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.