In the very well known and popular Sabbath night song, "A woman of valor" (the lyrics of which are derived from the last chapter of Proverbs) one verse reads: "She has no fear of the snow for [its possible harm to] her household: for her entire household is clothed in scarlet [wool]" (Proverbs 31:21). The Hebrew word for scarlet is "shalnim.11 The Rabbis tell us that "shalnim" is very similar to the Hebrew word "shelnelim", which means double or repeated. (Note: One of the methods of Biblical interpretation found in the oral tradition, which was handed down to us from Moses, applied here is the substituting of a word of a verse with another word that is very similar to it) . The Rabbis say that the word "shelnelim - repeated - which is substituted for the word "shalnim" - scarlet - tells us to examine every word in the Torah where the word employed is repeated or doubled. According to Rashi, the use of this word tells us that if one is particular in fulfilling the commandments that use double expressions in the verse, one will develop a certain daring that influences a person to become an activist in seeking out G-d and performing good deeds. The word "snow" in our verse alludes to the punishment in purgatory. A sinner's punishment includes half of the time in purgatory with fire. This is the fire of passion in committing the sin. The other half of the time the sinner is punished with snow or ice for the cold shoulder which he had given G-d in not seeking to make amends through repentance after the sin. The word "woman" in our verse is the code-word and refers to the G-d-fearing person. This alludes to the aspect of the G-d-fearing and cautious person who works hard to avoid spiritual calamity. In other words, our verse can be understood as follows: A G-d-fearing person who is concerned and actively works to perfect his spiritual connection with G-d by avoiding sin will have nothing to fear in the final judgement if he concentrates on fulfilling those commandments that are introduced through double or repeated words found in the verses of the Torah.
The following are some examples of the doubly expressed commands: "You shall repeatedly give [two Hebrew words: nalson teltain) him [the pauper charity - monetary, emotional, or any other form of assistance - even 1,000 times (Rashi)]" (Deuteronomy 15:10). "You shall repeatedly open your hand [two Hebrew words: pawlsolach tifltach] to him, and you shall surely lend him (in a dignified manner] sufficient for his need" (Deuteronomy 15:8). "[When you are required to free your Hebrew slave after six years of servitude] you shall repeatedly fu,7nish him rwith gifts, two Hebraw words: ha'nik ta'anik] [the underlying lesson behind-this law is to teach that one must not take advantage of even a slave]" (Deuteronomy 15:14).
Rashi mentioned above that fulfilling the double expressed commandments helps cultivate daring in serving G-d within a person. Based on Rashils interpretation the word "shelneim" - double - can also be understood to mean that in all instances, if a person truly wants to have a close and intimate relationship with G-d, one must be daring in every spiritual matter that one attempts to implement. Being daring calls for the individual to stubbornly redouble his efforts in serving G-d even after many initial failures and setbacks. It is impossible to have a close and intimate' relationship with G-d and enjoy all of the benefits of that close relationship unless one employs this method of stubbornness, refusing to be deterred by any setback whatsoever.
This is what Moses was referring to in the verse: "And now, (after 40 years of horrific failures and great success in the desert trying to reach closeness with G-d by journeying to the Holy Land], what does G-d ask of you (which you would not have known without my, the Tzaddik's guidance, due to all the confusing situations you faced in the desert], but only to fear the L-rd your G-d (concern yourself only with trying to fulfill His will the best way you can, without being concerned with your mistakes, viz ... ], to walk (toil with consistency] in His ways (to be a sincere and moral person, not just a practitioner of ritual alone], and to love Him [even if it involves sacrifice], and to serve the L-rd your G-d with all your heart and all your soul" (Deuteronomy 10:12).
The most valued treasure in both this world and the next is being close to G-d. In this world, all those who are close to G-d, He provides with their basic needs they might not necessarily become wealthy (the main reward being stored for enjoyment in the hereafter) , but they will never be wanting. III (King David saw when] I was a youth and also when I was old [the financial conditions of people,] I have never seen a righteous man forsaken, with his children begging for bread" (Psalms 37:25). In the eternal hereafter G-d will lavishly provide for those who are close to Him beyond description for all eternity.
G-d wants us to earn this special closeness through our free choice (this means very hard toil) for many reasons (which are beyond the scope of our discussion). The gold in Fort Knox and the crown jewels of England are protected by the most elaborate security systems. Closeness with G-d, which is infinitely more valuable than precious jewels or gold has even greater and more elaborate security systems preventing unauthorized persons from accessing the privilege of this closeness. Therefore, Rabbi Nachman pointed out that noone should expect to easily penetrate these spiritual security systems and have success at the first attempt, just as one would not expect anyone to easily penetrate Fort Knox. If a person seems to be experiencing too smooth or a too comfortable a spiritual life with little or no glitches, one must carefully and honestly reevaluate oneself to determine if his efforts in seeking out G-d are successful. This situation could indicate a serious lack of effort in seeking out G-d. One reason why things might be going so smoothly is that the person has remained stagnant and is comfortable to keep G-d at a safe distance seemingly enabling him to more fully enjoy this temporary, physical world until the day of his death. Prior to his death, such a person thinks that the lazy, easy, and comfortable way by which he has chosen to serve G-d has gotten him a good portion in this world and the next. He thinks that his ease is a good sign and it will be like this even in the hereafter. Since this person has never sought out or encountered the spiritual experts (saints) or their followers, he doesn't realize that the comfortable approach is most certainly not the way to find G-d. He is unaware of the indescribable shame of all those naked souls which, because of laziness, during their physical lives did not seriously work hard in doing good deeds and seeking out G-d. How ironic that the people who had toiled all of their lives in this world to attain money, fame, power, or whatever so they could make it to the top and be above other people or live in comfort, end up for all eternity with the opposite of what they worked so hard to avoid - being on the bottom and penniless with nothing to show for all their efforts in the futility of this world. They were unaware of the way G-d evaluates a person, rewarding not only based on the amount of good deeds performed but also by comparing one's results to one's potential. The millionaire's $100-00 contribution to charity in no way can compare to the pauper's one dollar donation. The performance of good deeds commensurate with one's potential provides the soul with the spiritual clothing it needs to cover it's nakedness. The naked souls scream out for spiritual food, clothing, and shelter. Charity applies only in this world, there is no charity in the next world, one gets exactly what one has earned, no more and no less. Therefore, they must remain tnis way, for they didn't plan for their future. They thought the cemetery was something that happened to somebody else. This is why Rabbi Nachman tells us that the Torah urges us not to be deterred by failure and setbacks. One must try again and again, even a thousand times. Even if a person never reaches his goals, G-d rewards him for his effort, as the Zohar says: "Even a good thought is never lost." Failure in attempting to truly seek out G-d is a very good sign, it shows that you have worked hard enough to have entered the chamber where the spiritual treasures are stored. Eventually, with continued, persistent attempts, you will succeed.
This is why our verse tells us that people who have always tried hard to come close to G-d do not have to fear the punishment of the bitter cold of purgatory, even if they don't attain the goals for which they have worked so hard. As long as a person sincerely tries, any big mistake or sin that he made will not obstruct him. He will not give G-d the cold shoulder or seethe with rage and frustration for not seeing results. He would not be foolish enough to abandon G-d, the source of all life. By not giving up, the person is protected against being sent to the purgatory of ice. In this knowledge, a person who has failed should find sufficient solace and incentive to persist in learning a little Torah, saying a short prayer, performing a good deed, etc., even though he sees no physical results. This idea is indicated in our verse. G-d only wants us to fear Him, which means to respect G-d's wishes, for our own benefit, to help us build a relationship with G-d as one who builds a relationship with his best friend, based on love and respect for each other's wishes and needs. Rabbi Nachman tells us that we must look at the verse in its simplest form. When the verse tells us that G-d only wants us to fear Him it means exactly that. We must concern ourselves only with not violating G-d's wishes and fulfilling His commandments. If we make mistakes or commit thousands of the worst type of sins, this is not our concern. We must totally ignore all these things and continue to do just as the verse says, all that G-d wants us to be concerned with is to continue to fear Him and to continue on the path to seek Him out. This is why Rabbi Nachman taught that every moment is a new moment. One second has absolutely nothing to do with any other moment in time. If you sinned at 7:00 am and damaged the spiritual light of that point in time, then do a good deed at 7: 01 am, which is a totally different light and point in time. This is the daring that Rabbi Nachman says e ach Jew must have. It is only a trick from the Satan who makes a person think that one point in time is related to another which prevents one from doing more good deeds. If we make a mistake or commit a sin, which we all do, even the biggest Tzaddik, we should tell G-d about it; make amends and forget about it and continue to seek Him out.
Isaiah the prophet alluded to the above concepts and encouraged each Jew to never despair and stop trying: "G-d desired, for the sake of (each Jew, even the sinner's] righteousness (to be considered righteous so they could merit eternal closeness to G-d in the hereafter], that the Torah be made great and vast [with millions of easy opportunities to fulfill G-d's commandments]" (Isaiah 42:2111. Several verses later our verse is followed bv: "Whenever you (each Jew] pass through the waters (the purgatory of cold], I (G-d] am with you; through the rivers - they shall not overflow you: whenever you walk through the fire (the purgatory of fire], you shall not be scorched; neither shall the flame burn on you" (Isaiah 43:2). These two verses are in effect saying: Why won't each Jew succumb to either the purgatory of fire or the purgatory of ice? Because G-d gave us such vast opportunities to do His will in every place and situation in our lives, that it is virtually impossible that even the most estranged, disinterested, and lazy Jew can't avoid fulfilling hundreds of good deeds wherever he goes and whatever he does. This is why the Talmud says: "Even the sinners of Israel are filled with good deeds as a pomegranate is filled with seeds."
A person who is left to his own resources and thinks he could find G-d without the advice, the guidance, and the expertise of a true Tzaddik would not be aware of many of the teachings that we have mentioned in this sheet and in previous sheets. The mind of the common man is not sufficiently equipped with the ability to handle all the overwhelming events that each one of us experiences in life. Therefore, one's eternal life is dependent on the advice given by the spiritual giants and experts. For example, if a person neededopen-heart surgery, would he perform it on himself or ask a butcher or a janitor to perform such a delicate and serious procedure? one's spiritual life is too important to be left in the hands of novices and is more critical than open heart surgery. One's eternity is dependent on who and what he allows to influence his life. Therefore, everyone who has any mercy on himself should follow the advice of the spiritual experts. (Note: Just because someone is a rabbi or someone knows how to superficially translate a few Hebrew words from a holy book does not necessarily make that person a spiritual expert. one should not be complacent and content with this. one must diligently seek out a true Tzaddik whose deeds as well as his teachings are on the highest caliber. Rav Chiam Volozin (a Misnagid) , the chief disciple of the Vilna Goan said: The Misnagdim (Jews who do not adhere to Chasidic ideology) and the Chasidim both make a big mistake. The Misnagdim think they don't need to adhere to a Rebbe and Tzaddik, each one feels that they themselves are competent enough on their own to find G-d and the Chasidim, who always adhere to a Rebbe, think that they have actually found a competent Rebbe who is saintly and worthy enough to follow in helping them find G-d). This is the meaning of the Talmudic teaching: "Hillel said: Do not believe in [G-d all by] Yourself [and take it for granted that one can succeed in finding G-d without help from a Tzaddik] until the day you die" (Talmud: Avoth 2:5). Hillel emphasized the word "yourself". If you believe in G-d all by yourself and do not learn from Tzaddikim (saints) and other G-d fearing Jews, you will fall, with noone else who can help you. One who adheres to the guidance of the true Tzaddik will have help and guidance not only in this world but in the grave, the hereafter, at the time of the revival of the dead, and for all eternity. For only the true Tzaddik is able to elevate and uplift from any quagmire all those souls who grab onto him by adhering to his advice and teachings. As the wise King Solomon wrote: "Two are better than one" (Ecclesiastics 4:9) . (Lekutai Halachoth: Yorah Dayah: Hilchoth Ba'sor Ve'Chalov 5:28)
She was constantly collecting charity for needy people, and she was
known as a person who loved to do good deeds. The Baal Shem wanted to
show the people of the town how worthy she really was and summoned her.
The Baal Shem divined that she needed the sum of fort@r qold pieces for
some needy people. When she appeared before the Baal Shem, he offered to
give her 6 gold pieces. She was more concerned for the welfare of the
needy than the dignity of the Holy man, therefore she refused to accept
it and she hinted that she needed more. The Baal Shem offered her some
more money and again she refused it. To show the people how righteous
she really was he insulted her and said: "Who do you think you are to
demand so much money from charity, you are stealing from the other
paupers who also need money!" She remained silent because of her great
humility. At the end the Baal Shem was forced to give her 40 gold
pieces. Later that evening she returned to the Baal Shem begging him to
pray for a deathly ill doctor. The Baal Shem answered her: "Who cares if
he dies, so there will be one less adulterer in the world." She
responded, "He is a very unlearned man and only does this sin because he
doesn't realize how serious the sin of adultery is. If he would realize
how serious this sin is, he would not do it."
The reason why the Baal Shem confronted her in this way was that the
doctor was being accused in heaven because of his adulterous activities
and he presented the argument of the prosecuting angels before her so
she could respond to these severe accusations. Her argument was accepted
and the doctor recovered shortly thereafter.
She was in the practice of going to the grave of her husband and praying
as follows: "Hershel, Hershel go before G-d's heavenly throne of glory
and beseech G-d that our sons should be destitute and poor in order that
they should not stray from the path of G-d. (Of course there is nothing
wrong with wealth if it is used to serve G-d, but if being poor and
destitute is the only way to keep a person on the right path, it is far
better to be poor] . (Shelvalchai Besh't)
Volume: 2 Issue: 40
A true story about a G-d fearing woman: There was a holy woman who lived
in the town of Satnov. The Baal Shem Tov once visited this town. many
dignified Rabbis came out to greet the Baal Shem and he told them that
they should all be ashamed of themselves. Despite the fact that they
were all Torah Scholars and highly learned men, not one of them had any
Divine light emanating from their faces except for one unlearned woman
called the Fruma (pious) Re'va'la.
She was constantly collecting charity for needy people, and she was known as a person who loved to do good deeds. The Baal Shem wanted to show the people of the town how worthy she really was and summoned her. The Baal Shem divined that she needed the sum of fort@r qold pieces for some needy people. When she appeared before the Baal Shem, he offered to give her 6 gold pieces. She was more concerned for the welfare of the needy than the dignity of the Holy man, therefore she refused to accept it and she hinted that she needed more. The Baal Shem offered her some more money and again she refused it. To show the people how righteous she really was he insulted her and said: "Who do you think you are to demand so much money from charity, you are stealing from the other paupers who also need money!" She remained silent because of her great humility. At the end the Baal Shem was forced to give her 40 gold pieces. Later that evening she returned to the Baal Shem begging him to pray for a deathly ill doctor. The Baal Shem answered her: "Who cares if he dies, so there will be one less adulterer in the world." She responded, "He is a very unlearned man and only does this sin because he doesn't realize how serious the sin of adultery is. If he would realize how serious this sin is, he would not do it."
The reason why the Baal Shem confronted her in this way was that the doctor was being accused in heaven because of his adulterous activities and he presented the argument of the prosecuting angels before her so she could respond to these severe accusations. Her argument was accepted and the doctor recovered shortly thereafter.
She was in the practice of going to the grave of her husband and praying as follows: "Hershel, Hershel go before G-d's heavenly throne of glory and beseech G-d that our sons should be destitute and poor in order that they should not stray from the path of G-d. (Of course there is nothing wrong with wealth if it is used to serve G-d, but if being poor and destitute is the only way to keep a person on the right path, it is far better to be poor] . (Shelvalchai Besh't)
Volume: 2 Issue: 40