In this new weekly installment, Rabbi Avrohom Brashevitzky, Shliach to Doral, FL, will share his thoughts on the weekly Parsha, beginning this week with Parshas Bereishis.
In the Beginning, G-d Created
by Rabbi Avrohom Brashevitzky
Many years ago the Chosid Reb Abba Pliskin came to The Rebbe for Tishrei. The Rebbe called for him and instructed him to travel to the “out-of-town” communities to Farbreng with them for Simchas Beis Haso’eva. Reb Abba tried to utilize this opportunity to hear some insight from The Rebbe, so he said to The Rebbe: “I don’t know how to Farbreng!” The Rebbe responded: “you begin with a Chassiddishe story, then you say a Dvar Torah related to the Parsha or of timely relevance…”. Then He added: “This is the order in The Torah – first the story of creation and only then comes the first Mitzva”.
The famous Chasidic Gaon Rabbi Shlomo Yosef Zevin (who was one of the original editors/compilers of the Encyclopedia Talmudis) related that in one of his meetings with the Gaon Rabbi Yonah Mirtzbach (one the Roshei Yesiva of “Kol Torah” and a fellow member of the editorial board) the discussion turned to the amazing phenomena of the many Kolelim and the fact that (as a result) there are so many in our generation who are Talmidie Chachomim which translates into an enormous amount of scholarly Torah literature.
At the end of the conversation he asked: “Why is it that The Rebbe – who’s a tremendous Gaon and giant in Torah – doesn’t call on his Chassidim to join the ranks of those who subscribe to the idea of dedicating one’s life to full immersion in Torah – the lifelong study in Kollel?”. Rabbi Zevin responded: “I can’t answer in the Rebbe’s name, however NOW I understand why yesterday I received mail from The Rebbe – in it was a Sicha which was said by Him many months ago, and surprisingly He chose to send it to me now…”.
In this Sicha The Rebbe refers to the first Rashi of The Torah. Rashi explains why Hashem chose to begin with the story of creation vs. beginning with the first Mitzva we received as Am Yisroel. This is in order to “answer the Goyim who will accuse the Jewish People of being thieves for taking the Land of Israel away from them”. The Rebbe asks the obvious question: If The Torah should have indeed begun with the first Mitzva – is it possible that due to the (potential) argument of a Goy – the order of the entire Torah was changed?!
The Rebbe goes on to explain how indeed these are not the argument of some Goyim, rather this is a response to the internal struggle we Yidden may have in regards to the proper approach to Torah and how to integrate with worldly matters. On the one hand, one may argue that it’s best to be totally removed from the world and be exclusively immersed in “the first Mitzva”. For this The Torah relates how the entire world is Hashem’s and in order for a Yid to accomplish his purpose with and through The Torah, Hashem gives us even from the “territory” which seems to belong to Goyim.
On the other hand, the Goy that’s inside of us may argue that we are stealing from him when we attempt to infuse worldly matters with G-dliness. This “Goy” is okay with the Yid learning and Davening and even doing his Mitzvos, only if it’s exclusive from the Gashmiyus of the world. However, he argues, when you are eating, doing business or plain enjoying life – don’t steal it away from Goyishkiet; don’t convert it into Kedusha! For this The Torah responds “the whole world belongs to Hashem! He gave certain matters to “Goyim” and in his choosing gave us the ability to “take it away from them and give it to us (for Torah)”. THE PURPOSE OF THE ENTIRE TORAH IS TO MAKE A “DIRAH B’TACHTONIM”.
Rabbi Mirtzbach reacted with amazement regarding the actual answer and the fact that the Rebbe “preempted” the answer to his question!
Vayomer Elokim Yehi Or Vayehi Or. Hashem said “let there be light” and there was light.
The Midrash tells us that most of the original light was hidden away (in The Torah) and only The Tzadikkim have access to it. With this “light” the great Tzaddikim such as The Holy Bal Shem Tov and our Holy Rabeim were able to “see” into the distance and future. Many stories are well known and have been fairly well publicized over the years. Just a small sampling of these stories: The Tzemach Tzedek home had very small windows. Once a close Chosid suggested that they enlarge them in order to bring in more light. The Rebbe responded that by his Zeide (The Alter Rebbe) there were also very small windows. The Chosid persisted “that’s exactly why there wasn’t enough light by The Alter Rebbe”… “No!” answered The Rebbe “by Our Rebbe it was Lichtig Lichtig Lichtig!”
Another glimpse into this “light” is illustrated in the following story with Our Rebbe. In the early years Tashlich was observed at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. One year it rained very heavily and upon return The Rebbe stood at the door of his room and distributed L’chaim to all those who went to Tashlich. The Rebbe did not give Mashke to those who approached with dry clothing. One person approached in soaking wet clothing but The Rebbe refused to give him L’chaim, saying to him “the lower waters are crying – why don’t you also have the upper waters?”. (This is most likely a play on the words of the Midrash which describes the “crying” of the Lower Waters – those which were left on and below the surface of the earth after Hashem split the waters and formed the skies with the “Upper Waters”).
Later this individual admitted to his friends that indeed he did not participate in the Tashlich. However, he so much desired to receive Mashke from The Rebbe ON Rosh Hashana that he stood out in the rain in front of 770 until he felt he was thoroughly soaked… He had forgotten that “there is nothing hidden before His eyes”!
Vayomer Elokim Na’asse Adam B’tzalmeinu. Hashem said let us make man in our image.
No one really knows what G-d looks like. In fact “He has no image”. However, as much as we have no clue what G-d Himself “looks like” we certainly may have an idea of what “G-dly” looks like! For example, Rabbi Leibel Shapiro relates that his mother (who grew up in Yaketrinislav) described the way people would stop in the street to look at Reb Levik – The Rebbe’s father. This was, not only Yidden, rather, even Goyim. His face and being emanated G-dliness. Similar accounts are related regarding The Rebbe when he stayed in Paris.
As The Rabbeim demanded that in every Farbrengen or lesson taught there must be a “B’chein”, a tangible lesson with which one can work to improve his / her Avodas Hashem – I’m making the following suggestions.
- The world is ours! Hashem gave it to us so we may infuse it with Torah & Chassidus. Shlichus is not an exclusive club of several thousand families who moved out to the boondocks. Make it your business to find – and utilize – opportunities to bring the light of Torah and the teachings of The Rebbe to fellow Yidden and to the world at large. Bring G-dliness into everything you do!
- Walk in the street in a “G-dly manner”. Whether it is Shabbos and one is wearing his Kapote, or the weekdays when one may be in soiled work clothes – walk like a Chosid, behave in a manner which is G-dly; which brings a Kiddush Hashem.
- Remember: Mir Hobben Ah Rebbin! We have a Rebbe! Get a little closer to His light – to the way He sees things. Make it your business that not a day goes by without “seeing” through The Rebbes eyes. Learn a Maamar, Sicha or read a letter from The Rebbe. Watch a video, read a story or even imagine being by The Rebbe.
- Please let’s not forget that we are Lubavitcher Chassidim. The Previous Rebbe describes the meaning of this name. The town Lubavitch was founded on brotherly love as detailed in his Memoirs. Let’s have a little more Brotherly Love that is true to our namesake and NOT like the “brotherly love” we encounter in this week’s Parsha…