The Torah Podcast Transcript
059 – The Torah Podcast – How to Take Control of Your Life – Responsibility and Blame https://globalyeshiva.com
Torah Portion of the Week – Behaaloscha
In this week’s Parsha we had a couple of cases of chalash daas. Aaron felt bad. Why? Because he wasn’t part of the inauguration of the altar. All the princes brought gifts, and he wasn’t commanded to bring gifts, so he felt bad about it. So, Hashem spoke to Moses, and He said to him, “Speak to Aaron and say to him, ‘When you kindle the lamps towards the face of the Menorah shall the seven lamps cast their light.” Rashi says that since Aaron felt bad, Hashem said to him, “Your role is greater than theirs, for you kindle and prepare the lamps.” That appeased Aaron. But you have another case in the Parsha where Moses really felt bad. This is when the Jewish people started to complain about the manna, the bread that fell from heaven. They were crying and they said, “Who’s going to feed us meat? Remember the fish that we had in Egypt free of charge? Now we have nothing but this manna.” The possuk says, “Moses heard the people weeping by their families, each one at the entrance of his tent. And the wrath of Hashem flared greatly. And in the eyes of Moses it was bad.” So, what did Moses say? Moses said to Hashem, “I alone cannot carry this entire nation, it’s too heavy for me. And if this is how you deal with me, then kill me now. If I have found favor in your eyes, let me not see this evil.” What did Moses see that was so bad that he even wanted to die himself? Rashi explains, he saw the punishment they were going to get. They were all going to die. Hashem was going to kill all of them. Moshe said, “I can’t take this anymore, just kill me first.” If you look in the possuk where it says, “And is this how You deal with me?” The language there is feminine, “Im kacha at asei li,” you, feminine. Moses was speaking to God as if He was a woman. Rashi explains it was really Moses who was weak like a female. He was weak because of this whole situation that was going on with am Yisroel, and he couldn’t take any more.
So, now the Ramban has a difficulty with Rashi. The verse says that Moshe spoke to Hashem like he was female, not that he was like a female crying. So, why are you putting it on Moses, that he was like a woman? The Gur Aryeh, the Maharal wants to answer the difficulty of the Ramban. He said, “Before Moses felt weak, he used to see God like a shining mirror.” It’s a famous Chazal. “And he would be able to see all the future and all the miracles that were going to happen to the Jewish people. But after he became weak, he saw Hashem through a dim mirror. He couldn’t see the depths of the miracles that were going to happen to the Jewish people in the future. He explains really, what was the cause and what was the effect? Since Moses himself felt weak because he couldn’t take it anymore, therefore he saw God in a feminine sense. His level dropped. He wasn’t able to see with the same clarity, with the same faith. He wasn’t able to see the depths of the chessed of Hashem, the kindness of God. That’s why Moses referred to God in the feminine. But really the call started with Moses, because the reality is that we see God based on our vision of God. God doesn’t change. God is the same. It’s our perception that changes. If we become weak, it’s like we think Hashem is weak. But if we see Hashem completely 100% above nature, so then we’ll see the miracles that God has to offer. The concept of the kabbalah, hidden Torah, is nivdal, Hashem is above and beyond anything. But if we see God through the eyes of the physical, so then it’s just like God is limited to the physical. This is an unbelievable idea. Our perception of God is our responsibility. The higher and purer we are, the more we’re going to see the reality of God.
We have another example of this in the Parsha, and that’s by the mon, manna, the exact place where Moshe Rabbeinu was complaining. The Malbim explains, “There’s two aspects to the mon.” This was the bread that fell from heaven. Chazal tells us this is the bread that the angels would eat. What does that mean? He explains, “There’s two aspects to the man. There’s the physical aspect and there’s a spiritual aspect. Physically, biologically, it went into our bodies and we ate it and digested it. But really it’s mekor, its source was spiritual. It was a spiritual thing wrapped in a material form. Just like the Torah itself, we know the Torah was written with black fire on white fire. It’s pure light. On the other hand, the Torah speaks about your obligation to pay someone back if your ox gores his ox. So, it’s spiritual and it’s physical. Just like a human being also, a human being has a neshama, a soul which is spiritual. And it’s wrapped in the physicality of his body. But listen to this chiddush. The mon had in it the ability to give a person ruach hakodesh, prophesy. In other words, if a person really was spiritual and he ate this food, he would go up higher and higher. He would have prophecy. But if the person was not spiritual it would be just like regular food, and that’s what the Jewish people were complaining about. “We just have this food. What about all the other food in the world? We want meat.”
The same thing by the Torah. A person is spiritual and he learns Torah, he will get spirituality out of it. And if not, he just learns it like a simple person, like a person learns in law school. So, the Maharal explains that the masses of people who were complaining about the mon, they didn’t get the spiritual aspect. They didn’t go up in spirituality. They didn’t have a prophetic experience. But there were those that did. And the mon had that potential within it. It was just dependent on the people themselves, the same kind of idea. The more spiritual you were, the more spirituality you would be able to pull out of this food, the mon.
He brings a Gemara that says that the mon received by Yehoshua, the future leader of the Jewish people, was equal to that received by the rest of the entire Jewish people combined. There’s a kasha. Wait a second, we know there’s a possuk that says, “Everybody got the exact same amount.” He says, “That’s true in the physical sense. You’re right, everybody got the same physical amount. But the spirituality that was in the mon for Yehoshua was worth all the Jewish people, because his level of spirituality was equal to that. Spirituality knows no limits. It knows no physical limits. And this was all because of who Yehoshua was. Also, we know that if a person was on a higher level, the mon would fall right outside of his tent, and it was ready to eat. And for those people who were less spiritual, more physical, it will be far away and they’d have to go and collect it, and bring it and cook it. A totally different metzius, reality. We also know that the mon would change into any flavor, into any food that the person wanted. But that was only for the people on the spiritual level. A regular person, it would be this limited thing. But for a person who was spiritual, who internally was unlimited, also the mon was unlimited. So, it was our responsibility. It was up to us. Just like by Moshe Rabbeinu, when Moshe himself became weak he saw Hashem as being weak. He lost his vision.
The question now is, what is there to do about this? Are we stuck, that’s it? We are who we are, and that’s the level of spirituality we have. And we’re stuck with our vision of God, and it’s not going to expand. What do we do to expand it, what do we do to change it? How do we grow? Maybe we could find the answer by Aaron. Rashi said that Aaron also felt bad that he didn’t have a part of the inauguration. But when he was given the Menorah that solved the problem. What’s going on there, exactly?
Rav Schwalb explains, the possuk says by Aaron, “Aaron did so. Towards the face of the Menorah he kindled the lamps, as Hashem had commanded Moses. And this is the workmanship of the Menorah, beaten out of gold to its base and its flower, and it’s beaten out according to the image Hashem showed Moses, so did he make the Menorah. It says at the end of the possuk, “He made the Menorah.” But the fact is, Aaron lit the Menorah, he didn’t make the Menorah. The answer is, no. When he lit the Menorah, that was the completion of the Menorah. That’s why Aaron was comforted. The other princes when they brought their gifts when the Mishkan was completed, it was a done deal. They gave their gifts, and that was it. But Aaron each time that he lit the Menorah it’s like he completed the Menorah. It’s like he built another Menorah. So, what do we learn from this?
I want to bring the Sefas Emes to explain. The Midrash at the beginning of the Parsha says, “Hashem desired for the sake of Yisroel’s righteousness that the Torah be made great and glorious.” It says, “Takziv, le ner mitzvah, le Torah Ohr.” The ner is a mitzvah, and the Torah is light. We know that yagdil Torah veyagdil means that Hashem gave us a lot of mitzvos, tons of mitzvos. That’s what makes the Torah great and glorious, all the mitzvos. The Sefas Emes explains that the mitzvos mamshichim, they pulled the light of the Torah le talka maazeh, by doing acts of mitzvos we bring light into the world. We take the infinite and bring it into the finite. That’s why mitzvos are called a ner, a candle, because on them we could put a light. He says, “By the way of doing the commandments of Hashem nimshech hadevekus umaaseh lepenimius.” This act brings our internal, our spiritual aspect closer to God. The mitzvos are the kiyum ha ohr hachiyus, the establishment of the light of life, of the Torah, sheyaish benivrayim, into the metzius, into the reality. That’s what it means, yagdil Torah. That’s what it means to spread Torah. By doing mitzvos we bring the light into the physical world. And that’s what we saw by the Menorah by Aaron. Aaron lit the candles that he created. He did a maaseh, he did an act. He created the Menorah each time that he lit the Menorah he created the Menorah. The same thing, when we do mitzvos we affect the reality. We bring the light of God into the world. We take the nivdal. Hashem is completely beyond, totally beyond the physical, and we bring it into the physical. The same thing by the mon. The mon had the potential to be completely spiritual. But it’s up to us. It’s our responsibility. God gave us everything, it’s all there. What are we doing?
The Shem Mi Shmuel explains that Aaron haCohen aino chinam, he was the Cohen but he was also a Levi. The job of a Cohen is he connects the heaven with the earth. But Aaron also wanted to connect the earth with the heaven. What was he asking for? He also wanted his chelek, his part in being a part of the tribe of Levi. And by lighting the Menorah he was connecting the earth with the heaven, he was doing acts. He was creating. We all have this power. We all have the ability to uplift ourselves.
The Rabbeinu Bachye says like this. He brings a verse. “The light of the righteous rejoices. The lamp of the wicked will be extinguished.” He says, “The soul of the wicked is connected with the lamp. But the soul of the righteous is connected with the light.” Why? Because a lamp is something physical. He explains, “The physical body of a person serves as oil and the wick. But if a person gets all his enjoyment and his whole focus on life is the physical, so all he’s doing is connecting with his body the entire time. Where’s the spirituality, where’s the light In the end,” the possuk says, “It will be extinguished. A person dies, he leaves the world and it’s finished. Gamarnu. But the light of the righteous rejoices. The righteous is focused on the light. So, he has more and more of it, it expands even more. We have to increase our spirituality so that we don’t complain and we don’t blame, because there is no blame. Everything that’s happening is because of us. The way we see things is because of us, it’s our perception.
Rav Wolbe brings an example. It said in this week’s Parsha, “According to the word of Hashem would bnai Yisroel journey. And according to the word of Hashem they would encamp.” We knew as they were moving through the desert, they didn’t know how long they were to stay in each place. Sometimes they’d be in a great place to stay, and Hashem would say, “Move on.” And sometimes they would be in a lousy place to stay, and they’d be there for a month. But the answer is, according to the word of Hashem. That’s how the people traveled. Whatever Hashem says, whatever Hashem does, whatever the situation is – no matter where you are, that’s where you need to work. That’s the avoda, that’s the matzav. That’s the situation that God gave you. Don’t become weak. Strengthen yourself. Increase your spirituality. And then you’ll be able to see the miracles, and you can see the miracles, the miracles will happen. When you have a positive perception, positive things happen. Uplift yourself.
I want to end off with Rav Dessler. Rav Dessler says at the beginning of the Parsha there’s a verse that says, “Take the Levites out of the Children of Israel and purify them.” Then it goes on to list all these different levels of purification, and impurity to purity and refinement to refinement. And the point is that they should purify themselves in their own hearts. This is the answer to everything. The more pure we are, the more we’ll see the or haganuz in everything, the light of God, the hidden light that’s hidden away for the tsaddikim, it’s there. It’s here. It’s now. There’s light inside everything. And each and every one of us can reach that level. We could turn our lives around and have a totally new perception of what we’re doing here, and why we’re here, and what’s happening, and see the positive all the time. Rav Dessler brings the famous Ramban at the end of Hilchos Sheviis. He says, “It’s not just Levi alone. Any person who comes into the world who’s spirit moves him to stand before God, u’mavdil to separate himself, to separate himself completely from the physical, u’parek me’or sevaro or cheshbonos.” You’ve got to hear this. Cheshonos haRabbim – this person removes all worldly calculations. He doesn’t look at the world the way a normal person looks at the world. He doesn’t calculate according to the physicality. He sees the spirituality. He has faith in God. He understands that everything’s min hashamayim. And he understands that everything can change at any time. He says, “That person is sanctified, and is considered holy of holies. God will be his portion forever, and he’ll be given whatever he needs to survive in this world, because he’s somech on God. He’s living a different life than a normal person.
The answer to reaching these new levels is mitzvos. We need to do maasim, we need to act. We need to do what the Torah says. It’s not enough in theory, to read about the Torah. We have to wash our hands before we eat bread. We have to wash our hands in the morning. We have to daven, we have to learn Torah. All these mitzvos brings the or haganuz, the hidden light, from the infinite levels into the finite levels – into our lives, here and now. This is what puts us back in control of our own lives. We’re no longer subjugated to circumstances. We understand that the circumstances themselves are min hashamayim, they come from God. And we deal with them on a completely new way, on a totally different level.
A Powerful Parable
The verse says, “The man Moshe was the most humble, more so than any person on the face of the earth.” One time a father tried to persuade his son to go with him to town, but the son didn’t want to go. He says, “You know what? I’m going to go buy you an expensive clock. So on the way they met this poor peddler. He offered to sell the father this expensive clock for half price. He says, “Really it’s 1,000 gold coins, and I’ll sell it to you for 500.” The father said, “No, no. I don’t want it.” Then the son afterwards, they start to travel. The son says, “Listen, Dad. It doesn’t look like you’re going to buy me this clock. This guy offered you the clock for half price, and you didn’t buy it from him.” He says, “No, that guy doesn’t know anything about clocks. He thinks that a simple clock is worth 1,000 gold coins and he’s going to give me a break of 500.” He says, “We’re going to go to an expert clock maker. He’ll sell us a very, very good clock for 100 gold coins.” He says, “This is the difference between a Torah scholar and a regular person. A regular person, he thinks he’s on a level, he’s on a spiritual level. And if he’s not really on the total top level, so at least half way. Wow, he’s on a really big level. But the talmid chacham, the Torah scholar, he knows where he’s holding. He can recognize his own worth, and he knows his place and his status.
Great Stories – Rav Shach
Here’s a story about the humility of Rav Shach. One time, Rav Shach was in the Yeshiva and since his eyesight was very bad, he was looking for his siddur, he couldn’t find one. So, one of the talmidim came and gave him a siddur. What did he do? He took the siddur and went to the back of the room, and put the siddur back. Why? Because he thought that the person gave him the siddur in order to put the siddur in order to put the siddur back on the shelf, because isn’t that what he does every day anyway? At the end of the day, he puts all the books back. When the student understood what happened, he came to Rav Shach and he said, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” Rav Shach didn’t even understand why he was apologizing.
Peace in Your Home
We’re going to start this subject of your partner’s needs, and your needs. The verse says, “It is not good for man to be alone.” God knew when he created us, he created us with a need to be together with another person. And he gave us that need in order to create a society, in order to create a world, in order to create families. That need is a very important need, just like other needs are very important. And just because you have a need, it doesn’t mean you’re weak. That’s the way God created us. Hunger is not a weakness. It’s a sign that we need to eat. And pain is not a weakness. Pain is there in order to tell us we’d better be careful. Not only that but our whole relationship with God is based on our needs. If we didn’t have any needs, we would not relate to God at all. The Midrash Tanhuma says, “Why were Sarah, Rivka and Rochel barren? So that they would pray.” God made us with needs. That’s part of being a human being. Not only that but we have more needs than every other creature on the planet. We need clothes, for example. Animals don’t need clothes. We have to prepare our food. Animals go around, they find their food all over the place. We need shelter, special shelter. Animals find this little place here and there. We need a mate, we need a soul mate. If everything is good, we get married and we stay married for 70 years. So, God created us with more needs than every other creature. And the need not to be lonely is one of the foundations of why we get married, and why we stay married. But it’s not a weakness.
Just like if you close your eyes and you can’t see, that’s not a weakness. That’s the way you’re built. We’re going to talk a little bit about a man’s needs, and a woman’s needs. I want to give an introduction. The Chazon Ish said, “All human needs are common to both sexes. It just happens to be there’s a little bit more emphasis on one or the other, based on the sex.” Rav Simcha Cohen explains, “A woman has more of a need for emotional support. She wants to feel that her husband really thinks well of her. She wants to prove herself worth to her husband. Why else do you think the woman would clean and take care of the kids, and do all the tremendous work in the house? She wants her husband to recognize that. She has a need that her husband recognizes all the work that she does. It shows her capabilities. The food’s going to be eaten in two seconds. The house is going to be a mess again in another half an hour. But she wants her husband to appreciate her, even to the point where the Gemara in Berachos says that if the husband doesn’t appreciate his wife’s cooking and cleaning and taking care of the house, it’s called ganeiva. He stole from her. He’s stealing. Why? Because the payment as expected, is appreciation, and if he doesn’t give her that appreciation it’s like he stole from her.
Another need that a woman has, is she really wants to feel a sense of partnership. She needs somebody to unburden herself on. She needs a sympathetic ear. She needs support. So, all men should keep in mind that a woman has these needs, and give her what she needs. That’s going to bring peace in the home.
The man’s needs on the other hand, is he needs to feel that he’s taking care of the money of the house. He’s responsible for this house. He also needs to feel that his wife is pleased with him. That’s why when a man comes home he buys something for the family and he says, “I bought it for you, honey.” The wife looks at him, “What do you mean? You bought that for the whole house.” Yeah, but what he’s saying is, it’s essentially really I bought it for you. Why? Because he wants appreciation. He wants to feel that his wife is pleased with him. Even though a man feels that he needs to be the provider, he doesn’t have such a need to clean up the house, to do things inside the house. It’s not inborn like by the woman. If you want to motivate your husband to help in the house, you have to praise him for every little thing that he does. That’s the reality. If the wife constantly thanks the husband for helping, the husband’s going to want to help more. But we shouldn’t feel this is not leshem shemayim. What’s going on here? What is this relationship about? Each person trying to get something? The answer is, yes. And that’s how God created us. He wanted us to form a close bond with our spouse.
Okay, that’s it for this week’s Torah podcast. Please share it with your friends. And please leave a rating on iTunes.
Stephan Sundkvist says
Everyone that has worked with colors knows that colors look different in different light.
That is why we need the correct light to see things as they really are. It is written: “Your words are a lamp for my foot, and light for my path.”
We need the light of ruach hakodesh to understand and to be aware of the spiritual realities.
This is very important, as we easily get blinded by the worldly luster that surrounds us.
To reach this level we must strive to achieve vigilance, alacrity, cleanliness, abstinence, purity, humility, fear of sin and holiness.
This is a long way. It took the people of Israel 40 years in the desert, and it will take long time to anyone of us. But there is help on the road. The Torah is the road map and many of the mentioned levels are to be found in e.g. Mesillas Yesharim.
I try to take one step at the time and believe that Hashem, my G-d, will help me.