Shovavim <- click here and through the snow here <- to listen to a brand new class on this time of year from midnightrabbi inspired! Shovavim is a season in the Jewish calendar, the weeks when the parshioth of Shmos until Mishpatim, the first six parshioth of the Book of Exodus, are read in the synagogue, when the Kabbalists teach that it is auspicious to repent of sins. Some have the customs of fasting and giving extra tzedakah during this time, and of reciting Selichos and other Kabbalistic prayers and tikkunim.
- Shin – Shemot
- Vav – Va’eira
- Bet – Bo
- Bet – Beshalach
- Yud – Yitro
- Mem – Mishpatim
When it is a Jewish leap-year, two more weeks are added, the readings of:
With tearful eyes and a broken heart, we’re sorry to inform you of the passing of the Sadigora Rebbe, Grand Rabbi Avrohom Yaakov Friedman of saintly and blessed memory, this morning at the age of 84 in Bnai Brak.
No other great Chassidic leader in this generation so represented and fought for everything we here at Midnightrabbi inspires and Beams! hold dear. The Sadigora Rebbe was not only a monumental scholar of Torah and a man of utmost holiness and impeccable character; he was a lover of the Land of Israel and a fierce fighter against relinquishing territories to those who repeatedly vow to destroy us. The Sadigora Rebbe was a true spiritual leader and a rare gem of an individual. We mourn his passing and pray that he will intervene for us by the Heavenly Throne.
Shovevim, Purity and Abundance
This week begins the period of “Shovevim”, the 6-week period from the week of Shmot to and including the week of Mishpatim, where we place an emphasis on enhancing personal holiness.
Did you know that personal holiness greatly affects income?
Making an adequate living is something everyone wants to succeed at. Our sages teach that a man’s livelihood comes by virtue of his wife, rather than by talent or hard work. The more spiritually pure the couple is, the more the woman invokes Divine blessing, and subsequently enhances the family’s income. Therefore, for a couple to reach their optimal income potential, it is advisable that they take advantage of the wealth of family purity, which includes the magical Jewish soul-purification tool – the mikva (ritual bath).
The union between husband and wife is far beyond the physical realm, as it contains the Divine attribute of a life-creating power. The husband and wife literally become partners with Hashem in creating life, and as such they must strive for unity and purity.
In the course of his imp. work in Jewish outreach, Rabbi Lazer Brody speaks with people that suffer from various types of tribulations in life. Today the most common issue that people complain about – and enemy number one to peace in the home – is financial problems. The first thing he tell couples is that the key lays in observing the laws of family purity. This includes the wife’s periodic immersion in a mikva, among other mitzvot (laws). Some people balk at this suggestion, mostly out of ignorance and distorted preconceptions. However if a couple has financial problems and they are not yet observing family purity, even winning the Irish Lottery will not solve their problems.
The more we purify ourselves, the more we become worthy vessels for Divine abundance.
Some protest and say, “I know many wealthy people who are the furthest thing away from holy!”
True, but that’s dark-side wealth. Unworthy people are rewarded with a bit of money in this world, but lose everything in the next world. Also, money that stems from other than a holiness/wholesome source won’t be money with a blessing. Those same rich people are not happy.
Personal holiness will make all of us happy and healthy, and wealthy too! You’re no exception.
|Guarding Our Holiness By Increasing Our Ahavas Hashem (1)|
|1st of 3 in a series devoted to learning an essay from Rav Tzvi Meir Zilberberg. Special power of Shovevim (an acronym representing the names of the first six Parashios of the Book of Shemos) especially in Tikkun Habris (Guarding the Holy Covenant). Why Shovevim is not mentioned in the Gemorah and only reserved for the later generations. Importance of feeling G-d’s love. Difference between the Chassidic and Mussar movements. Connection between Chanukah and Shovevim and the importance of the mem-beis (number 42). big news for Midnightrabbi inspires is ” The other reason that I decided to dedicate a post this week to Rabbi Morgenstern was because rumor has it that Rabbi Moshe Weinberger of Aish Kodesh in Woodmere is in negotiation to be the new mashgiah ruhani of YU. It may or may not come to fruition, but if it does it will give the guys the Neo-Hasidic emotionalism of their gap year programs. YU will then embody as its haskafa Rav Itamar Schwartz’ Belvavi Mishkan Evneh, kiruv Torah, Rav Moshe Wolfson, and Rabbi Morgenstern’s approach. Gone will be the intellectualism of Rav Soloveitchik and Rav Aharon Lichtenstein.”http://kavvanah.wordpress.com/2012/12/02/rabbi-yitzchak-meir-morgenstern-on-vayishlach-meditation-fiery-prayer-divine-in-the-material-world-also-some-possible-riets-news|
The shiur takes place each Tuesday night at 9:00PM at Kehillas Bais Yehudah Tzvi,
395 Oakland Ave. Cedarhurst
The learning for this week’s shiur, Bo, tonight’s learning should be a zechus for the speedy redemption of:
Sholom Mordechai ben Rivka (Rubashkin).
Please remember him in your tefillos.
As requested by several visitors, here is a prominent link back to the message boards. Don’t be shy, register and post. There are great discussions waiting to happen! Here is also a link to the MP3 troubleshooting page list of parsha shiurim.
Why We Rejoice on the Anniversary
of a Tzaddik’sPassing
One of the reasons that the anniversary of a tzaddik’ s death is considered a day of rejoicing1 is that when a tzaddik dies, the purpose of his soul’s descent into a physical body has been accomplished.
To explain: The intent of the descent of the soul to this earthly plane reflects the paradigm of “descent for the sake of ascent.”2 Through the Divine service it accomplishes while in a body the study of Torah and the observance of mitzvosa soul can ascend to a higher level than that on which it existed before its descent. Although in its non-corporeal state, the soul is “hewed out from below the throne of glory,”3 and is “pure,”4 these spiritual heights cannot be compared to the peaks it reaches through its Divine service on the material plane.
When are these peaks reached? At the time the soul completes the mission for which it was sent to the material plane. This is the reason the passing oftzaddikim is considered an occasion for joy. For a tzaddik surely completed the mission with which he was charged in its entirety.
The same spiritual influences expressed on the first occasion an event took place are repeated every year.5 Therefore a tzaddik ’s yahrzeit is a day of rejoicing.
The Uniqueness of the Alter Rebbe’s Passing
Although the reoccurrence of a positive event brings happiness, the happiness produced by a new event is much greater.
With regard to the souls of most tzaddikim, the happiness accompanying their passing is not that which attends a new event, even at the time of their passing. For most souls of the present generation are not “new souls.” They are reincarnated souls, which have lived previously on this earthly plane. Therefore the ascent these tzaddikim achieve at the time of their passing is not a cause for tremendous rejoicing, for it is an event which occurred previously. In their previous lifetimes, they also achieved an ascent at the time of their passing. It is true that after every incarnation, the soul reaches even greater peaks, but since the soul has already experienced an ascent of this nature, the repeated achievement is not a reason for great celebration.
The Alter Rebbe’s soul, by contrast, was “a new soul,”6 a soul which had never descended to the world before. Therefore his passing was an occasion for joy unparalleled by the passing of other tzaddikim.
As mentioned previously, every year the spiritual influences associated with past events are expressed in the same manner as they were originally. Every year7on 24 Teves, the same abundant joy which was expressed at the Alter Rebbe’s passing in 5573 is felt again, and indeed, in a more elevated manner.8
With regard to happiness, it is said:9 “Happiness breaks through barriers.” For happiness enables a person to overcome his limits. May G-d grant all those who share a connection with the Alter Rebbe the potential to break through the barriers which hamper them, both in material and spiritual matters. May the blessings they receive be expressed without impediment, following the pattern: “His word runs most swiftly.”10 This includes those who share a spiritual connection to the Alter Rebbe because they follow his paths in deed, speech, and thought, and those who share a genealogical connection, for “a father endows his son…”11 regardless of the son’s level, simply because he is his son.
May G-d grant that all of these continue to follow the Alter Rebbe’s paths in thought, speech, and deed in their day-to-day life. In particular, may they learnChassidus for this is what the Alter Rebbe sacrificed himself for and follow Chassidic customs and paths.
(Adapted from Sichos Shabbos Parshas Va’eira, 5717)
Without Breaking Anything
The Alter Rebbe owned a silver snuff box which lacked a lid. The reason is that the lid was shining silver, and so the Alter Rebbe would use it as a mirror to see that his head tefillin were properly positioned.
This matter was once discussed in the presence of the Tzemach Tzedek. When it was said that the Alter Rebbe broke the lid off his snuff box, the Tzemach Tzedek objected, saying “My grandfather did not break things. He did not break himself, nor did he break other things.” Rather, the Tzemach Tzedek explained, there was probably a thin shaft connecting the lid to the snuff box, and his grandfather simply removed the shaft.12
The Tzemach Tzedek was absolutely positive that the Alter Rebbe had not broken the lid. As he stated, he knew his grandfather would not break even an inanimate object.
All the stories about tzaddikim serve as directives for us in our Divine service. The above story teaches that without breaking anything not oneself, not others, not even an inanimate object it is possible to obtain an article that enables one to adjust one’s tefillin, the intent of tefillin being to subjugate one’s heart and mind to G-d.13
What is the symbolic meaning? That we do not have to break ourselves in order to subjugate our minds and hearts to G-dliness. All that is necessary is to remove the shaft which ties the G-dly soul to the animal soul.
For there are times when the animal soul approaches the G-dly soul and tries to convince it to do something other than what is mandated by the subjugation of heart and mind. The animal soul will say: “Don’t worry, what I’m offering you is within the realm of holiness.”14 At that time, the connection between the two must cease.
A person must know clearly which advice comes from the G-dly soul, and which advice comes from the animal soul. Only when one has the proper understanding “the freedom from foolishness”15 is it possible to adjust one’stefillin, subjugating one’s heart and mind to G-d. And this will cause “all the nations of the earth (including the gentile within each person, and the gentile nations at large) to see and fear you.”16(Adapted from Sichos of the 2nd Night of Pesach, 5720)
|1.||There are other texts which explain why this concept does not apply to all tzaddikim.|
|2.||Cf. Makkos 8a. See the sources given in the index to Likkutei Torah, entry neshamos, sub-entry, yeridah tzorech aliyah.|
|3.||See Zohar, Vol. I, p. 113a.|
|4.||Morning blessings, Siddur Tehillat HaShem, p. 6; see Likkutei Torah, the beginning ofParshas Haazinu.|
|5.||See Lev David (from the Chida), ch. 29, based on the Ramaz, Tikkun Shovavim; see also the commentaries to the Mishnah, Gittin, the conclusion of ch. 3, and the responsa of R. Y. Irgis (printed at the conclusion of Mavo Pesachim), ch. 5.|
|6.||Sichas Chai Elul, 5705 (Likkutei Dibburim, p. 473).|
|7.||This receives greater influence in the year in which this sicha was printed, 5723, for this year marks a milestone, the 150th anniversary of the Alter Rebbe’s passing. Also, this year 24 Teves occurs on the same day of the week and is associated with the same Torah reading as it was in 5573. See the sichah for Yud-Tes Kislev in this series.|
|8.||See Iggeres HaKodesh, Epistle 14, which explains that every year, a new light which has never been revealed previously shines forth.|
|9.||Sefer HaMaamarim 5657, p. 223ff.|
|10.||Tehillim 147:15, explained in Likkutei Torah, Parshas Korach.|
|12.||Sefer HaSichos 5696, p. 130.|
|13.||Shulchan Aruch and Shulchan Aruch HaRav, ch. 25; Tanya, the beginning of ch. 41.|
|14.||See the latter portion of the Sichah of Parshas Shmos in this series.|
|15.||Tikkunei Zohar, Tikkun 56.|
|16.||Devarim 28:10; see Berachos 6a.|
Fasting on Friday?
For the week ending 14 December 2013 / 11 Tevet 5774
An interesting calendarical anomaly is set to happen this week. The appearance of which is quite sporadic and actually quite unique on the Jewish Calendar. I am referring to the upcoming Fast of Asarah B’Teves, which this year falls out on a Friday. Unique to this fast is that it is the only one that we do actually observe as a fast on a Friday. Even Tisha B’Av, which commemorates the actual destructions of our Batei HaMikdash, gets pushed off. Yet, this Friday, for a fast best known for being the year’s shortest (for everyone in the Northern Hemisphere), all of Klal Yisrael will fast.
Why This Fast?
The reason given for fasting on Asarah B’Teves is that it is the day that the wicked Babylonian king, Nevuchadnetzar, commenced his siege of Yerushalayim, foreshadowing the beginning of the end of the first Beis Hamikdash, which culminated with its destruction on Tisha B’Av several years later. Therefore, Chazal declared it a public fast, one of four public fast days that memorialize different aspects of the catastrophes and national tragedies associated with the destruction of both Batei HaMikdash.
What makes Asarah B’Teves’s Friday observance even more interesting is that there is a whole debate in the Gemara about how to conduct fasts on a Friday, when we also must take kavod Shabbos into account, implying that it is a common occurrence. However, according to our calendar, a Friday Fast is only applicable with Asarah B’Teves, and it happens quite infrequently. The last few times Asarah B’Teves fell out on a Friday were in 1996, 2001, and 2010. The next expected occurrence is in 2020.
Yet, obviously, to maintain this distinction of being the only Fast Day that we actually do observe on a Friday, there must be much more to the Fast of Asarah B’Teves than meets the eye. In turns out that Asarah B’Teves has several exceptional characteristics that are not found in any other fast day.
A Shabbos Fast?!
Possibly, the most important attribute of Asarah B’Teves is that, according to the AbuDraham, if Asarah B’Teves would potentially fall out on Shabbos, we would all actually be required to fast on Shabbos! (Notwithstanding that with our calendar this is an impossibility.) He cites proof to this from the words of Yechezkel referring to Asarah B’Teves (Ch. 24, verse 2) that the siege transpired “B’etzem HaYom HaZeh”, implying that the fast must always be observed on that exact day, no matter the conflicting occurrence. This would also explain why it observed on Friday, as opposed to any other fast.
Yet, the AbuDraham’s statement is astounding, as the only fast that halachicallytakes precedence over Shabbos is Yom Kippur, the only Biblically mandated fast. How can one of the Rabbinic minor fasts push off the Biblical Shabbos? Additionally, Asarah B’Teves commemorates merely the start of the siege on the Beis HaMikdash, and not any actual destruction. How can it be considered a more important fast than Tisha B’Av, which commemorates the destruction and loss of both of our Batei HaMikdash? In fact, the Beis Yosef questions this declaration of the AbuDraham, stating that he “does not know how the AbuDraham could know” such a ruling. As an aside, this does not seem to be the actual halacha, as other Rishonim, including Rashi and the Rambam both explicitly state that if Asarah B’Teves falls out on Shabbos, then it gets pushed off.
Commencement Is Catastrophic
Several authorities, including Rav Yonason Eibeschutz and the Bnei Yissaschar, understand the AbuDraham’s enigmatic statement as similar to the famous Gemara in Taanis (29a) regarding Tisha B’Av. It seems that historically the Beis HaMikdash only started to burn toward the end of the 9th of Av (Tisha B’Av) and actually burned down on the 10th. Yet, Chazal established the fast on the 9th, since Aschalta D’Paranusah Adifa, meaning that the beginning of a tragedy is considered the worst part. Likewise, they maintain that, since the siege on Asarah B’Teves was the commencement of the long chain of tragedies that ended with the Beis HaMikdash in ruins and the Jewish people in exile, its true status belies the common perception of it as a minor fast, and potentially has the ability to push off Shabbos.
The famed Chasam Sofer takes this a step further. He wrote that the reason Chazal established a fast for the siege on Asarah B’Teves, as opposed to every other time Yerushalayim was under siege over the millennia, is that on that day in the Heavenly courtroom it was decided that the Beis HaMikdash was to be destroyed a few years hence. There is a well-known Talmudic dictum that any generation in which the Beis HaMikdash has not been rebuilt is as if it has been destroyed again. Therefore, he explains, every Asarah B’Teves the Heavenly court convenes and decrees a new Churban. That is why the fast of Asarah B’Teves, even though it is considered a minor fast, nonetheless has the potential to possibly override Shabbos. These explanations would also certainly explain why we would fast on a Friday for Asarah B’Teves.
Three Day Fast?
According to the special Selichos prayers said on the fast, an additional unique aspect of Asarah B’Teves is that we are actually fasting for two other days of tragedy as well; the 8th and 9th of Teves. In fact, both the Tur and Shulchan Aruch assert that if possible one should try to fast on all three days. Nevertheless, of the three, only Asarah B’Teves was actually mandated as a public fast day.
The 8th of Teves
On the 8th of Teves, King Ptolemy II (285 – 246 B.C.E.) demanded and forced 72 sages separately to translate the Torah into Greek (the Septuagint). Although miracles guided their work and all of the sages made the same slight, but necessary amendments, nevertheless this work is described as “darkness descending on the world for three days”, as it was now possible for the uneducated to possess a superficial, and frequently flawed, understanding of the Torah, as well as providing the masses with a mistaken interpretation of true morality.
The 9th of Teves
Although several decisors write that the reason for fasting on the 9th of Teves is unknown, nonetheless many sources, including the Kol Bo and the Selichos recited on Asarah B’Teves, as well as many later authorities, explain that this is the day that Ezra HaSofer (as well as possibly his partner Nechemiah) died. Ezra, the Gadol HaDor at the beginning of the time of the Second Beis HaMikdash, had a tremendous impact upon the nascent returning Jewish community of Eretz Yisrael. He drastically improved the spiritual state of the Jewish people and established manyhalachic takanos, many of which still apply today. With his passing, the community started sliding from the great spiritual heights Ezra had led them. Additionally, since Ezra was the last of the prophets, his passing signified the end of prophecy.
Other sources attribute fasting on this day due to the passing of other specific Tzaddikim or the birth of a certain Rasha (see extensive footnote 14). The Sefer HaToda’ah posits that it’s possible that “darkness descended on the world for three days” alludes to the triple woes of these three days: the 8th, 9th, and 10th of Teves.
The halachos of a Friday fast generally parallel those of a regular fast day. In fact, even though there is some debate in the Rishonim as to the Gemara’s intent that ‘Halacha – Mesaneh U’Mashlim – a Friday fast should be completed’ whether one may be mekabel Shabbos early and thereby end the fast before nightfall, nonetheless, the halacha follows the Shulchan Aruch and Rema that since Asarah B’Teves is a public fast (taanis tzibbur) and not a taanis yachid, one must fast the whole day and complete it at nightfall (Tzeis HaKochavim) before making Kiddush.
There are those who maintain it is preferable to daven Maariv earlier than usual this Friday Night to enable us to make Kiddush, and break our fasts, exactly at Tzeis HaKochavim.
The Rambam famously exhorts us to remember the real meaning underlying a fast day. It’s not just a day when we miss our morning coffee! The purpose of fasting is to focus on the spiritual side of the day and use it as catalyst for inspiration towardsTeshuva. In this merit may the words of the Navi Zechariah, that the “Fast of the Fourth (month, 17th of Tamuz), the Fast of the Fifth (month, Tisha B’Av), the Fast of the Seventh (month, Tzom Gedalyah), and the Fast of the Tenth (month, Asarah B’Teves), shall be (changed over) for celebration and joy for the household of Yehuda”, be fulfilled speedily and in our days.
L’iluy Nishmas the Rosh HaYeshiva – Rav Chonoh Menachem Mendel ben R’ Yechezkel Shraga, Rav Yaakov Yeshaya ben R’ Boruch Yehuda, and l’zchus for Shira Yaffa bas Rochel Miriam and her children for a yeshua teikef u’miyad!