Reb Shlomo's Torah
My Four Wives
He put the handmaids and their children first, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Yosef last. (Bereishis 33:2)
When Yaakov organized his family, it says that the maid servants, Bilha and Zilpa, were first. Then came Leah, and Rachel was at the end. What was going on there? Everything the Torah says is meant for me. I need it for every minute of my life.
I want you to know that Esav and Yaakov were both pupils of Yitzchak. Esav said, "The Torah doesn't reach everywhere. I knew every law of Succos but I don't mind not sitting in the Succah. I don't really care. Are you telling me, Yaakov, that the Torah reaches you?"
Now listen to this Torah from the Zohar HaKadosh - it's mamesh the deepest depths. Everything that went on between Yaakov and Esav was going on in heaven at the same time. In heaven, Esav was saying to Yaakov, "If it's so important to serve G-d, then why are women patur, exempt, from so many mitzvahs?"
Do you know what Yaakov answered him? "If the husband is serving G-d with all his heart, doing mitzvahs and learning Torah, then it also reaches his wife. It's as if she is also doing it, and she also going up to a higher level. Ant not only that - because of his wife the man himself can actually reach higher in his learning... But in a way, Esav, you are right. If you did a mitzvah, your wife would have to do it too, because you wouldn't do it deeply enough for it to reach her." Because you know friends, Esav had nothing to do with his own wife.
So this is a level of Bilha and Zilpa, who cam first. Yaakov said to Esav, "When I do a mitzvah and when I am learning, I do it on a level that it's like they are doing it also."
Then came Leah, and Leah was even deeper. What was Leah all about? Leah was given to Yaakov, he didn't plan it. The Medrash says (Bereishis Rabba 61:3-4), sometimes you have to go find a wife and sometimes your wife comes and finds you. Leah went to Yaakov. He didn't look for her - she just cam eot him. This means that sometimes we do something good without even knowing it.
So you see what it is ... some people can say to you "I love you," and they don't mean it. And some people can just say "Good morning" to you, and it's the deepest depths. Leah is on the level that I can just say "good morning," and it might be changing heaven and earth. The Maor VaShemesh says that as many people as Reb Elimelech lifted up by being a Rebbe, he lifted up thousands more by just walking the street - because everybody who say Reb Elimelech was mamesh lifted up from the dust.
At the wedding of a the daughter of Heilige Seer of Lublin, there were thousands and thousands of people, and it was impossible to get through the crowd. On the Shabbos morning of sheva brachos, the Holy Lubliner was on his way to shul. Now, there was, nebech, a little boy who was paralyzed and couldn't walk. So some people suggested to his parents that they should lay this boy on the street where the Lubliner would pass, so the Rebbe would see him and bless him. But there were so many thousands of people that the Ropshitzer was walking backwards in front of the Seer to clear a path for him. Suddenly the Robshitzer bumped into - almost stepped on - the little boy lying there. He didn't have time to think, so he said, "Would you please get up and get out of the way?" And the boy got up and ran off. You see, every word the Ropshitzer uttered reached somewhere unbelievable.
So this is the level of Leah: I can't even say I did a mitzvah on such a deep level that it reached my wife because I didn't even know I was doing it. I didn't know...
The last thing Yaakov showed Esav was Rachel. Everybody knows that Esav's arch-enemy was Rachel's son Yosef HaTzaddik. What is Rachel all about? Mamesh avodas HaShem, to really serve G-d. Esav said that you don't have to serve G-d because it's all just dust; it doesn't reach anywhere. But Yosef HaTzaddik - he didn't stop serving G-d for one billionth of a second - which is the most anti-Esav thing in the world.
And after all this, the most incredible thing happened. For one moment, Esav was touched. He could not believe such a thing existed. What couldn't he believe? That there was one family in the world that was so together, that there was somebody who was so much one with his house, even with his dog'le
Esav's Messenger Today
And a man wrested with him until the break of dawn. (Bereishis 32:25)
Friends, let me ask you - What did Esav really want to tell Yaakov? Esav believed that a Jew's service of G-d is all dust. A Yiddele can work so hard and still not reach anywhere. So Esav said to Yaakov, "You work so hard and you still don't stop doing aveiras, like all of is. What good is it? What you are doing is dust. Your Shabbos nos no ta'am, no taste;your learning has no ta'am. And on top of everything else, you are doing so many aveiras, There is no hope for you."
Now, do you know what it means when it says that Yaakov and the angel were fighting until the morning (Bereishis 32:25)? They were fighting until the great morning when Mashiach comes. But do you know this fight was only between Yaakov and Esav? Every one of us has to fight this war too. Yaakov fighting with the angel of Esav was not a fist fight; it's an eternal fight which reaches from down here on earth all the way up to heaven.
Esav might come to you once a day; he might ocme to you every Shabbos and every Yom Tov. Esav is that inner voice that says to you, "Who are you fooling? I know you don't care. You have worked hard for so long, and you haven't reached anywhere." So he takes dust and covers up your face, and you can't even see yourself anymore. You start saying to yourself, "Maybe it's true. Maybe I really am nothing but dust."
I want you to know friends - if someone walks up to you and says, "Who are you fooling? You don't really mean what you are doing"- it's the angel of Esav coming to you.
Holiday of Children
I will make my way at my slow pace according to the peace of the drove before me the pace of the children. (Bereishis 33:14)
I want to share an unbelievable Torah from the Holy Ziditchover.
Esav finally met up with Yaakov, and they made peace. So Esav said to Yaakov, "Let's go together." Now friends, you have to realize that for that one moment Esav and Yaakov had reached such a high level it was as if Mashiach had already come. Still Yaakov said to Esav, "If it were just you and I, we could go together. But it's also my children and your children. They are not reach, the world isn't ready yet. 'Until I come to my lord at Mount Se'ir.'" Yaakov promised Esav, "Someday I'll come to your mountain, and we will walk again together." Those words are just beautiful.
What was really going on here?
Yaakov told Esav he could not go with him for two reasons. "L'regel hamelacha u'l'regel hayeladim." If you translate poorly, it means, "I have a lot of work to do so I can't go with you" This translation s sadly meaningless. Of Yaakov says, "I can't go with you because of the children," which also doesn't make sense. So open your hearts, this is from the Zohar HaKodesh and the Ziditchover.
Everybody knows that "regel" means holidays. So Yaakov said to Esav, "You know, the truth is it will take a long time until I meet you again. But I want you to know, there are two kinds of holidays in the world, and because of them you will make it."
"L'regel hamelacha," there are holidays on which you are not permitted to work, Pesach, Shavuos and Sukkos. And then, "L'regel hayeladim," there are holidays of children - Chanukah and Purim. On Chanukah and Purim G-d is shining his holiness which He gave to children. On Purim we all are children. We get dressed up like crazy, we drink and we make ourselves like we are four years old. Do you know why? Because on Purim we taste the holiness with which we are born. I could have 15 Phds, but on Purim I realize, are my Phds what make me special? I am special because G-d created me. I don't have to be an adult in order to be something. I'm dour years old, I'm three years old ... I'm one day old..."
And when it comes to Chanuka, it's the same thing. Do you know who really knows what the Chanukah candles are all about? Our children. I have a nephew, and when he was little he was the cutest in the world. When he was three he came to my parents for Chanuka, and at that time I was still living at home. The day after Chanuka, we told him that Chanuka is over. He asked me please to dial his mother's number. I called my sister for him, and he began crying, "Please, take me home. They refuse to kindle the lights again, but I have to light the candles. Bubbie and Zeidie just don't want to have Chanukah anymore and I need to have it again." I realized - gevalt, this little boy of three knows more about Chanukah than I will ever know. We think to ourselves that once that once the eight days are over, Chanukah is over. But he mamesh knows Chanukah goes on forever. You know friends, I have seen adults walk up to kindle the lights. They say the blessing, and then they have to make a phone call. In a flash they forget the whole thing because of an appointment. Children never stop hanging around the Chanukah lights; they are glued to the lights. They know what it's all about. So Yaakov said to Esav - and it's also true for you and me - just because of these two kinds of holidays we will make it... We have to make it...
Reb Sholom Brodt Z”L Treasures
וישלח יעקב מלאכים לפניו אל עשו אחיו
Yaakov sent messengers/angels ahead of him, to his brother Esau... [Bereishit 32:4]
קטונתי מכל החסדים
“I have been made small by all the kindness You have done for me.”
It is related that after Maggid of Mezritch passed away many of the Maggid’s disciples attached themselves to Rebbe Aharon of Karlin and they decided to crown him as their Rebbe. But Rebbe Aharon refused to accept, and they refused to let go of him and simply would not leave his house. Finally he decided ‘I will travel to the Maggid of Zlotchov, and I will take my uncle Reb Mendele with me, as a witness. For the Maggid of Zlotchov openly reveals the embarrassing truth, and this will prove to you that I am not fit to be your Rebbe.’
They traveled there and all the while Rebbe Aharon spoke much about the neeed to strengthen himself to face the humiliation he was expecting. However, when they arrived there, the Maggid of Zlotchov gave him much honor and praise.
Rebbe Aharon was surprised and he said to the Maggid, “Is it possible that even here there isn’t even a crumb of truth?” And the Maggid replied, “You are a tzaddik and you are holy. Stop looking for crumbs of truth in my house. You are to go into the swamps and walk around in the mud, up to your neck and rescue from there drowning souls.”
The holy Reb Asher of Stolin zt”l was a disciple of Rebbe Aharon Karlin. After his passing, Reb Asher related to his disciples, that it is well known that his holy Rebbe, Rebbe Aharon was very humble and holy. He would often say that he surely was going to go to gehinom and he truly believed that, without a doubt. When Rebbe Aharon passed away, large groups of ministering angels came out, declaring ‘make way for Rebbe Aharon.’ But he did not pay any attention, thinking that they surely had someone else in mind, since he was surely on his way to hell. Then many great Tzadikkim came to greet him with song and joy, and he did not pay attention to them. Then came more Tzadikkim, many of whom he knew in his lifetime, along with fiery angles, and were dancing exquisitely and beautifully before him, saying that they came to escort him to Gan-Eden, for he deserves all this great honor.
Rebbe Aharon wondered- can this be the ‘world of truth’, that they wish to give me Gan-Eden? I know that I deserve gehinom and he refused to go with them. Finally, the holy Shechinah came and said. “Shloime my son, come with Me to Gan-Eden I am giving you a portion from my treasure of ‘matnat-chinam’ – a ‘free’ gift, independent of whether you deserve it or not. Only then was the holy Rebbe Aharon appeased.
שמע אהרון פ' וישלח
Among Lubavitcher chassidim no one really talks about if we are going to heaven or hell. No one has any doubts about our imperfections. Heaven or hell? That is Esau’s question. And he continues saying, since you know that are not nor will likely ever be a true tzadikk, so just be your true [evil] self. And Yaakov says, ‘no, my brother; the world is full of imperfection, and we too make many mistakes, but we will not give up on our journey and destiny. We will continue to head toward the truth, no matter how many obstacles we will encounter. There is only one real issue – I am a Jew! Good Jew or not so good Jew, Hashem is our Father and we are His Children! Let’s just keep on trying to do what Hashem wants us to do with joy. That is what matters.
I have heard that 80,000 people became ‘ba-alei-tshuvah’ in his life time, just from hearing Rebbe Aharon’s great niggun – Kah Echsof. Want to hear it? Here is the link:listen and be inspired
Reb Shlomo zt”l walked in the mud up to his neck most of his life, saving souls. He too didn’t show much concern about whether he was going to heaven or hell. All he wanted was for us to know how beautiful it is to be a Yid and that each one of us can really be the most most beautiful person.
Parshas Va'Yishlach from previous years
The Kotzker Rebbe said: ‘there is nothing as straight as a crooked ladder’.
As is known In the Talmud it is agreed that the “man” the איש who wrestled with Esau, was the ‘sar shel Esau’ – Esau’s archangel. However there are three opinions about what this “man” looked like: as an idol worshipper; as a robber: as a ‘talmid chacham’- a fine wise scholar. Reb Shlomo once said that Esau looked no less holy than Yaakov; indeed, it would be very difficult to tell them apart.
Rav Steinsaltz נ"י – may his light continue to illuminate us in good health, explains that when the yetzer hara- the evil inclination [a.k.a. the satan, a.k.a. the angel of death] presents us with the challenges of jealousy, lust and honor, though it may be very difficult to resist, we know what he is offering and what we have to overcome. However, when the yetzer hara presents himself as a scholar the challenge is far more subtle and dangerous.
What is this ‘fine scholar’ evil inclination saying? “You have to be perfect; perfectly good in every way. And if you are not, you are wicked. You have to live a life of absolute straight truth.” The problem is that it sounds good. Why not? Shouldn’t it be that way? Compromise is not truth.
Naively [innocently] we think that we are hearing the voice of the ‘yetzer hatov’ – the good inclination. Assuming that perfection can and should be achieved, we strive to achieve it. But we are bound to discover reality! We are not perfect! And then if we are not careful, we are in for a big crash. ‘If I can’t achieve perfection, then I am worthless and I might as well just give up.’ And ‘nebech’ many people have given up on their growth and on their souls, as we know.
The issue is not perfection or absolute truth. The real issue is not to give up moving in the right direction, no matter how difficult or how long it will take. Not to despair!!! חיי עולם פרשת וישלח
True – it is true, there is nothing as straight as a crooked ladder. Yes you have to compromise – but without giving up on moving towards and coming closer to the truth. You may be Yaakov as long as you are moving towards being Yisrael. If not then you aren’t a real Yaakov, yet.
לשנה טובה תכתבו ותחתמו בלימוד החסידות ובדרכי החסידות
Yud-Tes Kislev and Chanukah Approaching Fast
This coming Sunday night will be the “yud-tes Kislev”- the 19th of Kislev, the day that the first Lubavitcher Rebbe, Reb Schneur Zalman of Liadi zt”l was liberated from prison. He had been falsely accused of treason and after 53 days of harsh imprisonment, after many investigations he was exonerated and liberated on this day. The Alter Rebbe revealed that the imprisonment and the liberation were the result of a battle that was taking place in the supernal world: should the teachings of Chassidut be stopped altogether or should permission be granted to reveal these teachings to all of Israel? The vindication of the Alter Rebbe granted not only permission to reveal these teachings; the revelation of Chassidut was to powerfully spread out all over the world and reach even the simplest least educated Jews, to reach even the most distant of Jews. Ever since then, the 19th of Kislev is considered as the Rosh Hashanah for the revelation and spreading of Chassidut. On this auspicious day, Lubavitcher Chassidim wish one another to have a “good year in the study of Chassidut and the practice of the pathways of Chassidut.”
In a talk given on the 19th of Kislev in the year 5726 – 1966 the Lubavitcher Rebbe declared that every Chassid is obligated to participate in spreading Torah and Chassidut. Every Chassid is to take a lesson from the Baal Shem Tov, who [before he was revealed as the holy Baal Shem Tov] started out as an assistant to the cheder rebbe teaching little children aleph-beis. His work was to bring the children from their homes to the cheder and then bring them home at the end of the day. As he would walk with them he would teach them the aleph-beis and he would sing with them and tell them stories, all the while loving them and encouraging them to be joyous servants of Hashem. The Rebbe demanded of his Chassidim that they too should reach out to all Jewish children to learn the aleph-beis with them, to see to it that they receive a good Jewish education. He demanded this even of the devout scholars, who would usually learn with advanced students.
Thank G-d, soon it will be Chanukah. How are we to prepare for Chanukah? Joyously, of course. Among all the very dear ways to truly be in Chanukah, some of the most important aspects of celebrating Chanukah are the strengthening and deepening of our commitment to learning and living Torah, to seek the light of the Torah, to draw it inward, and to illuminate the world with holy Torah light.
Rashi relates the Midrash that teaches us that Yaakov was all alone when he had gone back to get some “small vessels”. Why would a wealthy man go back to retrieve small vessels? There is a Chassidic teaching that these “small vessels” refer to the assimilated Jew who cannot manage to come along back to Eretz Yisrael; Yaakov has to go back to help him come home. Yaakov Avinu teaches us not to give up on a single distant soul. We have to take responsibility for one another to ensure that every one of us will be redeemed. In another Chassidic thought I heard from Reb Shlomo we learned that Yaakov went back to get the small cruse of oil that was to be used for the lighting of the menorah on the 25th day of Kislev, the first day of Chanukah. This oil came from the olive branch that the dove brought Noach at the end of the flood. As we have learned in the past all the ingredients for redemption are prepared. To bring the Redemption we need to sincerely desire it and participate in spreading the holy light of Chanukah to all our brothers and sisters, to the entire world.
based on the holy Aish Kodesh 1939:
Yaakov Avinu wrestled all night with the angel men who couldn’t beat Yaakov, but did manage to dislocate his hip. When the morning star arose he said to Yaakov, send me off for the morning star has risen. Yaakov said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me first.” The Piascetzner Rebbe asks why did Yaakov Avinu asks for a blessing from this angel man who was the arch angel of Esav? After all, Hashem had already blessed him. He also asks why did the angel man ask Yaakov for his name, did he not know it?
In answer to these questions, the Piascetzner says that Yaakov was not willing to accept that his victory and the victory of all his descendants in the future would be nothing more than just not having been beaten by their enemies. He was wounded in this fight, his children were going to be hurt and wounded and treated with much violence throughout their history. He could not and would not accept that winning was just a matter of not being beaten and conquered. The angel man must bless him.
Shalom Aleichem Malachei Hashareit Malachei Elyon
"Va'yishlach Yaakov malachim lefanav el Eisav Achiv- and Yaakov sent 'malachim' to Eisav his brother." As everyone knows the word 'malach' can be translated both as messenger and as an angel. Rashi on this verse says that Yaakov sent actual angels. Without getting into why Rashi decided that here we were talking about actual angels, we learn from here that it is possible to do so. Does this mean that you and I can do so? Or is it only Tzaddikim? Or otherwise super talented people that can do this. Truth is I don't really know with perfect accuracy. However there are many teachings that indicate that what we do can and does have far reaching effects, both positive and not positive Chas V'shalom. The Talmud teaches us that with every mitzvah we do we create a positive angel and likewise with every transgression we create a negative one. It may sound magical but it is reality. The first time I learned Rebbe Nachman's most famous teaching "Azamra" in which he teaches that by focusing on something positive in another person or even in yourself you are placing that person in a positive space, I thought it was 'magical' but I soon enough found out that it is reality.
Likewise there is a teaching from the Ohev Yisroel that when you do a mitzvah and you can pray in mind that the angles created by your mitzvah should travel and arouse your children to do a mitzvah as well. Positive thoughts have energy as do negative thoughts, so even though we may not be able to send actual angels as Yaakov Avinu did we still can do quite a bit of good that will positively affect our children our brothers and sisters our parents and friends and even our enemies and ourselves. Yaakov Avinu sent angels to Eisav "his brother" he prayed that these angels would arouse Eisav to recognize that he and Yaakov are actually brothers. He prayed that Eisav would realize that they can help each other instead of being adversaries.
Chassidut teaches us that we are composite beings consisting of both a 'Divine soul' and an 'animal soul'. The 'Divine soul' seeks to get closer to G-d and yearns for unity. The 'animal soul' seeks self gratification. The 'Divine soul' needs to educate and remind the 'animal soul' of the true self gratification that it deeply desires. At its origin the 'animal soul' was a very lofty angel. It belonged to that group of angels that always seek to be absorbed into The One, even at the expense at its own existence. These angels manifest in this world as our 'animal souls' and that is why here in this world they continue to seek self gratification even in ways that can be detrimental to the self. In the first blessing of the Shema we speak of how the angels in heaven gather together to praise Hashem and say "Kadosh Kadosh Kadosh" all this is for the 'Divine soul' to communicate with the 'animal soul' so that it should join with the 'Divine soul' in the saying of Shema Yisrael.
The 'animal soul' has much to contribute; our task is not to G-d forbid, suffocate the 'animal soul' but rather to get it to contribute its energies in serving Hashem. The 'animal soul' possesses heat and passion which the 'Divine soul' does not have on its own. The 'Divine soul' can ascend to much higher realms by serving Hashem together with the 'animal soul'. In fact it is Hashem's desire that we make this world into a dwelling place for Him. And therefore we need to involve the 'animal soul' in our service of Hashem. We are here to transform the darkness into light, the bitter into sweet. And that is why Yaakov sent actual angels to his brother to soften his heart so that he would join Yaakov in serving Hashem.
YAAKOV THE VICTORIOUS WRESTLER-
A TEACHING AND A 'CHASSIDISHE MAISEH' HEARD FROM THE KLOISENBURGER REBBE ZT"L
32:23. He got up that night and took his two wives, his two handmaids, and his eleven children, and crossed over the ford of the Yabbok [River].
32:24. He [then] took them and crossed them over the stream. He [also] sent over all that he possessed.
32:25. Yaakov remained alone. A man wrestled with him until daybreak.
32:26. He [the stranger] saw that he could not defeat him, and he struck the socket of his hip, Yaakov's hip joint was dislocated as he wrestled with him.
32:27. He [the angel/man] said, "Let me go, for the dawn is breaking."
After wrestling all night long, Yaakov finally forced Eisav's arch-angel to concede the rights to their father's blessings.
He [Yaakov] said, "I will not let you go unless you bless me."
Eisav's angel/man then gives his "blessing" – a rather unusual blessing –
32:28. He [the angel/ man] said to him, "What is your name?" And he replied, "Yaakov."
32:29. He [the man] said, "No longer will your name be spoken of as Yaakov, but as Yisrael, for you have contended with God[ly beings] and with men, and you have won."
The Kloisenburger rebbe zt"l raises two questions. Surely it is not this angel/man who is changing Yaakov's name; it is Hashem who will soon change his name, as we read further on in the parsha.
35:9 G-d again appeared to Yaaakov, when he came from Padan-aram, and He blessed him.
35:10 G-d said to him, "Your name is Yaakov. No longer will your name be Yaakov, but Yisrael will be your name;" and He named him Yisrael.
35:11 G-d said to him, "I am G-d Almighty. Be fruitful and increase, a nation and a community of nations will come from you, and kings will come out of your loins.
Thus it seems, that all that Eisav's arch-angel is doing, is informing Yaakov that his name was going to be changed from Yaakov to Yisrael, explaining – "for you have contended with godly beings and with men, and you have won." (Bereishis 32:29)
What kind of blessing is this? And secondly, why did he choose to inform Yaakov about his upcoming name change?
The last Kloisenburger Rebbe, ztz"l, told and answered his questions with this story:
Once on a Friday afternoon, it was Erev Shabbos, when the terrible news reached the Baal Shem Tov. In a certain town, the 'paritz', who was a fierce anti-Semite, ordered the Jews to either convert to Christianity or die. Most of the yidden gave their lives 'al kiddush Hashem' and there were a few who didn't have the strength to do so. The paritz was so evil that he even murdered those who had converted. This was the tragic news that reached the Baal Shem Tov that Friday afternoon.
Immediately, the Baal Shem Tov threw himself on the floor of the Beit Midrash, in front of the Aron ha-Kodesh. He was screaming and crying: Ribbono Shel Olam! Master of the Universe, if this is how You chose to conduct Your world, that You allow such cruel tragedies to come upon us, and You even kept it secret from me, not giving me a chance to pray, a chance to divert the decree, a chance to try and save my brothers and sisters, then please take me away from here, i no longer want to be here.
The Baal Shem Tov remained there sobbing on the floor, surrounded by his students, for a very long time. Shabbos was getting closer and closer, but the Rebbe did not get up. It was already time to go to the 'mikveh' and get dressed for Shabbos, but the Baal Shem Tov, did not get up. He lay there with his face to the floor, crying, refusing to get up. The 'Talmidim', the Baal Shem's holy students were stunned, not knowing what to do. It was already time to light the Shabbos candles, to welcome the Shabbos Queen, to pray, to sing and dance and rejoice, but the Baal Shem Tov did not get up!
Late late at night, maybe it was already one or two hours after midnight, the talmidim heard their Rebbe say: "Good Shabbos Adam Harishon." A few moments later they heard him say: "Good Shabbos Avraham Avinu". "Good Shabbos Yitzchak Avinu .... Yaakov Avinu.... Moshe Rabbeinu"; and so he was heard saying Good Shabbos to all the holy shepherds, but he still did not get up. He stopped crying and remained on the floor for a while longer, in deep silence. Finally he got up and dressed for Shabbos, as did his 'talmidim' and they welcomed the Shabbos.
After Shabbos was over the Baal Shem Tov told his holy students that he had decided that he was not going to get up for Shabbos, and then Adam and all the holy shepherds came to comfort him and to try and make peace between him and Hashem, but he refused; until the Holy Shechinah itself came and promised him that something like this would never happen again. Only then did i get up to welcome Shabbos.
Further the Baal Shem Tov instructed his students to prepare themselves with a certain deep meditation, which they were not to interrupt and to ensure that under no circumstances would they to succumb to even the slightest thoughts of haughtiness. They were to sit in an open circle and lift their hats up to expose their foreheads and meditate deeply. He told them that the evil one would be arriving soon, for he was going to confront him, and he, the Baal Shem tov needed his students to do this meditation during the confrontation.
They entered into the meditation as they were instructed and the evil one arrived, dressed as a peasant. The Ball Shem Tov said to him how dare he to have forced these Jews to both convert and then kill them! The evil one explained that since those who had converted would consequently suffer terribly in Hell, he therefore decided to do them a 'favor' and reduce their suffering by killing them in this world. [Here, the Kloisenburger Rebbe gave a sad chukle, saying, "Such are the 'favors' of the Satan!"]
They continued to argue for a while [the Rebbe did not recount the rest of it] and then the evil one got up to leave. Before he left, he approached the circle of the Baal Shem Tov's students, who were meditating all the while. He walked about inside their circle looking at them intensely, saying "Gevaldt! It's been a long time since I have seen such a gathering of holy souls." But the students of the Baal Shem Tov did not pay any attention to him. He repeated once more, "What an amazing circle of holy people – just awesome!" But they did not succumb to his temptations, and he then disappeared.
The Kloisenburger Rebbe then explained that before leaving, the satan made one last attempt at knocking the Baal Shem Tov off – by trying to seduce his students with haughtiness.
And this too was the intention of Eisav's arch-angel [thereby answering the above two questions]. Seeing that he was not able to overcome Yaakov, he made one more attempt at knocking him off with haughtiness, by telling him, "You are so awesomely holy – in fact it is already known in the supernal realms that "No longer will your name be spoken of as Yaakov, but as Yisrael, for you have contended with God[ly beings] and with men, and you have won." But Yaakov Avinu did not succumb to him.
The Kloisenburger Rebbe then concluded that indeed such a double tragedy, whereby Jews were both forced to convert and subsequently murdered, never did occur again.] Zy"a.
YAAKOV [YOU ARE NOT] ALONE – HASHEM [YOU ARE NOT] ALONE
va-yivateir Yakov L'VADO - and the Yakov found himself all ALONE
va',yei'aveik ish ihmo - a man wrestled with him
ad alot hashachar - until the rising of the morning star
va'yar ki lo yachol lo - [when] he saw that he could not beat him
va'yiga b'kaf yerech Yakov - he touched [struck] Yakov's hip bone
va'teikah kaf yerech Yakov - and Yakov's hip was dislocated
b'hei'avkoh imoh - as he wrestled with him. (Gen 32: 25-26)
v'shach gavhut adam - and the loftiness of man shall be bowed down
v'shafeil rum anashim - and the haughtiness of men shall be made low
v-nisgav Hashem L'VADO ba-yom ha-hu - and the Lord ALONE shall be exalted on that day
Reb Shlomo zt"l used to sing this song:
V-nisgav Hashem L'VADO ba-yom ha-hu
Va'yivateir Yakov l'vado va',yei'aveik ish ihmo ad alot hashachar.
The Midrash juxtaposes these two verses, since they share the common word "L'VADO"-ALONE. 'Bayom hahu' on that great day Hashem alone will be exalted. Yakov, the people of Israel are all alone, and Hashem is alone. But we are not really alone, we have Hashem and Hashem has us. Until, "Bayom hahu yiheyeh Hashem echad ushmo echad", on that day G-d will be One and His Name will be One. On that day the ultimate unity will be achieved; the Jewish people will no longer be despised, all peoples and the entire Creation will join together with us to declare: "Hashem echad ushmo echad" ... Hashem is One!
Face to Face – Inside to Inside
The following teaching is based on the verse in the Torah that tells us that after Yaakov had wrestled all night with the angel-man, he rested for a while so that he could heal before going on, for his hip had been dislocated. Before leaving from that place, he named it Peni'el:
31 Vayikra Yaakov shem hamakom Peni'el ki-ra'iti Elokim panim el-panim vatinatzel nafshi. Yaakov named the place Peniel [G-d's Face], "For I have seen God[ly beings] face to face, and my soul has survived."
In the following teaching Reb Levi Yitzchak presents a very deep lesson about two different ways of serving Hashem: "Panim b'Panim" - 'Face to Face' and 'P(a)nim b'Achor' - 'Face to Back'. We have learned in the past that the same Hebrew word 'panim' which means face, with slightly different vocalization, gives us 'Pnim' which means inside. [the 'a' vowel in 'Panim' is not written in the Hebrew spelling.] The relationship between face and inside is simple- for the face generally reveals the inside of the person- unless the person is intentionally being deceptive.
The following is a free translation of a teaching from Reb Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev zt"l, which can be found in his sefer, Kedushas Levi, on the above verse. The text in  are my inserts, which I hope will make it easier to follow the teaching.
Behold, there is a person who serves the Creator, Blessed Be He, so that He will then bless him with a flow of all good things [as a reward for his service]. And then there is a higher level than this, and that is the person who serves the Creator, Blessed Be He, just because He is the Master and Ruler, without any intention whatsoever of receiving any benefit in return.
This second level of service is called "panim b'panim," face-to-face, [or inside to inside] because this person is serving Hashem only because he is the Master and Ruler [and all that matters to him is to have a deep and true relationship with Hashem]. And then the Creator, Blessed Be He, so to speak turns towards him "face-to-face"- inside to inside.[The relationship is thus a very true and deep one.]
Whereas the first level of service [the one who's serving Hashem for a reward], is called "Panim b'Achor"- "face-to-back." For the Creator, Blessed Be He, is turning towards this person [as he is doing a mitzvzah], but [since] he is serving Him [mainly] in order to receive rewards [he is thus turning his back towards Hashem].
This is what is meant in the above verse, when Yaakov said "I have seen Hashem face-to-face and my soul was spared." That is, that Yaakov served Hashem without any self interest- without thoughts of receiving rewards from Hashem, Blessed be He.
CHANNUKAH: AHARON HAKOHEN'S HOLIDAY
RESTORING CLARITY OF FAITH -CLEARING THE DUST AWAY.
~Written in 2002
Reb Shlomo zt"l taught that though not every Jew is holy, every Jew is the 'holy of holies'. What does this mean?
Each morning we say "... the soul that You have given to me, it is holy, it is pure." But how can I say that my soul is pure,
knowing what i have done in the past? Chassidus explains [we have learned this in the past, so I'll be brief here] the two higher parts of our souls do not manifest in this world, and so, when one transgresses, these parts of the neshamah always remain pure.
Aharon haKohen is the one who would enter into the 'holy of holies'. He
is the one who did the service of lighting the Menorah, to re-establish the intimacy between Hashem and the Children of Israel, after the sin of the
golden calf. Aharon haKohen is the master of entering into the 'holy of holies'. Aharon haKohen, the Mishnah tells us, was the master of making peace between husband and wife, between friends who had gotten into a serious fight. How did he do it?
Each one of us is in possession of a 'holy of holies', inside the Temple that Hashem has asked us to establish for Him in our hearts. But as we wrestle in life, with life the dust rises and blurs our vision; we no longer have clarity of faith. Consequently we lose sight of our connection to Hashem, we lose sight of our connection with each other.
Aharon knew how to enter into each persons 'holy of holies', into the place
that is pure, the place where we are always connected with Hashem and with each other. There he lights the Menorah and it becomes clear to us once again that Hashem is real, that we are truly connected to Hashem and to each other. That is how Aharon haKohen made peace between Hashem and us, between us and our soul mates, between friends and us.
Why is it that children can be in a fight with each other, and ten minutes later they are playing lovingly together; something that adults seem to be incapable of doing? Reb Shlomo explained this is so because children still have clarity of faith; it is clear to them that Hashem is right here, and that though they may have stepped out of the 'holy of holies' for a moment, they are ready to go right back in. But as adults the dust has blurred our vision, we no longer clearly see the 'holy of holies', we no longer see that we are truly connected with Hashem and with each other.
When the Greeks had defiled everything, when they brought this thick darkness into our lives, it was the miracle of the oil that made it clear once again that we possess something so pure, a light that is so pure,
a neshamah that is always pure, a connection with Hashem that cannot
be severed. This light will shine through the darkness of our long galut until Moshiach is coming. This is the holiday of Aharon haKohen.
THE 'KLIPPAH'' OF LAVAN:
In Chassidut it is explained that Lavan and Esau represent two very powerful "klipot" that Yaakov, who represents the neshamah, the soul must overcome in order to come close to and be close to Hashem. A "klippah" is a shell and functions in a number of ways. From one perspective the klippah is like the shell around the fruit that must be broken and removed in order to get to the fruit. From another perspective the klippah is the shell that imprisons my soul and prevents me from attaining "dveikut" complete attachment to Hashem.
Lavan represents the "klippah of idolatry". This is the klippah of egocentricity. Lavan tells Yaakov, "everything which you/i have is mine and i acquired everything through my wisdom and prowess; your/my children are mine, your/my wives are mine your/my wealth is mine." This klippah creates idols and worships them. The creator of an idol is in effect really worshipping himself, instead of recognizing the presence of Hashem in all aspects of life. Instead of worshipping Hashem and attaching himself to the Oneness and Holiness of Hashem, which can only be accomplished through self nullification, this klippah of Lavan seeks to divide and separate.
THE 'KLIPPAH' OF EISAV:
Eisav represents the 'klippah' of physical desire and lust. The angel of Esau wrestles with Yaakov. He doesn’t succeed to overcome and beat Yaakov, but he does manage to dislocate his hip. He weakened him in the pelvic area, representing the klippah of sexuality, the desire for instant gratification, which can rear itself into the vulgarity of sexual abuse and the perversion of humans into 'sexual objects'.
We have learned the Slonimer’s teaching that there are three levels of faith: the faith of the mind, the faith of the heart and the faith of the body. One can have an intellectual faith. But that is not enough, it must reach into the heart.
One can also be convinced both in mind and heart that Hashem is real, but this faith may not yet have reached into the limbs of the body. In order to attain "dveikut" complete unification and attachment with Hashem, our faith must be complete on all three levels.
va'yei'aveik ish ihmo.... a man wrestled with him
The word for 'wrestling' that is used here is va'yei'avek, derived from 'avak', which means dust. When two people are wrestling it causes the dust to rise. The Midrash says that the dust rose all the way up unto the "throne of Glory." Meaning to say that it does not take more than some dust to interfere with our total attachment to Hashem.
"Dveikut" means attachment; the Hebrew word for glue is "devek". When you read the instruction label on a container of glue you will find that you must remove all dust and foreign particles in order for the bond to take hold.
According to our Torah we are to attain the highest level of unity and unification with Hashem is to be attained in the sexual union between husband and wife. Woman was created so that the man should never forget that only Hashem is G-d, such is the spiritual power of the union.
The Midrash teaches that along with the creation of the woman, the Satan was created. Why? ... because, otherwise we would not have any free choice. The klippah of Eisav is ever so subtle, even in the midst of intensely experiencing union, instead of experiencing true union with your soul mate and with Hashem, you can be trapped in the klippah of self gratification.
The dust, even a little bit of it can reach all the way up to the throne of Glory and prevent us from attaining "dveikut", complete attachment with Hashem.
THE 'KLIPPAH' OF BEING ALONE:
How is it that the angel of Esau was capable of achieving this against Yaakov Avinu? The Slonimer Rebbe says that the answer to this question lies in the opening of this verse: "va'yivateir Yakov l'vado.... Yakov found himself all alone.. When Yaakov, the individual Jew, is together with his holy family, the "sar shel Eisav" the angel of Esau has no power over him. Being alone leaves one vulnerable to the power of Esau’s klippah.
You may be strong enough not to be completely beaten, but you are weak enough to be knocked off balance. Yaakov's hip was dislocated. It is for this reason that Chassidic communities [but not only Chassidic communities] place great emphasis on living in 'holy community' and
especially on being attached to the "tzaddik" together with other holy souls. It is for this reason that Reb Shlomo zt"l always emphasized the importance of seeing the holiness of our children, our spouses and our friends; the holiness of every single yiddeleh.
The klipot are so subtle that they can hide even in a Torah learning relationship, as was the case with the chossid who was immediately sent back home by the Kotzker Rebbe; because he didn’t understand
the level of unity that Hashem desires that we achieve amongst ourselves.
Have a wonderful Shabbos kodesh, with much love and blessings
Shalom Al Yisrael
Sweetest Of The Sweet: Reb Shlomo's Torah Teachings
Reb Shlomo channukah lighting
Torahles from Reb Shlomo on Channukah
From Rav Brodt's archives.
Reb Shlomo ztz"l taught us in the name of the Baal Shem Tov, that on Channukah even the lowest Jew can reach to places which are higher than the holy places which can be reached by holy people on the other holidays...
The light of Channukah will reach even the furthest Jew and b’ezrat Hashem we will all come home walking upright, healthy and joyous 'l'artzeinu hakedosha, b'karov mammash, together with Mashiach tzidkeinnu" Amen.
The following is a prayer in Reb Shlomo’s words:
“Master of the World, if it is my mistakes that have kept me in darkness let this Channukah light shine into all areas of my darkness let this Channukah Light keep me from ever hating people let this Channukah Light give me so much holiness that all the darkness of the world cannot take away the love for myself and for all the beautiful people”
Surely you know that
not every Jew is holy
but every Jew is
Holy of Holies
-Reb Shlomo Carlebach ztz"l