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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Saturday, November 7, 2015

Translation of Knishta Chada journal issue #44 part 2

Translation of Knishta Chada issue # 44 Chesvan 5776

The Holy Rav Aharon Bennett [Hyd, Hashem should avenge his blood]

We went into Shabbat Chol Hamoed of Succot accompanied by a dark cloud, on account of the recent murder of two holy Jews, the father and mother of family Henkin, Hashem should avenge their blood (Hyd). But despite this dreadful tragedy, Am Yisrael tried with all its strength to fulfill the mitzvah of celebrating the last days of Succot, and upcoming holiday of Simchat Torah, and in particular, to celebrate with the happiness, or simcha required. 
Hoshana Rabba, the last day of Succot, arrived, together with the hope that the redemption of the Jewish people should finally begin. Instead, the foundations of the world started to shake, and the sound of the police and ambulance sirens of the security forces echoed all around the streets of Jerusalem, until they reached the home of Rav Yosef Gal, Aharon’s father-in-law, in Meah Shearim.
‘As soon as we heard the sirens, we started running in their direction as fast as we could,’ explains Rav Gal. ‘My wife, the Rabbanit Miriam, and I were gripped with an indescribable sense of fear. We didn’t even tell anyone where we were going, we just started running, our hearts pounding.

‘A few hours earlier, we’d asked our children if maybe they’d pray closer to home this time round, and not walk over to the Kotel, as they’d planned. But they told us that they lived in Beitar Illit, and that it wasn’t every day that they had the chance to go to the Kotel to pray. Even though it was a very tense time…and I had a very heavy heart…it’s impossible to really put it into words, but I felt a deep sense of foreboding. But I couldn’t talk them out of it. They told me: “We want to fulfill the precious mitzvah of aliyah leregel, walking up to the place of Beit HaMikdash. It’s very important to us.”
Rav Gal’s voice breaks, as he recounts the story.

The Rabbis of the Shuvu Banim community spent a little time recounting some of the praises of the holy Aharon Bennet, HyD, Rav Gal’s son-in-law. Aharon was a very special person; he always had a big smile on his face, and his smile and cheerful demeanor – together with the profound, but simple words of emuna he shared with everyone – encouraged and strengthened a lot of people.

Rav Gal continues his story: ‘Initially, they didn’t want to shock me too much, so they only told me that Aharon was injured. Aharon was like a son to me, but also like a friend, too. He was a sensitive soul, generous and giving, a true chassid, who walked in the path of Rebbenu, with self-sacrifice and simplicity.

‘Throughout the shiva (mourning) period, many friends and visitors came to comfort us, and helped us to recover the strength we needed to continue, ‘ says Rav Gal. ‘Baruch Hashem, we also had Aharon’s children, our grandchildren, to care for, and they needed us to be strong for them.’

Little Naftali Bennett, aged 2 ½, was also injured in the attack that killed his father and seriously wounded his mother, when the terrorist stabbed him in the back and the legs. His little sister, just 7 months’ old, also needed full-time care, as her mother Adel was in hospital.

Rav Gal continues: ‘Aharon, Hyd, was murdered in the last moments of Shabbat Chol Hamoed, on his way back to our home. The terrorist ambushed them, and first attacked Adel, stabbing her 13 times.  Despite the fact that she was trying to fight him off, and that Aharon was also hitting him, the terrorist continued. He stabbed Aharon fatally, and even though he had the knife still stuck in him, the last thing Aharon managed to do before he died was to pull the terrorist to the floor.’

Rav Nechemia Lavi, HyD

Rav Nechemia Lavi lived in Beit Wittenberg, directly above where the attack was taking place. He heard the screams coming from outside, and heroically risked his life to help the victims. Rav Lavi quickly wheeled the two children away from the terrorist, saving them from certain death, before he, too, was murdered. Only someone like our teacher, Rav Berland, can explain how, despite the fact that Rav Nechemia was prepared for combat and was armed, the terrorist still managed to execute his wicked plan.

This is what Rav Berland said: ‘It’s difficult for us to hear the difficult, tragic news about the terrible murder that happened today, where a holy and pure avreich (student) from our holy community was murdered by the hands of a evildoer, and cut down in the prime of his life. We need to know that the holy people who lost their lives al kiddush hashem, Rav Aharon Benita, Rav Nechemia Lavi, Hyd, and also the father and mother that were murdered the week before with terrible cruelty in front of their children, were a kappara (atonement offering) for Am Yisrael. They sweetened the decree, and prevented another Shoah (holocaust) from happening to Am Yisrael.

‘Hashem Yitborach is waking us up, that we should make true teshuva. We should begin to love and to care about one another in truth, properly. If a man sees that the son of his friend is not learning, he should teach him, and we should have more ahavat chinam (unconditional love, the opposite of baseless hatred) between us.’

So many of us need to hear, and be strengthened, by the following holy words of the Rav, who explained how a brave, experienced soldier like Rav Nechemia, who was ready for combat, with a weapon in his hand, was still unable to prevail against the evil terrorist.
Rav Berland explained: ‘The Hebrew word for arab, ‘aRavi’ contains the same letters as aveira, which is the Hebrew word for sin. Our sins are clothed in the arabs, in the terrorists, and that gives them the power and ability to harm us. On account of our sins, Heaven takes holy and pure korbanot (sacrifices). When a Jewish man goes out on to the street he must guard his eyes from improper sites. Rabbenu Hakadosh, our holy rabbi, Rebbe Nachman, teaches that it’s impossible to acquire the holy Torah without shmirat haBrit (lit: guarding of the covenant), and without coming out of all our physical lusts. Therefore, we need to invest ourselves as much as we can in learning Gemara, so that a day shouldn’t pass without us learning some Gemara, and this is what will really subdue all of the klippot (lit: husks, evil forces), and Hashem Yitborach will say ‘enough to our suffering’, and send us Moshiach Tzidkanu bkarov mamash (very, very soon), Amen.’

Aharon’s last shabbat

Rav Gal concluded his heartrending story with words that can’t fail to leave us unmoved: ‘At the shabbat table that day, there was a very special and exalted atmosphere,’ he says. ‘We were discussing Choshen Mishpat, one of the sections of the Shulchan Aruch, and Aharon was sharing some wonderful insights he’d learned in the tractates of Bava Kama and Bava Metsia. At one point in the discussion, I happened to open the Zohar at a section that spoke about how we need to go to the gravesite of the tzaddikim, and to the holy patriarchs, to request mercy for Am Yisrael. We read that, and we all decided that after Shabbat, we should go to Meron, to the Rashbi (Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai) Aharon wanted to stay awake all night to learn and to do hitbodedut (personal prayer).

‘We don’t question Hashem’s actions,’ continues Rav Gal. ‘We know that everything is for the good, and that Hashem Yitborach knows what He’s doing. It’s better for us to remember how just a little while ago, Aharon travelled to Uman for Rosh Hashana, with great mesirat nefesh (self-sacrifice). He’d recently had a lot of expenses to cover, 30k NIS worth, and despite the fact that he and my daughter were struggling to put bread on the table, he was still saving a little in his kupat (money box), shekel by shekel, for half a year, to be able to afford the hugely important, holy journey to Uman.

‘Also, Aharon was in the middle of a number of legal cases [that had been filed against him in connection with not going to the army], and he was running from lawyer to lawyer, trying to get them dropped.  And if that wasn’t enough, he also had to overcome the difficult hurdle of getting permission from the Israeli Army to leave the country.

‘Aharon didn’t want to join the army,’ explains Rav Gal. ‘He wanted to continue with his holy work, following the path of Rebbe Nachman. But since he wasn’t officially registered in a kollel, he didn’t manage to get an exemption from the army. He sacrificed a great deal to fulfill Rabbenu’s instructions to be with him for Rosh Hashana, even though he knew that when he came back to Israel, he’d be facing another court case from the army, as a result.

‘These things, and many others, will stand for him in the World to Come,’ concluded Rav Gal. Rav Aharon, HyD, was buried in the Chassidic section of the Har HaMenuchot cemetery in Jerusalem. ‘Aharon always said that when his time came, he wanted to die al Kiddush Hashem, to sanctify God’s name. He should stand for us, and for all of Am Yisrael, as a good advocate, until Hashem says: Enough! To our suffering, and to the destruction of Zion, Jerusalem our city.’

Adel’s injuries, and miraculous recovery
Aharon’s wife, Adel, was also serious injured in the attack, sustaining 13 deep stab wounds to her upper body. She was in a critical, life-threatening condition after the attack, and she was immediately wheeled-in for lengthy surgery, to try to save her life. We called the Rav and asked him what to do, and the Rav told us to bring a pidyon nefesh (lit: redemption of the soul) for her. We followed his advice, and we witnessed Adel’s situation improve miraculously, against all the odds. The doctor suddenly came out of the operating theatre and announced that there had been a miraculous, and completely unexpected improvement in her condition.
Baruch Hashem, Adel and her children have come through their terrible ordeal healthy and complete. We all wish her and all of her family a complete and speedy recovery of body and soul, and may it be the will of Our Father in Heaven that He says: ‘Enough!’ to our suffering.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Must see! Rabbi Elya Succot 2 hr musical shiur last night in LA

Rabbi Elya Succot

The Hidden Treasure Within You - Parshas Chayei Sarah - by Rabbi Eliezer Berland Shlit”a

The Hidden Treasure Within You
 Parshas Chayei Sarah

Transcribed and translated from previous recordings of
HaRav Eliezer Berland Shlit”a
”Avraham bows to the people of the land and says, ‘Please give me the cave which is at the end of Efron’s field, for full value I will purchase it, so that I may bury my dead’. Efron answers ‘No, my Master, listen, may the field be yours, and the cave which is in it, take it! Bury your dead!’ Avraham bows and says, ‘please, take this money, so I may bury my dead there’…”   (brieshis 23)

          Effron had a wondrous treasure in his backyard, Me'aras HaMachpela. He had Adam and Chava whose dazzling light shone from one end of the world to the other. But to him, Me'aras HaMachpela was just darkness and gloom, an utterly pitch black darkness. Since Adam and Chava were buried in this cave, Hashem made sure that the people would have a terrible fear of the cave, including all kinds of illusions that it harbored demons and ghosts. People were full of dread at the thought of even drawing near to the place. It was in such a remote spot on the slope of a mountain that no one dared wanted to buy it, so clearly Effron knew he was cheating Avraham Avinu when he sold him the cave. 
Rebbe Nosson explains, that the holiest place, the holiest tzaddik, anywhere there is holiness, always seems like a place of darkness and gloom, surrounded by demons and evil spirits. As it is written, “The holier a person is from his friend the more empty he seems.” “Effron” has the gematria of 400 which is the same gematria as “evil eye,” the opposite of a “good eye.” So, Effron saw only darkness and gloom in the Me'aras HaMachpela, but David HaMelech had a good eye, about whom as it is written, “beautiful eyes and lovely to see.” He saw only the light in each Jew, only the good points in each Jew, the holy spark in each Jew. A person sees his own light, but he doesn’t see the light of others, neither his friends or even at home. Sometimes, a person sees the light of his wife, but she doesn’t see the light of her husband. Or it could be the reverse: a woman sees the light of her husband and he doesn’t see her light. But in truth, each person needs to see the light of others, because it is very bad for a person to see the other’s weaknesses, the other’s flaws. The essence of a bad eye is when a person can’t stand seeing that his friend is succeeding better than him—that he feels that he is better than his friend. A person is quick to notice that his friend learns more than him or prays more than him. Why should he care if his friend is praying better than he is or learning better than he is? Every single person has a bad eye and no one is ready to accept that someone else is better than he is. If a person was able to accept that someone was better than he is, he would be able to live forever—he would be able to fix the entire world. A good eye is something altogether different. If a person wouldn’t be jealous of others, would love others, would be happy with the other person’s success, then he would have the eyes of the true tzaddik, who has a completely good eye. This is David HaMelech who has “beautiful eyes and is lovely to see,” who is completely focused on the good, and doesn’t wish bad on anyone.

          Each person has countless treasures; he only needs to remove the earthliness that covers them—to escape from the klippa of Effron, from the bad eye. In every man, in every woman, in every Jewish soul there are unlimited treasures. The Jewish soul is blazing and burning for Hashem--every Jewish soul wants to do teshuva! Every Jew has a heart that is on fire for Hashem, a blazing heart that could burn the whole world. Every Jew has a fiery flame inside, “The eternal fire shall burn on the mizbeach; it shall not be extinguished.” Every single Jew can bring the whole world back in teshuva, even the greatest sinner can make teshuva, because to the extent that he can be bad, so too does he have the power to be good—he has a greater soul.
This is what is related in the Midrash about Yosi Misita who was a heretic. He denied everything and went and joined the Romans. Whoever kept Shabbos, whoever gave his child a bris at that time was crucified. He saw that the nation of Israel was lost, erased from the earth, and he gave up and said, “Why do I need to be a Jew? I will be a Roman.”  So he went along with them to burn the Beis HaMikdash, threw torches with them, and before the Beis HaMikdash had finished burning the Roman’s said to him, “Wait one minute! Who will go into the sanctuary to get the menorah?” They told him to go in and take something. Everyone knew that anyone who would go into the sanctuary would be burned. Whoever would go into the Kodesh Kodoshim would be burned. Everyone was afraid to enter, so they told him, “Whatever you bring out first is yours to keep.”  Yosi Misita went in grabbed the golden menorah and came out with it, and they said to him, “Give us that menorah! You can’t take it—it’s too valuable. Take some goblet, some spoon, but not the menorah!” At that moment his Jewish spark ignited—suddenly his spark was awakened. The menorah lit his inner spark, and he saw that the menorah was completely made up of light. So he held on to the menorah and said, “This menorah you are not going to get. You are not going to get the menorah.” They said to him, “What do you mean we’re not going to get the menorah? It’s not yours! It’s the King’s! We need to bring Titus the menorah.” He told them, “You will not get this menorah under any circumstances; I will die together with it.” And then he was completely aflame, completely on fire for Hashem. “I am returning to Judaism! I will start being a Jew.” Cut me into bits!” They said, “OK,” and grabbed him and put him on a carpenter’s table which was used for cutting wood and began cutting into him, chopping him up. The minute they began cutting him up, he felt pleasure. Each time they sawed into him he felt such pleasure—he was full of joy and exhilaration, and he said, “I take upon myself all this suffering with love! Ribbono Shel Olam, it is good that they are chopping me apart; it is good that they are cutting me. Forgive me for all my sins! How did I join the Romans who killed millions of Jews? How can it be that I didn’t realize that the nation of Israel is eternal? Baruch Hashem that they are sawing into these rotten bones, these poisoned bones that led me astray. They led me to where they led me, and Yosi Mesita is now a dedicated servant of Hashem, completely happy while they are cutting me apart, and he is still singing and doesn’t feel any pain—a servant singing, ‘my soul is sick with love of You.’ They are chopping him apart and he is sick with love for Hashem. He only feels Hashem—he feels nothing but Hashem.”

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