THE KABBALAH OF TIME:
Kahane and Wainer explain that the calendar is the master key to unlock the hidden rationale behind the formal structure of ancient sacred texts, as well as to understand basic mystical concepts. When comprehended within the context of the Jewish calendar, these works reveal the spiritual energy of each week, serving as a practical guide for self-analysis and development.
Monday, October 6, 2014
Week 3 (Book 4a): Pilgrimage and Friendship, Happiness and the Maggid of Kozhnitz
STORY OF CHANNAH: 3 And
this man went up out of his city from year to year to worship and to sacrifice
unto the LORD of hosts in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas,
were there priests unto the LORD.
PIRKEI AVOT: He is
PROVERBS: Chapter 3
TZADDIKIM: Rav Yisrael
Hopstein (the Maggid of Kozhnitz, 14th of Tishrei) and Rabbi
Mordechai of Lechovitch (15th of Tishrei)
Week 3 is the week of Sukkot.
The verse from the story of Channah speaks of three priests: Eli, Hophni,
and Phinehas. The verse also speaks of Elkanah’s yearly pilgrimage to the
Tabernacle in Shiloh. Sukkot is one of the three pilgrimage festivals
in the Jewish calendar, along with Passover
and Shavuot. Rashi explains that Elkanah’s pilgrimage was unique:
And that man was wont to go
up: This is the present tense. He would go up from one appointed season to
another appointed season, to Shiloh. Midrash Aggadah (M.S. 1: 1,5, 7): The
route he followed this year he did not follow the next year, in order to
publicize (his pilgrimage) to the Israelites that they should do likewise.
Elkanah’s behavior was characteristic of
that of a Tzadik. He served as a role model, and actually succeeded in
bringing more pilgrims to Jerusalem in the process.
The Pirkei Avot section for
this week explains that one that studies Torah for its own sake is called a
“friend.” Interestingly, Elkanah’s behavior above exemplifies such friendship.
In general, Sukkot is a time of much social interaction, in which we invite
each other to our respective sukkot.
Chapter 3 of the Book of Proverbs
contains the theme of peace, friendship and hospitality characteristic
27. Do not withhold good from the one
who needs it when you have power in your hand to do
28. Do not say to your fellow, "Go
and return, and tomorrow I will give," though you have it with
29. Devise no harm against your fellow,
when he dwells securely with
30. Do not quarrel with anyone without
cause, if he did you no harm.
This week, on the
14th of Tishrei, is the yahrzeit of Rabbi Yisrael Hopstein,
the Maggid of Kozhnitz. The Kozhnitzer Maggid was known by his followers as
“the second Baal Shem Tov,” so holy and special was his ways. He was born to
his mother and father at a very old age after a blessing from the Baal Shem Tov
himself. The story of how this blessing came about is a book in and of itself.
The story involves his parents being rewarded for
their Simcha (happiness) and for their dancing around the Shabat
table, which is clearly connected with these days of Sukkot (as
well as Shmini Atzeret/Simchat Torah in week 4):
You should know, that at the time the bookbinder [the
Maggid's father] broke out in a joyous dance onf Friday night, expressing his
gratitude to Hashem, there was a great 'simcha' (celebration) in all worlds,
and the heavenly tribunal danced with and joined in his happiness. Now you can
understand, the Baal Shem Tov explained to his students, why I smiled Friday
night, because I saw the great simcha going on in the upper worlds, so it
brought me a unique simcha.
Like the Magen Avraham, he also was
sickly as a child, and was a tremendous prodigy. There is also a story that
connects these two tzadikim:
The story goes that when the Maggid of Koznitz was
young, he arranged to study Magen Avraham with a friend every day in the early
morning. After the first session, their hearts were aflame even more than usual
in their service of G-d, to that point that they were overcome by extreme enthusiasm.
The Maggid decided to go to his Rav, Rabbi Shmelke of Nickelsburg, and ask him
from where this great light came. When he went to see his Rav, as soon as he
crossed the threshold of his home Rabbi Shmelke said to him, “Israel, I can see
on your face that you studied Magen Avraham. That book generates a great light
in the heart of the wise.” 
A day later, on the
15th of Tishrei, the first day of Sukkot, is
the yahrzeit of Rabbi Mordechai of Lechovitch (the father of
Rabbi Noach, mentioned last week). His teachings are an essential part of
Karlin Chassidism, as well as the other dynasties mentioned last week. One of
the key elements of his teachings is the focus on happiness.
Other yahrzeits this week
include Rabbi Mordechai of Nadvorna (15th of Tishrei), Rabbi
Tzvi Hirsch ben R' Shlomo Shapiro of Munkach, author of Darkei Teshuva (1913)
father of the Minchas Elazar (16th of Tishrei), and (sometimes this
week and sometimes next week) Rebbe Nachman of Breslov
(18th of Tishrei), Rabbi Eliyahu Kramer (the Vilna Gaon,
19th of Tishrei), Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchak Rabinowitz (the Yid
HaKadosh, the “Holy Jew” of P’shischa), and Rav Eliezer Papo
(the “Peleh Yoetz,” 20th of Tishrei).