The Jewish Spirit Journal
A Journal of Jewish Mysticism and Spirituality
Vol. 1, No. 8 July 2004

TORAH TEACHINGS

1. To Repair the World

Rebbe Nachman of Bratzlav taught: "The Rabbis tell us that everyone should say, 'The world was created for my sake!' If the world was created for my sake, then I have to constantly investigate how to repair the world, and I have to pray for all the people of the world."

2. The Sign of the Cherubim

The Rebbe of Klausenberg was in the concentration camps during the Holocaust, yet fully maintained his Judaism-- he never worked on Shabbat, he never ate non-kosher food ... completely incredible. What he was constrained about, he did not do, and it was forgiven him, as would always be the case. By his great holiness, he infused a spirit of life into many Jews in the camps.

He once gave this teaching in one of the camps, concerning what our Sages, of blessed memory, say, that at the time of the destruction of the Temple the cherubim atop the Ark in the Holy of Holies were in an embrace, which was the case when the children of Israel did God's will and were in a state of divine favor, as it says, "and their faces were one to the other." Yet at the time of the destruction of the Temple, which was due to grave sins, it would seem that the cherubim should have been as they were when the Jews were not doing God's will and were not in divine favor, namely, that the cherubim faced toward the walls and away from each other.

The rebbe explained: The children of Israel always maintained their great faith and their fear in the awesome sanctity of the Holy of Holies, where even an angel was not permitted to enter. Yet at the time of the destruction, they saw the desecration committed by the wicked Titus in the innermost sanctum. This was like falling from the highest roof to the lowest pit, so that in natural terms a person would begin to doubt, God-forbid, God's ways. Yet the holy and pure children of Israel held on and strengthened their faith, beyond what could be expected or understood, and from this there was produced such great divine pleasure above that the effect flowed down below so that the cherubim were in an embrace, face to face.

This is the way the holy Klausenberger Rebbe, during the Holocaust, strengthened the faith of Jews crushed in the camps.

3. How Could They Sing at the Red Sea?

Rebbe Aharon of Belz said this teaching after the Holocaust to strengthen those who were broken and crushed by the loss of their loved ones.

The Sages, of blessed memory, say (Midrash Rabba, Shemot 23:7) about the Song at the Sea: Az yashir-- shar lo ne'emar ki im yashir. Mikan l'tichiyat hamaitim min haTorah. "It does not says 'Then sang [Moses and the Children of Israel];' it says: 'then will sing' [the future tense, not the past tense]. From here we learn about the resurrection of the dead from the Torah." [The Rabbis often teach about the resurrection of the dead, which is nowhere explicitly mentioned in the Torah itself. Here, however, the Rabbis claim that because of the unusual and unexplained "will sing": When will they sing? At the resurrection of the dead.] Now, the Belzer Rebbe asked: It's strange. What is the connection between the Song at the Sea and belief in the resurrection of the dead?

He explained: It says in Exodus 13:18 Hamushim alu bnai Yisrael miMitzraim [usually translated: The Children of Israel left Egypt armed.]. In the Midrash, the Rabbis understand this to mean: A fifth of the Jewish people left Egypt. Four-fifths of the Jews died in the plague of darkness. So every family had terrible losses. If so, how were they able to sing after being saved at the Red Sea, because the Shechinah does not rest on someone who is sad? And the Song at the Sea was sung when they were on an exalted spiritual level and joyful, as it says, 'They sang a song to You with great joy.' The reason they could sing, said the rebbe, was because their faith in the resurrection of the dead was so great; they knew that their loved ones would return. Like what the holy Shla says about the saying of the Sages that, 'The tzaddikim will sing a song in the future.' He says: 'The faith of the tzaddikim is so strong that they see the future as if it is present here and now. So they can sing now just as they will in the future.' The Belzer continued: At the Red Sea the Shechinah rested on the Jews and they could sing with joy despite the great losses they suffered in their families.

This is how the holy Belzer Rebbe revived those who had lost family in the Holocaust, teaching them how to sing once again.

Rebbe Hayim Meir of Vishnitz said: "Is it wisdom to love someone who gives you a kiss? Wisdom is to love someone who gives you a slap."

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