פנחס הלוי דופעלט
ריזל בת דוד מרדכי
אליהו בן חיים
שמואל בן מאיר צבי
דבורה בת ר’ דוד דוב
בלומא בת דוב בער חיים
איטא יהודית בת ר’ שלמה
שרגא פייוועל בן ר’ פנחס
שלמה בן אברהם פנחס הלוי
אלעזר בן ר’ אהרן שלום
שמואל בנימין שמחה אלטר בן ליפמן יוסף
זאב גדליה בן אליהו מאיר
We are already four weeks into Shovavim. Although we are well into Shovavim, but the good news is that we still have four weeks left (as this year is a leap year). These weeks are weeks of elevation in which we can raise ourselves from the mud to the sky, which symbolizes our very own יציאת מצרים.
Before we begin, let’s clarify a great misconception many people have. Some people have the impression that the weeks of Shovavim are some sort of Chassidishe minhag. While it’s true that Chassidim place a great focus on Shovavim, it has nothing to do with any chassidishe minhag.
This way of thinking is totally misguided and such thoughts will prevent one from receiving any benefits from these tremendous weeks. Unfortunately, many years a person can go through eight weeks of Shovavim and squander this tremendous עת רצון.
The truth is that the idea of Shovavim is brought down in the Rishonim and in the Achronim, as well. The פרי מגדים discusses it and theשל״ה also discusses it at great length.
Although we will not be able to delve into it in great depth in this forum, but we will at least try to scratch the surface so we won’t leave you hanging [It is recommended to do your own research on the greatness of these weeks]. Some may be wondering what’s so special about this time? Let’s explore.
During these weeks, Klal Yisroel is reading the parshiyos of יציאת מצרים. This causes an awakening of the tremendous light ofיציאת מצרים. In Mitzrayim, Klal Yisroel had sunk into the מ״ט שערי טומאה and at that time Hashem took them out. Therefore, at this time, we can be elevated to great heights in Kedusha. [Especially during the week of Parshas Bo when we brought the Korban Pesach.]
Before we discuss what the seforim say regarding the tikkunim that we can be zoche to this time, I would like to discuss an interesting approach to our own personal Yetzias Mitzrayim that we are waiting for.
The seforim say that the word מצרים is rooted in the word מצר which could have two connotations: first, lots of pain, and second, being stuck in a narrow hole. In truth, both these two things go together. Many of us are stuck in the pain that we have in our life, and are being very narrow minded, as we will explain.
I am not denying that many people have all kinds of pain, both emotionally and physically. However, at the same time, we have so much good in our lives that we aren’t focused on.
Let us take a moment to think about our body and all its functions, or all the spirituality that we have in our life. Let us think about all our necessities and luxuries that we have in such abundance. All this should keep our minds distracted from the few (even real) problems that we face all day.
This is not to deny that some of us may have serious problems r”l, and we cannot avoid it. However, I would like to say this. Imagine someone would take a suffering person on a vacation to Florida, to the most beautiful, scenic, exciting places. This would at least temporarily alleviate his pain for that time.
If that is so, why can’t we do the same thing without journeying to Florida? Let’s just take a journey through the goodness of Hashem in our life and take a vacation from our problems! Why do we have to travel so far to run away from our issues?
The simple answer is that obviously we don’t properly connect to all the goodness of Hashem. We take things for granted like the spoiled child growing up in our society.
I once read about a young man who was complaining about his parents. He told his Rebbe that he is traumatized from some things that his parents did to him when he was a child (non abusive). Therefore, all his problems are his parents’ fault.
The Rebbe responded as follows. “Do you know how much money your parents spent on you in the fifteen years of your life? Hundreds of thousands of dollars. Do you know how much time and energy your parents put into you? Thousands of hours. Do you know how many nights your parents gave up on you? Do you know how much food your mother cooked for you?
The Rebbe concluded, “If you take to heart and are traumatized by the few things your parents did that made you feel uncomfortable, how much more should you take to heart all the good your parents did for you in your life.”
It’s the same with the Ribbono shel Olam, but exponentially greater. If you think about all the chessed that Hashem has been doing with us since we were born, it’s mind blowing. We must take to heart the vast number of chassadim that He does for us.
There is a famous story that really brings this concept out. Rav Avigdor Miller zt”l lost a grandson r”l, but despite the tragedy he gave his regular shiur with vigor, as if nothing happened. When he was asked how he was able to do that, he replied that he is so enveloped in the chessed Hashem that he doesn’t have any room for bitterness and tragedies.
In other words, Rav Avigdor Miller lived his life drunk from all the chessed Hashem that he couldn’t be distracted with anything bad. By us, it can be the other way around. We can be so submerged in our problems, that we don’t take notice of the millions of chassadim that are happening to us.
As mentioned earlier, we are stuck in our מצרים and we need to get out fast. However, we understand that getting out of this מצרים is easier said than done. Therefore, we will suggest two exercises that can be done on a daily basis (in addition to whatever we are doing during these awesome days).
Let me preface it with a warning that we shouldn’t try to jump too high, as Chazal teach us תפסת מרובה לא תפסת. We must beware of the “frum Yetzer Hara” [which is extremely dangerous], that tells us that it’s either all or nothing. He tells us to do something all the time until it becomes overwhelming and then we drop the whole thing. Let’s begin with small steps [that are huge].
- Take a pad of paper and date with the daily dates over the next few weeks. Each day write a list of ten to twenty things that you have in your life. It can be people or objects, and thank Hashem for these things with all your heart. If you don’t feel the gratitude then say it a few times until you feel it. [If you still don’t feel it, don’t worry, eventually your heart will begin to melt.]
2. Take five to ten minutes of your day and be mindful of everything you are doing. Then thank Hashem for those things. For example if you are sitting on the couch doing nothing, thank Hashem that you breathing. When you get up from the couch be mindful that you are getting up and thank Hashem for giving you the ability and strength to get up.
Note: It is recommended to do this mindfulness program right when you wake up. The reason for this is because the beginning of our day is very crucial to our day. Obviously, if this time doesn’t work, then try another time throughout the day.
After a week of doing these two exercises, you can add on a few more to the list and some more time to this program. All this will bring you closer to your mission in life which is ‘להודות לה, as the Ramban famously writes in Parshas Bo.
The seforim tell us that the main impurity that we are affected by is called the מדת היסוד. This comes from of a lack of שמירת עינים והברית. This has brought us down to the מט שערי טומאה [or perhaps even the fiftieth r”l], just like the Yidden in Mitzrayim.
The truth is that for all of us that grew up in Galus, whether here in America or other countries, we can acknowledge that this our greatest challenge in this Galus. We realize that these nisyonos are so challenging and many don’t see any way out r”l. Whether there are challenges at work or in any other venue, the challenges are non-stop. How can we fight this great monster?
We know that Yosef Hatzaddik was in an extreme predicament during the height of his teenage years. He was living a nightmare as he was trying to fight the inclination with all his might. There seemed to be no way out [and the Midrash says that this is exactly what she told him]. Doesn’t this sound familiar?
קריעתיםסוף – When the Yiddden stood at the Yam Suf they were surrounded on all sides as the Midrash elaborates. There seemed to be no way out. However, the Yidden realized that yes there is one way and only one way out, and they stormed Shomayim with Tefilla.
To their shock an amazement, Hashem did the unthinkable: He split the sea. Then Hashem made twelve paths and there was drinking water and fruits and everything fell into place as the water went crashing down on their masters. Hashem literally obliterated all their problems within minutes.
Similarly, we can also get tremendous yeshuos and our problems can disappear no matter how trapped we feel [or even if we are]. Hashem can straighten out our greatest problems, but Hashem wants to hear out tefillos. However, we can triumph in our battles from other angles as well.
The Midrash brings down that Yosef said that he will never succumb to the Yetzer Hara. He said that if he succumbs then he will not have his stone in the חושן, and he decided that he will never give up his stone in the חושן for any taava.
But the real reason why Yosef declined was not because of the חושן. The real reason was because he would not go against the will of Hashem – so why did he bring up the חושן? The answer is clear. Yosef was a human being and he needed chizuk, especially in such a massive battle. Therefore, he used the חושן as a form of chizuk in his tremendous battle.
Therefore, in a generation like ours where the Yetzer Hara is dancing all around us and presents us situations similar to Yosef Hatzadik on many fronts, we too need to draw chizuk. From where?
There are beautiful seforim that can not only give chizuk, but guide us in our day to day challenges. Additionally, recently, I stumbled upon a treasure that beyond words. It’s a Zohar that is brought down by the sefer טהרת הקודש [It’s brought down that the reason why the Zohar was only discovered in the past few hundred years is because it’s during the עקבתא דמשיחא that we need so much chizuk].
The Zohar offers lots of chizuk in all areas. The Zohar in other places brings down frightening things for not being נזהר in the midda of יסוד. However, this Zohar gives us an amazingly positive approach to combat our war in Kedusha.
In fact, I was shocked [and a bit dismayed] that I hadn’t known about this Zohar during my teenage years when the war was full blown and I was desperate for some chizuk. It is clear to me that had I known about this Zohar, it would have been a game changer. If you go through this Zohar it’s like entering a fantasy. It’s like winning the lottery over and over again.
As mentioned, this Zohar is brought down in the famous sefer טהרת הקודש. It lists EIGHTY amazing, earth shattering, mind-blowing maalos that one can attain as a result of watching one’s kedusha. Hopefully this should give us the chizuk we need to prevail in this [hopefully] last battle.
I would like to point out that if you look at number 24 listed, it says something that we all need to hear these days. The Zohar says זוכה להנצל מחבלי משיח ומכל מיני מיתות ויזכה לגאולה. This in itself should motivate us in our shemira in kedusha. Our Gedolim are telling us that we are standing at the threshold of Moshiach and we are experiencing חבלי משיח.
Additionally, we know that the days of Shovavim are a tremendousעת רצון for the Geula. Sefer Shemos is known as the Sefer Hageula and as we are reading it, we can bring about the Geula now.
Speaking of Geula, there is a famous רמז from the sefer אור למאיר on last week’s parsha. The pasuk states: ולכל בני ישראל היה אור במשבתם. The numerical value for במשבתם is תשפ״ד (without the ו). The way we have it in the Chumash is with a vav. Perhaps the ו could represent the ו’ אלפים of the world].
Rav Yitzchok Sorotzkin brings down a Midrash that says that just like the Yidden were redeemed in the merit of the דם פסח and the דם המילה, the final redemption which we are waiting for will also be in the merit of the דם פסח and the דם המילה.
We see again that it’s the merit of the דם המילה that we will be zoche to the Geula. It’s our ticket to the Geula. However, it doesn’t say the bris mila. It says the “blood” of the Milah. Why? That’s because we need great mesiras nefesh to be שומר ברית these days, as explained. This is as the Navi tells us בדמיך חיי.
The Mashgiach Rav Mattisyahu zt”l understood this and he literally gave up his life for קדושת עינים and שמירת הברית of Klal Yisroel. I find it interesting that the Mashgiach returned his neshama at the onset of the days of שובבים. Perhaps the reason why it was specifically at this time in order to be מחזק us in this area.
The Mashgiach lived his life calling out מי לה’ אלי to go to war against the impurity, especially with regards to technology. At this time it’s time for all of us to respond to this call that is still reverberating throughout Klal Yisroel. We need to keep his legacy and be מוסר נפש for kedusha.
Just like at the Yam Suf Hashem wanted to see our Mesiras nefesh as the Yidden jumped into the raging waters, we need to do the same. Furthermore, the Midrash says that the water split in the merit of Yosef Hatzaddik [whose bones they were carrying] who was the epitome of mesiras nefesh for the מדת היסוד.
Each one of us knows where our weaknesses lay and we need to go into combat with mesiras nefesh. Yes, the challenges are many and many of us have been weakened from all these wars. However, with renewed chizuk, we will stand up like a lion and fight back fiercely and ferociously. We have the courage and might of a lion, as Ben Taima teaches us הוי עז כנמר..וגבור כארי
When the Yetzer Hara sees us getting up with such courage with might and mesiras nefesh, this in itself can weaken him. This will also speed up the Geula Shelaima, as we see here from the Zohar, and as we show true mesiras nefesh for Hashem.
Now I will present the most wonderful and delightful words of the Zohar. The words of chizuk are quoted below: [please hold onto this kuntres to review these most awesome and fantastic words.