Friday, July 23, 2010

Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Devorim “Shabbos Chazon” 5770

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Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Devorim “Shabbos Chazon” – Avos perek 3

5Av 5770/ /July 16, 2010

This Sunday, 7 Av, is the yahrtzeit of the Nesivas Shalom, Rabbi Shalom Noach Brazovsky zt’l, the Slonimer Rebbe (1911-2000). For the past year during shalosh seudos in shul each Shabbos afternoon, we studied together a thought from the Nesivas Shalom. Therefore, it is only fitting that we note his yahrtzeit in deference and appreciation for all of the encouragement and Torah that we learned from him.

It is unusual that a work of a Chassidic master should be so widely accepted by Torah Jews of all backgrounds, even non-chassidim. Few such works merit such a distinction (such as S’fas Emes). Yet there are countless groups that study portions of the Nesivas Shalom on a regular basis, in shuls and yeshivos throughout the world.

Each thought of the Nesivas Shalom begins with a question, or series of questions, concerning a passage or commandment in the Torah. Although there are many variant approaches to understand Torah, the Nesivas Shalom always follows the same approach. Every question is answered, “Al derech ha’avodah”, i.e. with a lesson that has practical ramifications for one’s daily Service to G-d. At times the answer is intertwined with deep kabbalistic ideas. Yet it is always explained practically, with lucid clarity.

But perhaps the most salient feature of the Nesivas Shalom is his spiritual encouragement. In virtually every thought recorded, the Rebbe speaks of one’s ability to draw close to G-d, no matter how much one has sullied his soul. There is undoubtedly a process of repentance that a sinner must undergo. However, the sinner must understand that no matter how far he has drifted, when he is ready to repent and sincerely tries to do so, G-d will help and guide him. [The Rebbe also often mentions that there is no greater spiritual boost than that which comes from the bliss of proper Shabbos observance.] That is perhaps the overriding theme that traverses all of the Rebbe’s writings and teachings.

It’s been said that one of the reasons why the Nesivas Shalom merited such widespread acceptance is because of the Rebbe’s sincere love for every single Jew, as well as his incredible love for Torah and Eretz Yisroel.

On one occasion, an American chassid who was visiting Erertz Yisroel for a week came to bid the Rebbe farewell the night prior to his departure. With the chossid was his five year old son who was slightly under the weather. When the Rebbe noticed the youngster was sniffling and coughing he asked the chossid where he would be davening shacharis the following morning. The chossid replied that he planned to daven in one of the local shteiblach. The Rebbe shook his head. “I am afraid that if you will daven in one of the shtieblach you will have to wake up your son early in the morning. Then you will be rushed to eat a quick breakfast before hurrying off to the airport. Your son is already coughing and sneezing and if he arrives home in such a run-down state, when your wife will see him when he comes home she will be sorry that she allowed him to accompany you to Eretz Yisroel. Please, do me a favor, and daven in your hotel room! Your son will be able to sleep later and eat a normal breakfast. Then he will come home feeling better. It is better that you should daven alone than to risk your wife thinking negatively about Eretz Yisroel!”

It is that level of sensitivity and love which the Rebbe infused into his Chassidim as well as into all of his teachings. As we commemorate his yahrtzeit we should seek to internalize what made him so beloved. It is the Rebbe’s legacy of being sensitive to others and encouraging others by helping them feel valued and loved that is the antidote to the virulent enmity that has caused us to stagnate in two millennia of exile.

The words Nesivas Shalom literally mean “pathway of peace”. May we find that path and follow it “al derech ha’avodah”, along the way of Divine Service, all the way home to Yerushalayim! And may our souls ascend in this world, as his holy soul ascends in the upper worlds.

May we merit witnessing the consolation of Zion and the rebuilding of Jerusalem!

Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,

R’ Dani and Chani Staum