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At times we may
observe one who behaves in a secular manner saying he had a great time. Is that
really true? Many times those behaving this way are left with a feeling of
emptiness. Their bragging is just a cover.
This can be compared to a fish that is out of water,
as it jumps around uncontrollably. Although it appears that the fish is really
alive, we know the opposite is true since his real habitat is in water. The
same applies to when a Jew strays from the proper path. Although it seems like
he is having fun by jumping around—with alcohol, the opposite gender and the
like—the truth is he is like a fish out of water.
Indeed, we are compared to fish—וידגו לרב. A Jew needs
to live in water. Torah
that is, as in אין מים אלא תורה.
Just as when a fish is returned to water we see the
return of the vitality of the fish, the same is with a Jew. When he is put into
the waters of Torah, we can see his strength return.
The following incredible account is brought in the
Sefer בוצינא דנהורא. R’ Tzvi
Zidichover was once in Mezibiz where he hid in the room with another Chassid to
hear Shir Hashirim from the holy R’ Baruch Mezbitzer.
When he began to recite Shir Hashirim with zeal and passion, the Chassid said
to R’ Tzvi that he was disoriented from the abundant fire that was in the heart
of the Rebbe, R’ Baruch Mezbitzer. When the Rebbe recited ודגלו עלי
אהבה... אני, it
literally appeared as if there was a fire surrounding him. The Chassid then ran
away since he couldn’t tolerate the awesome fire. R’ Tzvi saw thunder and fire
in which the house was completely engulfed in. He strengthened himself and
managed to continue to stay there as he wanted to be in the presence of such
holiness. Then the Rebbe reached the Pasuk אני לדודי ועלי תשוקתו. At this point, R’ Tzvi nearly lost his mind. R’ Tzvi then said
‘I am willing to be Moser Nefesh to Hashem with love to hear דברי אלה-ים
חיים like it was given by Sinai. If
my soul departs from my body, I am doing the will of Hashem.’ At that time, a
new spirit was endowed to him from the heavens. He then saw the fire of Hashem
in the house which was inconceivable. Then when the Rebbe recited the Pasukכי עזה כמות
אהבה...שלהבתיה , …its
flashes are flashes of fire from the flame of Hashem, R’ Tzvi nearly lost his life
במציאות) from the great fervor and
passion. Hashem then helped R’ Tzvi until his Rebbi finished Shir Hashirim.
Everyone has a need to connect to the Creator. If he
doesn’t, then the need manifests itself in gratifying the body in material
ways. This is what is meant in הנפש לא תמלא, his wants
are never satisfied, as this can be in spirituality or physicality. In ידיד נפש, we sing נפשי חולת אהבתך, my soul
pines for your love. An alternate translation is our soul is sick in the area
of love, meaning instead of serving Hashem, we indulge in worldly
Although it may appear that one who is confined to the
Torah is limited, the truth is that this is when his potential can be brought
forth. A violin string can only express music when it is tied down. Likewise,
we can only express ourselves when we are subjected to the Torah.
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.
This is analogous to a chicken’s head that is chopped
off and is jumping around although it is really dead.
Man is compared to a tree—כי האדם עץ
(Devarim 20:19). Just as a tree grows and becomes stronger through watering it,
likewise, this is how we grow and become spiritually stronger—through water,
Torah—אין מים אלא
We see what an amazing, superior existence one lives
when he lives a Torah life from Vayikra 26:3-13, אם בחקתי תלכו....
Taanis 7a. We know that in the Mishkan there were no
windows. This is because a window is necessary if there is something to look
at. Since all Kedusha is in the Mishkan, there is no need for windows. The same
applies to genuine Torah learning, as one doesn’t need to see the secular
material of the outside world.
Once one lives a better lifestyle he sees that it
doesn’t compare to the old one. This is similar to what it says אשר ראה את
those who saw the first Beis Hamikdash knew that the second one was inferior to
it (Chagai 2:3).
Koheles 6:7. It has been said that a Jew goes to עולם הבא
either through suffering with the Yetzer Hara or through Gehinom. We should
therefore take advantage and acquire the next world with overcoming the Yetzer
It is obviously no coincidence that both holidays of
Torah, Shavuos and Simchas Torah, are both called עצרת. This is because עצרת
means to restrain and the Torah disciplines us, as in בראתי יצר
Hashem created the Yetzer Hara and the Torah as its antidote (Kidushin 30b).
Also, the Torah was given to us because we are עזין, strong-willed (Beitza 25b).