Tzama Nafshi in English - Parshas Bo ה’’תשע
By HaRav Eliezer Berland, shlit”a
It says in the Parsha: “And you shall take a bundle of Ezov - Hyssop.” (12:22)
The Midrash Raba comments on this and says: “Specifically through the Ezov, which is the lowliest tree of all trees, he redeemed Israel (parsha 17).”
A person’s greatness derives from his humbleness and humility. Only one who lowers himself to dust will be revived in Techiyas Ha’meisim and will merit eternal life: “And He fulfills his faith to those who dwell in the earth”, “Awaken and rejoice, dust dwellers”, meaning, the lowlier one holds himself to be, the more he humbles himself before others and Hashem, the more likely he is to merit techiyas Ha’meisim, a life of all eternity. The more points we gain in our daily quest for humility the better are our chances to merit an eternal life; the pleasure of the Olam Haba. With every insult, the person attains greater humility. No matter how often a person is humiliated and disgraced, he should rejoice. If you are certain that someone in the street is going to insult you, you should run and immerse in the mikveh beforehand, because when a person is disgraced, he receives such a tremendous light. That’s why I reiterate that you should immerse yourself in the mikveh first, so that you will have the appropriate “tools” with which to receive that light. When a person is disgraced, a powerful light comes into the world, the likes of which cannot be received through any other mitzvah in the world. The Bizzayon- disgrace – turns the person into ‘non-existent’ and he merits such a Divine light, a wondrously bright light, an eternal light, a light which is brighter than the surrounding light of all of the worlds – it surrounds all of the worlds. The more points of humility we collect for ourselves the more we will merit the Divine light; the light of eternity.
David HaMelech said, “Purify me with Ezov and I will become pure, wash me and I will become whiter than snow.” – purify me with Ezov! I want to be Ezov, I want to be humiliated, I want everyone to step on me, laugh at me and humiliate me; that is the only way for one to do teshuva! I need to know that I am worse than everyone else, I sinned more than anyone else, I caused more trouble than anyone else, I am nothing more than, “Purify me and I will become pure, wash me and I will become whiter than snow.” I want to be Ezov like the Ezov that grows along the walls, the one everyone steps on, humiliate and disgrace; I want to be an Ezov my whole life!
There are two levels of teshuva. There is one level where the person is disgraced by another but remains silent, and this is called in the Torah, “they are insulted but do not insult back, they hear their disgrace but do not respond.” The person is humiliated but he remains silent, he does not retort or respond, as it says in the Torah, “And Aharon kept quiet.” There is a higher level, though, which is as it says, “They do it out of love and rejoice in their suffering.” This refers to a person who merits a higher spiritual level because even though people are humiliating and disgracing him, [not only does he remain silent,] he is happy. He sings and plays music and accepts all of the humiliation with joy, with love and with song. Every insult he receives is like an ointment for his wounds, it heals them. Every bizzayon is like purifying water, as it says, “And I shall cast upon you purified water, and you shall be purified.”
There is no limit to humility and humbleness. When someone gives a person a bizzayon, he has showered him with eternity, made him limitless, now he has no limits, he is nullified. He can sense the Divine light. About such a person people say, “This person is nothing, he is worthless, and he is a liar and a hypocrite!” The more they say about him the more nullified he becomes and then he is awarded all the success and abundance in the world. He gets one insult and suddenly merits a million successes. After being disgraced he will have endless success and abundance. He becomes the provider of the land, he receives endless abundance as it says, “And Yosef was the provider to all the people of the land.” Yosef became the provider of the land; he merited infinite abundance, because after he had been sold and humiliated he became nullified and then all of the abundance was transferred directle through him. We learn from this that the more a person is disgraced, the more abundance and success he will have.
Sometimes, when a person is disgraced, he thinks, “Ah! I am being disgraced because I am a Tzaddik! Because I am a servant of Hashem!” This is self pride. One should not come to self pride through his disgrace; he should think to himself, “I am being disgraced and humiliated because I deserve it, because I am neither Tzaddik nor Chassid; I don’t learn Torah properly, don’t guard my eyes, I really am a rasha (wicked person)!” People have to face the truth. If someone says to you, “You’re a rasha!”, your thoughts should be: “Baruch Hashem that he told me the truth.” A person must admit the truth. When someone comes along and reminds me just who I am, I should kiss that person; kiss his feet for telling me the truth. It says, “Hate the ones who love [you] and love the one who hates [you].” This means you should love your haters. The more people talk badly about a person and humiliate him the more beneficial. Those who love you mean nothing! You should hate those who adore you, they are just flattering you and confusing you, they give you the illusion that you are a Tzaddik, that everything you do is good. ‘Hate the ones who love you’, that’s what it says! Love the one who rebukes you, who disgraces you, that’s who you should love! He’s the one you should embrace. What’s the problem? Somebody comes along and tells you the truth about yourself - what do you get out of having your other friends who respect you and flatter you?
Rebbe Nachman says in Tora 260, that when one does a messirus nefesh, yichudim (Divine unifications) are established. When tzaddikim themselves are not able to do those same yichudim, there is no one to rise at chatzos and weep [over Beis Hamikdash], no one else serving Hashem with a real messirus nefesh, than there is no choice but to make these yichudim via people who have been killed, i.e., via death. There is, however, one other way to make those yichudim and that is through the acceptance of bizzyonos with love. A person who accepts his bizzyonos with love saves the entire generation form death. Whenever a person accepts a bizzayon with love he should know that he has just saved a Jew from being killed. Moreover, the more important and famous the person is, if he accepts the insults he gets from others with love, the more he merits saving the generation from death. There are those who intentionally go out seeking abuse; they look for all sorts of ideas and plots to cause people to speak badly about them and insult them, as Rabbenu said, “he does this of his own accord and of his own free will.” By doing so, the person makes the loftiest, most elevated yichudim; it is considered as though he gave his life to sanctify Hashem. He sacrifices his reputation, his good name; for the name is the nefesh, and everyone says things about him that never really happened. Through this he saves Klal Yisrael from death, by the fact that his own ‘blood’ is being spilled moment by moment, and yet he accepts it all with joy and love. He saves Am Yisrael from all of the harsh decrees and troubles that were supposed to befall them, chas veshalom! Therefore, every person undergoing humiliation should simply accept it all with love because who knows how many decrees he is saving Am Yisrael from by his acceptance? Rabbenu said (Siach Sarfei Kodesh 2:65), “He who makes dispute – I cannot hate him” – I cannot hate any person who fights me, any person who hates me; how can anyone hate a disputer? They are doing me such a favor; I really am able to see the good they are bringing me, by arguing against me and speaking about me. Their dispute sheds upon me such a radiant light, all I want to do is kiss them and hug them.
When a person is disgraced, at that very moment he has been awarded a million dollars. There is a story about Reb Zusha and Reb Elimelech from Lidzensk who happened to come to a certain inn. Upon entering they saw that the men there, were drunk and had begun kicking each other. No sooner had they laid their eyes upon Reb Zusha, who was closer to them than his brother, than the drunks began kicking him. They kicked him so hard, they nearly broke his bones. Reb Elimelech saw this and said, “My brother, you are getting everything. You’re taking all the beatings and humiliation for yourself! I also want some! I also want an Olam Haba. What about me? What am I, Swiss cheese?! Don’t I deserve some too? I also want to merit, let me have some! What do you think? You get it all for yourself??? For a whole hour he tried convincing his brother to let him share in the merits of the disgrace until Reb Zusha was finally persuaded to “share”. The “Noam Elimelech” then switched places with Reb Zusha in order to ‘treat’ himself to some of the beatings. No sooner had they switched places, than the goyim suddenly decided that it was now the turn of “the guy in the back” and thus returned to beating Reb Zusha once more. Reb Zusha said to Reb Elimelech, “You see? I deserve all the beatings. “No person can touch what is destined for his friend.”
With just one insult, a person’s sins from thousands of reincarnations are atoned. All it takes is one insult to atone for an endless amount of sins. With even one insult the person can merit what he could not through thousands of good deeds. Every insult is equivalent to thousands upon thousands of fasts, thousands upon thousands of sigufim (self affliction of pain and suffering); it’s an alternative to being thrown into fire, into the ovens of fire. People don’t understand the greatness of such rectifications – “No eye has seen it, aside from You, Hashem.” Good Shobbas!
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