Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Parshas Sh’lach Le’cha

The Good & Evil of Wine

Possuk 13:20 "… and the time was the period of the first ripe grapes"

We must be careful to avoid drinking wine on a regular weekday. Most of us are not able to attain the level of “wine that gladdens”. Therefore, the opposite takes place “it desolates”. In addition, wine rises blood boiling to the maximum, corresponding to the verse (Mishlei/Proverbs 23:31) “Don’t look at wine when it is red”, which is an aspect of the rise of the klippas Amalek (the thickest crust of evil – Amalek), that has grasp on the blood in the left ventricle of the heart. And this corresponds to the fouling of blood that is an aspect of sadness and blues, from which stems all earthly desires – particularly sexual desire.

Therefore the entire flaw of the spies that were sent at the time of Moshe was through the blemish of grapes – which is the blemish of wine. It was through this that Adam HaRishon (the first man) marred the world, as Chazal (our Sages) teach (Bereishis Rabbah 19:5) “She squeezed the grapes and handed it to him”. Noach also fell in this area when he left the ark after the floodwaters had subsided. And so we find that the majority of the spies were together grasping the large cluster of grapes.

Consequently, the Torah states “the time was the period of the first ripe grapes” to indicate that the entire fall and mistake of the spies stemmed from grapes, the source of wine, causing them to err in their opinion and declare that conquest of Israel would be impossible. And their main mistake was through klippas Amalek. For they were men of great intellect and perceived that Amalek was an extremely powerful evil force. They failed, however, to overcome their personal opinion in favor of Moshe to say that, despite the negative factors, Moshe had the ability to subdue and uproot Amalek. Thus, Chazal tell us (Bereishis Rabbah 16:18) that they frightened all the people specifically with Amalek: “Amalek dwells in the south”. Therefore their fall came about through the cluster of grapes, since klippas Amalek has the greatest grasp on grapes in the aspect of wine. This is the meaning of (Devarim 32:32): “Their grapes are grapes of gall; their clusters are bitter”, relating to the force of the blood.

Joshua, however, was rescued from the bad advice of the spies through the power of Moshe. Joshua subdues and detaches the klippas Amalek. Therefore, he didn’t trip through the grapes which the spies blemished the land of Israel. On the contrary, he actually merited bringing all the Jewish people into the land.

Accordingly, on Purim, the time of the main destruction of Amalek, it is a great mitzvah to drink wine. Then, we are able to subdue Amalek specifically through wine, through which we attain simchah/joy. For Amalek’s main defeat is through simchah.

Orach Chaim Hilchos Shabbos 7:68 (Otzar Ha’yira Shichrus 3)

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Parshas Beha’aloscha

Emunah Ensures Eternal Success

Possuk 12:7 "…he [Moshe] is ne’eman (trusted) in all My house"

The continued existence of the world depends on emunah/faith, as it states: “…and all His deeds with emunah”. And the entire Torah rests on emunah, as it states: “…all your mitzvos are emunah”. Similarly, Chazal (our Sages) teach that ‘Habakkuk came and established them [all the mitzvos] on one: “a tzaddik lives with his emunah”. For, thank G-d, we have Moshe Rabbeinu - the truly ‘ish ne’eman’/trusted man, the one fitting to rely upon. He caused us everlasting success and appraised us with what we need to trade in this world of ours – a world that is very far from the upper worlds. For we only come here in order to acquire merchandise for those ‘far off places’. Over there we will succeed and profit greatly from the wares in which we traded specifically in this physical world – a great, wondrous and awesome profit, immeasurable and priceless “unseen by human eye” (see Likutei Moharan II 55).

Only, no one knows with what he is rewarded in that world that is far from our country, where we must return. Therefore, Hashem took pity on us, sending us the “faithful shepherd” – Moshe Rabbeinu – he that is “ne’eman in all My house”. He took pity on us, brought us to prevail, enlightened our eyes and informed us of the entire Torah, transmitting it to us directly from Hashem. He instructed us regarding all the holy merchandise that we need to trade in, in this world: Wearing tzitzis, laying tefillin and all the rest of the awesome, holy mitzvos.

For sure, we don’t have to waste our days, G-d forbid, in investigating whether or not we will actually succeed with our wares. But someone that does probe and question is not only a heretic – he’s also foolish, foolhardy, simple and mad. Can there be anyone so stupid as to desire that evil wisdom - the delving after the ish ne’eman, wanting to know from his own perspective specifically, to understand with his intellect, why one should “prosper” from this merchandise?

Lets explain this by way of analogy. Let’s say that trustworthy people - those possessing true awesome wisdom - write to him from afar. They tell him to speedily trade in specific goods with absolute alacrity and care, for he will make huge, unbounded profit. And yet he willfully slackens, first wanting to check out why these goods are so important in that place. While doing his investigation he fails to do any trade, wasting away his time with vanity and emptiness. He will then arrive in that place in abject embarrassment, completely lacking anything good. All the more so, if he brings articles that are forbidden in that place, where they penalize the transporters of such items with difficult and bitter punishments, unlimited in quantity. Woe to that embarrassment and disgrace!

The message is clear. Moshe Rabbeinu and all the tzaddikim, the early and latter prophets, all the sages of the Mishnah and Gemara – all have written to us, exhorting us to fulfill the Torah of Moshe. They tell us that, through this, we will be successful in the next world. And they are all trustworthy people, wise and intelligent. And they truly love us. Certainly we do not need to investigate them, Heaven forbid. We just need to trust them and walk in their path. In this way, we’ll be able to trade in all the holy goods – the Torah and mitzvos. We don’t need to waste our time on any investigation, scrutinizing their validity, G-d forbid. Rather we have to occupy our lives in gathering and trading in that special merchandise that is ‘dearer than gold and pearls’, without equal in value.

Therefore we find that Shlomo Hamelech in Mishlei/Proverbs praises emunah with the words “Who can find a woman of valor [i.e. emunah]…?” Holy emunah is termed a woman of valor, for Rebbe Nachman teaches that truth and emunah correspond to the man and woman (see Likutei Moharan 7). And Shlomo praises emunah, the ‘woman of valor’, in this entire song, using terms of profit and success. This entire wondrous song, from start to finish, praises her with the goods that she is successful and profitable with. For the main success in our ‘holy merchandise’ is by way of the ‘woman of valor’ – holy emunah. This is as the Arizal writes throughout his works that emunah is an aspect of malchus/sovereignty, corresponding to the ‘G-d fearing woman’, an aspect of the ‘woman of valor’. Therefore, “she is like the merchant ships - from afar she brings her food”. For by way of holy emunah, relying on Moshe Rabbeinu and all the tzaddikim that follow his path, we are able to transport merchandise to far away places and bring our bread and sustenance to eternity from afar. For even if we ourselves are uninformed as to what to bring there, nevertheless, the truly ish ne’eman has informed us of what merchandise to bring in order to be always successful there.

Yoreh De’ah Hilchos Gilu’ach 4:3