I. A higher level of
1. 'When you will make a
sale to one of your people or you will purchase something from the hand
of one of your people' (V'yikra* 25.14)
Being occupied with one's livelihood as also considered a service of
HaShem* and [is a part of the] Torah*. The reason is that there are many
laws involved with making ones livelihood. The Baal Shem Tov ZT'L* said,
that the person who learns the law 'One who exchanges a cow for a
donkey', is beloved by HaShem [since he is learning HaShem's Torah.] How
much more so is that person who actually does 'exchange a cow for a
donkey' and he follows all the laws that the Torah has for such
exchanges. This type of service is even higher then the one who only
learns about it [and does not actually do it.]
The reason is that everything in this world was only created for the
honor of HaShem. From the smallest thing to the largest thing,
everything must conform to the Torah. [For this reasons] from everything
that exists [in this world] one is able to serve HaShem. [This is true
since everything has something in the Torah that relates to it.]
In everything that exists one can see the wonders of HaShem and how His
wisdom is contained in everything. And even on the most simple level, we
can see that everything has some Torah law or idea that relates to it.
[For example] we are told to measure correctly products for sale, and by
so doing we also perform a mitzvah*. Chazal* also teach us that one who
sits and does not do a sin it is counted as if he did a mitzvah.
Therefore if one acts with this understanding, then he is occupied
continually in the Torah, even if he should be occupied with his
livelihood. (p. 440 sefer Baal Shem Tov teachings of the Baal Shem Tov.)
* * *
II. Serving HaShem as a servant.
2. 'For Me the children of
Israel are servants, they are My servants who I have taken out of the
land of Egypt.' (V'yikra 25.55)
I heard from the Holy Light, the Rebbe Reb* Ber of Mezritch, an
explanation of the following teaching of Chazal. They taught that when
HaShem gave the Torah to the Jewish people He held a mountain over them
and said, 'If you will accept my Torah then all is well, and if not you
shall be buried here.' [He asked with regards to this,] it is difficult
to understand the meaning, since the Jewish people had just said, 'we
will listen and we will do.' And from their own desire they had accepted
upon themselves to follow the laws of the Torah. [Why was there a need
to hold the mountain over them?]
The answer is that because they had been on such a high spiritual level
and had perceived the greatness of HaShem, they said 'we will listen and
we will do.' [According to Chazal when HaShem saw this He said] 'who
revealed to them this secret [that one should accept to
listen/obey to the laws of the Torah even before he has heard them.]
This is the language that the ministering angels use...' [What they
answered showed that they were beyond the level that normal men
served HaShem on, and they were approaching that of the Holy angels.]
HaShem therefore showed to them that even though it shall happen that
they shall descend from the high spiritual level they are on, and
descend to one on a much lower level, they are not free from serving
HaShem. He then held a mountain above them to show them they were
required to serve Him even if they could not feel the same enjoyment
in this service as they did when they were on the high level they
attained when they received the Torah. (Until here are his words. The
words of the wise are pleasant.)
This is the meaning of this verse: 'For Me the children of Israel'
i.e. everything should be done for His name's sake [i.e. for Me.]
'Are servants.' This means that even though they are servants, i.e.
on a low level like servants [as opposed to the level of children]
they are still required to serve Him according to whatever level they
are on. And He will be pleased with that service.
'They are My servants who I have taken out of the land of Egypt.'
When He took them out of the land of Egypt. He had at that time given
them the mitzvos of the Passover sacrifice and circumcision while
they were in Egypt. [These mitzvos] were still pleasing to Him [even
though they were on a low spiritual state, as the Midrash* says both
these (the Jewish people) and those (the Egyptians) are idolaters.]
This was true even though they were on the low level of 'servant'.
The verse ends, 'I am HaShem your G-d.' He is HaShem even when they
are on a low level of service and they are required to serve Him that
level. (p. 263 sefer Orach L'Chaim teachings of Rebbe* Avraham
* * *
III. Never give up
3. 'After he has been
sold, he shall have a redemption, one of his brothers will redeem him.'
It appears to me that the Holy Torah is trying to show us that when a
person should see that he is on a very low level of service to HaShem,
and he will feel that there is no longer any hope for him, he should not
give up on himself. Even though he is sold [to his Yetzer HaRah* and is
within it's power] there will certainly be a redemption for him, and
there is still hope for him.
This is the meaning of the verse: 'After he has been sold.' After
has been separated, i.e. he has been sold and separated into the
service of his Yetzer HaRah. Even though this is the case 'he shall
have a redemption, one of his brothers shall redeem him.' The Talmud*
says that 'they do not become diminished from their preciousness to
Him until they are considered like brothers.' This is the meaning of
'one of his brothers,' the Jewish people are called the 'brothers' of
HaShem. [HaShem will redeem them.] (p. 138 sefer Or L'Shamayim
teachings of Rebbe Meir of Apt.)
* * *
4. 'HaShem spoke to Moshe
on Mount Sinai saying, Speak to the children of Israel and say to them.'
[According to Chazal] HaShem chose Mount Sinai [as the place to give
the Torah] because it was the smallest of the mountains. Since that
is the case it would have been better if he chose out a deep valley
[to give the Torah], and not a mountain at all.
However there is here a remez* to an important concept [in the
service of HaShem.] Sometimes it is necessary for a person to be on
the level of 'raise your heart up in the service of HaShem.' For that
reason HaShem chose out Mount Sinai which was a small mountain.
However it was a little bit tall to teach this idea. [One should have
a little 'conceit' in him at times to use in serving HaShem.]
The same thing is here with these verses. HaShem spoke both soft and
hard words. [The verse uses the hebrew words 'dabar' and 'emor' which
Chazal say indicate both strong and soft speech.] First words of
reproach to lower them [in their own eyes] and then soft words to raise
This is the meaning of the next verse, 'when you will enter the land'.
[The idea of land/earth] indicates humility. 'The land will have a
Shabbos [rest] for Hashem.' This indicates that they should be raised
up. 'Shabbos' is a remez for this since [as it says in the seforim*] on
Shabbos the heart feels raised up and is joyful.
This is the general rule with regards to humility. You should not come
to depression through it, but to a level where your heart is raised up
in joy to HaShem. This is the true level of humility. (p. 124 sefer
Divrei Yisroel teachings of Rebbe Yisroel of Modzitz.)
Arizal: Hebrew initials of the words: Adoni Rabbenu Yitzchok
Zechorono LeVaracha our master Rabbi Yitzchok. Better known as
Yitzchok Luria the great 16th century
Chazal: Hebrew initials for: Chochmenu Zichrona Levaracha (Our
sages of Blessed memory) Used to refer to Rabbis of the Talmud.
HaShem: Noun used in place of G-d. Lit. The Name
HY'D: Heb. HaShem Yimkom Domov: HaShem should avenge their blood.
Mishleh: One of the books of the Tenach, called in English
One of the commandments of the Torah.
nashama: Hebrew word for soul.
peshat: A method of Biblical interpretation based on finding the
simple meaning in the Torah.
Rashi: The primary commentary on the Tenach.
Rebbe: Leader of a Chassidic group or a teacher
Tractate in the Talmud
Shemos: Second book of the Torah. Called Exodus in English
Talmid (Talmidim): Disciples of a Rebbe.
Talmud: An ancient work of Jewish law.
Tehillim: Hebrew name for Psalms.
Torah: a. First 5 books of the Jewish Bible
b. Also refers to
the whole of Jewish law
c. also common term
for a chassidic teaching
Tshuva: Hebrew word for repentance
Tzaddik (Tzaddikim): lit. Righteous. Another name for a Chassidic
Yetzer: lit. Inclination. It is Jewish belief that every Jew has
both an evil and good inclination within him, that are at 'war' to see
which of them the person will follow.
Yetzer Tov: Heb. Good Inclination
Yetzer HaRah: Heb. Evil Inclination.
ZT'L: Hebrew initials of the words: Zechor Tzaddik LeVaracha (The
memory of a Tzaddik - Righteous person is a blessing.)
ZY'A: Hebrew initials of the words: Zechiso Yagan Aleinu (His
merit should protect us.)
Copyright (c) 1997 by Moshe Shulman
All rights reserved.
Issur Hasugas Givilv