Thursday, February 19, 2015

Parshas Terumah by HaRav Eliezer Berland Shlit"a

Parshas Terumah by HaRav Eliezer Berland Shlit"a

Tzama Nafshi in English  - Parshas Terumahפרשת תרומה
Transcribed and translated from previous recordings of
HaRav Eliezer Berland Shlit”a
“From between the two Cherubs” (25:22)

When Hashem Yisborach chose to create the world for the purpose of showering His creations with goodness and so that all will recognize His greatness and merit clinging to Him, blessed He be – before any of that took place, before creation, He delegated a certain point, a point which is both light and vitality! All of the souls were drawn down from that point, and then each and every person was created from that point. “And I will speak to you from between the two Cherubs.” Man was created from ‘between the two Cherubs’. That point was drawn down from between the two Cherubs. Every person must find his way back to that point. Every person must return to his root and include himself within that point. The whole purpose of our current lifetime as well as our past lifetimes is to elevate us to that wondrous point, which is the letter “Yud”. That is why we are called, “Yehudim” (Jews); we were named after that “Yud”. The essence of a Jew – a Yid, is that little point. Every person must see to it that his entire being, his very essence - will turn back into that little point, that simple point; into the letter “Yud”. Rebbe Pinchas of Koritz said, “What is the purpose of the point on a crown? The word crown means “non-existent”. Who can merit attaining a crown? Who can merit attaining that point? Only one who is humble.”
How can a person become humble? Through Torah and chessed (acts of kindness). Like it says in the Gemara of Avodah Zara (17:2): “Rav Huna said, ‘Whoever spends all of his time just learning Torah is likened to one who has no G-d, as it says (Divrei Hayamim 2:15): And Israel will have many days without a true G-d.” The Gemara is stating that if a person learns Torah but does not do chessed and help his fellow Jew, he is considered as one who has no G-d! “Without a true G-d” – there is no truth to this! During the time that Asa the King Reigned over Israel, everyone learned Torah; there was not one man who did not study Torah! Asa burned all of the statues of Avodah Zara, opened up Yeshivas, and yet, it is written in Divrei Hayamim [that Israel were] “Without a true G-d”. Asa taught all of the Jews to study Torah! However, he did not teach them to do acts of chessed! He didn’t teach them to help the weak, to learn with study partners who were weak [i.e., they needed assistance in their learning]! That, he didn’t teach them! That is the aspect of “without a true G-d.”
If a person studies the Torah but does not do acts of kindness such as helping his friends, helping the weak, etc., it’s as though he learned nothing at all! When he studies on his own, learning with none but himself, he starts seeing himself as the greatest Torah scholar of the generation! He lives an illusion that he is the greatest Rabbi of the generation! Slowly, slowly, he loses Hashem. A person who only learns Torah for his own sake becomes egocentric! He says to himself, “Soon, I’ll become a great teacher, a Rabbi, maybe even a big Rosh Yeshiva!” He is so full of arrogance, he simply can’t find the time to help others; he’s ‘too busy’! He thinks that every second he spends helping another is purely a waste of his ‘precious’ time! What a waste of time it is to speak to others and be kind to them… he has to focus on becoming a great Rabbi! When one does nothing else besides studying Torah he becomes arrogant, as it says, “Whoever is arrogant – he and I cannot live together in the same world” (Sotah 5:1). Whoever is arrogant drives away the Shechina (the Divine Presence)! He is literally pushing the Shechina away! He is removing the Shechina from the world! When the Shechina exits the world, terrible things happen; murder, all sorts of disasters, accidents, etc., may we never know of such things. Every little thought of pride causes the Shechina to leave the world. Contrarily, learning Torah together with acts of kindness nullifies self- pride. If a person studies the Torah and also helps other people, he discovers that there are people who are better than he! If a man starts studying together with another man, one who is weaker than he, he will discover that his study partner actually has better middos (traits), better qualities, more holiness, and more humbleness and so on. This humbles him!
The same rule applies to one who only does acts of kindness but does not learn Torah. He, too, will be full of arrogance. A person may start a big chessed organization, perhaps he gives out tons of food to the poor and needy; this will surely drive him to arrogance. This guy starts thinking that he is the world’s biggest chessed-doer! If he does chessed without learning Torah he’ll think he is the most charitable man in the world! After all, he is the one supporting thousands of families – who is comparable to him?!  Moreover, now that he has already become full of arrogance, due to all of his acts of kindness, the result is inevitable; even if he himself is tired of doing kindness for others he will do it anyway because of his lust for pride and honor. He will desperately seek out poor families to help, even if that means searching basements and the likes, anything to find poor families who don’t have food for Shabbos. He’ll rescue thousands of families and do things that no one else does because acts of chessed build his ego! He thinks that he is saving people! He’s the so-called redeemer! He thinks he’s the greatest person in the world! He has broken the world-record of haughtiness! However, if he also learns Torah he will lose his arrogance. He’ll discover that one guy knows how to learn better than he, another guy knows the Tosfos better and yet another guy knows halacha better than he, etc. He’ll see that there are people that are much better than he! There are men greater than he!
Now, his balloon has popped! He will become humble! The bottom line is that Torah without chessed leads to arrogance as does chessed without Torah! Only a person who learns Torah and also does chessed can be humble. Good Shobbas!
[That is the meaning of “I will speak to you from between the two Cherubs”, only from that essential point of humbleness can a person have a true connection to his creator, from that point of humbleness which is only found between the two Cherubs – representing Torah and Chessed.]
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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Parshas Mishpatim by Harav Eliezer Berland Shlit"a

Tzama Nafshi in English  - Parshas Mishpatimפרשת משפטים
Transcribed and translated from previous recordings of
HaRav Eliezer Berland Shlit”a
“Six days you should accomplish your activities and on the seventh day you shall desist” (23:12)

A child that sees his father sitting calmly, singing and speaking words of Torah at the Shabbos table will feel a profound sense of inner happiness and serenity…

“Rabbeinu says that Shabbos is like a magnificent wedding at which everyone is happy and dancing with tremendous joy. A person gets dressed up in his finest clothing and quickly runs to take part in this joyous celebration. But [he doesn’t realize] what an incredible privilege it is even just to be able to stand outside and peek through a curtain, through the tiniest crack and to be able to watch what is going on inside” (Sichos HaRan 254).

When Shabbos arrives, there is a wedding in heaven. It is 26 hours long, from the beginning of kabbalas Shabbos until Havdalah, and one must participate in this wedding, with the songs and dancing that are taking place in heaven. When we recite Lecha Dodi at the beginning of Shabbos, HaKadosh Baruch Hu immediately enters Gan Eden and dances with the tzaddikim. All Shabbos long, c’viyachol, Hashem dances with the tzaddikim, with all the angels in Gan Eden, and everyone dances around HaKadosh Baruch Hu and says “This is Hashem to whom we hoped; let us exult and be glad in His salvation” (Yeshiah 25:9). And everyone will look at Hashem face to face, and everyone will be nourished from the clarity of the bright shining light (from the clear lens - אספקלריא המאירה). Everything that we have on Shabbos, the whole joy of Shabbos, is drawn from the joy of the dancing and music of HaKadosh Baruch Hu with the tzaddikim in Gan Eden. The simchah in heaven filters down to our world.

The Rebbe said that Shabbos is literally like a wedding—a unique wedding. It’s a grand and important wedding where everyone comes and dances. But the problem is that not everyone is able to get into the hall. The hall will not hold everyone. Just like the weddings of Admorim in which 30,000, 40,000, even 50,000 chassidim attend—some climb on the windows, some stand on the rooftops with binoculars watching the great joy of the chuppah or the dancing of the chassan. Everyone is looking for some kind of opening or crack to peer through—from some rooftop maybe they will be able to see some of the joy of the wedding. Maybe they’ll catch a glimpse of some of the dancing.

The Rebbe says that Shabbos is like a wedding, but who knows who will merit seeing the joy of Shabbos? Who will merit seeing the wondrous joy of Shabbos, the infinite joy of Shabbos? “…what an incredible privilege it is even just to be able to stand outside and peek through a curtain, through the tiniest crack and to be able to watch what is going on inside!” Because Shabbos is only for dancing, singing and joy. When Shabbos arrives a person should be happy, and he should dance and sing. The holy Shabbos is unending joy, limitless joy. It is forbidden for a person to have even a fleeting thought of sadness or worry on Shabbos. The essence of Judaism depends on this. The more a person is happy on Shabbos, the more he dances on Shabbos, this is what determines how much G-dly light he will merit during his week. The G-dly light enlightens a person through the joy that he has on Shabbos. A person is not allowed to be miserable and depressed on Shabbos. He shouldn’t worry—“as if he had completed absolutely everything that he had to do” (Rashi on Shemos 20:8). Baruch Hashem that no one is in jail. No one has been taken captive. Everyone has, Baruch Hashem, two challos and a cup of wine for Kiddush.

When a person says “Vayachulu” he is saying the ten ma’amaros. Vayachulu includes everything, all the accountings, all the worries, all the plans. When Shabbos Kodesh arrives, it is forbidden for a person to make any plans about what he might do during the coming week. He should have no thoughts about what will be during the week. When Shabbos arrives, let Hashem take care of everything. If a person thinks on Shabbos, “What will be?” then they say in heaven, “OK. Let it be like he thinks.” Why are you doing Hashem’s accounting? You are ruining all the plans of Hashem Yisborach. Hashem has infinite potential, an infinite ability to bestow good upon a person. He wants to give you everything. He wants to overwhelm you with good. Hashem wants to give a person all the bounty in the world. But if a person thinks on Shabbos, “What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we eat on Sunday? What will be on Monday? What will we eat on Tuesday?” Then they say to him, “OK. Whatever you think, that’s what we’ll give you. You will receive according to your own understanding.” But if you don’t think and you don’t ask “What will be? What will be on Sunday, on Monday…” but rather, fortify yourself with joy, then you will have such bounty, such salvation—things you never even hoped for. Things you never expected. Salvation you never even dreamt of. You cannot imagine what bounty Hashem has to give you. But you must rejoice on Shabbos Kodesh and to really, truly be filled with unlimited happiness, an unending and boundless joy. Of course, you shouldn’t lose control. But you can only draw the holiness of Shabbos and the G-dly light of Shabbos down through the vessel of joy.

Shabbos arrives. Everyone is singing. Everyone is dancing with their children. Everyone: Admorim, Rabbanim, Rashei Yeshivos. Everyone is sitting for three to four hours at the Shabbos table and singing with their children. And the children give over divrei Torah, chidushim. Children feel the oneg Shabbos, feel desire to be frum yidden, desire to be yireh shamayim. The Shabbos table is the opening to everything in the world, all the salvation. When a person sits with his children and sings with them, that is where the children get their desire for holiness from, their desire for Torah, for prayer and yiras shamayim, also their love for their mother and father. You don’t sing? Then your Shabbos is not Shabbos! If a person doesn’t sing the zemiros, then what will you do if your son goes of the derech, chas v’shalom? If a family doesn’t sing the Shabbos zemiros, then the kids start wandering around because they don’t have anything to do, and then they go outside and hear not nice things and they go and meet bad friends and they themselves then ruin other friends. The child sees that his father isn’t praying, isn’t happy. He doesn’t sing the Shabbos songs, and so the child goes and does aveiros. When Shabbos arrives, a child must see his father singing and yearning and delighting in Shabbos, and then he too will get a taste for Shabbos, a taste for life. Now is the time for zemiros, singing. We sing zemiros for an hour and then the children are enlivened. They laugh and are happy. If a child sings for an hour with his father on Shabbos, then in this merit he can hold out for the whole week. Then if he happens to meet a bad friend, he will say, “Get away from me. What? Do you want to destroy me?” If a child sees his father sitting peacefully, singing zemiros, he will have such a good feeling in his heart and he will be so secure that this is his life, this is his joy, and then he won’t be interested in the street and all its emptiness. What more does a child need than this? The minimum requirement of Judaism is to sing the Shabbos songs. Without this one hasn’t even begun!

They asked the father of Rebbe Duvid from Lelov how he merited to have such a great son. He said that when he would come to the line of the Shabbos zemiros that said “You should merit seeing your children and your children’s children fulfilling the Torah and mitzvos” he would sing it over and over with tears in his eyes, with such a deveikus, for at least half an hour, that he should merit to see his children and grandchildren going this way. A father wants that his child will not cut off his payos! Why shouldn’t he cut off his payos? What does he see his father doing? His father sleeps on Shabbos, eats and sleeps and eats and sleeps again... If he would see his father singing with a lot of enthusiasm and dancing with his children and getting them excited, then no child would cut off his paos, no child would look to the street, because even children want to serve Hashem. It’s just that they don’t see any avodas Hashem. So if a person will sing with deveikus, and sing, “I should merit seeing my children and children’s children” then he and his children and his grandchildren will go with payos, study Torah and do mitzvos.

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Thursday, February 5, 2015

Parshas Yisro by Harav Eliezer Berland Shlit"a

Tzama Nafshi in English  - Parshas Yisro ה’’תשע
Transcribed and translated from previous recordings of
HaRav Eliezer Berland Shlit”a

“And Israel encamped there opposite the mountain.” (19:2)

Why is “encamped” written here in the Hebrew singular form? Rashi explains: “As one person with one heart” – i.e. they went together, united as one. In Parshas Beshalach, when referring to the Egyptians it says, “And Egypt followed them in pursuit” (using the singular form), Rashi says a similar explanation, only in reversed order: “With one heart as one person.” Why is it that when referring to the the Egyptians, Rashi chooses to state first the heart and then the body, whereas in the case of Am Yisrael (the Jewish People), he chose to state first the body and only then the heart? Is this to say that we are so connected to our bodies? Are the people of Israel tied to materialism? Are the other Nations people of heart and spirit? On the contrary! We are a nation of ‘heart’ and they are nations of the ‘body’! The book, “Ma’ayanah Shel Torah - The Well of the Torah,” answers this perplexity and explains that the meaning of “one heart” in the verse regarding the Egyptians, refers to their ‘special’ desire, the desire that unites together all of the nations of the world, which is the desire to kill and annihilate Am Yisrael. That is the one thing that unites them! That is the meaning of “one heart”. It doesn’t mean they have a heart; they have no heart at all! They are completely heartless! However, they share a desire - one desire, one purpose. There are no disputes or differences of opinions when it comes to this mutual purpose. They all look forward to the return of “Auschwitz”. All of the nations are just waiting to see who will succeed in killing off the Jewish people. That is the “one heart” of all of the nations of the world, without any exceptions whatsoever. With regards to Am Yisrael, the meaning is entirely different. Am Yisrael are one! They are one body! All of the Jews are one person! That is the reality! We are all one! Am Yisrael is one person containing 248 limbs and 365 sinews! Every person is a part of that one body, a limb; one person can be part of the head, while another is part of the arm, one is part of the foot while another can be a finger, a vein or the skin, etc. They are all a part of that one body.
Am Yisrael is the living meaning of “unity”. The Jews are one body, one soul! No person in the world would willingly part with any limb of his body, not a finger nor even the nail of his pinkie! Nothing at all! If a person were to approach another and ask, “How bad would it be if we cut off part of your finger? It wouldn’t be so terrible to lose just a third of your finger, would it? What do you need it for, anyway?” The reply would unquestionably be, “No way! I’m not prepared for you to cut off even a speck of my finger!” The same applies to Am Yisrael; no Jew is dispensable. We must all love every single Jew with all our heart and all our soul.
The Rebbe of Vorkin comments on the verse, “And Israel encamped there” and explains that the Jews that came out of Egypt had an immense love for each other. They recognized the beauty and grace in each other (translators comment: grace in Hebrew is “chen” and in the literature the Torah says, “Vayachon” which means “And they encamped”, however the root of “vayachon” is also “chen” – i.e. grace), and conceded to one another. They saw and acknowledged the uniqueness in each other - their virtue, their greatness and righteousness. Each person felt that the holiness and righteousness of every other Jew had by far exceeded his own; that is the meaning of “And Israel encamped there.”
“As one man!” Every Jew cared deeply for the other and truly wanted the others to be happy and successful! They wanted only the best for each other! The love and special feelings they had towards each other was what enabled them to receive the Holy Torah.
Our purpose in this world is to observe the commandment of “Ahavas Yisrael; to love each other and be united as one! We must nullify ourselves to that reality! Every person must feel the suffering of his brethren and try to sense what is causing them pain. We must make sure not to do anything that can hurt people or cause them any type of grief. We should love every Jew with all our hearts and all our souls and never speak against anyone! Even if a Jew is causing you the most terrible suffering and troubles and even if he beats you, you must not fail [in your responsibility to love him]! Don’t respond! Don’t say one word! Am Yisrael is one body; they are one person! If you accidentally hurt yourself, G-d forbid, would you then hate the limb of your body that wounded the other limb? Of course not! You must realize that the Jew (who hurt you) is the diamond in the crown of Hashem Yisborach! After all, that Jew dons Tefillin every morning, keeps Shabbos, learns Torah and wakes up to learn at chatzos (midnight). You should know that the purpose of the slander that he speaks about you is to sweeten the Heavenly judgment against you! It atones for all of your sins! It moulds you into a vessel with which to receive the Torah.
When a person lacks love for his fellow Jews, he cannot grow to any higher spiritual levels. The Torah itself spiritually burns the person because the only vessel with which one can accept the Torah is “ahavas chinam” – unconditional love. You must understand that the first priority of a person who is truly connected to the way of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov is that he has love of his fellow Jew, only once he loves every Jew with his heart and soul can he merit understanding the Rebbe! He will merit drawing the greatness and the essence of the Rebbe’s teachings down into this world.
People have plenty of strength to go out and work for 24 hours a day in order to sustain their family and that just proves that they have enough strength to give their very lives for the sake of another Jew. A person becomes an existing reality only in as much as he is obsorbed in the Jewish people as a collective! The expression “I” doesn’t exist at all! I am only a reality if I am able to nullify myself for the sake of another, everyone is a single existence, one soul, there is no such a thing as “alone”. There is no “one”. If a person becomes “one”, he has cut himself off from the rest, in which case, he is nullified; it’s as though he doesn’t exist at all! When does a person become “me”? Only when he is capable of sacrificing his own life for the sake of others, for the only reality is that of the Jewish people collectively and of Hashem Yisborach. There are no individuals! Anything that is individual is nullified and non-existent; it is just a figment of imagination. The essence of the Torah and the mitzvos and the essence of a Jew is giving; giving to other people, giving to everyone! When a person separates himself from the klal (the Jewish people collectively) and is only concerned with himself, he becomes a non-reality. He has wiped himself off the face of the planet! A person becomes existent, he becomes a reality only according to the way he includes himself within the klal and within Hashem. The only reality is to be included within the klal and Hashem. That is the only reality! Every person must know that whenever he thinks only about himself and has no concern for others, he is simply non-existent! Contrarily, when he forgets about his own needs in his concern about others, he loves everyone and doesn’t speak against any other Jew and only thinks about the klal and about Hashem - then he exists!
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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

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