October 16, 2006

New Chapter, Attaining Torah through weeping!

Filed under: Website Kvetching — Reb Moshe @ 1:28 am

Taken from my book, The Forgotten Torah



The forgotten Torah of Har Sinai

By Moshe Steinerman

It wasn’t always brilliance that set a person on a pedestal with their Torah knowledge. What others accomplished through their genius in learning, others had to achieve this through weeping and prayers. ”Rabbi Avraham HaLevi [Berukhim] told me that my master once gave him advice regarding enlightenment. He was told to avoid idle conversation, to rise at midnight, and to weep regarding his lack of knowledge.


Why Rabbi Avraham HaLevi suggested that we don’t speak in idle conversation is because the mouth is connected to the Shechinah, Adna. Through our connection to the Shechinah, we are able to have access to the higher worlds but without a basic connection to Her, there is no entrance anywhere. (See my Sefer, Tikkun Shechinah)


“Rochel cries for her children”. She is the aspect of the Shechinah. Just as the Shechinah weeps over the exile of Israel, so too Rochel, our holy mother, felt the pains of the exile more then others. So much so, that she became bittle, nullified in this light. She reached it through the way of tears and crying. Chazal teach us that Hashem never returns tears unanswered. That the gates of regular prayer may be at times closed but through the ways of tears and a broken heart, the gates, simply must open.


The holy Rav Zusia was known to reach everything in learning through crying like a simple child. When his students would ask him a question in the Torah, he would leave the room and go to his office and there he poured out his heart in weeping until Hashem simply received him the answer.


It takes a strong man to admit that his mind is simply too constricted to take in higher knowledge. For some, the lack of understanding is a sign that it is too soon to learn such higher wisdom but for others, the only way to achieve, is to push through the minds immaturity and through heavenly mercy; their mind would open like a sea of water.


Rabbi Chaim Vital asked the Arizal, “Why he was worthy of all this wisdom. He responded that he had worked very hard at it. Reb Chaim countered, “The Ramak and I, also worked very hard.” He answered, “Yes, you worked very hard, more than anyone else in this generation, but you did not work as hard as me.


Now working hard doesn’t always mean to reach above oneself but sometimes it can mean keeping oneself down at the level they should really be at. This can be more difficult then simply letting yourself go at will. A person has to know themselves very well and clearly see themselves. This can only be done through mussar and hisbodidus, Jewish Meditation. (See my Sefer Kavanos Halev, Chapter Jewish Meditation) Otherwise they can work hard but achieve very little. Maybe even loose what they have already attained. Even this level of clearly seeing oneself is impossible without praying and weeping.


Rav Zusia understood this while on his deathbed surrounded by his disciples. He was crying and no one was able to comfort him. One student asked his Rebbe, “Why do you cry? You were almost as wise as Moses and as kind as Abraham.” The Rebbe responded, “When I pass from this world and appear before the Heavenly Tribunal, they won’t ask me, “Zusha, why weren’t you as wise as Moses or as kind as Abraham,” rather, they will ask me, “Zusha, why weren’t you Zusha?” He continued, “Why didn’t I fulfill my potential, why didn’t I follow the path that could have been mine.”

My friends, it’s not enough to be great and wise. You have to be intelligent in your own way and through the uniqueness of your soul. Otherwise, what are you really accomplishing? Fulfilling others expectations and dreams, is what we are here for? Part of toiling for knowledge is breaking through peer pressure and self-pride, by making a commitment to your soul that you will care for it and treasure it. It is not difficult to see that the soul weeps, my friends. Only through its knowing that you will nurse it in this trying world will the soul ever stop lamenting. After-all, it only seeks to be kept pure and nullified in Hashem’s light.

What is a tear drop? It contains both the properties of water and salt. In Sefer Yetzirah, it says that water is compared to Chochmah, wisdom and salt we know, cleans wounds and it is also brings out the taste inherit in food. We can compare this to the tears which come from a person lishmah, heartfelt and with the proper intentions. They can lead to opening the gates of wisdom, bring out the good within a person while separating out the bad, and they can heal the pains of the heart. Tears also take out emotions and thoughts which are stuck inside person while also opening a new area for newer and happier thoughts. It can bring out knowledge which has already been attained but forgotten and as we learned from Rav Zusia, it can open the same gates as one who is inherently wise.

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