that he told them to do was holy in their eyes, and this is what Rabbi Nachman explains, “That when he [Yaakov] came, he established faith.” “Fixing a currency” means that he fixed the desire for money. And when he fixed the desire for money, the flaw of idolatry was fixed. And this is the meaning of “he made bathhouses for them,” as it is written, “And the daughter of Pharaoh went down to bathe” which Chazal explain (Megillah 13, Sotah 12) as cleansing herself from the idolatry of her father’s home (Likutei Moharan 23). The Ramban explains that this is what was bothering Yaakov when he said to Shimon and Levi, [in killing the people of Shechem] “you have achartem/embarrassed me” (34:30). In truth, the inhabitants of Shechem were ready to make complete teshuva--they had started making teshuva--and they saw Yaakov and his sons as angels, like heavenly beings. All the people of Shechem nullified themselves before them. It pained Yaakov because they had already accepted upon themselves the Shabbos boundaries and that they had already established a currency, which means that they already had started breaking their desire for money. And they had established bathhouses, meaning that they had started to distance themselves from idolatry. “You have achartem/embarrassed me” - I wanted to bring everyone back in teshuva. By wiping out the city, you have destroyed everything I wanted to do, all my hopes.

All the hope of the redemption depends on converting the whole world, of bringing the whole world back in teshuva. This is the ultimate embarrassment! Any generation that doesn’t bring the whole world back in teshuva is as if they themselves caused them to sin! The greatest thing is to bring people back in teshuva. The Rebbe wanted people to go all over the country, all over the world, and to bring people back in teshuva, as is written in the holy Zohar, “Fortunate is the person who takes wrongdoers by the hand…” The holy Zohar says that whoever brings people back in teshuva has no gate closed before him. All the doors are open for him. All the paths are open to him. He is given all the keys—a person who goes out and works to bring people back in teshuva—this is the greatest honor for Hashem, He is glorified in all the worlds, “See what a person I have here, one who goes out and brings people back in teshuva.”

   Truly, the greatest thing is to bring people back in teshuva, but how does one do this?  How does one merit this? Only if a person has hadras panim, a majestic countenance, will he have panim me’irot, a shining face and then he will have a holy face so that just looking at his face will cause people to return in teshuva. On the gravestone of Rebbe Aharon from Karlin, it is written that 80,000 people made teshuva because of him. How did they make teshuva? Did he go and give classes and lectures? What happened was is that people saw his shining face, his hadras panim, and everyone returned in teshuva. To merit to hadras panim, to he’aras panim, Rabbeinu says in Torah 27, is only through learning the holy Gemara, because you can’t get people to make teshuva if you have no intelligence, if you have no understanding. A person needs to have great intelligence, just as the Rebbe said, “I wanted that you would have such intelligence that there hasn’t been for several generations already.” Why shouldn’t we take the Rebbe’s advice and do what he wanted us to do? Let’s do what the Rebbe wanted. The Rebbe didn’t want us to run around aimlessly, dancing around for no reason. The moment that a person learns Gemara and poskim, he receives such a light that he will have the 360,000 holy lights (nehorin). Everyone will run after him, everyone will abandon all their heretical thoughts. All their questions will be answered. And he will come with such a light, such a he’aras panim, emitting such rays of light—“the wisdom of the man enlightens his face.” People see such a light, such wealth, such joy on the face and they return in teshuva. What do people want? People want to be happy—that’s what they want—and the minute that they see that true joy is found by someone who learns Torah, who learns poskim, and whose face is shining like the sun, then everyone returns in teshuva.

   The main point of learning Torah is in order to teach it to others, as it is written [in the blessings before Shema], “put it in to our hearts…to learn and to teach.” Once a person is knowledgeable in Torah, he is obligated to teach it to others. The Torah that a person learns is measured according to how much chesed and how much mesirus nefesh he is prepared to give in order to teach others. After a person learns eight or ten hours, he must show that he has the strength, the light, the influence, to bring people back in teshuva. This is the primary action that comes from learning. Each person can bring thousands and thousands of people back in teshuva. A group of 100 people can bring a thousand back in teshuva, and within a few years all of Am Yisrael will do teshuva. If we will start bringing people back in teshuva, then also the nations of the world will return in teshuva. Our purpose is to bring the whole world back in teshuva, even the non-Jews. This is what Hashem loves. Hashem is waiting for us to bring all of Am Yisrael in teshuva, all the nations of the world in teshuva. “All flesh will call Your name, and all the evildoers will turn to You, and every being in the universe will recognize and know You…”  Why do we say this? Why do we say these pesukim? We need to draw the farthest people close so that everyone should call out in the name of Hashem—even goyim. But first we need to draw the Jews back. If we start with the Jews we can then bring the goyim back. Everyone will do teshuva and will come close to the faith of Israel and serve Him together.

   “And he graced the countenance of the city,” for six days you studied, worked, and traveled to bring people back in teshuva. Now Shabbos has come, do nothing but sing to Hashem, and this is “and he graced.” Yaakov made them take a break, he taught them not to go out on Shabbos from their homes. “Stay at home on Shabbos--sing on Shabbos.” One day a week is given to man to sing to Hashem. Shabbos has arrived: sit with your children, sing with your children, learn with them, so that they will see what oneg Shabbos is all about. This will make such a kiddush Hashem in the world, in all the worlds, in all the sefiros—a person sings the Shabbos songs, the whole world hears it--it is heard in every country. This is what awakens all the souls to return in teshuva. A person sings in the privacy of his own home and sings songs to Hashem then all the souls hear his zemiros and his melodies. “And He rested.” Sit at home and sing the Shabbos songs. You will see the whole world return in teshuva, simply from the Shabbos songs, the Shabbos tunes. When one sits at home on Shabbos and sings the Shabbos songs, this gives his children yiras shamayim. When they see their father sitting peacefully and singing tunes, they will have such a good feeling in their hearts, such peace of mind—this becomes their whole life force. This is their whole joy. From this alone they will lose all interest in what is going on in the street. They won’t be interested in the futility of the street. This is all that the child needs: to see his father smiling and happy, calm and singing, sitting for at least two hours at the Shabbos table and singing. This gives vital energy to the child for the whole week. Start to be a simple Jew. The minimum one needs to be a Jew is to sing the Shabbos songs—without this one hasn’t even started being a Jew. If a child sees that his father doesn’t sing the Shabbos songs and he doesn’t learn with him, then he won’t have any reason to stay at home. In the end he will fall into bad behavior, chas v’shalom. He won’t comprehend kedusha. He won’t comprehend purity. A person doesn’t realize the greatness of the Shabbos zemiros. One can resuscitate the dead with the Shabbos zemiros, just as it is told of Rebbe Mordechai who wrote the song, “Ma yafis, uma na’umt ahava b’ta’anugim, (Such beauty and such pleasure are in loving Your delights).” His son passed away on Friday night after candle lighting, and he asked that they put the child in the living room on the couch to hear the Shabbos songs. He started singing, “Chai zekof mach, (Hashem stands erect the one in need)” and the child revived. Shabbos arrives. A person sings all the Shabbos songs and he enlivens everyone. Everyone comes alive. Everyone is happy—everyone is content—because the Shabbos songs give the joy and life force to the whole week.

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Friday, November 20, 2015

“A little bit and there are no wicked people in the world” Parshas Vayetze by Rabbi Eliezer Berland Shlit”a

“A little bit and there are no wicked people in the world”
Parshas Vayetze

Transcribed and translated from previous recordings of
HaRav Eliezer Berland Shlit”a
Vayetze Yaakov Vayelech Charana” (‘Yaakov left and went to Charan’) (Bereishis 28:10)

    The Torah tells us: “Vayetze Yaakov” (‘and Yaakov left’). When Yaakov left Beersheba, he’d already completed the seven levels of holiness, the seven Sefirot, namely: Malchut, Yesod, Hod, Netzach, Tiferet, Gevurah and Chessed. These are the seven ‘Gevurot’.

Vayelech Charana” (‘and he went to Charan’). Yaakov went to Charan, to the place where the roots of din, or judgment, was found because he wanted to draw down chessed, or kindness, into the world, and to bring shefa (bounty) into the world, because the work of the Tzaddikim is to bring chessed and shefa into the world.

From the moment that Rebbe Nachman of Breslev came into the world, he sweetened all of the judgements in the world until the end of all generations. He drew down Shefa into the world, he drew down Chessed into the world, and he announced that there are no more wicked people, and that the age of wickedness in the world had come to an end! From the moment that Rebbe Nachman was born, the age of wickedness finished; there were no more wicked people in Am Yisrael, as he himself revealed in Lesson 282 of Likutei Moharan (popularly known as ‘

In that lesson, Rebbe Nachman explains: “Od me’at v’ain rasha”, (‘a little more, and there is no longer a wicked person). Just a little more - today, tomorrow, the day after tomorrow – and we’ll already see that there won’t be any more wicked people in Am Yisrael, because everyone will be on the path of teshuva, or repentance.

This verse, “Od me’at v’ain rasha”, comes from Tehillim (the book of Psalms), and Rabbenu explained its simple meaning:  Just a little more! A little more, and there will be no more wicked people, and everyone will be Tzaddikim, and everyone will reach the level of “Your entire nation are Tzaddikim” (Yeshaya 60:21).

One Jew will become a Tzaddik today, another one will become a Tzaddik tomorrow, and yet another one the day after. And the one who will become a Tzaddik after a few days will fulfil the verse: “the smallest one will be like a thousand, and the youngest will be like a vast nation” (Yeshaya 60:22).

This ‘small’ one will rise up and up, as the greater the soul that a person possesses, and the more refined their soul, the more difficulties and obstacles they have to overcome when they want to make Teshuva.

Rabbenu teaches us in Lesson 282 that there is no such thing as a wicked person in Am Yisrael! There is no such reality. Even if you see a completely wicked person, from his head to his feet, you can’t see any Yiddishkeit in him at all, he is completely anti-Torah, anti-observance, God forbid, even if it seems to you that there was never a more wicked person than this since the creation of the world, you should know that the main problem is that this person simply lacks da’at, or spiritual awareness.

But a huge fire of holiness still burns inside of them! A raging fire of holiness and yearning for Hashem Yisbarach burns inside of every Jew, just that it’s covered over by mountains of dust. Their neshama is on fire for God, but it’s covered in a layer of dirt. These Jewish souls are like spiritual volcanoes; from the outside, a huge mountain covers the heat and the lava flowing just beneath the surface, but the moment the fire and the lava burst forth it consumes the entire mountain. The mountain explodes!

A spiritual mountain of dirt and rocks is currently resting on every Jewish soul, but the day will come when the fire will bursts forth, and consumes all of these mountains of sand and dirt.

In lesson 282, Rebbe Nachman writes: “And you need to search and find in him a small amount of good. And in that small place, he is not a wicked person.” Rabbenu is teaching us that here is no such thing as a wicked Jewish person, from his head to his toes, just that it currently seems that way to you. But it’s only your imagination! You imagine that he’s a completely wicked person, but if you train yourself to look for some little bit of good that he has done, or some kindness that he did to help someone else, you’ll always find even in the most worst wicked person lots and lots of good. And the very act of you finding some good in this person, and judging him favourably, through this very act you raise him up to the side of good, and you can cause him to make Teshuva.

We need to look at every Jew with a ‘good eye’, and stop thinking to ourselves: ‘Well, I made Teshuva and I keep Shabbat, and I learn Torah, so why doesn’t he make Teshuva like me?! Why doesn’t he keep Shabbat like me?! He should be doing the same! I went through what he went through and more, so why doesn’t he also make teshuva!?’

It’s exactly about this that Rabbenu said: “Od me’at v’ain rasha”. A little more! He is going to do it eventually, tomorrow or the day after.  You can’t interfere with Hashem’s order for the world, and the order of the teshuva process. The order of Teshuva, when each person will make Teshuva, how he will make Teshuva, this process is hidden from all of His creations, but it’s a process that needs to happen to every single Jew. Every single Jew will one day make teshuva!

Now, it’s possible to speed this process up, but only if we start looking with a ‘good eye’. Only if a person merits to look at every Jew with a ‘good eye’ then, “he will consider his place and he [the wicked person] won’t be there any more”, [ie, in the place of being wicked]. If people would realize this, and internalize that if they started to judge others favourably, and to stop looking at them with an ayin ra, or ‘bad eye’, then there wouldn’t be any more wicked people in Am Yisrael. Because it is possible to bring all of them back to make Teshuva, in the blink of an eye.

Even when a Jew appears to be the most wicked person, know that he really has the most righteous Neshama, or soul. It’s the opposite of how it appears to be externally:  the more ‘bad’ the Neshama seems, the more righteous it actually is. Only, because it’s so full of righteousness it’s scared. It has a hidden, internal fear about keeping Mitzvot, because it knows if it starts the process of teshuva, it will go ‘to the end’!

There are many Jews who are far away from Yiddishkeit who say, ‘if I start to fulfil Mitzvot, then I will go to the end… not like you! I will go to the end, I will learn Torah day and night; I will become holy, I will purify myself, to the end!’ But to go ‘to the end’ seems very difficult for them. So, we try to say to them, ‘go at least halfway, and keep half the laws’. But they tell us no, they are not prepared to do that, because by them, they want everything - or nothing. And in truth, if you were to show them and to explain to them how to reach the entire way, and how to become holy, and how it’s really not as difficult as they think, they would all make Teshuva!

Every Jew is a part of Hashem, and every person has Godliness in him. “Man is beloved that he was created in the image of G-d” (Avos 3:14). The heart of every Jew, even the most wicked, burns for Hashem Yisbarach. There is no Jew whose heart does not burn for Hashem Yisbarach. Because a Jew is not a cow or a sheep, every Jew is a holy Neshama, that was carved out from the Kiseh Hakavod [the Throne of Glory]. Every Jew in the place where he is, even if the burning coals of his soul and heart are currently covered over by mountains of sand, billions of grains of sand, nonetheless, the coals continue to burn. We need to blow away the dirt covering his heart, the mountains of sand covering his heart, and this is what Rabbenu said – come lets blow away the mountains of sand from his heart, because there is no such thing as a wicked person in Am Yisrael. There is no such thing as ‘chilonim’ [secular Jews], there is no such thing!

There are people who succeed in fulfilling the Torah’s commandments 80% of the time, 70%, 20% and 10%. Every Jew fasts on Yom Kippur, and eats Matza on Pesach. There is no such thing as a ‘secular Jew’! Every one of them fulfils some aspect of the Torah. Every Jew is a holy Jew, a pure Jew.

This is the foundation of what Rebbe Nachman taught us, that there are no wicked people in Am Yisrael. It’s forbidden to call any Jew ‘wicked’. It is forbidden to say: ‘this one is wicked’. We need to fix this way of speaking, because there’s no such thing.

How can you believe that so-and-so is wicked? Were you in his place? Do you know where he was born? Do you know who his parents were? What he went through? How can you decide to call a Jew wicked? How can you decide to call a Jew ‘chiloni’ (secular)? How can you say things like this? Do you think you can decide who is righteous and who is wicked? Do you think that you can really know? You need to know that everyone is righteous, because “Your nation are entirely righteous”, and there are no wicked people in Am Yisrael.

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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Parshas Toldos - The Midnight Prayer Crying with the Shechina and Raising up the lost souls by Rabbi Eliezer Berland Shlit”a

The Midnight Prayer
Crying with the Shechina
Raising up the lost souls

Parshas Toldos

Transcribed and translated from previous recordings of
HaRav Eliezer Berland Shlit”a
”And his hand was holding Eisav’s heel” (Bereishis 25:19)
At Chatzos Layla when Rachel Imainu is weeping so bitterly, how can it be that we manage to find so many other things to do?!

    All of the work of the Tzaddikim is to extract the sparks that the Sitra Achra has swallowed up into the klippot. It is written about Yaakov Avinu, “And his hand was holding Eisav’s heel.” Even when he was still in his mother’s womb, he had started the process of drawing out the soul of Rebbe Akiva from the heel of Eisav. And this is why Eisav asked Yitzhak “How does one tithe straw?” (Rashi, 26:27). Why should the wicked Eisav ask how to tithe straw? “How does one tithe salt?” The Baal Shem Tov says that this is a hint referring to the soul of Rebbe Akiva which was in the heel of Eisav, and that this is what caused Eisav to ask all these questions, because any good thing that an evil person says is only because the soul of a Tzaddik has attached itself to them. As it is told (Nedarim 50:71) that Rebbe Akiva and his wife didn’t have pillows and blankets but would sleep on straw. And when Eliahu HaNavi came to them disguised as a poor person, Rebbe Akiva gave him straw (tithing the straw). And from here we see that when Eisav asked how to tithe straw, this was because of the soul of Rebbe Akiva that was attached to him that caused him to ask these questions, because only Rebbe Akiva tithed straw

   The whole mission of Yaakov was to draw out the souls from the heel of Eisav, where the souls of converts had been swallowed up, souls of the greatest people. And the best time to draw them out is at Chatzos. Rebbe Pinchas from Koritz said, “There are some souls which are so holy, the holiest souls in the world, which fell from a high place to a deep pit, to the deepest depths of the lowest klippot. And when the time comes to say Tikkun Chatzos, we can raise up the highest souls from there, and with each and every letter, another soul and yet another soul is raised up.” Just as David HaMelech had the greatest soul, and he came out davka from Sodom, extricated from the lowest depths.

   Tikkun Chatzos is the most difficult prayer to say because it is in the middle of the night. But in truth, getting up at Chatzos, this is what builds the new day. This is what renews the person! And however much a person starts his day earlier, at the time of Chatzos, and continues through to the morning, praying slowly, word by word, letter by letter, with songs and tunes, this is how he builds a foundation for the new day and saves the nation of Israel from all the bad decrees. And this is what Rebbe Pinchas from Koritz said, “Only if a person says Tikkun Chatzos word by word, letter by letter, does he raise up all the souls in the world, the greatest ones that fell into the depths of the klippot.” All the souls that return in teshuva are dependent on those who say Tikkun Chatzos, who cry out at night. They are the ones that pull these souls out of the depths of Hell.

   If a person would really know what the Beis HaMikdash is, he would mourn and cry out every night at Chatzos. But almost no one feels that it is missing—almost no one needs the Beis HaMikdash. Everyone has plenty of cake at home, bottles of Coca Cola. He’s got food, drink. He doesn’t need the Beis HaMikdash. Baruch Hashem, everyone is lacking nothing. But there are those who really feel that the Beis HaMikdash is missing, just like it is told of Reb Nachman Shuster, who was a simple Jew that spent a period of time in Uman and learned how to pray with enthusiasm, how to say Tikkun Chatzos with tears. And when he returned he started saying Tikkun Chatzos and crying about the Beis HaMikdash. Everyone laughed at him because they saw that he didn’t know how to say the words properly. He would get them wrong. They said to him, “Why are you saying Tikkun Chatzos—first learn Aleph-Beis.” Reb Nachman answered them, “You don’t feel that the Beis HaMikdash is missing. You are talmidei chachamim, ga'onim. You are tzaddikim, so you don’t need to say Kinnos or Tikkun Chatzos. But I, a simple shoemaker, I feel that the Beis HaMikdash is missing.” Reb Mordechai Sokolov and Reb Shlomo Gavriel who were tremendous ga'onim were there, listening to his prayers, they approached him and asked, “Where did you get such a heart?” And he told them, “I received it in Uman.” They said, “In that case, we’ll also travel there.” And this is how they merited coming to Breslov—through a simple Jew that cried during Tikkun Chatzos.

   Reb Shimshon from Ostropol saw in a dream that his place in Gan Eden was next to Hershel from Krakow, who was then a Rav in Lublin, an important Rosh Yeshiva, and the head Dayan in Krakow. And he was placed next to him in Gan Eden. But this knowledge was like an evil spell cast on Reb Shimshon. He started worrying about it. “I will be next to this Rav? What will be with me? Maybe this Rav is steeped in the desires of this world, running after money—rich—with a beautiful house. If so, maybe it’s really a punishment! Maybe I need to pray to cancel this decree?” So, he decided to travel to him and check him out. Reb Shimshon dressed up like a poor beggar and knocked on his door and asked, “Would it be alright for me to stay here a few days?” What did Reb Shimshon do there? What was he looking for? What did he want to check? He wanted to check if the Rav from Lublin cried at Chatzos. One day he heard a crying from one of the rooms, and he drew close to it and heard terrible cries. He opened the door and found the Rav from Lublin in a sea of tears, sitting on the ground and crying over the Churban. Reb Shimon said, “Baruch Hashem, now I know that I will be able to rest in peace.”

   A person needs to feel, “Rachel is weeping bitterly over her children.” If Mother Rachel cries, then one needs to get up at Chatzos and cry together with the mother, one needs to join in with her crying. A mother cries over the 6 million that were killed in the Holocaust. A mother cries over all those that are killed every day. A mother cries over the souls that they should return in teshuva. How can one know that Mother Rachel is crying at Chatzos and do other things during this time? Rachel is the holy Shechina! Wouldn’t it be proper for you to join in with Rachel? Isn’t it proper that you should join with her crying? A person needs to have a drop of a Jewish heart, a drop of feeling—to say Tikkun Chatzos, to feel the crying of Rachel, the pain of all the generations, of all those who were killed. And with all that a person hears—that Jews are being killed—or if he reads some horrifying story from the Holocaust, through this he can feel regret and shed a tear at Chatzos.

   At Chatzos everyone is crying. The whole world is crying: the stars are crying, the constellations are crying—everyone is crying with Rachel, with the Shechina. It is told of Reb Zusha from Anipoli, that in his old age, he saw that he was already weak and couldn’t get up for Chatzos. Therefore, he informed everyone that he would no longer be going to the shul to pray, even so, at the time of Chatzos he appeared in shul. They asked him, “Why did you come? You said you were too weak.” And he told them, “The old woman is crying. What can I do? The old woman is crying. Her cries don’t let me sleep.” And when we give power to the Shechina, crying for the holy Shechina, crying together with Rachel Imainu, she will give us everything, she will guard over us all day long. Rachel rules over the whole world, over all the treasures—she just wants to see someone crying with her. She just wants to see someone feeling her pain. And when a person says Tikkun Chatzos, sitting on the ground, taking a piece of paper and lighting it and putting some ashes on his forehead, then these ashes sweeten all the judgments on him.


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