"There are no evildoers among the Jewish People
Everyone is searching for the way
Waiting for someone to awaken them"
Transcribed and translated from previous recordings of
HaRav Eliezer Berland Shlit”a
“And as the Ark set out on the journey...” (Bamidbar 10:35)
"And as the Ark set out on the journey”—this phrase is a parsha in and of itself. It is its own book, as it says in the Gemara (Shabbas 116a), “Wisdom has built her house, she has hewn out her seven pillars, (Proverbs 9:1), these represent the seven books of the Torah.” Really, there are seven books in the Torah and not just five. The book of Bamidbar is divided into three separate books. The two pesukim, “And as the Ark set out on the journey” (10:35), “And when it rested, he would say, ‘Reside tranquilly…’” (10:36) are a book in and of themselves, found in the middle of the book of Bamidbar. Truly this is an awesome wonder that such a small section of only two lines can be a book on its own.
The parsha of “And as the Ark set out on the journey” is enclosed by two upside-down [letter] nuns. The letter nun hints at the 50th gate of holiness which is the most hidden. This gate can be achieved only though “And as the Ark set out on the journey”—only through traveling. So says the Zohar in parshas Behaaloscha (151a), “Go and see, there is no nun in the psalm of Ashrei.” Everyone knows that in the psalm of “Ashrei yoshvei beisecha” there is no verse that starts with the letter nun. So when do we get the nun? When do we merit to the letter nun? It is davka when a person is traveling! It is such a high level of holiness, it is such an awesome gate, that it is impossible to reach other than by traveling for the sake of heaven—to bring people back in teshuva. The Rebbe says—go, go, start traveling. All over the land of Israel there are people living by themselves in moshavim and kibbutzim who don’t see Rabanim and don’t listen to Torah classes and don’t know anything about Judaism. And the yetzer hara is burning! How could it be that their children won’t sin? When a person travels on the road and brings people back in teshuva, he doesn’t know how many people are actually being influenced to return in teshuva just from having seen him. They see a man with pa'os and with a light on his face and their hearts open up. Their hearts start burning and they wake up. Maybe, amongst all the people, there is one who laughs and makes fun, but 10,000 are awakened to teshuva. People look out of their windows and say, “If only that we should be like him, with a beard and pa'os.”
When they see a religious person, a holy person, their neshama springs to life! It comes alive and it wants to attach itself to this Jew. A person sets out with a shining face, and he goes and knocks on some darkened door, and people see such an angel and immediately everyone gets up and runs to the door. There was such a story in Gush Katif in a Meretz moshav where avrechim went to spread Torah and when they finished and wanted to go home, everyone started running towards them—all the children in their shorts and undershirts, and they shouted, “Why are you abandoning us? Help us! We don’t know what to do!” Whoever does such an important mitzvah as this and travels from city to city and from moshav to moshav—all the time learning, of course. Before a person learns for eight hours, there is no reason to go out! You need to learn for eight hours and then spread Torah for eight hours, and you can also learn on the way while you are traveling. Then a person arrives full of Torah and he has a shining face, and when people see his shining face then they immediately make teshuva, because everyone else is walking around with sour or broken expressions on their faces. And when someone who learns Torah shows up, they see him like a G-dly angel with pa'os and a beard, with a shining face, and everyone makes teshuva!
The Gemara Baba Metziah 85b relates how Rav Chavivah Bar Surmaki wanted to see the heavenly chariot of Rebbe Chiya. He asked Eliyahu HaNavi, pleading with him, crying, “I want to see Rebbe Chiya! I want to see Rebbe Chiya! Eliyahu HaNavi said, “Beware! Your eyes will burn out if you see it. You will be burned up by his fire!” Eliyahu HaNavi told him, “Me you can look at, but Rebbe Chiya is completely fire: chariot of fire, fiery angels. Be careful! You are making too dangerous a request.” But Rebbe Chavivah couldn’t control himself. He didn’t stand up in the test, and he looked at Rebbe Chiya’s chariot. Immediately his eyes were burned up—one spark of Rebbe Chiya scorched his eyes and he was blinded. He was almost completely burnt up. The next day, he went to the cave of Rebbe Chiya and cried and cried, “Rebbe Chiya, return to me the light of my eyes.” And Rebbe Chiya gave him back his sight. The Ari HaKadosh asks: Who is Rebbe Chiya? What is Rebbe Chiya? This is a tzaddik that we simply have no conception of. Why? Because he went from town to town, from moshav to moshav, day and night, to spread Torah in Israel. He didn’t sleep and he didn’t rest for a second. The Ari says that it is not for nothing that a person merits such levels. All the Tana'im and Amoraim are raised up by angels in heaven, but Rebbe Chiya rises up on his own. No angel or seraph can lift him up because they can’t go up that high! Rebbe Chiya rises up and up and up to a place that cannot be described, to Atika D’Atika.
The Zohar says, “Worthy is the person who brings others back in teshuva.” (Shemos 128b). A person who brings others back in teshuva will have no gate in heaven closed before him. Everything is open to him. They give him everything—all the Kings treasures. Hashem draws him close, hugs him and dedicates time to spend with him more than all the other tzaddikim, because he dedicated himself to bring people back in teshuva. And they give him all the keys and open all the gates for him and reveal all the Torah’s secrets to him.
Reb Nosson says that if a person doesn’t bring people back in teshuva, it is said about him: “an offering of the wicked and an abomination” (Proverbs 21:27). Hashem has no pleasure from his Torah. Even if a person will be the wisest and the most righteous, if he doesn’t travel and bring people back in teshuva, and he doesn’t connect with people on a lower level than he is, then his prayers are not accepted. There are no evildoers in the nation of Israel—even if you see a totally wicked person, you must know that it is only the klippos that are surrounding him that you see. The Arizal says that the many klippos that pile up around the wicked are only a reflection of the great light that is hidden within them. Even the generations’ most chutzapidik and brazen faced people are only covered in a millimeter of klippos—just a millimeter of a millimeter—which can be shed in one second, and then their internal light will be revealed. They have the greatest light inside, so the klippos are attracted to them and fight hard to hide their great light. The moment that we are able to bring them back in teshuva, a ray of light will shine which will enlighten the whole world and then all of Israel will return in teshuva.
A person is obligated to bring people back in teshuva, as Yehuda exclaimed, “How can I go up to my father if the youth is not with me!” (Bereishis 44:34). How can I go up to my father? How can I go up to Heaven and the youth is not with me? Who is this youth? This is all of Am Yisrael—all of the unfortunate young people who are lost and far from Hashem. How will we dare go up to Heaven and admit that we didn’t at least attempt to bring them back in teshuva?
art by: Joshua Wiseman 054-844-1133