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.