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A Lonely Connection
Everyone has times they feel lonely, some more than
others. Why did Hashem create this feeling of loneliness?
It is through this feeling that one can genuinely
connect to Hashem. The root of loneliness stems from the soul not feeling the
presence of Hashem. The only
way to fill this emptiness is through Hashem. This is what is meant in the
Midrash that links ויותר יעקב לבדו withונשגב ה' לבדו as the alone of Yaakov is connected to the alone of
Similarly, we are called הן עם לבדד as we can do the same. Indeed, we are named after
Yaakov—בני ישראל—and we therefore have this trait in our genes. When these two
alones connect, that is authentic companionship.
When one feels lonely, he may call a friend to remove
this feeling. This is one example of an external, superficial way of dealing
with this feeling. Other examples are playing with different gadgets of
or with hanging out with friends.
This state of loneliness is a gift that Hashem gives
us as it is a reminder for us to connect with Him.
For this reason, it says לא מצאתי לגוף טוב אלא שתיקה, I found
nothing better for oneself than silence. In this way we can fulfill the words
of the Mesillas Yesharimלא נברא אלא
להתענג על ה'..., we were
created to revel in Hashem and delight in the glory of the Shechina which is
the ultimate joy and greatest pleasure.
The Noam Elimelech and his brother R’
Zusha were once arrested and put in a prison cell. When morning arrived, the
Noam Elimelech was found crying since he couldn’t recite Brachos as there was a
makeshift toilet (bucket) there. R’ Zusha said to his brother that through
this, we can connect to Hashem because the same Hashem who commanded us to
daven is the same Hashem who commanded us not to daven in this situation. They
then danced as the Noam Elimelech was consoled. Upon seeing this, the guard
removed the bucket since this dancing infuriated him! They were now able to
To inculcate the feeling that we are always with
Hashem we need to constantly repeat the following: “am I alone or am I with you
Hashem.” This applies whether we are saying מודה אני, are in shul and so on. If we are with other people, we can say
“I am not only with these people but also with you Hashem.”
We need to verbalize this as it is not enough to just think it since with words
we instill it in our heart as in האמנתי כי אדבר.
The way one can check himself to evaluate if he has
reached perfection in this area is to see if he ever feels lonely—even if this
feeling is only for a second. A level such as this may take a lifetime to
acquire. Let us daven to Hashem to reach these high levels.
Rabbi Alt merited to learn under the tutelage of R’ Mordechai Friedlander Ztz”l for close to five years. He received Semicha from R’ Zalman Nechemia Goldberg. Rabbi Alt has written on numerous topics for various websites and publications. He lives with his wife and family in a suburb of Yerushalayim where he studies, writes and teaches. The author is passionate about teaching Jews of all levels of observance.
A Chassid of the Sefas Emes (1847-1905) was a Rav in
a town where there were no other Chassidim. He asked the Sefas Emes if it would
be wiser for him to move to another town where there were Chasidim since he
felt so lonely where he was? The Sefas Emes told him that if you have a Gemara
that you can learn, you need never feel lonely.
Breishis Rabba 77:1. Breishis 32:25. Yeshaya 2:11.
Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh, volume 2, p. 99.
When Hashem gave the Torah the world was silent as the birds
didn’t fly, the animals didn’t make any noise, the Malachim called שרפים didn’t say קדוש,
קדוש, קדוש and so on
(Shemos Rabba 29:9). There was no noise so that we could hear the voice within
ourselves– the voice that longed for a spiritual connection, the voice that
longed for Hashem’s Torah.
Chapter 1. When R’ Moshe Chaim Luzzatto (1707-1746),
also known as the Ramchal (רמח"ל is an acronym forר' משה חיים
לוצאטו), was fifteen years old, he already knew the entire
Talmud by heart, the teachings of the Arizal and the Zohar. When he was twenty, he claimed to have received direct instruction
from an angel (known as a Maggid). While stories of such encounters with celestial
entities were not unknown in kabbalistic circles, it was unheard of for someone
of such a young age. His peers were enthralled by his written accounts of these
"Divine lessons," but the leading Italian rabbinical authorities were
highly suspicious and threatened to excommunicate him. Just one hundred years
earlier another young mystic, Shabtai Tzvi (1626–1676), had rocked the
Jewish world by claiming to be Moshiach. Although at one point Shabtai Tzvi
convinced many European and Middle Eastern rabbis of his claim, the
episode ended with him recanting and converting to Islam. The global Jewish
community was still reeling from that, and the similarities between the
Ramchal’s writings and Shabtai Tzvi's were perceived as being particularly
dangerous and heretical. The Ramchal decided not to write the Maggid’s lessons
or teach mysticism. In 1735, the Ramchal left Italy for Amsterdam, believing
that in the more liberal environment there, he would be able to pursue his
mystical interests. Passing through Germany, he appealed to the local
rabbinical authorities to protect him from the threats of the Italian rabbis.
They refused and forced him to sign a document stating that all the teachings
of the Maggid were false. Most of his writings were burned, though some
did survive. He authored about ninety Sefarim on a range of different topics.
From the Zoharic writings, the 70 Tikkunim Chadashim re-appeared
in 1958 against all odds, in the main library of Oxford. "Arrangements"
of thoughts, these Tikkunim expose 70 different essential uses of the last
pasuk of Chumash. Supposedly taught word-by-word in Aramaic by the Ramchal’s
Maggid, they parallel the Tikunei Zohar, which expose the 70 fundamental
understandings of the first pasuk in Chumash. It was only as recently as the
1970s that some of Ramchal’s books were discovered and printed. One
interesting work is his Mishkney Elyon, which was written when he
was 22 years old. He mentioned this Sefer in a letter he wrote in 1729 to
his Rebbi, R’ Basan, during his dark days of oppression while everyone was
closing down on him. The Sefer hadn’t been printed, nor seen, for 227 years
until in 1956 when its manuscript was accidentally discovered in the Bodleian
Library in Oxford. It was then printed for the first time ever in 1980,
under the title Ginzei Ramchal. In 1993 a new broader edition
of Mishkney Elyon was requested by the Lubavitcher Rebbe and
published by the Ramchal Institute in Yerushalayim. When the Ramchal finally reached Amsterdam, he was able to pursue his
studies of Kabbalah relatively unhindered. Earning a living as a diamond
cutter, he continued writing but refused to teach. It was in this period that
he wrote the Mesillas Yesharim (1740). The Gra (1720-1797), who was a
contemporary of the Ramchal, was reputed to have said after reading Mesillas
Yesharim, that if the Ramchal was still alive, he would walk from Vilna to
learn at the feet of the Ramchal. Frustrated by his inability to teach
Kabbalah, the Ramchal left Amsterdam for Eretz Yisrael in 1743,
settling in Akko. Three years later, he and his family died in a plague. A
century after his death, the Ramchal was rediscovered by the Mussar movement.
R’ Yisrael Salanter (1810-1883) placed Mesillas Yesharim at the heart of
the Mussar curriculum of the major yeshivas of Eastern Europe.
One should speak to Hashem in second person not in
third person. For example, one shouldn’t say Hashem made this happen to me
rather say “You, Hashem, did this.” In this way, we speak “with” Hashem, not “about”
Tehillim 116:10. Similarly, it says בפיך ובלבבך
לעשתו (Devarim 30:14)—say it externally with your mouth and then
eventually, if you do it enough times, it will penetrate your heart.