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Weekly Thought: A Blessing Through Lies?

by Rabbi Avrohom Brashevitzky

When we reflect on the story of and the way Yaakov received the blessings from his father Yitzchok, the unsettling question and big elephant in the room is, how did Yaakov receive the blessings by lying?  It almost seems that the Torah is directing us that there are times in which it is ok to lie, and  that there are circumstances’ in which one is even encouraged to be (what seems to be) a little dishonest.  What lessons can we learn from this in our day to day life? What messages is there in us to help enhance our connection to Hashem and our Avodah as Chassidim?

There are many stories that are related about the Rebboim, many of them are authenticated by the fact that the stories are retold by the latter Rebbeim or verified by them. Then there are stories that the Rebbeim have  related about themselves. There is a story that the Alter Rebbe told about the time he came to Mezrich, and his Rebbe the Maggid designated his own son, Avrohom the Malach, who studied Kabala with him. The deal was that Reb Avrohom would teach him Chassidis and the Alter Rebbe will in exchange share with him his knowledge of Nigglah.  The time that was alighted for the study for Chassidus was one hour.  The Alter Rebbe so much enjoyed the learning and wanted so much more of it, that when Rabbi Avrohom was not paying attention he moved the hand of the clock back an hour, thus gaining an entire extra hour of learning.  When the Alter Rebbe recounted this, The Alter Rebbe said that that one hour was the most enjoyable hour he had, why? Because “stolen waters are sweater”.  All in all, water is tasteless.  However, if one steals the water, because of the thrill involved and the excitement of having stolen it the water seems to be sweeter. It’s needless to say, and it would be an understatement, that the Alter Rebbe was careful about the minutest details in Halacha. Certainty he will not do something forbidden.  Yet, he stole with the hour, and “enjoyed” it.

Who are we and what are we to compare ourselves to the Alter Rebbe?

Yet, as the Rebbe has taught us so many times, that the fact that the story is told to us is an indicator that it some connection to our lives. We need to learn from it in our Avodah.  Of course, stealing is forbidden.  However, there are some types that stealing that are strongly encouraged. For example, one stealing from their own personally time and leisure to do a mitzvah, or learn Torah.  For example, one taking the time that is justifiable according to the Torah that he should be involved in worldly matters, and “steals” that time to think about something they learned in Torah, or how to do a certain Mitzvah.  To steal is from the Yatzer Harah time to the purpose of doing Torah of Mitzvos.

There are many famous stories that help illustrated this concept. There are many times that the Rebbe publicly related stories that he heard from the Previous Rebbe and prefaced them with revealing that the time the Previous Rebbe told him the stories, he specifically told him not to publicize it. Yet, The Rebbe argued that the fact that the Fredike Rebbe shared the story with him knowing that he “The Rebbe”, would not be able “ to hold himself in” from revealing it, is an indicator that he can reveal it to us.

Of course, no one can act act as their own surrogate to decide when they can steal for their own purpose. This requires the guidance of a Rav/Mashpia, but the general idea from this week’s Parsha is the fact that Hashem gave us a build in temptation to sometimes steal is an indicator there are times when one has to “steal” in a correct matter, in order to enhance in Avodah in Yirashas Shomeim and Avodah.