1. 'Bring near the children of Levi' (Bamidbar 3.5)
The Midrash* says on this verse, 'The
Tzaddik will sprout like a palm tree, and like a cedar of Lebanon he
will grow tall.' [The meaning of this Midrash is as follows.] There
are two types of Tzaddikim. Each of them is a complete Tzaddik.
The difference between the two is that one of them is always attached
[in his thoughts] to HaShem*. He always does that service to HaShem he
is required to do. However he is a Tzaddik for himself, and not for
others. He does not influence others with his righteous actions. He is
compared to a cedar that Chazal* say has no fruit. He is a tzaddik for
himself and has no fruits. He has not returned others to the proper
way, and has not increased the number of the righteous in the world.
What he does is only for himself. Even so he has a great reward.
However the second Tzaddik is compared to a palm tree, that has fruit.
He 'will sprout like a palm tree'. This means that he takes those
precious souls that have been stained with sins and he makes them
sprout [and become cleansed of sin. By so doing] he increases the good
that is in the world.
This is the meaning of what Chazal say,
in the place of a Baal Tshuva* even a complete Tzaddik cannot stand.'
This means the second tzaddik, who is called a Baal Tshuva. [Baal
tshuva literally means 'a master of tshuva.'] He is a master, and a
lord over tshuva because he is able to return others to the good. He
'brings [people] back
from sin' and causes tshuva to appear in the world. His reward is very
great. It is much more then the first tzaddik even though he [the
first tzaddik] is also a perfect tzaddik. (p. 453 sefer Baal Shem Tov
teachings of the Baal Shem Tov. This is from sefer Tzvuos
* * *
2. 'The children of
Israel did all that Hashem commanded to Moshe, so they did it.' (Bamidbar
It appears to me that we can explain this verse according to the
simple meaning. When a person desires to do any mitzvah*, it is
certainly impossible for him to do it with all the possible kavanos
that apply to that mitzvah.
[It is well known that
just as HaShem is
limitless, and it is not possible for a human to fully comprehend him,
so the kavanos of each and every mitzvah are limitless as they are a
representation of HaShem's will.] However if the person does the
mitzvah without any kavanah, on a simple level, intending to do it
just because HaShem commanded it. He will certainly do all that is
required for the mitzvah [not just the action of the mitzvah but also
what he is required to do with regards to kavanos.]
This is to proper way for one to do a mitzvah. He should attach
himself to HaShem when he does the mitzvah, and he should pray that he
should have in mind all that is needed for this mitzvah.
That is the meaning of the verse, 'The children of Israel did all that
HaShem commanded Moshe.' This means that they did the mitzvah with
this particular kavanah: that HaShem commanded it to Moshe. The
meaning of 'according to what HaShem commanded Moshe' is that
certainly there are in this command many hidden ideas. However we do
that which is in our ability [because HaShem commanded it to Moshe.]
The verse then says, 'and so they did it.' The meaning is that in
their doing the mitzvah with this intention they cause it 'to be done'
according to all the secrets involved with this mitzvah that HaShem
commanded to Moshe. They cause [these kavonos] to be done [by their
performance of the mitzvah in this simple manner.] (p. 101 sefer
Mevasar Tzedek teachings of Rebbe* Yissochar Ber of Zlotchov.)
* * *
III. Attachment to Tzaddikim
3. 'Raise up the heads [i.e
take a census] of the children of Israel... And with you there shall
be one man from each tribe, a leader for each family.' (Bamidbar
1.2,4) It appears to me that from this verse we have a remez* for an
advantage in attaching oneself to the Torah scholars and the Tzaddikim
of the generation. The reason is that they are the ones who bring the
person to the fear of HaShem. We see this from Moshe as the
verse says, 'they were afraid to approach him.' Since they approached
him only by gazing at him, [we see that] when they would look at him
[that was enough to cause] the fear of Hashem to burn within them.
This is the level of 'kissing' [Heb hashukah], as the Mishnah*
teaches, 'A vessel of stone is purified by "kissing" i.e. by joining
together water [from the vessel] to other water [from a mikvah*. The
slightest touching of these two waters was sufficient to bring
purification to the vessel.]
[With this we see] the meaning of the verse 'I will kiss him [Heb
yishkeni] with the kisses of my lips, because your breasts are better
then wine.' Wine is not effected by 'kissing' only water, and [as
Chazal have taught] the Torah is compared to water. For this reason
with every word that came from the mouth of HaShem, when the Torah
was given, they achieved an attachment to HaShem.
It is the same with the Tzaddikim. [As the Mishnah states,] 'All those
who are connected to what is pure, are pure.' Praised is that person
who attaches himself to the tzaddikim. Even if he himself is on a very
low level of service to HaShem, the power of the tzaddik will raise
him up. [The smallest attachment to the tzaddik will help
We find this to be the case with regards to the generation which left
Egypt and wandered in the desert. When they were attached to Moshe,
they lived in peace without any problems. However when they arguedwith
him they descended lower and lower, and they were set upon by the
Yetzer HaRah*, and their enemies attacked them.
This is the meaning of the verse, 'The Tzaddik will sprout like a palm
tree.' The Tzaddik is like a tree and all of his talmidim are like the
branches and leaves of the tree that are attached to it. When the tree
sprouts and grows fruit, all the leaves and branches
share the fruit with it. [The tzaddik as he rises higher will take his
talmidim higher with him.]
This is the meaning of what the Mishnah says, 'The wool on the head of
the sheep, the bones and the limbs, as long as they are attached
together they go up [on the alter], when they are separated, they do
not go up.' This is a remez to those people who are on a low level of
service, and are compared to the bones and limbs. If they are
connected to the Tzaddik, then they can rise up [to higher levels of
service to HaShem] and if not, then they can not.
This, then, is the meaning of [the verse] 'And with you there shall
be.' If they will be connected with you [i.e. the tzaddik] 'One man
from each tribe. [Heb. mateh]' Even if he is on a low [Heb l'mateh]
level of service.
'A leader [Heb rosh] for each family.' He can rise up to the top [Heb
The main thing is that he should [consider himself] secondary and
nullified to the Tzaddik and not be arrogant. This is because the one
who is arrogant and will oppose the tzaddik will be overturned [and
There is also here in these verses a remez to another virtue of the
Tzaddikim. That is that they must always exhibit humility. If they do
so they will be able to lead their generation as the verse says,
'Moshe and Aharon among Your Priests... HaShem our G-d you have
answered them, a forgiving G-d you were, because of them.' The meaning
is that the more HaShem forgave them and raised them higher up they
[the tzaddikim] acted with greater humility.
This is the meaning of the verse, 'What more he made them suffer they
increased.' The more they are made lowly [i.e. they are humble] they
increase [and reach higher levels of service.]
'I [HaShem] dwell with the one who is broken.' The Shechina* rests
upon the Tzaddik who is small in his own eyes, in order for him to
strengthen those who are lowly in spirit and those with broken hearts.
Through this [his humility] the Tzaddik has the ability to
strengthen and to raise up even those who are lowly and broken. (p.
180 sefer Teferes Shlomoh teachings of Rebbe Shlomoh of Radomsk.)
* * *
IV. The goal of service of HaShem
4. 'Raise up the heads [i.e
take a census] ... ever male according to their heads.' (Bamidbar 1.2)
We need to understand why the verse uses the word 'heads'? [Heb
galgoles] Also we need to understand why it is that later when
discussing the census of the Levites, it does not use this language.
It seems to me that we can answer these questions in this way. In the
holy seforim* we find discussed at length how a person's rational soul
should dominate his heart. This is the main goal of the service of
HaShem. This idea is specifically discussed in the sefer Lekutei
Amorim [Tanya*] (see what it says there about this from chapter 9.)
According to this idea we can explain the Torah verse as a remez that
the children of Israel should be on the level of 'head'. This means
that the head, i.e. the rational soul, should dominate. It should be
the primary 'life' of the person.
With this idea it is understandable why 'heads' is not mentioned with
regards to the children of Levi. The census of the children of Levi is
different from that of the other Jews. With the other children of
Israel they did not count the children, only those from the age of 20
and older. However with the children of Levi they counted even the
small children down to one month old. For that reason they could not
use this language of 'head' since the idea of the rational soul
dominating the heart is not applicable to such young children. [It is
something that one must be older in order to achieve.] (p. 71 sefer
Yirbeh Torah teachings of Rebbe Yissachar Ber of Voideslav.)
Copyright (c) 1997 by Moshe Shulman (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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