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Devar Torah - Terumah

Friday, 31 January, 2014 - 10:00 am

Don’t Be Afraid to Take a Stand, You’re not Alone
Rabbi Shimon Raichik

In the last few articles we have discussing how important it is to implement Chassidus into our daily lives. Often it can be challenging because we feel that Chassidus is so lofty and therefore unrelated to us in our lowly state. So what can we do? Some decide: this (Chassidus) cannot possibly be speaking to me; after all I know who I am and how I act. This perspective is both overly humble and just plan wrong. The Rebbe, in the Basi l'Gani maamar for 5720-1960 (Chapter 3), calls this "anivus shel sheker- misplaced humility" and harmful to avodas Hashem. This attitude of: who am I, what am I is often accompanied with disbelief that our and Torah and Tefilla have an effect on high. It's hard to conceive that our personal avodah nurtures the malachim because we feel so far from any level or loftiness so that whatever we do is by definition of no interest on high. This kind of defeated approach says that Hashem doesn't find value because ‘I am a nobody’. All of this is opens the door to the yetzer hara to chip away at us: to miss a mincha here, a maariv there, then a hidur mitzvah. What difference does it make if there is no effect.

The Baal Shem Tov compares this attitude to a Gemara. The Gemara Gitten (56a) tells the story of Bar Kamza. The following section of the story continues after Bar Kamza has been humiliated and thrown out of Kamza’a party. [Bar Kamza] went and said to Caesar, “The Jews have rebelled against you.”[Caesar] said to him, “How can I tell?” [Bar Kamza] said to him, “Send a sacrifice to them and see whether they offer it.”[Caesar] sent a young calf with [Bar Kamza]. While on the way, [Bar Kamza] made a blemish on its upper lip, or as some say, on the white of its eye, in a place which is considered a blemish to [the Jews], but not to [the Romans]. The Rabbis considered sacrificing it for political peace, (but) Rabbi Zechariah ben Abkulas said, “They will say that blemished animals may be slaughtered on the altar.” They considered killing [Bar Kamza] so that he not go and inform, (but) Rabbi Zechariah said to them, “They will say that one who blemishes a consecrated animal shall be killed.” Rabbi Yohanan said, “The discretion of Rabbi Zechariah ben Abkulas destroyed our House, burned our Temple, and exiled us from our Land.”

The Baal Shem Tov says that the Gemara is teaching that the reason for the churbon was because R. Zecharia refused to take a stand. So too with our self defeating thinking that our avodah has no value. By not taking a stand with regard to our own avodah we are destroying the internal Beis Hamikdash, which is within each person. The Baal Shem Tov then teaches that if we will meditate upon the fact that every word of Torah and Tefilla is so precious to Hashem that it’s similar to a great and awesome King that kisses the lips of the one who utters each word, as he utters them. When we contemplate this it enables us to serve Hashem with great joy and gladness of heart in all aspects of life. Then we are ready to give everything we have when we realize the effect our avodah has and brings down into all of the worlds. We run to daven, to learn a do mitzvos because this avodah is building the Beis Hamikdash.

On Shavuos in 1969 during one of the suedos upstairs, the Rebbe asked Reb Zalmen Teibel to sing a nigun. He responded that for him it was an av melacha. The Rebbe answered that an av melacha is permissible on Yom Tuv for ochel nefesh; and that he should sing. He sang the nigun “Ana avdah” (the words from this nigun are said during the prayer of Brich Shmei when we open the Aron HaKodesh for Krias HaTorah) which the Rebbe accepted with great love and passion. Afterwards he instructed him to teach it to the yungeleit and bachurim. In the early 1980’s after Rosh Hashana when Reb Zalmen Teibel came for kos shel bracha the Rebbe stopped and sang with him that nigun (Ana Avda). The Rebbe then said to him that we say those words on Rosh Hashana, Eseres Yemei Teshuva, Yom Kippur etc., until Moshiach, and further. The Rebbe sang this niggun with great enthusiasm because it expresses who we are, our essence that we are servants and Hashem is waiting for us to serve him, and he is kissing us as we learn and daven. That’s our simcha, that we can do this for the King as He is on the highest level. A Jew can accomplish that which even a malach cannot accomplish as a neshama in a body in this physical world.


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