Monday, August 23, 2010
Ki Teitzi - Fabrengen and Sicha
Parshas Ki Seitzei is the tznius parsha. It's not often talked about, but its mentioned in the parsha the concept
of having to remove yourself from the camp because of impurity. Nowadays, people don't think about what they contaminate because of their impurity. We put on tefillin etc.
But "G-d walks in the midst of the camp''. Torah discusses an optional war and G-d says that all soldiers must have a shovel. When taking care of their bodily needs, they have to dig a hole and cover. There are laws in the bathroom and this proves that it is not about honoring the creations (people), rather it is about respecting and honoring G-d.
There is nobody to see you in the bathroom, and yet there are many laws about modesty. Some great minds were offended by the statement that 'G-d is in the bathroom'. We used to say a prayer before entering a bathroom to tell the accompanying angels that 'I'm going to do something you won't understand. This is a place you can't relate to so wait for me here'. So some scholars had a problem, but because G-d is everywhere, He has to be there too. The emphasis though is not on the bathroom. The emphasis is on the fact that G-d's unity is infinite and so it is impossible to exclude Him from any place.
We have numerous faculties, all over our body, the digestive system being just one of them. We cover every part of our body except our faces. Because every part of our body is subservient to the head, even the heart is covered. In the head, there rests the primary presence of the soul.
The world represents to us what is going on in the upper worlds. The mind of a human, exclusively, can know this and also know G-d. Animals can not sense this. This awareness is why man was created.
1+1 = 2. A computer knows this but differently than a man. A computer doesn't care whether it's '1+1' or '2'. It makes no difference to its computation. Man sees a '2' because the 1's actually combine. This is not an example of convenience in working with larger numbers, say 1,000,000, in order to be able to communicate to others what you are talking about. Not at all. The '2' represents more than convenience in communicating. It means that intrinsically there is a background of unity in the world; things can combine to form new entities. This, the world, expresses Achdus Hashem, G-d's unity. This is why in the world, there exists all times and all seasons constantly. At any given moment there is always mid-day, mid-night, mid-winter, mid-summer etc. This isn't a lesson in science, it is letting us know that the world is above world. There are many things that exist in the world that are not worldly. The world itself is one of them. The Earth itself stands for G-d's infinite presence, H-s true unlimitedness.
A tzibbur (congregation) doesn't die. An individual can't crown a King. In the beginning of the Rebbe's nisius, letters were going around, petitions, in order to get everyone to sign that they want the Rebbe to be the Nasi. This of course was successful. An individual couldn't have accomplished this. Even if many individuals alone, wrote to the Rebbe, that wouldn't be effective. A tzibbur has a special power. It is a G-dly thing.
Quicksand seems to be stable. Our environment appears to be real, but it can distract you, and suck you in. Davening with a minyon gives life. It's the rope by which we save ourselves from the quicksand of the world view. Moshe Rabbeinu was shown the set up of 'chazan and congregation'. There is a power in this, a part of reality, that we may not sense, but we should know is there. There is a very small step between davening alone, and at home, and not davening at all. Rabbi Paltiel deals with many people who's downfall at home often involves a long time since the husband went to shul. A shtikel lamdim knows what parts of davening are essential, and what he can skip, and before you know it, there are longer jumps etc. We have our own circumstances that give room for compromise, but know that a minyon is essential. Shulchon Oruch says that if there is a beis midrash in the town, you aren't even allowed to daven at home. If it is not possible to daven with your minyon (b'makom), you should atleast plan to daven in your place at the same time you know they are davening in shul.
In this world, some things are real, meaning eternal, while others are only temporary, dark, and thus not real. We pray to have insight into the preciousness of the things of reality that have been shared and given to us so we can make Elul a meaningful one. Let us do what we are needed for and not just do what we need.
A real memory involves all of ourselves.
Amalek is the rebellion against G-d, Shabbos is the live cognizance of G-d's Kingdom.
We need to remember Amalak and Shabbos. How can we do both, simultaneously?
Amalek is given its tikun through its destruction by a Jew.
A son who rebels against the father will ultimately come back. The father needs to wait and be supportive.
Shabbos Shoftim - Notes from Chuna
Tshuva is as essential, and easy as breathing.
Even though we say that drinking water you need to be outside of a lake, we breathe in the lake of air. It is constant and with ease, because G-d is facilitating our breathing. Tshuva should be this obvious and part of our avodah without causing sadness. We should be happy that we get to 'clean out the King's palace'.
There is a concept brought in this weeks sedra that you must listen to the Rav of your time.
Even though the previous generation rabanim were greater, you need to listen to the one in your generation.
Zaken momre is a sage who goes against the majority ruling. His penalty is death. Torah says that you have to go according to the majority opinion and not govern your actions by your sechel. Rabbi Elazar ben Horkenus was such a sage and ended up being excommunicated. Rabbi Akiva was chosen to tell him 'the news'. He intimated and Rabbi Elazar got the point. (Why wasn't he killed?)
Avraham avinu in parshas re'eh was told by G-d that sodom and gemora will be overturned.
G-d didn't hold back from telling him because Avraham was the man who will teach his children the ways of G-d.
Unlike the nations who do horrific things, the Jews are meant to perform kindness and justice.
So He told Avraham. Avraham protested by saying all of history will unravel because it will look to people
'that You are unfair'. Then people will say it was unfair what happened to the Dor Hamabool and the Tower of Babel etc. Then, 40 years later, the same parsha talks about the akeida. There, Avraham questions nothing. With all the promises given him by G-d, Avraham doesn't see a contradiction. He wakes up early, saddles his donkey, travels for three days not knowing where he's going, all with a joy that he is doing G-d's will to put Isaac on an alter.
What happened to Avraham's protest of G-d not being truthful in judgement? First He says I will make you into a great nation through Yitzhak, and now He says to put him on the alter?
What happened was that the relationship Avrham had with G-d was previously based on sechel. Logic and intellect only bring us so far. We can't understand the laws in Torah through intellect. In general there are the three categories of Judgements, Testimonies, Statutes. We say with Mishpatim that they fit into logic but that is a mistake. It is all over halacha that the logic of intellect is obviously not the cause behind the law. For example, there are the four types of guardians. Each one more responsible for the article than the next but if the owner of the article does a favor for the watchman at the time the watchman takes on the responsibility of the article, than the watchman is not obligated even in a case of neglect. Also theivery, someone who steals at gunpoint doesn't need to pay anything extra, just bring back the stolen object. But someone who pick pockets has to pay a fine as well as bring back the object. (Did I get that right?)
Mishpatim are not logical. They are from Torah and Torah is G-d's principles. G-d's principles are on a higher plane that we cannot relate to. (Chuna's words: We see in H-m paradox and that's what we need to live with. A non-Jew wants a logical relationship with G-d. A Jew wants a relationship with Hashem based on mesiras nefesh.)
There is a progression that the world is adopting the proper relationship with Hashem through the Yidden being used as an example, or even a scapegoat. The world has evil, which has depth almost as much as Goodness (evil has 4 levels, nefesh, ruach, neshama, and chaya. Goodness, l'havdil, also has Yechida).
The evil side will not transform itself without the Jews doing it, so we are abused and then the world says, 'you know there's something wrong here'. We say that though this has happened to our nation, nothing is unraveling. G-d does not run on the justice principles that man has in mind but nothing is unraveling. Avraham was able to protest then, but when it comes to really having a relationship with G-d, we live in a paradox, and a mystery.
The King's presence allows for the presence of the world. Job wasn't a Jew and he questioned G-d's justice system. He said that maybe 'You got confused and thought I was your enemy'. G-d answered that he "doesn't loose track of even a snowflake", as such, G-d knows what is happening to Job.
A cup in the air is being held up, there is no intrinsic place for the cup in the air.
When in the King's presence, it is rebellion if you acknowledge the differences between ministers and peasants.
Everything in the world is being held up by the King's presence. (This is pinimius ceser. Hitzonius keser acknowledges world, pnimius ceser is only the King's presnce.)
So the Torah sage was excommunicated for disagreeing incessantly because the King's presence is represented by Torah (?) and it is completely above our own bearings.
All who wish to contribute, please do.
Shabbos Re'eh Farbrengen - Notes from Chuna
Elul, Hashem is shining a face at us, we can ask for what we want.
Parshas Re'eh starts with the word Re'eh as opposed to many other parshas which are named with the second
or third etc. word of the first pasuk.
Re'eh: See! It goes on to command what we should see, "blessing or the opposite"
Such strong language for such an obvious thing. Further on, the Torah uses even stronger words.
I place before you life or the opposite, Choose Life!"
We're not simply told, "choose!". We're told what to choose. Seems unnecessary with such a strong contrast.
Why do people have to be told to" choose life"?
Seeing is special. Seeing gives us knowledge about what we are looking about what we see. We see an object in context. We don't just see a cup, we see a purpose, why it was put there. This makes the item real. Even though the cup doesn't speak, it makes a statement of its existence, its purpose. This is the type of seeing that the parsha commands. Its about making things real. Make a real choice. What's a real choice?
Most people make choices and even after many days, weeks, years, they are looking back and wondering, "what would it have been like if I chose something else?" This is not using the human quality of sechel.
The Torah wants us to choose with all of ourselves. To commit is to make real. Make real choices, not wishy washy calculations. See and choose.
This is actually a choice of daas. The seeing is the prerequisite. You must see first in order to choose with commitment.
To choose this way we also need to see that the path in front of us is real. The circumstances we find ourselves in are not our doing. Hashem puts the path in front of us. Also, we need to see the paths in the context of a real world. What we are living has incredible significance. We need to see all this, the whole meaning, and then it gives us the insight to really choose.
A soldier exercises daat, not "a love that is not dependent on something". The love is already a mida. Daat is still in the intellect. He recognizes with his mind what he represents and this gives him the strength to aim and shoot.
(Chuna's Question: The Maggid visited the Besht and came back to his friend who davened with him. His friend asked why now the Maggid took so much longer to daven. The answer was a mushul about actually traveling and picking up wares not just imagining the trip. Was this daat?)
We are being tested in life. Not like a school test where you can think and think again. You have a certain time where you can go back and change the answer etc. Spontaneous choices have to be made. A man who sees someone drowning and goes to ask a Rav what to do is called a lowly (?) murderer. You need to act quickly and choose with your whole being, not to weigh things constantly.
Angels are called standing, they can't advance like Jews. (not sure about the following) Angels can see virtues, Jews can embody them.
Chochma is the most spectacular faculty, but daat is the most telling. The man is daas and he can increase his level of daas to relate to the world with more maturity.
The frediker Rebbe was taken to a daunting prison. He resolved that, while there, he would not acknowledge anything he didn't want to. He would give no credence to his captors. They would beat him when he ignored there questions, rachmana liztlan. He knew what was life, i.e. what was real, and he didn't want to give evil/falsehood any validity and so he committed himself to this.
Nothing comes for free. We mentioned again that the Alter Rebbe said he wouldn't give any gifts (insight, etc.) to his chassidim, only show them the path in order for them to toil in it.
There are stories of 'great sages' approaching students tempting them to come study with them in order to 'be raised' to high levels. What actually happened though was that these sages were demons or something and they were seducing the students. To save themselves the students needed to recognize that nothing is for free. Study the yeshiva seder.
Another point: There was a bachur in yeshiva who wrote to the Rebbe that he felt he could gain more, grow and reach the highest heights if he could keep his own seder. (He wouldn't break for lunch so long etc.).
The Rebbe read the student's letter and crossed out the words 'highest heights' and wrote in 'the lowest depths', it would be a path of sorrow. (Is this like the derech arucha ookitzara, the long short way)
Also, the Rebbe says in Hayom Yom that we know what is from kedusha if it leads to actual progress. this is what is holy.
Again, we need to see the path as one given to us, not our own construction, we just journey on it.
The gemara says you don't acquire by seeing. Why would we think you do? Possession is law, not seeing. But because seeing is truly powerful, its a real thing, we might overstep its ability.
The Baal Shem Tov says to love every Jew even whom you don't know. Ok, so we're not on that level, but how does it even make sense? I wish you the best, but I love me more. The answer is that we live in one real world with one real family, the Jewish nation. So we need to love each other.
(The last thing was something about Tanya which was said here.)
It's Elul, take advantage and start really living.
Subject: Hora'a Friday night/shabbos ekev farbie sum.
Date: Sun, 1 Aug 2010
Two views, al pi teva, or lmaila min hatevah. Natural or supernatural.
We plow a field, and plant seeds then plow again and cut and reap crops. We remember to rotate the produce in the field to nourish the produce properly. A non-Jewish neighboring farmer does this also, and it works, so it seems that this process is all according to nature. But we say, "no, a Jewish soul doesn't relate to this naturally".
The soul can only listen and relate to G-d. G-d says to plow, so we plow, G-d says to sew, so we sew etc.
With real faith, the way a Jew sees the world is as everything is completely stand alone because G-d is saying to do this, then G-d is saying to do that. Like walking to shul and missing the minyon. Avos says that there is still reward for walking to shul. Nothing is secondary.
Now-a-days, earning money is above nature. When we relate to G-d in a manner above calculation, i.e. that all the mitzvos we perform are developing a relationship with G-d and it doesn't matter if it's in a 'light' mitzvah or a 'bigger' mitzvah, a 'head' mitzvah or a 'heal' mitzvah, we look at it all as equal. Dovid was afraid that just knowing the differences between the mitzvahs, that maybe he didn't do them all equally. We say that if we do them all equally, without calculations, then G-d will not calculate our parnasa, He will just give openly.
Emunah and kabolos OHl. ?: blind faith vs. clear faith.
Looking at the world through sechel, we only have as much surety as the proofs we discover. A table is only as strong as the legs its on. There is no stand alone. Emunah though, is stand alone. It's a revelation of real life. Looking at the world through sechel is weak, there are constantly ?'s and answers and adjustments of where you stand, and what you think. Blind faith is not clear at all (missed something else here). Real faith, everything is obvious. G-d is real to those with Emunah, and G-d extends into every detail of the world, so the world is real too. In fact, its all miraculous. We don't say that the world is going to explain to me what I see and "I am going to constrict my sechel and the insight I have because it's not tangible." That is subjugation of the human intellect, that's truly blind. Really what we see with our intellects is real and this is unshakeable. The G-dly faculty of sechel stands on emunah. It is the nekudas ha chachma.
Ekev tishma'un. A heel that doesn't feel or think can be cognizant of the reality, that G-d is real and He and H-s instructions are in every detail of our lives. In the Rambam we could see the emunah and K'Ohl. He says there are three forbidden foods: Those that are prohibited because of Torah, The Rabbanim, and Sufik (Doubt). All are forbidden stated simply by The Rambam.
The Rambam says that a metal boat flying is not in the realm of sechel. So people can think that, "oh, there's a question on the Rambam, let's not talk about it because we might disprove the whole Torah." This is ridiculous. We ask because we don't understand fully. And when we ask maybe we will get it, and maybe we won't, but it doesn't disprove any part of Torah. The Rambam didn't make a mistake.
Everything is part of the world, but there are things in the world- inventions- that don't have place in sechel. The inventor is amazed when his idea actually works because before it was actually made it was only in sechel. Afterwards, it is proof that the world is real, and wonderous. A plain flying is not an impossibility, it is an impossibility to relate to. That is why we always look up when one flies overhead. Even people who grew up with plains are amazed. A car does not inspire this reaction. The inventor only thought of the idea in short. The full ramifications he didn't guess at. I.e.: somebody thought of how to turn a wheel without a horse. But that same person didn't think of transporting people to the hospital and all the other outcomes of having a car.
We don't understand how things really work. We only understand the mechanics. A compass, electricity, etc. We understand the mechanics but we will never be able to relate to them completely. Does that mean we can't use them, absolutely not. We just have to be cognizant that there are things above world in world.
The Rambam didn't think of all the things that would come out of his work, but we don't stumble upon later ideas coming from his words like a blind person finding something. Rather, like the intellect seeing the truth in the essence and expressing it from the essence, as part of realness, there are myriads of understandings that can come out of the words because it is a description of the reality and the reality is endlessly deep. So maybe Rambam, Rashi, Tannaim, etc. didn't think of those things directly, but they saw truth and expressed a part of the truth, then what comes out later is further development of the truth.
Goyisha Songs are forbidden only if they were used for idol worship, but songs stamazoi, can be used for holiness because the composer revealed a human concept, an inyan in reality. This is why we can sing Napolean's march and the French national anthem.