Friday, January 3, 2014

Week 18 (Book 4a): Wisdom That Brings Others Enjoyment and Pleasure in Life


STORY OF CHANNAH: 18. And she said: May your bondswoman find favor in your eyes; and the woman went on her way and ate, and her face was not (sad) anymore.  

QUALITY OF PIRKEI AVOT: and wisdom       

PROVERBS: Chapter 18

TZADDIKIM: Rebbe Meshulam Zusil (Zusha) of Anipoli, and the Rav Yisrael Abuchatzeira, the Baba Sali.           

Week 18 is the week of Rosh Chodesh Shevat. Shevat is connected to the attribute of pleasure, Ta’anug, as well as faith, Emunah. It is worth noting, how in the above verse it states that Channah ate. It does not seem like a relevant observation in the verse. However, it indicates the extent of which Channah was now relieved. Her faith in the words of Eli allowed her to now be able to partake (and take pleasure, Ta’anug) in food again.

This week’s Pirkei Avot quality is that people enjoy “wisdom,” from those that study Torah for its own sake (Lishmah). In Channah’s story above, as mentioned above, and also continuing what was mentioned last week, Eli’s wisdom allows Channah to finally be able to feel comforted, and eat. The word for wisdom used is Tushiah, which appears quite infrequently in Tanach and can also be translated as resourcefulness. Even if Eli did not immediately recognize Channah’s pure intentions, after he spoke to her, he was very wise to quickly realize that he was mistaken and to bless her with a child.

Again, the entire Book of Proverbs is about enjoying wisdom from those that have it. Chapter 18 continues this theme. The very first verse of this chapter speaks of wisdom: “1. He who is separated seeks lust; in all sound wisdom, he is exposed.” Incredibly, the word for wisdom used here is also Tushiah.                    

This week contains the yahrzeit of many great Tzadikim,including Reb Zusha of Anipoli (2nd of Shevat) and the Baba Sali (4th of Shevat).  

The Rebbe Reb Zusha (as he is traditionally referred to) was one of the main disciples of the Maggid of Mezritch. He was the brother of the Rebbe Reb Elimelech of Lizhensk. The two brothers were known for their spiritual travels through Eastern Europe, bringing life and Torah to the Jewish communities in the region. Rabbi Noach of Kobryn once heard, that Chassidus managed to spread only in those areas through which the both traveled. Stories abound of the miracles performed for Reb Zusha, his humility, as well as his deep introspection. In the entire history of the Chassidic movement, Reb Zusha is certainly one of its greatest giants.

Similarly, in the history of Sefardi holy men, certainly the Baba Sali stands among the most prominent. He was the grandson of Rav Yaakov Abuchatzeira, the Abir Yaakov, mentioned in Week 16. His love for Hashem, the Jewish people and the Torah were unfathomable. His humility and holiness also knew no bounds. There are literally thousands of stories of the open miracles he performed. The Baba Sali also had a very close relationship with Torah sages from all spectrums of Jewish life, and had tremendous affinity for Chassidism’s teachings and its leaders.


Other yahrzeits this week include Rabbi Yerachmiel Yisroel Yitzchok Danziger (second Alexander Rebbe, author of Yismach Yisroel, 29th of Teveth), Rav Yitzchak Kaduri (29th of Teveth), Rabbi Simcha Bunim Kalish of Vorka (2nd of Shevat), Rabbi Yosef Yerachmiel Aharon Kalish of Amshinov (3rd of Shevat), Rabbi Avraham of Kalisk (4th of Shevat), Rabbi Moshe Yehudah Aryeh Leib of Sassov (4th of Shevat), and (sometimes) Rabbi Yehuda Aryeh Leib Alter (the Sfas Emes, the  2nd Rebbe of Gur, 5th of Shevat).
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