Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Emor 5770

שבת טעם החיים אמור תש"ע
Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Emor 5770

Sacrificing one’s life for HaShem’s Name can only be done altruistically

ולא תחללו את שם קדשי ונקדשתי בתוך בני ישראל אני ה' מקדשכם, you shall not desecrate My holy Name, rather I should be sanctified among the children of Israel; I am HaShem Who sanctifies you. (Vayikra 22:32)
The Torah instructs us regarding a commandment that appears to be very simple to fulfill. Nonetheless, if one is not scrupulous in its performance, it may be almost impossible to observe this mitzvah. What is this mitzvah that is so enigmatic? It is said (Vayikra 22:32) you shall not desecrate My holy Name, rather I should be sanctified among the children of Israel; I am HaShem Who sanctifies you. Rashi explains this commandment of sanctifying HaShem’s name to mean that one must literally give up his life for the sake of HaShem’s Name. Yet, there is a caveat to this sacrifice that the Torah requires from a Jew. One must sacrifice himself by preparing to die for HaShem. However, one who sacrifices himself for HaShem with the hope that HaShem will perform a miracle for him, he should know that a miracle will not be performed for him. This statement is perplexing. If one is sacrificing his life for the sake of HaShem, why would he want HaShem to perform a miracle for him? It would seem that the commandment to sacrifice one’s self for HaShem is simply that. One must give up his life for HaShem’s commandments, regardless of whether HaShem chooses to perform a miracle for the person.
Reb Menachem Mendel of Rimanov immersed in the mikveh with the proper intentions
The answer to this question can be illustrated by an incident concerning the great Chassidic Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Rimanov (1745-1815). The Rebbe would normally immerse himself in the mikveh (ritual bath) immediately prior to Shabbos, and this Friday was no exception. On this particular Friday, however, the bath attendant had emptied the water from the mikveh earlier than usual, and there was no water for the Rebbe to immerse in. Instead of expressing disappointment, the Rebbe turned to this attendant with a smile and said, “do not think that the lack of water saddens me. In fact, the opposite is true. Normally when one wishes to perform a mitzvah, he must sanctify his thoughts and intentions in order to ensure that he is performing the mitzvah for the sake of Heaven and not for his own pleasure. Nonetheless, who can really claim that while performing the mitzvah, his intentions are pure and undiluted by ulterior motives?”
“Today, however,” continued the Rebbe, “I experienced the fulfillment of the Sages dictum that one who attempts to perform a mitzvah and is unable to because of circumstances beyond his control is deemed to have fulfilled the mitzvah. Thus, I attempted to immerse today in a mikveh in my usual manner, but extenuating circumstances did not allow me to immerse. Therefore, the Torah itself ‘stepped in’ to perform that task, and even if I am incapable of retaining the proper thoughts and intentions, the Torah is certainly capable. It follows, then, that today more than any other day, my immersion was pure and complete.”
One must sacrifice his Life for HaShem’s Name altruistically
The Torah instructs us to perform an act that would seem to be beyond one’s capabilities. How can someone give up his life for something? Are we not commanded to live a life of enjoyment and pleasure? While normally this may be true, there are situations detailed in the Talmud and the Code of Law that that a Jew sacrifice his life. What will happen, however, if one who is prepared to sacrifice his life contemplates the thought that HaShem will save him? This thought is akin to one who performs any mitzvah without the purest of intentions. When performing most mitzvos it may be difficult to remain focused on the proper intentions. Regarding sacrificing one’s life for the sake of HaShem’s Name, however, the mitzvah can only be performed altruistically. If one dilutes the act of sacrificing his life with the hope of being saved by a miracle, then he has deviated from the intention of the mitzvah, which is to be completely dedicated to HaShem.
Reciting Shema is our way of sacrificing our life for HaShem’s Name
Most of us are not usually confronted with the obligation of sacrificing our lives for HaShem’s name. Nonetheless, we are instructed by the Torah to recite the Shema twice daily, and our intentions in the first verse of the Shema must be that we are prepared to sacrifice our very lives for HaShem’s Name. When we recite the words ‘hear O Israel, the Lord is our HaShem, the Lord is One,’ we should concentrate on dedicating our life to HaShem and His Torah. It is specifically while reciting the Shema that we focus on sacrificing our lives to HaShem, as the first verse of Shema is where we proclaim HaShem’s unity. When we acknowledge HaShem as the One Who rules the world, it is easier to dedicate our lives to fulfilling His will.
The Shabbos connection
During the week we are engaged in Torah study and prayer, but thoughts of earning a livelihood and the blandishments of the Evil Inclination make it challenging to perform spiritual acts altruistically. We may at time s be motivated by money or glory or other selfish motives. On Shabbos, however, HaShem grants us the opportunity to serve Him without ulterior motives. Shabbos is a time when we can truly feel like we are serving HaShem, unencumbered by foreign influences and biases. HaShem should allow us to serve Him truthfully, with a pure heart.
Shabbos Stories
Money from Heaven
At one time Eliezer, a holy beggar in the city of Rimanov, had to marry off his daughter. He was one of the sitters of Reb Mendele's Bais Medrash, and he needed a thousand rubles to marry off his daughter. So he made himself strong and he got up his courage and he went to the rich man of the town, and asked him, "Do me a favor. Can you please give me a loan of a thousand rubles to marry off my daughter?" The rich man looked at him and said, "If you would be honest, if you would tell me, 'give me charity, give me a thousand rubles', I would talk to you straight, but you are coming to me for a loan. Tell me, how would you ever pay back the thousand rubles? It's the biggest joke, in the world.' " Then he said, "I'll tell you what. If you can bring me the signature of another rich man I'll gladly give you the loan, but otherwise, no." The whole thing seemed to him like the biggest joke in the world. Eliezer said, "Give me a contract and I'll fill it out." The rich man wrote out a whole contract that someone will take guarantee that he will pay back the thousand rubles.
Eliezer went back to the Bais Medrash and he put his head in the Holy Ark. And he signed that paper, and this is what he signed.
"Li hakesef, Li hazahav, Nium HaShem"
If you translate it simply it says, 'Mine is the silver, Mine is the gold, says the L-rd.' But if you really really translate it, it says, 'Mine is the silver, Mine is the gold. Signed, G-d.' Then he went back to the rich man and brought him this paper.
If you translate it simply it says, 'Mine is the silver, Mine is the gold, says the L-rd.' But if you really really translate it, it says, 'Mine is the silver, Mine is the gold. Signed, G-d.' Then he went back to the rich man and brought him this paper.
The rich man looked at him and thought, "If this was a joke before, now it is a mamash a joke." But do you know something, he was so taken by this joke, because of the naïveté of this man, who really thinks G-d is paying back for him. So, just for the kick of it, he said, "Okay. I'll give you a thousand rubles."
Four weeks later, someone came to the office of this rich man and left an envelope, and it said, "This is the thousand rubles paid back for Eliezer the poor shlepper." According to the Torah, if no time limit is specified, then an ordinary loan is for thirty days. The rich man came to his office, and the secretary said, "There was someone here who left an envelope for you paying back the money for Eliezer, the shlepper." He opened the envelope. In it, one thousand rubles.
He was mamash ashamed of himself, he felt so low. He took his wagon and went to Eliezer the poor shlepper and he said, "Eliezer, I'm sorry I put you through all this trouble. Imagine, nebech, you went to someone else to borrow the money to pay me back but you didn't really have to." Eliezer said, "I don't know what you are talking about." The rich man showed him the envelope. "Someone came and brought me back the thousand rubles." This was too much for both of them. So Eliezer the holy shlepper said, 'Let's go to my holy Rebbe, Reb Mendele Rimanover, and let's ask him."
They came to the holy Rimanover. The holy Rimanover looked at the envelope, he looked at the money, He kissed the envelope and said, "Don't you know, don't you know, the envelope is from heaven, and the money is from heaven. When this little Jew signed G-d's name on that paper, there was a fire in heaven, because he really believed that G-d would pay back for him." There was a riot in heaven - Everybody wanted to pay for him. Our father Avraham wanted to go pay for him. Isaac and Moses wanted to, also. But finally the honor was bestowed on the greatest messenger of all, Eliyahu HaNavi, the Prophet Elijah." Then he told the rich man, "If you only had also believed that G-d would pay back, you would have had the privilege of seeing Elijah give you the money in person. But since you thought it was all just a joke, you only got the money, but you did not see his holy face."
This rich man was really put to shame. He said, "How can I ever use such such holy money, money from heaven? How can I ever use it for myself?"So, he left it with Reb Mendele Rimanover. What Reb Mendele did with the money we don't know. We only know that years later Reb Hershele Rimanover got the holy envelope as a present from his father, Reb Mendele.
My darling friends, maybe someday you will be walking on the street somewhere and you will see an empty envelope. Please don't step on it, don't throw it away - Maybe it’s the envelope of Eliyahu HaNavi, and maybe in that little envelope there is a little note that says, "Li hakesef, Mine is the silver, Li hazahav, Mine is the gold, Nium HaShem. Signed G-d."
Rav Eliyahu Chaim Meisel Calmly Schmoozes In The Bitter Cold
One winter in Lodz was particularly cold and prices of firewood skyrocketed, leaving the poor people without any means to warm themselves. The famed Rav of the city, Rav Eliyahu Chaim Meisel, decided to take upon himself to collect money for firewood from the wealthy people of the city.
The first stop was the home of the wealthiest man in Lodz, Mr. Posnanski. When the doorman saw the Rav coming he quickly went to get his boss, who although wearing light clothing, immediately came to the cold door personally to greet the Rav. He invited the Rav in to talk. The Rav returned his greeting but began to talk without moving from the door.
The Rav was making small talk and casual conversation about nothing in particular. He discussed the comings and goings of the city, world news, on and on without seeming to indicate the reason for his visit. Mr Posnanski stood and listened with respect while his bones began to freeze from the cold.

The Rav kept on going with endless conversation as if he were relaxing somewhere comfortable instead of standing in the freezing cold. After a long while the cold became too much for Mr. Posnanski and he apologetically asked the Rav if they can move into the warm living room. Without budging Rav Eliyahu Chaim said that now he will tell him why he came. He told him about the lack of firewood, and Mr. Posnanski gave him the large amount that he asked for. Only then did the Rav finally accede and followed the host into the living room.

When they sat down in the comfort and warmth, Mr Posnanski asked the Rav why he insisted on speaking for so long at the door in the cold. Rav Eliyahu Chaim said that the world says that a satisfied man cannot comprehend the pain of those who are starving. Similarly those who live in heated homes cannot fathom the pain of those living in frigid apartment with no heat. Had we sat inside you would not have given as generously as you did after standing in the cold for so long and experiencing a small taste of the poor peoples' pain. (Gedolei HaDoros)
The Kotzker Rebbe Exposes The "Yetzer Hara's Tzaddik"

The Chozeh of Lublin had a falling out with the Yehudi HaKadosh of Peshischa after one of the senior and most Choshuveh Chassidim from the Chozeh's court told false reports about the Yehudi HaKadosh.
The Kotzker Rebbe, who followed the Yehudi HaKadosh, said that we see from here the evil and conniving ways of the Yetzer Hara. This senior Chasid was a no tzaddik. However the Yetzer Hara did not interfere with his Avodas HaShem and even helped him his whole life in order that one day late in his life when he tells Motzi Shem Ra to the Chozeh, he would have good standing. Then his malicious lies would be accepted by the Chozeh and cause machlokes. Watch out, the Satan is a smart and patient investor and Lashon Hara is a worthwhile investment for him.
The Sfas Emes Refuses To Be Sent Out
The Sfas Emes rarely took any trips as he was a great masmid and preferred to stay put and learn. Any small trip he took was a great occasion to his Chasidim. One time he traveled to nearby Warsaw which was not far from his hometown Gur. When he arrived, a large gathering was waiting for him and his host prepared a lavish Kiddush for the occasion.
The Sfas Emes said that he does not want to attend such a reception. The host argued that Chazal tell us "Kol SheOmer Licha Baal HaBayis Aseh Chutz MiTzei", whatever the host instructs you to do you must do except if he asks you to leave. Therefore, said the host, the Rebbe is halachicly bound to attend.

The Sfas Emes replied that the word "Tzei" has another connotation beyond leaving the immediate premises. The Misha in Pirkei Avos (4:28) says that three things take a person out of the world, Kinah, Taava, Kavod. Since honor will take a person out of the world and anything that will cause a person to "go out" he need not listen to the Baal HaBayis, therefore the Sfas Emes need not listen to the host and indulge in this honor. (Chaim SheYesh Bahem - Aish Tamid) (
Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Emor 5770
Is sponsored in honor of the birth of a baby boy to Rabbi Avromy and Mrs. Tzippy Adler of Cleveland. May they be zoche to be mahcnis their son libriso shel Avraham Avinu biito uvizmano and may they have much nachas from all their children
Have a wonderful and delightful Shabbos
Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler
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