The Evil Inclination

רע (evil) spelled backwards is ער (awake). This coincides with the gemara (Kiddushin 30b); “Rav Shimon, the son of Levi said: every day the yetzer hara of a man strengthens itself seeking to kill him.” The yetzer hara seeks full spiritual annihilation of man. It does not sleep nor back down in this pursuit. To counter it, we must be alert every second of every day to fight this relentless war. Only then does man have a “chance” to persevere.

In-Person Appearance

Rav Avrohom zt”l came to the United States each year to speak on behalf of Tschiben. One year we visited him in the apartment he was staying at during his stay. One of our family members witnessed that there was a specific request from someone that if Rav Avrohom would just make an in-person appearance he would give him $100,000 for one of the tzedakah’s he was collecting for, and so it happened. Rav Avrohom was involved in many tzedakahs.

“In The Beginning” Comes Creativity And Health

Based on “drash,” the first two words of the Torah emphasize the need for creativity and the importance of health, perhaps the two necessities for survival.  Scripture opens, “בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית בָּרָ֣א – In the beginning G-d created” (Genesis 1:1). However, if we were to investigate the words further and place a comma between the words בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית and בָּרָ֣א , we could come out with an interpretation, In the beginning comes creativity (בָּרָ֣א – creation, creativity). Alternatively, if we read the words simply, the interpretation would be, In the beginning comes בָּרָ֣א, shorthand for בְּרִיאוּת, health. Indeed, to conquer this world one must be continuously creative which can only happen through the strength of a healthy body.


Early Meeting

When I first met Rav Avrohom zt”l, I didn’t know of his stature. As I was waiting for him to go to shul, his upstairs neighbor was walking down and asked how I knew Rav Avrohom. I said I was a relative. He said “The Rav possesses Kol HaTorah Kula on his fingertips.” With time, I began to learn with whom I was with.

Doubt Is Destruction

There is a well-documented gematria – the word  “Amalek” (the nation of Amalekites) and “safek” (the word for doubt) both equal 240.

This is no coincidence.

The Gemara offers as the origin of the name “Haman” (a descendant of Amalek) the verse in Genesis which refers to Adam’s sin: “hamin haetz hazeh achalfrom this tree did you eat?” (Genesis 3:11, Chulin 139b).

The theme of Haman (who “cooled down” our nation in the desert and introduced doubt) and  the tree that was infringed upon, is doubt and questioning. HaShem confronts Adam regarding his actions – whether he acted with certitude to refrain from eating or did he allow doubt to overcome his being, causing a breach of G-d’s decree. We know the answer and from that time onward man became a manifestation of inner doubt and confusion. Amelek would forever dominate his existence.

Allegorically, a tree refers to Torah as the verse says, “She (the Torah) is a Tree of Life to those who embrace her” (Proverbs 3:18, Vayikra Raba 25:1).

Every day one must ask himself if he “eats” from the “Tree of Torah” with certainty leaving behind any doubts that this is not his mission. In addition, one must attack every undertaking relating to G-d’s service with confidence and certainty. Any iota of doubt embodying any life experience strips away the necessary strength needed to overcome all situations.

The “Mana” (containing two letters from the name of Haman) also brought about the destruction of Bnei Yisroel in the desert. If we would have approached the provisions of the Mana with confidence and certainty and not doubt and questioning, there never would have been complaints and thus destruction.

Doubt has brought to us destruction from the beginning of time and the antidote to overcome this manifestation is by assuming a philosophy of confidence and unbending faith in G-d who has the power to sustain us a nation and protect us from our adversaries.

Rabbi Binyomin Adler – Parsha Chukat

This week’s parasha tells us of the sin of Moshe Rabbeinu, where HaShem commanded him to speak to the rock and instead he hit the rock. HaShem was displeased with this contradiction of His instructions and HaShem informed Moshe and Aharon that they would not be allowed entry into Eretz Yisroel.
It is noteworthy that when Yaakov fled from his brother Esav, after fourteen years of studying in the Beis Medrash of Ever, he lay down to sleep. Prior to laying down to sleep, Yaakov gathered twelve stones and during the night, the stones began quarreling with each other, as each stone wanted the honor to have the Tzaddik lay his head on him. HaShem performed a miracle and all the stones united. The Mesilas Yesharim derives from this incident that when one is righteous, he can elevate the entire world, even the inanimate.
HaShem desired that Moshe, the most exalted human being, who reflected purity of speech and whose mouth presented a danger to the surrounding nations (see Rashi Bamidbar 22:4) elevate even the inanimate stone that would allow it to pour forth water. Moshe mistakenly hit the stone and this caused the מי מריבה, water of strife. Yaakov, on the other hand, broke up the discord amongst the stones with his righteousness. Moshe, unfortunately, caused strife by not following HaShem’s instructions regarding the stone.
It is said (Bereishis 49:24) וַיֵּשֶׁב בְּאֵיתָן קַשְׁתּוֹ וַיָּפֹזּוּ זְרֹעֵי יָדָיו מִידֵי אֲבִיר יַעֲקֹב מִשָּׁם רֹעֶה אֶבֶן יִשְׂרָאֵל, but his bow was firmly emplaced and his arms were gilded, from the hands of the Mighty Power of Yaakov – from there, he shepherded the stone of Israel. The Targum renders the words מִשָּׁם רֹעֶה אֶבֶן יִשְׂרָאֵל to mean דִּי בְמֵימְרֵהּ זַן אֲבָהָן וּבְנִין זַרְעָא דְיִשְׂרָאֵל, with his (Yosef’s) word he sustained a father and his sons, the progeny of Israel. Thus, we see that the stone reflects unity, a passing of the torch from one generation to the next. The Medrash (Shemos Rabbah 1:32) states that Yaakov and Moshe were similar in that they both found their mate by the well. Yaakov met Rachel and with her and his three other wives, he built up the Jewish Nation for eternity. Moshe met his wife Tzipporah but ultimately separated from her. Moshe was not fortunate to have the Jewish People send from him. While Moshe was certainly the greatest man who ever lived, there was something in his psyche that did not allow for him to perpetuate the continuity of the Jewish People.
We have been learning in the past few weeks the power of discord and strife, from the Jewish People’s complaints about the lack of food to Korach’s struggle for power and this week’s unfortunate incident at Mei Merivah.
Let us strengthen ourselves in marital harmony, peace between brothers and sisters, and most importantly, peace between us and our Father in Heaven, and then we will merit the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkeinu, and the time of which it is said (Zachariah 2:15) וְנִלְווּ גוֹיִם רַבִּים אֶל יְ-ה-וָ-ה בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא וְהָיוּ לִי לְעָם, many nations will join themselves to HaShem on that day, and they will become a people unto Me.

A Proof That There Are Many Different Levels Of Gehenom

Rabbi Chaim Luzzato says, “Gehenom, Purgatory, is the places for souls that are suited for punishment, and there they receive pain and sufferings in relation to what is applicable to them, in accordance to their respective situations. And there are “different levels of pain” as there are different levels of pleasure, and with this pain, the sinners shall bear their iniquities. However, if they are worthy of reward, after this, behold they will be purified from their sin and go to rest. If not, they will be punished until they are obliterated. And this thing will not occur to a descendant of Israel, a Jew, except in the most infrequent of cases.”

The Way of G-d – Ma’amar Ha-Ikkarim B’gan Eden V’Gehenom

If one reads this paragraph closely, it says – there are “different levels of pain.”

We can say that the proof to Rabbi Luzzatto’s words are found in a Gemara that’s quoted in the Igeret ha’Ramban where he says:

“Our Rabbis taught (Nedarim 22a), whoever flares up in anger is subject to ‘all types’ of Gehenom,” as it is written: “Banish anger from your heart and remove evil from your flesh” (Ecclesiastes 11:10). The evil mentioned here refers to Gehenom as it is written: “And the wicked are destined for the day of evil” (Proverbs 16:4).

The Gemara uses the words “all types” clearly indicating there are different types, levels of Gehenom.