Even Shlomo - Va’era
I want to say a gevalt thing. The Gemara says that when you learn when you are young - and everyone knows it doesn’t mean young in years - but it’s like I make myself, that today I’m learning for the first time. This learning is like learning on a new page. Learning old is already like learning on a page that was written with two thousand words. It has millions of meanings, but right now let me tell you something.
What does it mean that you learn like a child? It means it’s not really clear to me yet. I’m learning the Gemara but I don’t really know it yet, I just know a little bit. But that little bit is so precious.
When I know everything it’s beautiful. But it stops being precious. The highest level in the world is that I know it completely but its precious to me like my children..
Now imagine on the deepest, highest, most glorious level:
Let’s assume I didn’t know I’m a Jew, and suddenly, like Yitzchak from the Moshav’. He comes to Israel and he writes a letter to his mother in Athens saying “I love Israel so much, I don’t know why”. She writes back saying, “Its crazy. I forgot to tell you that you are Jewish”. It's the craziest thing! So he doesn’t know anything, and the first time he hears about Yerushalayim… gevalt. You see, we are getting into it. We have to first talk a hundred times around it until we get into it.
My best example: I’m sitting on the subway on 72nd St. I see on the subway this absolutely beautiful girl and I just catch her before she goes through the door. I ask her what’s her name and she tells me her name and her number. This name and this number is so precious to me; gevalt is it precious. I learn it 101 times, mamesh 101 times. After that, Baruch Hashem I marry her and I have ten children. If today you will ask me ‘can you give your wife’s number’, I will say it straight, without even thinking about it. But in all honesty, does it have the same preciousness like when I met her on the subway when she told me her number? The saddest thing in the world is that today, it doesn’t do anything. The highest level in the world is, imagine you could reach that level… imagine, that you are married for sixty years and you have great grandchildren, but his wife’s name or number is as precious like that moment when the door is being closed on 72nd St.
Here there is a mind-blowing Torah from the Ishbitzer. We were always learning that we Jews were slaves in Egypt, and meitzar is mitzrayim. The Egyptians were making us so small, taking away our faculties, reducing us to the lowest level there is. And then G-d is taking us out of Egypt. The Ishbitzer puts in a new kind of exodus from Egypt. Maybe this was always clear to you but it wasn’t always clear to me.
The craziest thing is that G-d sends Moshe to Pharoh to let my people go, and it doesn’t work. And also when it comes to Yidden, Velo Sham’u El Moshe Mikotzer Ruach - they just didn’t understand it either. So this is a new kind of learning: that you hear G-d’s word but it is not shining. It is there - but it’s not shining. Everybody in their right mind understands that this is the same thing. Because we were slave in Egypt and we weren’t free yet, G-d’s words could not reach us completely. Its there but the word is in exile, G-d word is also in exile.
Remember once I told that during Yom Kippur of 1973, during that Yom Kippur, ten kids who I met in san Francisco came up to my shul to say good bye to me. They got involved with this swami and they are going to India. The plane to India goes once in a hundred years, so they have to go on Yom Kippur morning to India. It was crazy, sometimes you have patience, ‘what do you mean, they are going to serve G-d’. But how crazy can you be? You are a Jew! It’s Yom Kippur! You have to go to India on Yom Kippur? It’s like I want to give you a kiss, but first I want to throw a little garbage over your face.
Anyway, I played it cool. Most of the kids I didn’t really know. But this one girl, Leah’le, I couldn’t help it. Usually I try to be patient but it was Yom Kippur, I grabbed her by her neck and I said to her, ‘I’ll see you on the corner’. I yelled at her – I don’t know if I ever yelled like that my whole life. I said ‘Leah’le, I bless you that my voice should haunt you wherever you are. You’re a daughter of four holy mothers. Where are you going? This is not what G-d wants of you. Don’t tell me stories that you want to serve G-d. If you want to serve, G-d come back to shul with me. G-d will let you know what he wants you to do. I yelled at her You are lying, lying to yourself, lying to G-d’.. Craziest thing is a few months later she is back. She calls me up and she says ‘your voice was haunting me, I couldn’t get it out of me’. Obviously I wasn’t talking to her in my own private name; there are moments when you have the right to speak in in the name of all of Israel. But she did go to India, you know what that means? My words to her were in exile, it didn’t reach her then. Okay, eventually it reached her. But you know hat it is?
Listen to this, sweetest friends: Hear what the Ishbitzer says.
What happens to you when you hear something absolutely beautiful but you are not really ready for it, when you are not really on the level yet? Two things are happening to you. Your evil side becomes so strong because your evil side feels so threatened. Your Pharoh, Pharoh is getting worse and worse and worse every second. But also your holy side, your holy side is suddenly filled with longing. And the more you feel and you know that you are not on the level yet, the more you realize how precious it is, how special it is (to just be part of something so exalted, without understanding it yet).
Now listen to this.
There is a pasuk that says Ki Mitizyon Teizte Torah Ud’var Hashem Miyerushalayim. So this is a very, very strong Torah from the Ishbitzer; it’s good to remember. Isn’t Torah also G-ds word? How can you divide this pasuk? G-d’s word is from Yerushalayim but the Torah is from Tzion? So the Ishbitzer says like this. What is the difference between learning Torah and learning G-d’s word? The difference is like this. Torah is that when I’m learning - it’s clear to me that I have to do it. It’s no trouble doing it; I’ll do it without trouble - that’s called Torah. I know what to do when the Torah says so. I don’t mean ‘got to’ on a fork and knife level… its just that I have to. Dvar Hashem? The word of G-d is so clear to me that I have no trouble doing it. When I hear the word of G-d, it is clear to me in a billion ways. So it says Ki Mitizyon Teizte Torah, out of the depths of my heart is coming the Torah, but that the Torah should shine to me so clearly, mamesh its clear to me that its G-d word? This is only in Yerushalayim.
You see what it is, how could we make the golden calf? There was already Torah, but it wasn’t G-d’s word yet? U’Dvar Hashem Miyerushalayim. When Mashiach is coming, G-d’s word will be so clear to me.
Sometimes you do something and you don’t know what you are doing yet. The Ishbitzer says a gevalt Torah. If you do something, you know you have to do it but it’s not clear to you – it’s called a mitzvah. When you do something and its mamesh shining before you, it’s called Torah… gevalt. Ki Ner Mitzvah veTorah Ohr.
Okay, here I want to learn from inside, now something else.
If my whole life isn’t yet really to be a vessel for G-d’s word, I know I have to do it; I will do it Be’ezer Hashem. I’m not on the level yet... I have to make myself small before G-d; mamesh annihilate myself. I have to annihilate myself. What do I know?
So many people go through so many struggles in their life till they reach the level where they are supposed to be. A struggle is very, very holy; very, very precious. All the pain all the sufferings… you cant reach there in another way. You don’t wake up in the morning and are suddenly there. Its clear to you that you shouldn’t get angry every two minutes, it’s clear to you like daylight but you can’t help it. You might have to work all your life, all your life, until you reach the level that you don’t blow up on every stupid thing. So that struggling is very, very precious.
You know what it is, unless that struggling will shine into you all your life. Even after your each the level that you are clear, clear without struggling, clear without pain is not clear because the next day I can blow up again. But if it’s clear to me that that gevalt, I went through so much till I got here… you are not the same.
Approximately in the 1840, 1850, there was a Jew in Lemberg and he denounced all the great Rebbes, all the holy tzaddikim that they are a danger to young people. He would tell the authorities that they are dreamers, that they tell young people to dream about the messiah, and about G-d’s kingdom and they are a danger to mankind. So the craziest thing is, at that time Reb Mendele Riminover was in Lemberg in the Beis Medrash and all the holy people were with him. The police came and arrested them. The Ropshitzer was the sharpest of them all. He saw the police coming and jumped out of the window because he thought that at least one of them had to be outside. The Ropshitzer made himself strong; walked over to the police the next day, and said that he wants to talk to the head of police. The Ropshitzer was mamesh so handsome, so shiny. The head of the police asked him ‘what do you want’. He said ‘ I heard you arrested all those rabbis, the dreamers’. ‘Yeah, we did right, they are terrible people’. So the Ropshitzer says ‘yeah? I’m one of them’. The Policeman says ‘what? You are one of them? If you are one of them - I will release them all right away’.
Anyway, this person was making trouble all time. They realized there must be one Rebbe who has to send him to another planet. So there was one Rebbe, the Heilige Reb Baruch Zvarsha. Reb Baruch Zvarsha was so holy; he called every Jew ‘tzaddik’. He was once with his horse driver, and he said to his horse driver ‘tzaddik, go left, tzaddik go right’. So the horse driver was so stupid. He says ‘Rebbe, you say that I’m a tzaddik, and the whole world says that you are tzaddik. I have a son and you have a daughter, lets marry them off’. So Reb Baruch Zvarhsa says ’listen, there are all kinds of tzaddikim. Your son has to marry his kind of a tzaddik, and my daughter has to marry this kind of a tzaddik’. But anyway, the real tzaddikim thought that if Reb Baruch Zvarsha can curse this person who is making so much trouble with the police, because he is mamesh top – all their tzaros would come to an end. So the holy Ropshitzer comes to Reb Barcuh Zvarsha, it’s a long story; I’m just giving you one version. The Ropshitzer says to him ‘Heilige Zvarsher, you have to curse this person’. ‘Ropshitzer Rav, come with me, come down with me to the cellar’. They go down to the cellar and there was a huge barrel of water. So he says to the Ropshitzer ‘these are the tears I have cried before G-d that I should never say anything bad about another person. Please don’t take it sway from me’. Gevalt… gevalt.
Can you imagine how much Avraham Avinu went through until he reached the level of Avraham Avinu? Some of us think that he was a way out hippie, he shared everything with everyone. And Sara was walking around with beads, always happy.. let all the people come to our house. Do you know what the holy Tzanser says, it would be blasphemy if I would say this. He says that Avraham Avinu was born with the stingiest soul in the world, stingiest soul in the world, and mamesh he worked his way up to give everything away. You see friends, anything which falls into my lap I’m not giving over to my children. Whatever I work on like a dog I give over to my children. Let me ask you something. Why are all yidden successors of Avraham Avinu? Because Avraham Avinu went through so much until he got there.
Yitzchak by nature was completely out of awe, he was basically just a playboy… just taking everything easy. But Yitzchak worked himself up…gevura mamesh… he worked himself up that every word second counts, every word counts, every thought counts. And Ya’akov is mamesh both. Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov worked so hard until they got there, spiritually, mentally divinely, turned their kishkes over a million times a second, paved the way for us, paved the way. I’m sure its clear to you. Whatever a person goes through mentally spiritually until they mamesh reach a certain level, they give it over to their children. The real ‘yerusha’ you leave for your children is not the few rubles you leave, what you leave for you children is what you went through, the way you purify your heart. All those yidden who are just so to speak frum but they don’t work on it – their children don’t give a damn. Maybe their children will be frum because of a miracle or maybe someone else will turn them on. I know a lot of people, their parents are very frum and they don’t give a damn. And then there are some people, their parents are not so frum, but the little bit they have – they worked so hard on. Maybe they make Kiddush once a year….
When G-d says to Moshe Rabbeinu ‘Va’era El Avraham Yitzchak Veyakaov Bekel Sha-dai Ushmi Hashem Lo No’dati Lahem’. Here I want you to open your hearts in the deepest way. Why was it so hard for Avraham Yitzchak and Ya’akov? Because when they received G-d’s word, it wasn’t shining from all four corners. It wasn’t that here is G-d’s word and its all good, everything now is very clear to me. It was clear to me that gevalt do I have to turn over my kishkes a thousand times, a million times to do it. So the Ribbono shel Olam says to Moshe ‘I want you to know, Ushmi Hashem Lo Noda’ti Lahem’. You know what is so precious about Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov? I never told them something that was clear from one corner of the world to to the other. So he says ‘you know something, you want that I should give you a word and right away they should be out of Egypt – it should shine from one corner of the world to the other? It doesn’t go this way, it doesn’t go this way.
You know sweetest friends, imagine I learn something and right away I understand everything. I open the Rambam and its clear to me, I learn Tosfos and its clear to me. The old Bobover Rebbe said that when Mashiach is coming he will not be ashamed to go with his yeshiva to greet Mashiach. He won’t be ashamed with every Gemara in the closet to go and greet Mashiach. He said there is not a page in the whole library in the whole yeshiva which is not wet with tears… gevalt. He says ‘there is no ktzos hachosehan and Mishne lamelech which my talmidim don’t cry over’. I don’t mean crying like you think – I mean the deepest depths, crying because I want to understand it so much.
Now listen to this.
This parsha everybody knows is Yetzias Mitzrayim, but not only to get away from the Egyptians. To get out of Egypt is a secondary thing. The ten plagues – they weren’t so much for the Egyptians, they were mainly for us yidden. Because the ten plagues… each time we got a little bit out of Egypt. It was not just that we were slaves to Pharoh and had to work for him, mentally spiritually we were saves in Egypt. We were not on the level, we were not free people yet. We were just not on the level yet.
Sometimes the Ribbono shel Olam tells you something and it’s not clear yet, but its so precious, so precious. It is so precious. Sometimes G-d tells you something and it is so clear, it is very very beautiful but it has no preciousness. Now listen to his. When G-d speak to us on Mount Sinai, was there ever a moment when things were more clear to us than on Mount Sinai? G-d spoke to us face to face, and what is the first thing G-d says to us? ‘Remember, I took you out of Egypt’. You know what G-d was telling us? Don’t forget the preciousness which you felt when you weren’t clear about it but you knew there was one G-d when you were in Egypt. Gevalt is it precious’.
Let me ask you something even deeper. Basically, Moshe is the one who is giving us the Torah, but why couldn’t G-d have had a board of directors going down to Egypt, talking to the yidden to prepare them to get out of Egypt and on that day we go out. Because Moshe Rabbeinu’s thing is the Torah, eh is the master of the Torah. It doesn’t go this way. If you want to give somebody the Torah, you have to start in Egypt, mamesh in Egypt. And why do you have to start in Egypt? Because it so precious, so precious.
Haben Yakir Li Ephraim, Ephraim were the ones who couldn’t wait cause they were so hungry, so hungry. They mamesh had a little vision that G-d is taking them out – it mamesh blew their minds.
Now listen to me, I just want to tell you this.
You know what blew my mind over this? How do we yidden know when G-d wants to tell us something, and this might be crazy. Whenever something new happens, whenever G-d speaks to a yid, the ‘other side’ picks it up and they get crazy. Obviously, G-d was about to give us back the Holy Land, you know who picked it up first? The other side, lets put six million in gas chambers first. Holiness doesn’t know what holiness is, the other side… gevalt do they know what holy is, can’t stand holiness. I have to tell you something crazy, there are some holy people here from Russia. When I was in Moscow for Simchas Torah, I had a lot of holy sefarim with me. The authorities asked me about them, and I said that these are my personal books, and I will be taking them out with me. I also had a ‘sod yesharim’ with me, from the Ishbitzer. Do you know that they mamesh threw themselves at this book, started tearing it apart… gevalt. It was mamesh ‘lehashmid velaharog’.
I want you to know something crazy. I was once coming out from Romania, had a lot of books. He didn’t say anything. He saw Mei Hashiloach, the same thing happened. He mamesh got crazy, started tearing the book up. Gevalt… it was worth it to come and see that these books are so holy that the samech mem mamesh can’t bear it.
Now he says, whenever the Ribbono shel Olam sends us a little word, for us yidden its ‘choilas ahava’, we get sick with longing… we get sick with longing. We are living in a world that most people don’t know anything about yiddishkeit, whatever they hear about yiddishkeit is still in exile by them. But for them - it’s so precious. Then you meet a yidele for whom it is already clear, but it has lost its preciousness, its not so precious anymore, and they don’t even learn from it. They don’t even learn from it because they need someone to make their word precious even after they know it. I want it to be precious after I know it. You know why some of us are so angry a little bit at the people in Israel, the people who sit there by the ‘shisel’? They took away the whole preciousness. There is a state of Israel and that’s it. The state of Israel began with Hertzl or the moment Weitzman or Ben-Gurion came to Israel. Its cute, we got it. Where are the two thousand years of crying for it? What happened to that?