Always expect change, until the ultimate geulah expect change and challenge. As long as you want to do something important and meaningful, something good with joy, expect obstacles and challenges, also from within yourself.
Yaakov Avinu is running to save his life, there is danger from behind and there is danger lying ahead. Away from his holy father Yitzchak and from his holy mother Rivkah, away from the yeshiva of Shem and Eiver, where he studied Torah and served Hashem, he will now have to face the world outside, pretty much on his own.
What will he do when he discovers the evil of his uncle Lavan? What will he do when he discovers how close by evil is to us and how close we are to it? Will he remain the same Yaakov – will he only seek to protect himself by running away from evil or will he face the challenges? Will he wrestle with the anfel-man? Will he be the escapist or the victor? Will he make a difference in the world? Will he build his family, the nation of Knesses Yisrael- the entire community of the souls of Israel?
Will he give us all the strength to become and to be Yisrael - to truly reflect Hashem’s true presence and light upon our faces, and illuminate this world?
Yaakov left home as Yaakov, but he came home as Yisrael. This is the legacy of our father, Yaakov Avinu: To know that it is Hashem who places in tight spots and presents us with all kinds of challenges. To know that the point of all these challenges is for Yaakov to become Yisrael.
Hashem promised Yaakov, “I will be with you and I will protect you on your entire journey. So long as you see yourself ‘on the journey’ and you will continue to move towards the ultimate holy destination- know that Hashem will be with you, that He will protect you. So long as you will strive to be a holy warrior maintaining your focus on all the good you are here to do; so long as, like a warrior, you know that no matter how much you have already done, there is so much more to do, so much more divine light to be brought into the world; and like a true warrior you do not retire from the battle and you give yourself over with joy, to the pain and the joy of living and growing in the challenge- Hashem is with you, Hashem is guarding you.
You will be Yisrael. You already are Yisrael, but you need to manifest yourself. The world continues to challenge you, continues to say that you are just Yaakov, that you do not have the rights to your G-d given homeland. Know then, that the only way you will fulfill your purpose in this world is by being Yisrael. Step by step, we all together must be the true and complete עם ישראל – Am Yisrael.
Like Yaakov Avinu we have been in ‘galut’- exile for a very long time, and many of us still are- and as long as we don’t have the Beit Hamikdash, we all are- may it be rebuilt quicklyt in our days.. May Hashem have compassion on all of us. B”H we have the opportunities to be here today in our holy land, Eretz Yisrael. Most of our ancestors were only able to dream about and pray over this. Yakkov Avinu is teaching us that we need to come home and be here as Yisrael! We need to reflect Hashem’s presence in the world. We have to admit and declare that Eretz Yisrael is the homeland of the Jewish People only because that is Hashem’s exclusive will. We have to be Yisrael בשמחה b’simcha – joyously.
Every one of us who has G-d forbid given up on achieving our dreams, Hashem’s dreams; every one of us who has been in the holiest of places in the world and did not pray there; every one of us who at the end of the day realizes how many precious moments and opportunities missed, ignored and did not even notice - we must not give up, we must go back to the holy place and really pray there. And when we sincerely wish to redeem all our lost opportunities, Hashem will, in wondrous ways, help us reconnect quickly. Amen.
The Meor Einayim explains that as soon as you leave Be’er Sheva, you are already in Charan, in the angry world, in the place of judgment. You must set your mind on returning. But first you must go through the challenges. Know that Hashem has contracted Himself so to speak, and is presenting himself to you in the obstacle, in the challenge in order to arouse you to rise to higher consciousness. As soon as you realize this as soon as you start to move closer to reconnecting with Hashem, the ‘supernal holy place, jumps and rushes towards you. The Talmud teaches: ‘More than the calf wants to suckle, the cow wants to nurse’. The supernal holy life energy yearns for man to welcome it and receive it into his being. But when man lacks the vessels to receive it, it gets contracted and hidden within the challenges and obstacles, to arouse man to return. And know that the Talmud teaches “one who comes to purify is assisted” (Yoma 38b).
May we all be blessed with much strength and courage to come home and be here in our holy land as the shining and joyous people Yisrael. Amen
Have a wonderful Shabbos
Jewish Survival Lessons from Yaakov Avinu – The First Jew Who Went Into Exile
Vayeitze Yaakov. Yaakov left home and went on a lengthy journey. Unfortunately, he had to leave Eretz Yisroel and go to Chutz La'aretz. This caused him much anxiety and loss of confidence. Not only was he pained by the fact that he had to leave home, he was also very fearful that he would be utterly alone in Chutz La'aretz, not only away from his family, but also away from being as close to Hashem as he was accustomed to being in Eretz Yisroel in the home of his saintly father and mother. In addition, he was feared that he might never be able to return back to Eretz Yisroel.
The Midrash says that Yaakov Avinu said to himself, "Whoa, can it be that I, chas v'sholom, should lose my faith in my Creator?! Chas v'sholom, I will not lose my faith in my Creator. Rather, he strengthened himself in his faith- 'עֶזְרִי, מֵעִם ה' עֹשֵׂה, שָׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ - ezri me'im Hashem oseih shamayim va'aretz - my help cometh from Hashem, Creator of heaven and earth (Tehillim 121).
Expounding on this Midrash, the Ba'al Shem Tov taught that when the Heavenly Court wants to bring retribution upon one who deserves such, they remove his level of bitachon (trust) from him. That is why he finds himself lacking in trust and confidence that Hashem will be close to him and take care of him. Therefore, it is appropriate and very necessary to always pray to Hashem Yisborach to be strengthened in our faith and trust in Him.
We can understand this on a number of levels. First and foremost, Eretz Yisroel is Eretz HaKodesh, the Holy Land, and every Jew needs to be in Eretz Yisroel. Only in Eretz Yisroel can we fully be who we are meant to be. Due to our long exile, many of us lack sensitivity to the holiness of Eretz Yisroel. This is understandable; yet, there must be something we can do about that.
The Ba'al Shem Tov is teaching us that this was Yaakov Avinu's great concern- what will be with my real inner identity in exile? He was concerned for himself, and for every single Jew who would be living in Galut/Exile. On a certain level, Yaakov Avinu had to experience being forced into exile, in a sense, to pre-experience it for us and to develop the consciousness and the keylim (tools) that each one of us needs in order to get back to Eretz Yisroel.
But what are we to do when we don't seem to have these necessary keylim (tools) to find our way back home? This is the importance of the above teaching of the Ba'al Shem Tov; pray before Hashem Yisborach to be strengthened in your trust that Hashem is taking care of you and is ready to help strengthen your confidence and trust (bitachon) in Him, and you will see that Hashem is with you.
On another level- one who is serving Hashem regularly finds that the level of avodat Hashem and faith in Hashem which was achieved yesterday is not sufficient for today. What was meaniongful and joyous yesterday might even feel like a burden on your shoulders today, G-d forbid. This is a kind of loss of faith. The same mitzvah that was spiritually liberating yesterday, is the same mitzvah today, even if you aren't finding as meaningful today. The mitzvah hasn't changed. It is I or you that have changed, we're not in the same place as yesterday, and our faith in finding Hashem's presence in doing the same mitzvah today is not as strong and is being challenged.
In a certain sense this is the meaning of 'vayeitze,' - he went out, is no longer there, Yaakov Avinu left the holiness of Eretz Yisroel and went into the darkness of Galut. Thus, what this Yid is experiencing at the moment is a kind of loss of faith. The important thing is to understand that this is not a permanent and definite loss of faith and meaning, after all, a Jew does believe in Hashem always. Nevertheless, this experience does feel like a loss of faith. The lesson that we're learning from Yaakov Avinu is that when this happens, and better still even before it happens, we should always pray to Hashem to be strengthened in our faith in Him.
May we all be blessed to be strong in our faith and trust in Hashem, and may we also be blessed to be wise and to know that we really do need to pray to be strengthened in our faith and that we really do need to pray to always be a Jew.
"Chassidishe Chaloimois" – Chassidic Dreams
Chassidim before going to sleep wish one another to dream "chassidishe chaloimois" – Chassidic dreams. Reb Shlomo ztz"l explained that one of the deepest aspects of the 'hisbodedus' practice that Rebbe Nachman ztz"l taught his followers, to regularly have private personal conversations with Hashem, is to get in touch with what Hashem was dreaming, when He dreamt of creating the world with you and me in it. Hashem what's it all about? Why am I here and what am I supposed to be doing here? I want to fulfill Your dream? If we don't get in touch with Hashem's dream, how will we ever know what we need to do? We need to dream beautiful inspiring dreams that will arouse us to joyously arise each morning and to realize that we are here building the House of Hashem, we are at the Gateway of Heaven. I wish everyone joyous and inspiring "chassidishe chaloimois"- may you live to actualize your highest and deepest dreams, together with all your loved ones and with all of Israel. Amen. Let us join with Yaakov Avinu, in his dreams of Hashem, Am Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael. He dreamt about us, you and I, let us not lose sight of that dream.
THE DREAM AND THE PROMISE
"Va'yeitzei Yaakov mi'Be-eir Sheva, va-yeileich Charanah."
On the last night before leaving Eretz Yisrael, Yaakov has a dream:
10. Yaakov went out from Be-eir Sheva, and he went to Charan. 11. He came upon the place and spent the night there because the sun had set. He took some of the stones of that place and arranged them around his head. 12. He dreamed: behold a ladder was set up on earth and the top of it reached toward heaven; and behold angels of Elokim were ascending and descending on it. 13. And behold Hashem stood above it [him], and said, "I Am Hashem, G-d of Abraham, your father, and G-d of Yitzchak. The land upon which you are lying, I will give to you and to your descendants. 14. Your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth. You shall spread to the west, to the east, to the north and to the south. Through you shall be blessed all the families of the earth, and through your descendants. 15. Behold I Am with you, and I will guard you wherever you go, and I will ring you back to this land. I will not forsake you until I have done that which I have spoken to you.
There is so much to learn in these few short verses. B"H this week we have the opportunity to learn a new teaching from Reb Shlomo and a very little bit from Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev zy"a. As we have learned in the past, this is the story of Yaakov Avinu, this is the story of each Jewish individual and of the Jewish people. This is the story of the soul of man that has to leave the beautiful, tranquil and Divinely illuminated supernal world from whence it came and navigate its way through this world to accomplish its goals and purpose- to fulfill Hashem's dream that we will make this lowest of worlds into His dwelling place.
Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev teaches that Yaakov Avinu was in touch with Hashem's dream and desire. He was conscious of all that was going to happen to the Jewish people. When the sun set, he encountered the darkness, the future division of the nation and the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash, the anger that would overtake the world and all the suffering that would overcome his children, he also felt the pain of the Shechinah, for "I Am with him in his distress." And he no longer could maintain his 'dveikus'- he no longer was able to cleave to Hashem because of the great pain, and so he went to sleep there. He dreamt and in his dream Hashem restored his confidence and faith, making him aware that He was always there with him and that He would never leave him, until the 'great day' when the ultimate goal and purpose would be achieved. Hashem does not give up and neither do Yaakov and his descendants. And as Rashi explains, the many separate stones all joined together so that they would all be a part of the ultimate Redemption that was revealed to Yaakov in his dream. This dream of the ultimate Redemption was then affixed by Yaakov as the monument of the Jewish people. It is with this living dream and with this monument that the Jewish people have survived the lengthy exile thus far and will quickly in our days witness the coming of Moshiach, the reunification of Am Yisrael and all the nations of the world, and the rebuilding of the Temple.
YAAKOV’S DREAM AND MEDITATIONS
A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO at our Wed night parsha class I was asked two questions to which I had no answers. When teaching I actually appreciate being asked at least one question to which I will have to respond with "I do not know." The first question was about the significance of Yaakov Avinu's pouring of oil on the stone that he had erected as a monument; the second question was why does the Torah tell us that 'the place' which Yaakov named Beit-El, was originally known by the name 'Luz'?
Without knowing why, I seemed to have been drawn to learning from the sefer Kedushas Levi, which contains the Chassidic teachings of Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev zt"l, and very interestingly I saw the answers to both questions in HIS first teaching on this week's parsha. Before I continue I must tell you that the Kedushas Levi is not an easy sefer to follow because OF THE many cryptic Kabbalistic references- I once heard from Reb Meir Feldbrand that all of the teachings of the holy Ari z"l are embedded in the Kedushas Levi. The following is not a direct translation; I do hope that it gives over the gist of this teaching, accurately. I am not yet fully familiar with some of the concepts mentioned therein. B’ezrat Hashem may we all keep growing in our learning.
Our parsha begins with the story of Yaakov Avinu's departure from Eretz Yisrael and his journey into the dark exile of Charan.
Verse 10: "Yaakov left Beer Sheva and went toward Charan." He came upon 'the place' – and he slept there. But first he took some of the stones of that place, and arranged them around his head and lay down [to sleep] in that place and spent the night there because the sun had set. He dreamt and saw a ladder fixed upon the earth reaching into the heavens. Divine angels were ascending and descending on it, "And behold Ad-noy stood above it, and said, "I am Ad-noy, G-d of Avraham, your father, and G-d of Yitzchok. The land upon which you are lying, I will give to you and to your descendants."
Hashem promised Yaakov that his family will grow and be numerous as the dust of the earth… and that He will guard him wherever he goes and will eventually bring him back to Eretz Yisrael.
When Yaakov awoke he said, "Indeed, Ad-noy is in this place, and I did not know it … How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of Elokim, and this is the gateway of heaven." Yaakov rose early in the morning and took the stone that he had placed at his head; and he set it as a monument, and poured oil on its top. He named that place Beis Eil, but Luz was the original name of the city.
Yaakov made a vow, saying, "If El-him will be with me, …. and Ad-noy will be my G-d; … this stone which I have set [as] a monument will become a House of G-d, and of all that You give, I will surely give a tenth to You."
Reb Levi Yitzchak explains that though on Channukah we celebrate the miracle of the oil that lasted for eight days, the name of the holiday is Chanukah, which means dedication. The word Chanukah is derived from the word 'chinuch'- commonly translated as education. However the deeper concept of 'chinuch' [-Jewish Education] is the preparation of 'vessels' with which to receive the holiness that Hashem wants to vest therein. We educate our children in the performance of mitzvot so that they should have the vessels for receiving the indwelling of holiness [of the Shechinah] as adults. This is the meaning of 'chinuch'.
[Reb Levi Yitzchak begins with explaining the meaning of 'chinuch' and the name of the holiday 'Chanukah' to point out that it is always necessary to prepare our vessels and thus we should read the parsha with this in mind- how did Yaakov Avinu prepare himself and his vessels so that he would be able to return home safely and successfully? And so Reb Levi Yitzchak proceeds to explain much of the passage as Yaakov Avinu's meditations. Meditation is 'chinuch'- in meditation one readies oneself to receive Hashem's indwelling. Thus Reb Levi Yitzchak's teaches that before Yaakov Avinu actually dreamt his awesome dream, he first meditated. Reb Levi Yitzchak says that any thing, any vessel that is to become a place for the indwelling of supernal holiness requires must be properly prepared. Yaakov's meditations readied him to receive the 'Shechinah' and the awesome prophetic dream he was about to have.]
The 'journey' of this meditation is alluded to in the opening verse of the parsha: "And Jacob went out from Beer-sheba, and went toward Haran." [28:10] Be'er Sheva is in Eretz Yisrael, while Charan is outside the holy land of Israel. Thus Reb Levi Yitzchak explains the two locations mentioned in this verse as two major points in Yaakov Avinu's meditation.]
The Be'er Sheva meditation: Yaakov Avinu, is meditating on the Supernal Unity and the original thought of creation. He came to realize that the foundational purpose of all the worlds was that Knesses Yisrael, the community of souls of Israel, would bring about the perfect alignment and unification of this world with all supernal worlds and illuminations emanating from the supernal realms, such that Hashem's Oneness would be fully revealed in all worlds, including our world, the lowest of all worlds.
He realized that it would be his task to build the family of the "twelve tribes of Hashem" which would grow to be the 600,000 root souls of Israel. All together, these souls would form the complete whole upright being that would live in perfect alignment with all the supernal realms and divine illuminations. This was the original thought in the creation of the first stone, the 'even ha'shtiah' the foundation stone of this world. Yaakov and the community of souls of Israel were to take this stone and bring it back to the Creator.
When Yaakov blessed his son Yosef, he called him "the shepherd [the provider], the stone of Israel." (49:24) In Zecharia 4:7, the People of Yisrael are called the 'top stone'. Rashi explains that the Hebrew word "even" (with the 'e' sounding like the 'e' in enter), which is spelled 'aleph, bet, nun' makes for 'av' and 'ben' – father and son. The 'stone of Israel' represents the unification of Hashem with His children, the Community of Souls of Israel, through whom this world will be perfectly united and aligned with all supernal realms and divine illuminations.
Yaakov rested his head upon this stone. This alludes to Yaakov meditating upon this supernal primal stone. He yearned and set his mind to actualize, to bring about its intended manifestation- the union of all worlds with Hashem, from the highest to the lowest; the union of the ‘action’ of this world that we live in, with all supernal realms. He also saw the unity of Knesses Yisrael- the community of souls of Israel, until the end of all generations. This beautiful unified relationship that his family and children would build is what he realized in his meditation in "Beer Sheva".
The Charan meditation: But then he went to Charan – to the place of anger, the darkest places of this world and he saw that there would be terrible strife and destruction coming over his descendants, 'chas v'shalom'. Yaakov was greatly pained as he felt the great pain of all the oppressions that his children would suffer in exile. He was pained even further by their resulting spiritual ‘descent’, chas v’shalom.
He also saw the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash and all the great anger and harsh judgments that will come over Yisrael.
And so “Yaakov left, he went out from Be’er Sheva- he left from ‘seeing’ the supernal unity, from where emanates, the flow of life to all worlds, to all 7 attributes – Be’er Sheva, and he went to Charan” – in his meditation he saw and felt the anger that would come over Knesses Yisrael and the ensuing descent. This pained him immensely.
Then he came upon 'the place'- he met the pain of ‘hamakom’ – ‘mekomo shel olam - the Shechinah, for “in all their distress, He is distressed.” (Yeshayahu 63:9) Being very sensitive to the Shechinah, Yaakov was very concerned and pained by its suffering. He sensed not only the pain of his children; he also sensed the great pain of the Shechinah, for it too would be exiled.
“He slept there,for the sun had set” – it was dark now. The light could not be seen, because of the great pain of Yisrael and the exile of the Shechinah. In the midst of his meditation, his union and bonding with Hashem was interrupted by all the pain that he foresaw.
“He took of the stones of that place and arranged them around his head." The stones (plural) represent the destruction and separation that he encountered. He placed them around his head. He meditated and strengthened his thoughts to go beyond the destruction, for he realized that the suffering, destruction and exile would have far reaching effects beyond this lowly world; this would affect all supernal realms as well.
“He dreamt” – Yaakov intensely focused his thoughts on the deepest aspects of the destruction, that it is very large and far reaching. Though to eyes of flesh, the exile looks like it is only here below in this world – “and behold, the ladder was fixed upon the earth,” – but, the top of the ladder “reached into the heavens.”
It is true- the root of the entire exile reaches and affects even unto the highest of the supernal heavens. During exile there is a weakening of energy above and there is danger that the supernal flow might be interrupted chas v’shalom!
“Divine angels were ascending and descending on it,” – it is true that as a result of the heavy burdens of exile, some holy sparks are elevated. However due to the descent of Yisrael into exile, there is a danger chas v’shalom, that some holy sparks will fall even farther down- these holy sparks are called Divine Angels.
"And behold Ad-noy stood above it,” - Yaakov reminded himself that when Yisrael is in exile, the Shechinah is, so to speak, in exile with them, as it says: “I am with him in his distress.” (Psalm 98:15). Being that Hashem is with us even in exile, we really have only to feel the pain of the Shechinah. [The pain of the Shechina in exile should be our deepest concern.]
Seeing that Yaakov focused on and felt the pain of the Shechinah and the seed of Yisrael, Hashem revealed Himself to him and promised him: “"I am Ad-noy, G-d of Avraham, your father, and G-d of Yitzchok. The land upon which you are lying, I will give to you and to your descendants."
This land that you are concerned about- [the primal stone], I will certainly give it to you and your seed. And behold “I am with you and I will guard you” – even when your children are in exile, I will be with them and I will guard them. “And I will bring you back to the land,” – though they will be dispersed in exile, I will ‘return their captives’, I will gather them and receive them; I will continue this until I fulfill everything I spoke to you.
“Yaakov awoke,” he came out of his slumber- the loss of his higher consciousness, which he had succumbed to because of the darkness of the exile and the distress of Yisrael. And then he said: “Indeed, Ad-noy is in this place, and I did not know it”- I had imagined and feared that the Holy One blessed is He, had abandoned “Knesses Yisrael in exile, that He is hiding and concealed from them, that He is no longer taking care of them. But now I see that Hashem is with them and I now realize that this place is none other than the House of Elokim. The Shechinah is dwelling with them even in exile- it must be that it is all for the good.
Having attained this insight Yaakov returned to his original thought- the primal stone. He took ‘the stone’ he had placed at his head and he set it as a monument- [with this consciousness] he erected it as a complete upright structure.
“He poured oil upon its head,”- [oil symbolizes the supernal wisdom] he drew [renewed] life energy and holiness. Supernal wisdom is manifest when our ‘action’ is is in unity with Hashem’s life energy and holiness. That is the ‘foundation stone’ of the world.
With this ‘foundation stone’ yaakov constructed a complete building with all its beautiful chambers. He made it into a residence for the Shechinah and a place of ‘yichud’ – where the Holy One b”H would unite with Knesses Yisrael; where the Holy One b”H and His Shechinah would be in perfect union. And so Yaakov named the place “Beit E-l” – the House of the Divine Name E-l.
Previously this place was known by the name Luz. This means that even before Yaakov accomplished all that he did, the potential was already there, by virtue of the ‘supernal yichud’- unity; for this was the original thought and intent – to include the entire Community of Souls of Israel, throughout all generations, until the coming of Moshiach, in the manifestation of the Supernal Divine Will [- the perfect alignment of this world with all the highest worlds of the supernal realms].
Previously this place was known by the name Luz- until Yaakov Avinu all this existed in potential exclusively. There is a small bone at the back of the skull; it is called ‘luz’. The structure of man emanates from this bone. The ‘luz’ bone is indestructible. It is from this bone that our bodies will be reconstructed at the time of ‘tchiyat hameitim’- the revival of the dead.
The ‘luz’ bone does not rot or decompose when we are buried; it contains the potential and life energy of every one of our 248 limbs. This is similar to the ‘primal foundation stone’ which represents the ‘primal thought’, which includes all that was and will ever be.
On that awesome night Yaakov Avinu began the actualization of what until then existed only in potential, and thereby gave us the strength to continue until its completion with the arrival of Moshiach – let it be NOW! Amen!
Have a wonderful Shabbos, b’ahavah ubivracha
Yehuda - Thanking With All One's Being
This is an amazing teaching from one of my greatest teachers, R' Shmuel Weinbaum (who knew both R' Sholom z'l and R' Sholom's father z'l)
The Talmud (Brachot 7B) teaches that our mother Leah was the first person to thank Hashem, when she named Yehudah, saying, "this time I shall thank Hashem." (Gen. 29:35)
[Yehudah comes from the same grammatical root as "odeh" meaning "I will thank"]
How can this be? Didn't Adam, Noah, Abraham and many others thank HaShem before her?
R' Shmuel explains as follows. Leah married Ya'acov, as we know, under difficult circumstances. She knew very well that Ya'acov had wanted to marry Rachel, and hence, she felt profoundly underappreciated.
This is why the first three sons were named out of her hope to win Ya'acov's love and attention: Reuven- "for HaShem has seen [ra'ah is the root of Reuven] my impoverishment, and now my husband will love me." (Gen. 29:32)
Shimon- "for HaShem has heard [shamah is the root of Shimon] that I am hated, and has given me this one too." (Gen. 29:33)
Levi- "now, this time, my husband will accompany [yelaveh is from the same root as Levi] me, for I have borne him three children, and so she called his name Levi." (Gen. 29:34)
Yet Leah was never to become primary in her relationship with Ya'acov.
Rashi discusses this in his comments to Ruth (4:11), when the members of the tribe of Yehudah blessed Ruth the convert to be "as Rachel and Leah."
Rashi writes: "even though they were from the tribe of Yehudah, descendants of Leah, they acknowledged that Rachel was the "essence of the home" [ikarah shel bayit], hence they placed Rachel before Leah [in their blessing for Ruth.]"
When Leah said upon the birth of her fourth child: "this time I shall thank HaShem, and therefore she called him Yehuda," this was a transformational moment.
Even though she realized that a major life's wish of hers, namely the love and attention of Ya'acov, was never to be fully fulfilled, Leah rose above this and was able to come to a place of thanking HaShem, mamash with all of her being,
The profundity of Leah Imenu's thanking HaShem was unique and unprecedented.
Perhaps, (and this is my own addition to Rav Shmuel's Torah), this is why the name Yehudah eventually became the name of the whole Jewish people- "Yehudim" and is also the root of the English word "Jewish."
Perhaps this is why the Moshiach is born from the tribe of Yehuda.
Shabbat Shalom u'mevorach, Good Shabbos, Good Shabbos,
Reb Leibish Hundert
אוצר רב שלום - Reb Sholom's Treasures
From Be'er Sheva to Charan
~Written in 2000
This week’s parsha begins with the verse:
“Va’yeitzei Yaakov mi’Be-eir Sheva, va’yeileich Charanah”
Yaakov went out from Be-eir Sheva, and he went to Charan.
All the commentators stop to explain the significance of this verse, which is seemingly superfluous. Rashi explains that from here we learn that while the ‘tzaddik’ is living in the city, he is its shining light and its beauty, and when the tzaddik leaves, its light and beauty depart as well. There is a well known aphorism: “Ein hamakom m’chabeyd et ha’adam, elah ha’adam m’chabeyd et hamakom.” It is not the place which honors the person, rather the person who honors the place!
Now we have learned many times that Chassidut teaches us that in addition to the ‘pshat’ understanding of the Torah, the Torah is always teaching us lessons in serving Hashem. In the ‘sichos’ of the Lubavitcher Rebbe as well as in other ‘sifrei kodesh’ we find that our opening verse is also referring to the experiences of the ‘neshamah’ (Yaakov) in that it has to leave its place of tranquillity (Be-eir Sheva), and go to a turbulent and even angry place (Charan).
It is Hashem’s will that the neshamah descend into this world “la-asot lo dirah b’tachtonim” to make for Him a dwelling place here in this lowest of all worlds! Once it happened on Shabbos parshas Va’yeitzei, that the ‘holy grandfather’ of Lechovitch, did not say any ‘divrei Torah’. When his students asked him why he didn’t teach anything on Shabbos he explained that the whole parsha is about elevating the physical aspects of our daily lives and therefore the ‘avodah’ service of this Shabbos was to do all manner of physical things in holiness, and in this manner the physical acts become ‘divrei Torah’.
The Slonimer Rebbe brings a teaching that Be-er Sheva represents the holy Shabbos..... ‘sheva’ means seven, thus Be-er Sheva is the seventh well...... Shabbos the seventh day of the week, the “day of the soul” when the soul is restored strengthened and rejuvenated. But then the soul, at the end of Shabbos has to back into the weekdays..... the days of turbulent involvement in physicality, attempting to gain a livelihood in a competitive world, honestly...... how to bring Shabbos into the week, how to elevate the week until we will finally come to the “yom sh’kulo Shabbos” the day when it is fully Shabbos.
At Havdalah at the end of Shabbos, we make three blessings: one distinguishing between the holiness of Shabbos and the weekdays over a cup of wine, one over fragrant spices and one over fire. There is a teaching that we make a blessing over the fragrant spices so that we should remember Shabbos during the week. On Shabbos we get a taste of the Garden of Eden. Since the sense of smell is the only one of the five senses not mentioned when Adam and Chavah ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, therefore it is the best one for remembering the Garden of Eden, and thus remembering Shabbos during the week.
Sweetest Of The Sweet: Reb Shlomo's Torah Teachings
TEACHINGS ON CHANNUKAH FROM REB SHLOMO ztz"l
From Rav Brodt's archives.
Hanuka: The Battle and the Peace
House of Love and Prayer, San Francisco.
We are standing before G-d, begging the worlds crying out to
the world; let's stop celebrating victories; let's start celebrating
Light. There is some light left in the world. King David said in the
Psalms; Ani Shalom, I am peace. I'm not preaching peace not talking about peace I am Peace. When the world talks about peace, they always mean you should peaceful; always the other one. You can get peace wholesale; not in Moscow, not in Washington, not in Geneva, only in Yerushalayim. You know I was at the rally for Israel at City Hall and looked up at the tall buildings, very tall, very beautiful. But they don't reach heaven. But there is one little wall in Yerushalayim and when the most insignificant Jew stands by it and sheds his tears on it, he reaches heaven, maybe much higher. Reb Nachman says that whenever a Jew is going he is on his way to Yerushalayim. For the Jew there is only one place he can get peace in Yerushalayim The world won't give him peace. So we must find it among each other and G-d and Israel.
Peace always has to be between two. Before G-d created the world He didn't need peace all he needed was Himself. But once He created the world, He needed peace with the world. We are the only people who have stopped killing for two thousand years and even when we did, we did it to survive, and even then we cried over it. The world wants peace, but as far as they are concerned, they will only have it when we Jews have gone. When the world says that we have to give up some land, what they are really saying, and what they really mean is, Jew get out of all the land, withdraw from the globe. The Jew is reminding the world of G-d and the world says let me have peace, got off my back. And so every once in a while the civilized world says let's have another crusade for G-d.
Let's kill in the name of G-d. And we Jews are once again telling the world If you want to kill don't do it in G-d's name; do it in your own name. So when they say Geneva and peace remember Munich, remember the light of Chanukah telling us that peace is not synonymous with Kissinger synonymous with G-d. Because how can we be at peace with the world if we are not at peace with G-d?
How did Judah Maccabee find his great army.? It could be today.
You and I know the truth. The Greeks were a highly civilized people.
Many people still believe in the Greek civilization. We spend more time
learning about them then we do most any other civilization in school.
So the civilized Greeks had a few sweet things. They decided that a Jewish bride on the night of her wedding, must spend the first night with the soldiers; and pulling Jews off the streets to worship idols is a very civilzed thing to do. So finally the older Jews said, let's die for G-d, and Judah Maccabee said, no, let's fight for G-d. He went right down to the pagan temples, where, of course, the Jewish youth were. And he grabbed them and shouted at them, What's going here? How long will you worship pagan idols? And he asked one boy what would you do to bring light back into the Temple and he said, I'd give my life. That was Judah Maccabee's army. So I ask, Let's become a great army; let's kindle the Light.
It says "shelo yihbe neiro l'olam v'ed", the light will burn forever. G-d swore to us, if there would be such a thing as the depths of G-d, then from the deepest of depths of G-d, thru His very Existence, He swore to us that the Light would burn forever. All the holidays extend from the night to the day. Pesach -- Matzo we eat night and during the day. On Succos we sit in the Succoh both at night and during the day. Chanukah is one holiday where the whole ceremony is only at night. Chanukah gives us the strength to bear the sometimes long, sometimes blackest of nights. But G-d swore to us that in the morning the Light will be burning.