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Monday, December 29, 2014

Week 15 (Book 4a): Handling Reproof

STORY OF CHANNAH: 15 And Hannah answered and said: 'No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I poured out my soul before the LORD.
 
QUALITY OF PIRKEI AVOT: distances him from sin
 
PROVERBS: Chapter 15
 
TZADIKKIM: Rabbi Nathan of Breslov (10th of Teveth)
 
Week 15 is the week of the fast of the 10th of Teveth. The verse from the story of Channah describes how she describes herself as someone who is full of sorrow, who has not drunk, but instead it pouring her soul before G-d. That is very much the idea of the fast. We express our sorrow, we do not (eat or) drink, and instead pour out our soul to G-d.
 
This week’s Pirkei Avot quality those that study Torah for its own sake (Lishmah) is that Torah distances him from sin. This does not only mean that one does not sin, but that the Torah requires one who is improperly suspected of sinning to speak up. The Talmud (Brachot) teaches that we learn this principle from the above verse in Channah’s story.
 
Chapter 15 of the Book of Proverbs contains many of the themes of this chapter and previous ones: the chapter speaks about how there are times when one needs to to give a gentle reply, but also about knowing how to receive reproof. The chapter also contains contrasts between the righteous and the wicked:
 
1. A gentle reply turns away wrath, but a distressing word stirs up anger. (…)
5. A fool despises the discipline of his father, but he who keeps reproof will become cunning. (…)
10. Harsh discipline will come to him who forsakes the way; he who hates reproof shall die. (…)
12. A scorner does not like being reproved; he does not go to the wise. (…)
31. The ear that listens to reproof of life shall lodge among the wise.
32. He who rejects discipline despises his life, but he who hearkens to reproof acquires sense.
33. The fear of the Lord is the discipline of wisdom, and before honor there is humility.
 
The 10th of Teveth, and fast days in general, are also about knowing how to handle reproof and repent.
The 10th of Tevethis the yahrzeit of Rebbe Nosson of Breslev, the primary disciple of Rebbe Nachman, and the one responsible for publishing his works and continuing his legacy. Rebbe Nachman said of Rebbe Nosson that he was his “ebbe Nachman said of Rebbe Nosson that he was his “Yehoshuah.” Breslev chassidim commonly state that without Rebbe Nosson, we would be lost. Rebbe Nosson’s life story is very well documented. One of the most predominant themes of his life was staunch faith, dedication and determination in the face of tremendously harsh opposition. In his struggle to connect to Rebbe Nachman, not only was he challenged by other Chassidic leaders at the time, but by his parents, in-laws, and even his wife. Yet, in the face of it all, he remained loyal to his mission, knowing how to handle the opposition and improper reproof, and focusing on pouring out his soul to G-d.
 
The twelfth of Teveth is the yahrzeit of Rebbe Moshe of Peshevorsk. The Peshevorsk Chassidic dynasty ultimately came from him. This week is connected to the Written Torah (SeeBook 2), and Rebbe Moshe was famous for the Torah, tefillin, and mezuzah scrolls that he wrote. He was known as a man of tremendous purity and righteousness. He is also the author of Ohr Penei Moshe, a commentary on the Bible and on specific sections of the Talmud.[1]
 
Other yahrzeits this week include Rabbi Avraham Abba Leifer (the Pittsburgher Rebbe, 10th of Teveth), RabbiYehoshua Horowitz of Dzikov (author of Ateres Yeshua, 11th of Teveth), Rabbi Yaakov Yosef Shlomo of Vasoloi-Tel Aviv (11th of Teveth), and (often) Rav Moshe son of Rabbi David Biederman of Lelov (son-in-law of the “Holy Yid” of Peshischa and the first Chassidic Rebbe to settle in Jerusalem, 13thof Teveth).



 
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