• Akiva Murguia

Rabbi Elimelech Biderman - Torah Wellsprings - Behaalotcha


One of the thirty-nine melachos of Shabbos is, to demolish a structure with the intention of reconstructing it in the exact same place. If one takes something apart with the intention of rebuilding it somewhere else, although prohibited miderabbanan, it isn’t a Torah prohibition. All the laws of Shabbos are derived from the melachos that were used to build the Mishkan. Reb Chaim Shmuelevitz zt’l (Sichos Mussar 5733, 22) brings down the gemara that asks that in the Mishkan, they would take down a structure with the intention of rebuilding it elsewhere. The gemara answers, as it states, “By Hashem’s word they would camp, and by Hashem’s word they would travel” (9:20). When they traveled, the Levi’im dismantled the Mishkan and reassembled it where Hashem showed them. Reb Chaim Shmuelevitz explains the gemara’s answer, that the Jewish nation didn’t feel they were traveling from Succos to Ramses, or from Eisam to Refidim, etc. They saw themselves always in the same place — under Hashem’s protection. Thus, in their perception, they dismantled and reassembled the Mishkan at the very same spot. Reb Chaim Shmuelevitz compared this to a mother holding her child while traveling. From the child’s perspective, he didn’t go from one place to the next. He was in his mother’s arms the entire time. This is how the Jewish people felt in the midbar. When they dismantled the Mishkan they were with Hashem, and when they rebuilt it, they were with Hashem. As far as they were concerned, they didn’t go anywhere. We too should visualize ourselves as always being with Hashem.

Since we are entirely in Hashem’s hands, the Shlah Hakadosh (Behaloscha, mussar 12) writes, “With all your deeds, say im yirtzeh Hashem or say be’ezras Hashem. For example, when traveling, say, ‘I am traveling be’ezras Hashem, and I will arrive at … im yirtzeh Hashem.’ When you arrive at….., praise Hashem and say, ‘be’ezras Hashem I arrived, and I plan to leave im yirtzeh Hashem…’ In this manner, the name of Heaven will always be on your lips, when planning and when doing and so shall you do with all your deeds.

It states, “Rejoice the hearts of those who seek Hashem” (Tehillim 105:3). It doesn’t say “Rejoice the hearts of those who serve Hashem.” The Chofetz Chaim zt’l derives from this verse that the primary service is to seek Hashem, to desire to serve Him. Because it isn’t necessarily the success stories that Hashem wants from us, but that we should yearn and do whatever we can in His service. The Chofetz Chaim explains it with a parable: There was a very simple person who had an irrational wish that his daughter should marry the rabbi's son. He admired that bachur and also considered it a great honor to become the rabbi's mechutan, so he sent several shadchanim to speak with the rabbi, to convince him about this wonderful shidduch. This simple person was poor and unlearned, and therefore it didn’t surprise the shadchanim that the rabbi turned down the offer. Nevertheless, the simple person kept hoping and trying, until matters were finally settled when the bachur became engaged to someone else. The simple person came to the rabbi's chasunah and sat at the head table together with the mechutanim, and accepted mazal tov wishes from all the guests. His friends asked him why he was sitting at the head table. "I was almost a mechutan at this wedding," he explained. His friends laughed. The Chofetz Chaim explained that in this world, "almost" doesn’t count. One can be almost a mechutan, almost wealthy, almost a doctor, and so on, but that is all meaningless, because we value the end results. But with regards to spirituality, "almost" definitely counts. If you strive for Torah, to do mitzvos, to pray with kavanah, etc., even if you don’t actually get there, you are awarded for your attempts. You become a “mechutan” with those mitzvos for doing the best you can, and for your good desires.

As we discuss the virtue of good desires, it’s important to add that good desires without a sincere attempt indicates that one doesn’t really want. If he really wanted to, he would have done something about it. One who is hungry and wants to eat will do something about it. Likewise, if you desire to know Torah, do mitzvos, daven properly, etc., do something about it. Try. If you fail, be heartened with the knowledge that trying is also an accomplishment. But if you don’t try at all, then your claim that you desire is bogus.

A soldier wounded in battle will be compensated by the country he defended. They will pay his hospital bills, plus a monthly stipend to help him survive. But that is only if he was a loyal soldier, a soldier who put his life on the line to protect his country. If he didn’t even try to fight off the enemy, his country won't compensate him. He doesn't deserve it. The same is with the Service of Hashem. If you desire and you try, you deserve reward for your attempts. But if you don’t do anything other than saying that you want to serve Hashem, you don’t deserve any reward for that.

To describe one of the benefits of desiring, we share a story from the Ben Ish Chai (Niflaim Maaseicha 124): Tuvyah the Judge was revered and honored by the vast majority of the populace; all judicial matters were settled according to his judgment. He also had his share of enemies, due to jealousy. They incessantly tried to bring about his downfall. Eventually they succeeded. The king believed their slander — though all accusations against Tuvyah were false — and gave an order to fire Tuvyah and punish him for his alleged crimes. Tuvyah was clever, and he caught on to what was about to happen. So he put on civilian clothing and escaped. Those who saw him passing through the dark streets that night, didn’t realize that he was the celebrated Tuvyah, who, just a few hours ago, was the most powerful person in the government, next to the king. Tuvyah left the city, traversed the desert, and reached the river. If he could cross the river he will be a free man. But how can he cross it without a boat or raft? Soon the king will discover Tuvyah's escape and pursue him. Tuvyah stood by the river, perplexed and worried. Hashem had compassion on him. A peasant from the nearby village recognized Tuvyah the Judge. Tuvyah told him that he needs to cross the river. The villager was short and scrawny, and under normal circumstances wouldn’t consider swimming across the river carrying a tall, heavy man like Tuvyah. But since this was Tuvyah the Judge, he thought, "This is a golden opportunity for me to make connections …. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll stand in court and Tuvyah will be beholden to me, because I did him this favor?" He said, "Honored judge, hang on to my back. I will swim us across the river." Thinking about the reward and wealth he might get for doing this, he almost didn’t feel Tuvyah's weight. When they were three quarters across the river, Tuvyah said, "If Hashem will be kind to me, and I become a judge again, I will reward you immensely…" "You mean you're not the grand judge anymore?" "That's right. Corrupt people slandered me to the king. I'm escaping…" The peasant dropped Tuvyah in the water and said, "When you return to your position and become the judge again, I will take you out of the water," and he swam back to shore alone. People rebuked the peasant. "If you were able to bring Tuvyah the Judge three quarters across the river, you should have brought him all the way." "You all know I'm feeble,” he said. “I can't carry a heavy person like Tuvyah. I was imagining the honor I would get for helping Tuvyah's, plus all the wealth it might bring, and that gave me strength. I almost didn’t feel his weight, because the joy I foresaw. But then, Tuvyah told me that he was escaping. I immediately understood that I wouldn’t get any favors from Tuvyah. Suddenly, I felt his full weight and didn’t have strength to bring him to shore…" The Ben Ish Chai told this story to express how cautious we must be with our speech. If only Tuvyah had remained silent, he would have been brought to the shore of the neighboring country and his life saved. His problems came from speaking. Similarly, all forbidden speech, and even unnecessary idle talk, can result in harming oneself, not to mention others. Another thing we see from this story is how when one desires something immensely, he doesn’t feel the hardships involved in getting it. One can be carrying great weights on his shoulders, and not feel it. One can learn Torah for hours, one can expend all his energies into prayer, one can do mitzvos with mesirus nefesh, and he won't feel that he worked hard.

The Torah (Bamidbar 9:18-23) elaborates on how Bnei Yisrael traveled in the desert: "As long as the cloud remained over the Mishkan, the nation remained stationary. If the cloud hovered for many days, Bnei Yisrael complied by Hashem's decree, and they didn’t travel. Sometimes, the cloud was over the Mishkan for just a few days… And at times, the cloud was [over the Mishkan] from nighttime until the morning… Or the cloud was there for two days, or a month, or a year. If the cloud was over the Mishkan for a long time, Bnei Yisrael remained encamped there, and they didn’t travel, and when the cloud left, they traveled. They encamped and they traveled by Hashem's decree. They obeyed Hashem's decree…" It seems that these verses could have been written in far fewer words. Reb Yitzchak zt'l, the son of Reb Chaim of Volozhin zt'l, sought the meaning of these pesukim's elaboration. He explains that each location of the desert represented another yetzer hara. For example, one locale represented the yetzer hara of temptation; another locale represented the yetzer hara for anger; from a third site emanated the yetzer hara for heresy, and so on. As the nation came to these places, they were tormented by these yetzer haras. When they overcame the yetzer hara of each place, the locale was purified. The Leshem zt'l, quoting Reb Yitzchok of Volozhin, writes, "It was extremely hard for the Jewish nation when they came to these locations in the desert, because they immediately felt the yetzer hara's cloak of darkness, and they immediately fell from their levels, drastically. They wanted to flee, like from fire [but they obeyed Hashem's will, and they remained there and overcame the yetzer hara of that place]. After they were at a place for some time, and they had already purified the area, they wanted to remain there [because now the place wasn't influenced by the yetzer hara, but they didn’t remain there because Hashem wanted them to go on to the next place]. Therefore the Torah writes, they encamped by Hashem's decree and they traveled by Hashem's word. They didn’t do what they wanted; they did Hashem's will… The Torah says 'when the cloud was in one location for a long time,' and the reason for the prolonged stay was because of the great impurity over there [which required more time to rectify]. They were very challenged then; it was very hard for them to overcome the yetzer hara. They wanted to run away. Nevertheless, 'Bnei Yisrael kept Hashem's decree, and they didn’t travel.' There were places when the cloud only stayed 'from nighttime until morning' because that place wasn't very contaminated. They wanted to stay there longer, nevertheless, in the morning, when the cloud left they moved on too. Thus, the verse is praising the Jewish nation that they took on the task of overcoming the yetzer hara. Although it was very hard, 'they kept to Hashem's decree'" (Leshem Shvo Va'achlamah vol.2, drush 4:20:4). Something similar occurs in each generation, because

It says in Koheles, "Futility of futilities, says Koheles. Futilities, everything is foolishness" (Koheles 1:2). The Midrash states, "The seven futilities that Koheles mentions correspond to the seven worlds that a person sees [in his lifetime]. When a child is one year old, he is like a king sitting on a throne. Everyone hugs him and kisses him. When he's two or three he's like a pig, which sticks out its feet in the dirt. When he's ten, he jumps like a goat [because of his impish behavior]. When he's twenty, he neighs like a horse [running for a purpose]…as he seeks to get married. After he's married, he's like a donkey [he must work hard like a donkey, to bring home parnassah]. When he has children, he becomes brazen like a dog [and even more aggressive] to bring food home for the family. When he's old, he is like a monkey [who has the appearance of a human being, but doesn’t have intelligence]. But that is only for the ignorant of Torah, those who don’t study Torah. But about Torah scholars it states, even when David was old he was a king" (Koheles 1:3). The Rebbe of Kotzk zt'l asks, why does the Midrash disgrace the old so much by calling them monkeys? He answers that monkeys imitate what others do. When serving Hashem, one must be true to his personality, talents and style. If he just copies what others do, he’s like a monkey. This is the reason people who are old in spirit and pray and learn Torah in a mode of copying what they saw others do, are compared to monkeys. Hashem created each person different and He wants a different service from each one. The mitzvos are the same for everyone, but there should be an element of truth, of realism, of being yourself, in the way one goes about Torah and mitzvos.

Contemplate on, "before Whom am I serving?" That will help you serve Hashem in your unique way, and not merely copy what you saw by others.

"The nation was complaining in Hashem's ears. Hashem heard, He became angry, and Hashem's fire burnt them…" (11:1). The Chasam Sofer zt'l taught that although the Jewish nation believed that Hashem sees everyone and everything, and leads the world with divine providence, they didn’t believe that Hashem listens to their prayers. This is hinted at in the words, 'they were saying that the concept of 'Hashem's ears, Hashem's listening, doesn’t apply. Hashem showed them that He does hear, as it states, "Hashem heard" and He punished them for their words. Hashem was showing them that as He hears them when they sin, He also listens to them when they pray to Him The Chasam Sofer teaches as follows: "There is the attribute of 'Ears of Hashem,' which is Hashem's surveillance on all His creations… However, the concept of 'Ears of Hashem,' that Hashem listens to our prayers, and [that with our prayers, we can] change Hashem's decrees…at that time, they were dubious. They said, ‘Although Hashem’s eyes is upon us to bestow goodness on us, nevertheless, He doesn’t hear prayers, to change Hashem's decree and to grant us our desires.' Hashem showed them that He listens to their complaints, thus, He will certainly hear our shouts, listen to our prayer, and fill all our desires." From this Chasam Sofer, we learn that all Jews — even those on a lowly level — are able to pray, and their prayers will be answered. If Hashem listens to their complaints, He certainly listens to their prayers, too.

"Moshe shouted to Hashem saying, 'Please G-d, heal her now." The Chida writes that when Moshe was in heaven, he was told that when one says נא, twice in his prayers, his prayer will be answered. This is the reason Moshe said twice נא when he prayed for Miriam's recovery from tzaraas. נא means please, and is an expression of pleading. Saying it twice indicates that one should plead, again and again, and then his prayers will be answered.

Also, in this week's parashah, Hashem tells Moshe to make two silver trumpets. When they were both blown in the tone of tekiyah it was a signal that Klal Yisrael should gather around Moshe at Ohel Moed. If only one trumpet sounded a tekiyah that meant the princes should gather before Moshe. As it states, "If you will blow a tekiyah with one of them, the princes, the heads of thousands of Yisrael shall gather before you" (10:4). There were only twelve princes. The Ralba'g asks, couldn’t a courier have been sent to gather these twelve people? Why was it necessary to use the trumpet which was heard by all to call a meeting just of the princes? The Ralba'g answers that this was to prevent disputes. If a messenger would go summon the twelve princes, one of the princes may feel slighted, "Why did you call that prince before me? Why wasn't I called first? Do you think he’s more important than me?" To avoid this type of pettiness the system of blowing the trumpet calling all the princes at the same time was instituted, by Hashem's decree. And don’t say, "Why should I care if some prince has a crooked, irrational thought, and thinks that he was summoned intentionally after someone else, and he doesn’t realize that it was simply impossible to summon everyone at once?" Don't say that because a person must strive to prevent even these irrational people from initiating disputes.

The Torah tells us 'And the man, Moses, was very humble, more than anyone else' (12:3). Rashi explains, that Moshe was humble and he tolerated [others]. The Chidushei HaRim said that being able to tolerate the lowliness of others is an even greater level than humility. In particular, one must be cautious not to harm anyone with his speech.

Let us read the words of the Magen Avraham (from the Trisker Magid zt'l) at the beginning of Lech Lecha, "The origin of diseases that come to the world is [because of] improper speech, for they pollute the air, and destroy [the world's] nature. Therefore, be cautious not to speak forbidden words. Sanctify your mouth through Torah and prayer from the depths of your heart before Hashem."

The Kitzur Shlah writes, "If you want your prayers to be answered and accepted by Hakadosh Baruch Hu, be cautious with your utensil for prayer, which is the mouth. Be cautious that you shouldn't speak profane language, curse, swear, lashon hara, and the like, because prayer is a gift to Hakadosh Baruch Hu, and the mouth is the vessel that holds the gift, and it shouldn’t be dirty… Otherwise, it is a disgrace for the King, and a disgrace for the gift. If a person wasn't careful with his mouth, he should correct that, and stop speaking in such a manner. He should speak Torah and prayer and permitted speech, and nothing else."

The people of Alexandria asked Reb Yehoshua ben Chininah (Nidah 70:): If a person desires to be wise in Torah, what should he do? Reb Yehoshua ben Chininah replied: He should spend a lot of time learning Torah in yeshiva and he should be less engaged in business. The people of Alexandria said: Many did that, and they didn’t succeed. Apparently, something else is needed to become a talmid chacham. Reb Yehoshua ben Chininah replied: He should pray to Hashem, the One that wisdom is His, that He grant him success in Torah. The Gemara asks: If the counsel is to pray, why did Reb Yehoshua initially tell them that success in Torah comes from studying a lot? It's because one needs both. One must immerse himself in Torah and one must pray for siyata dishmaya. By doing both, he will succeed. Even if he has a weak mind, he will succeed if he follows this tip of serious study with prayer.

The Steipler Gaon zt'l (Chayei Olam vol.2, 12) brings down this story, and writes, "The truth is, even if one has a weak mind, if he will place all his strength in studying Torah, he will get siyata dishmaya and become a gadol in Torah, even if that is far beyond his natural abilities." The Steipler explains that people think people they stop learning because they have a weak mind. Actually, it’s the opposite: They have a weak mind because they stopped learning. Had they persevered they would have succeeded in Torah.

A seventeen year old bachur, who almost never learned Torah before, came to the Chasam Sofer's yeshiva in Dreznitz, and told the Chasam Sofer that he wants to join the yeshiva and begin learning Torah. The bachurim who heard that, laughed. They couldn’t imagine that a seventeen year old bachur, without any background in Gemara, could possibly succeed in Torah. The Chasam Sofer saw matters differently. He said, "Why do you laugh? Whoever wants to learn can join the yeshiva." The Chasam Sofer asked several bachurim to contribute one hour of their day to learn with the new bachur, which they did. In addition to having no background in Torah, the bachur had a terrible memory. Even if he reviewed something a hundred times, by the next day he forgot it. But he didn’t give up; he kept learning with hasmadah. Chazal say, "When one wants to be pure, Heaven helps him" and eventually this bachur became a great talmid chacham, renowned for his Fear of Heaven. He held rabbinic positions, first as one of the rabbanim in Mattersdorf (under the auspices of the Chasam Sofer) later rav of Shleining, and then the head of the beis din of Neizetz. It was as the Chasam Sofer predicted: If one exerts himself in Torah he will have siyata dishmaya and succeed.

The Maharam Shi'k is an example of someone who had limited intelligence in his younger years, but strived with all his strength to grow in Torah, until he became one of the gedolim. The Maharam Shi'k told the following to his students at the beginning of the zman (learning semester of his yeshiva): The Gemara says, "Reb Elazar ben Charsom obligates the wealthy, Hillel obligates the poor" (Yoma 35:). The Gemara explains, if someone says that he was wealthy, and he didn’t have time to learn Torah, the court of Heaven will tell him, "Were you wealthier than Reb Elazar ben Charsom? He found time for Torah, so why didn’t you?" If one will say that he couldn’t learn Torah because he was very poor, and was always occupied earning money, Heaven will reply, "Where you poorer than Hillel? He was able to learn Torah, why couldn't you?" The Maharam Shi'k added, "And I obligate all people who say that they have a weak mind and can't learn Torah" because the Maharam Shik also had a weak mind, but he prayed and he studied, until he became one of the gedolim. In this drashah, the Maharam Shi'k told his students that there were times when he had to learn a Gemara forty times until he understood it. Before each time, he would pray with tears and beg Hashem: “I‘m also obligated to learn Torah, despite my weak mind. Therefore, compassionate Father, give me intelligence so I can understand Torah…" Each time he said this prayer, he saw improvement, and was able to understand better. This happened every day, for a long time. "And now people say that I know how to learn Torah. I know that that isn't true. I haven't reached the ankles of our holy teachers. Nevertheless, this I can tell you: When one tries, he receives siyata dishmaya. Therefore, I obligate all those who claim that they can’t learn Torah because they had a weak mind. Please, don’t say that. Instead, pray to Hashem every day that you should understand the shiur of that day, and review the shiur until you know it by heart. If you will do so, Hashem will help you..."

Chazal say, "All people who toil in Torah are exalted" (Avos 6:2). Reb Shaul Brach, the Kashau Rav zt'l, said that "all people who toil in Torah" implies that even if a person was born with low mental capacities, if he will toil in Torah, he will become wise, because Torah makes wise the fools. Reb Shaul Brach writes, "I saw this many times: For example, I knew a family of many boys, most of them had minimum intelligence. But the brothers who studied Torah became sharp and wise. I also heard that the Mahara'm Shi'k zt'l had a weak mind in his younger years, but it became sharpened through studying Torah. The Maharam Shi'k's wisdom and teachings are now studied throughout the world."

And until one succeeds in Torah, one should encourage himself with the following lesson from the Chayei Adam: "Chazal (Avodah Zara 3.) say Hakadosh Baruch Hu doesn’t request from a person more than he can do. Therefore, a student who has a poor mind, and he studies Torah and understands to the extent that he can, he has fulfilled his obligation. This person is precious to Hashem like the greatest gaon… As Chazal say, 'It is the same [to Hashem] the one who does a lot and the one who does little, as long as the heart is for Heaven' (Menachos 110.). The Torah of those who have weaker minds might be more significant than the Torah of the wise Torah scholars, because when one has a clear, open mind, he enjoys studying Torah, and finds pleasure from its vast wisdom. While those who have weak minds find learning Torah a burden. Chazal say, 'the reward is granted according to the difficulty' (Avos, 5:2). Therefore those who study with a weak mind will earn an even greater reward..." The most important thing is to use your time wisely and to have set times for learning Torah each day.

In this week's parashah, Rashi writes, "Age makes a Levi not valid but a blemish, doesn’t disqualify them." (8:24). The Beis Yisrael zt'l said that there are people who sin, and there are people who waste their time. Rashi is suggesting that wasting time is worse. The main disqualification is the years spent idle, without spiritual growth. This devalues a person even more than actual sins. The problem isn’t so much the sins, the blemishes, as much as the time that went to waste. Therefore, setting aside time for Torah is so essential.

Chazal say, 'Moshe had a hard time understanding how the menorah should appear…" (Bamidbar Rabba 15:10). The Chidushei HaRim zt'l explains that the effort Moshe expended to understand what the menorah should look like, became the origin for the menorah's light, because the light of the menorah comes from the challenges and struggles people go through.

It states, "Bnei Yisrael encamped opposite the mountain [Har Sinai]…" (Shmos 19:2). Rashi writes, "Wherever it states, opposite, it means facing east." The Rebbe of Kotzk zt'l read this Rashi as follows, "Wherever there is opposition, hardships, it’s an indication that you’re going on the right path." There was a lively child who didn’t have patience to learn Torah. The melamed brought the child to the rav of the city, so the rav could convince the boy to study Torah. The rav said, "I had an interesting din Torah, and I want to hear your opinion. The litigants were a pair of shoes, and they called to court a holy sefer Torah. The shoes said, ‘Both of us were once cows living in the same barn, eating the same fodder, drinking water from the same trough. Why did it happen that a sofer bought you, turned your skins into parchment, and made you a sefer Torah, while a shoemaker bought me, and turned me into a pair of shoes? Why do we have such contrasting fates? When the sofer finished writing you, they placed a silver crown on your head and carried you to the beis medresh dancing with joy. When you are taken out of the aron kodesh people stand up for you and they hug and kiss you. When you will be worn out, you will have a levayah and be buried in honor. But I’m just a pair of shoes. People trample on me, and stick me into dirt and mud. When I’ll be worn out, I will be unceremoniously tossed into the trash. Is it fair that we should share such opposing fates?'" The rav asked the boy for his opinion. The boy sided with the shoes. It didn’t seem fair. "But one minute," the rav added, "it requires much more effort to turn leather into parchment, than it does to turn leather into shoes. For months a sofer was writing holy letters on the sefer Torah. Shoes don’t require nearly that amount of time or focus. Now, doesn’t it make sense that the sefer Torah should be honored more?" The boy agreed that the sefer Torah deserves more respect. The rav said, "Son, the crown of Torah is acquired with toil. If you desire that one day, people should honor you and admire you because of your Torah knowledge, you must toil diligently; you must invest a lot of effort. If you don’t want to work hard, you will be like the shoes that have minimum worth." One of the gedolei hador shlita told this story at a family simchah, and said that it occurred to him. He was the child who didn’t want to learn Torah. The rav told him about the "din Torah" of the shoes, to teach him that the crown of Torah is acquired with effort. The gadol said that was his turning point, when he began to put his efforts into Torah study.

Some add that קבעת can mean steal (see Mishlei 22). Thus, קבעת עתים לתורה means that one should "steal" some time away from his work and from his other obligations, to devote himself to study Torah every day.

Early one morning, the Rebbe of Radishitz said, "A special guest came to me today. It's his first visit, and he won't be here again, therefore I want to honor him properly. The guest is 'today.' It will never come back…"

There are some people with time on their hands, and don’t know what to do with it, so they 'kill time' and use it for foolishness. But for the wise, time is the most precious commodity. With time one can earn eternity.

The amazing thing about time is that it can lengthen. The twenty-four hours per day remains the same for everyone, but somehow, for the righteous, those twenty-four hours stretch, and they can accomplish so much with them. In parashas Bechokosai it states "If you will keep the mitzvos…. (Vayikra 26:9). The Chidushei HaRim zt'l would often say that the blessing Hashem is giving is extra time, so the righteous can accomplish everything they need to do.

Pirkei Avos lists the forty-eight means by which the Torah is acquired. The last one is "To say Torah in the name of the one who said it" (6:6). The Mishnah adds, "Whoever says Torah in the name of who said it brings redemption to the world." The Gemara is careful to cite the source and origin of each lesson, because of the importance of repeating Torah lessons in the name of who said it. This is important for halachic purposes, because halachah is determined, partially, by who said it. It’s also helpful for comprehension, because by knowing who said what, we can compare statements to other things they said. A third benefit is because it gives the tzaddik eternal existence. When we repeat the scholar’s lessons, in his name, it is as though this scholar is still speaking today. As the Gemara says, “His lips move in the grave.”

The Yaaras Dvash writes, "When one quotes a Torah scholar, the soul of that deceased will come to those who are studying his lessons. He becomes attached to the people who are learning [his lessons]. He stands there… Therefore, Dovid HaMelech was correct when he requested to live in both worlds: in the eternal world and in this world, because this is what happens to scholars when their words of Torah are repeated."

The Sefer Chassidim (224) writes, "Whoever repeats Torah concepts that tzaddikim taught, the tzaddikim will pray for him in heaven, and they will be melitz tov for him, (speak for his benefit in heaven)."

Rebbe Yosef Yitzchak of Lubavitch zt'l said in the name of his father, Rebbe Shalom Ber zt'l, "When a Jew learns the Torah of a tzaddik, an angel from the angel Michael’s division will go to the hall of that tzaddik to tell him that so and so is learning his book. The tzaddik will then pray for the person that’s learning his Torah and arouse Hashem’s compassion on him and on his family. Because the angels know just how good this is for the tzaddik in heaven [when someone learns their book]…"

The son of the Sfas Emes (Berzhan) writes in the introduction, "I heard from my father zt'l that it is better to study the book of a tzaddik than to go to his grave. By studying his book in depth… holiness from his soul above will be bestowed on him… He is also influencing, bestowing goodness to the tzaddik because he is causing the tzaddik to speak words of Torah from the grave. They are influencing one another.”

The 17th of Sivan is the yahrtzeit of the Beis Aharon. The Rebbe of Kuzhmir (and other tzaddikim) would call him the freilechen tzaddik because he always exuded joy. People thought he was a happy person by nature, but the Yesod HaAvodah (of Slonim) zy’a testified that the Beis Aharon's happiness was the result of his hischazkus. He battled with his yetzer hara to be happy, it wasn't natural for him. He also taught his chassidim to be happy, and his beis medresh was always filled with joy. There was one person, though, who was always depressed, as he was always thinking about his sins. The Beis Aharon told him the following parable: A family climbed into a wagon, and began their trip to a different city. They were all happy, because they were traveling to the wedding of one of their children. As they were leaving the city, they saw a pauper on the roadside who asked if he could join them for the ride. They answered, “You can come, but on one condition: We are very happy, because we’re traveling to a wedding. If you can be happy with us, you can join us. But if you are going to be sad, you will ruin the atmosphere and you can’t join us.” The melancholy man understood the message. His disposition shouldn’t ruin the happy atmosphere of the tzibur. He must make himself happy to be part of the tzibur. The Beis Aharon also taught his chassidim to pray loud and slowly. One Shabbos, a visiting rav heard the Beis Aharon begin Baruch She'amar but he didn’t hear him finish it. After a few moments, the rav assumed that the custom in this beis medresh was that the chazzan didn’t end each piece. So the rav continued to pray on his own. When he reached Yishtabach, he heard the Rebbe shout, in the famous tune of the Stoliner Chasidim, "Yachid chai haolamim..." the conclusion of Baruch She'amer. So slow and passionate were his prayers. When the Beis Aharon passed away, his son-in-law, the Sadegura Rebbe said, "The Yachid chai haolamim... ," [which is Hashem], has remained the same, but the way my father-in-law would say those words, won't be heard again until Moshiach comes."


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