Devar Torah - V’Eschanan

Friday, 23 July, 2021 - 10:10 am

Learning and Living Chassidus Is the Bridge that Unites Every aspect of Our Lives, Both Spiritual and Physical as One 

By Rabbi Shimon Raichik

This Shabbos is Shabbos Nachamu and the 15th of Av- Tu b’Av. Among the reasons that make Tu b’Av one of the greatest Yomim Tovim is that we celebrate and “the daughters of Jerusalem would go dancing in the vineyards' '. Whoever didn’t have a wife would go there to find himself a bride. The daughters would say; “Young man, lift up your eyes and see which you choose” (Taanis 26b). 

The Gemara describes different categories of "daughters" and how each would call out to her perspective bridegroom:

What would the beautiful ones among them say? "Look for beauty, for a woman is for beauty."

What would those of prestigious lineage say? "Look for family, for a woman is for children." etc. (Taanis 31a).

The Rebbe explains that all of the daughters were speaking about family knowing that the purpose of marriage is to create a family dedicated to the  study of the Torah and keeping mitzvos. The daughters that spoke about beauty were also speaking about family. The meaning of beauty they spoke of was the internal beauty of good character traits and every Torah virtue which also expressed itself in physical beauty and grace. We say this every Friday night in the Eishes Chayal: “Grace is deceptive, Beauty is illusory; It is for her fear of Hashem that a woman is to be praised.”. What is of value (praised)? A woman who fears Hashem. The next verse says: “Extol her for the fruit of her hand, And let her works praise her in the gates.” What are the fruits of her hand and her works? These are her children. Therefore we see that all of the daughters are expressing these values in different ways. 

The name Shabbos Nachamu is taken from the opening word of the week’s haftarah: Nachamu, nachamu ami—“comfort, comfort My people.” It is with this sentence that we begin the series of seven haftaros known as shiva d’nechemta, “the seven [haftaros] of consolation.” 

The reason why the Navi repeats the word of comfort twice, nachamu nachamu, is because we suffered a double punishment. The reason we received double punishment is because our sin was  doubled. What is this doubling effect of first sin then punishment followed by comfort that the Navi refers to and what does it teach us in our service of Hashem?

We can understand this by first defining the two dimensions of the Bais HaMikdash. The Bais HaMikdash was a physical edifice as well as place completely infused with a spiritual purpose. Although the Bais HaMikdash was built from physical materials, its purpose is  spiritual, to create a home for Hashem's presence, the kedusha of Hashem in this world . Every action that occurred in the Bais HaMikdash had both a physical and spiritual component. The korbonos for example had both the very physical requirements and specific procedures to make it valid. At the same time it was all carried out with spiritual intention and purpose by the Kohanim with the assistance of the Leviim singing etc. All in all the Bais HaMikdash was the physical house of Hashem with the  spiritual glory and honor of Hashem revealed. The destruction of the Bais HaMikdash was a destruction of both of these physical and spiritual dimensions. When we mourn, we mourn over both the physical and spiritual loss. The comfort that follows and its rebuilding will therefore encompass both the physical and the spiritual. 

We attempt to best reflect both of these modes in our personal service of Hashem. Whenever we say Kiddush or put on Tefillin for example we carefully complete the physical observance of the mitzvah while focusing and placing our spiritual intention on feeling and connecting with Hashem through the fulfillment of each mitzvah. We infuse the spiritual into each physical act. We look to Chassidus for the inspiration and hope necessary to complete our purpose in its fullest, both spiritually and physically. Just like when a physical heart is touched it beats differently so too spirituality. The double reference in this week's haftorah teaches us that not only can we be moved spiritually but that inspiration can go further to the point that we are also moved physically. 

This is also what was explained above about the family approach of all of the daughters on Tu b’Av. Their purpose and focus was on the values and beauty of living a Torah life and most importantly the education of the children. It was one with their physical grace and beauty. Each daughter expressed this in their own unique and special way. 

This is what the entire avodah of Chassidus and Chassidim is intended to accomplish. Chassidus has been given to us through our Rabbeim to awaken our higher understanding and sensitivity towards G-dlines and then to carry it into action. We saw this definitively by the Chassidim of the previous generations.  They didn't just listen to a maamar from the Rebbe and enjoy its depth and power, they worked intensely to internalize its message and put it into practice in their lives. 

Once Reb Nissan Neminov was by the Rebbe at a fabrengen. After the fabrengen he approached Reb Yoel Kahn saying that there were certain things from the fabrengen that he didn't understand. Reb Yoel went over the maamar with Reb Nissan in detail explaining various novel insights contained in the maamar. When he completed his review Reb Nissan said that he had not covered the part of the fabrengen he was having trouble understanding. He explained that  in the fabrengen the Rebbe was clarifying a certain level in avodas Hashem to be achieved and he wanted to get to the bottom of it. Reb Nissan was after what the Rebbe's fabrengen demanded in our avodah. Reb Nissan as a Chosid was always aware that the Rebbe wants and waits for us to take the initiative to fulfill our part.

By never giving up, regardless of our spiritual stature or for any other reason may we merit through our involvement to take part in the comfort when we will see the third and eternal  Bais HaMikdash. The third Beis HaMikdash, the work of Hashem will descend into the physical world from heaven and we will be able to see with our physical eyes the kedusha of every part of the Bais HaMikdash together with the Rebbe. 

A Good Shabbos 

(Based on a Sicha for Shabbos Nachamu 5750 and Likutei Sichos v 19)

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