Nachal novea; makor chochma -
A flowing river; the source of wisdom (Mish. 18:4)

Parshas Mishpatim 5756

(Exodus 21:1-24:18)

"I (G-d) shall not drive them (the Canaanites) away from you (the Jews) in a single year, lest the Land become desolate and the wildlife of the field multiply against you." (Exodus 23:29)


When we attempt to come closer to HaShem, we must be careful not to do too much at one time. If we ascend too quickly, the counterattacks from the forces of evil will be too much for use to handle and we might be severly hurt.


The Torah tells us that it is not beneficial for us to destroy our enemies all at once, rather we should do it gradually. It seems more logical to eradicate them all immediately, so that they would not have an opportunity to recuperate, and at some future time, retaliate against its. In the following paragraphs, based on the teachings of Rabbi Nachman and his chief disciple, Rav Noson, we will cxplain why the Torah gives this strange advice.


Rabbi Nachman teaches that all knowledge can be placed into two categories. There is knowledge which is spiritually rooted in the land of Israel, and derives its essence from a chamber in heaven known as the Noam HaElyon (the upper pleasantness). A person whose mind is connected to this chamber draws down light that, with minimal cffort, helps him in his thought process such that he comes to conclusions which make his life more pleasant and easy. The Noam HaElyon originates and can primarily be found in the land of Israel. as the verse says. "The portions [chavawlim, lit. ropes. Portions of the land of Israel are measured and demarcated with ropes (Metzudas Zion)] that have fallen to me are in pleasant places (nimim, the plural of the word noam, pleasant); a beautiful inheritance is mine." [This verge associates the land of Israel with the spiritual energies of pleasantness derived from the Noam HaElyon.] (Psalms 16:6) Although the Noam HaElyon is found in the land of Israel. a worthy person can access these spiritual energies even in the Diaspora.

The second category of knowledge is the mentality of the Diaspora -- outside the land of Israel. Conclusions derived through this mentality come through great toil and effort, often leading to arguments, fights and erroneous or unclear thinking, ultimately making life much more difficult. (2 Lekutai MoHaran 71) To better understand the difference in the effects of these different mindscts, we must look at Adam's situation before and after his sin. Before Adam sinned, his closeness to and clear perception of Hashem (G-d) came with case and was even above that of the angels. He lived a life of ease and total comfont in the bliss of paradise. The spiritual energies derived from the Noam HaElyon enabled Adam to live this way. Adam's sin damaged the Noam HaElyon, causing pain, suffering, and hardships to come to the world.


The place where every member of the holy nation truly belongs is the land of Israel. Therefore, throughout Jewish history, Hashem has orchestrated world events so that the entire holy nation will eventually reach Israel, which is the geographical source of all emanations of holiness in this world. Therefore, Rabbi Nachman said. "My only place is in the land of Israel. Wherever I go, I am only going to the land of Israel." (Chayai Mollaran: 156) At the time of the final redemption. when the entire world will have been fully rectified, every single Jew will be living in the land of Israel. There are many verses in the Bible that define true redemption as the return of the Jews to their land. One example: "He Who scattered Israel [throughout the Diaspora] will gather him [to the land of Israel], and tend him as a shepherd tends a flock. For Hashem has redeemed Ya'akov and freed him from a stronger power [from cxile]." (Jeremiah 31:9, 10) From this, we see that the spiritual energies of the land of Israel are associated with the forces that bring redemption.


The forces of evil are acutely aware that the spirituality of the land of Israel which is derived from the Noam HaElyon, can bring about redemption from exile. Therefore. as soon as Moshe (Moses) revealed himself to the Jews and to Pharaoh as Hashem's chosen redeemer, Pharaoh, the instrument of the forces of evil responded by making the work harder for the Jewish slaves. This was Pheraoh's attempt to make the sweet, redemptive energies of the Noam HaElyon become bitter. Thus, the harsh treatment of the Jews was instrumental in rendering the redemptive powers of the land of Israel virtually ineffective. In addition, Pharaoh's harsh treatment of thc Jews caused their minds to fall into the realm of the mentality of the Diaspora, as mentioned above, which caused bitter disputes and disharmony to emerge amongst them, as the verse says. "They [Dason and Aviram] said to them [Moshe mid Aaron], 'May Hashem look upon you and judge, for you [by your having requested from Pharaoh that he release the Jews] have made our very scent abhorrent in the eyes of Pharaoh and the eyes of his servants, to place a sword in their hands to murder us!" (Exodus 5:21) The forces that prolong cxile arc derived from dispute, associated with the mentality of the Diaspora and redemption is derived from harmony, which is associated with the mentality of the land of Israel. This is why Pharaoh made things more bitter for the Jews, for he wanted to prolong the exile.


Holiness is associated with the spiritual energies of joy, derived from the land of Israel and the Noam HaElvan. Those individuals who are connected to the spiritual energies of the land of Israel the Noam HaElyon, can never be subjugated, enslaved or exiled. Ya'akov (Jacob) and his twelve holy sons not only lived in the land of Israel, which made it easy for them to draw from the Noam HaElyon, but they were integrally connected to the essence of the land as a consequence of their awesome holiness. The Egyptian exile started when Ya'akov and his sons descended to Egypt.

If Ya'akov and his sons were so connected to the Noem HaElyon, how were Pharaoh and the Egyptians able to derive the necessary spiritual power to exile and enslave them? Rav Nosan explains that the bitter dispute between Yosef (Joseph) and his brothers his brothers did tremendous damage to the channels through which they all derived their spiritual nourishment from the Noam HaElyon. This detached them from the spiritual energies of the land of Israel and forced them to draw their mental nourishment from the mentality of the Diaspora. The spiritual blemish eventually manifested itself physically in the form of the subsequent Egyptian exile. The bitter infighting between the brothers created the energies associated with the Diaspora and exile. The Egyptians were able to access and harness these negative energies, enabling them to exile and enslave the Jews. The redemption from Egypt was dependent upon the Jews' ability to repair the damaged channels of the Noaim HaElyon. This mandated that they be joined together in harmony and brotherhood.


Rav Noson says that the Torah alludes to the importance of the Noam HaElyon and how it can effect events. Upon the return of Ya'akov's sons from their first trip to Egypt, they reported to their father that they had been accused of being spies. Ya'akov saw, with prophetic eye into the distant future, the infamous incident of the spies, who by their duscouraging report caused great dissent amongst the people, thus causing great damage to the Noam Elyon. So, Ya'akov knew that if his sons were accused of being spies, it must have been an indication that they had somehow damaged the Noam HaElyon. Ya'akov also knew that whatever the damage, it had to be quickly repaircd or the consequences could be devastating.

The Torah mentions that there are seven types of produce for which the land of Israel is particularly blessed, as the verse says, "It [the land of Israel] is a land of wheat, barley, grapes, figs, and pomegranates, a land of oil, olives and honey [dates]." (Deut. 8: 8) This is why there are many special laws that are assigned to them (c.f. Shulchan Aruch: Orach Chaim: 208) Rav Noson says that one of the reasons why the Torah designates a special status for the seven kinds of produce is that Hashem endowed them with the special resonance of the Noam HaElyon. As mentioned above, anything associated with the land of Israel is also spiritually nourished and connected to the Noam HaElyon. Therefore, the seven kinds of produce all have that resonance. Rav Noson says that this is why Ya'akov said to his sons, as they were about to return to Egypt and face the hostile viceroy who had accused them of being spies, "Take of the land's glory [the seven fruits of the land of Israel] ... and bring it to the man [the Egyptian viceroy]..." (Genesis 43:1 1) There is a rule governing spiritual realms that evil can be broken only at its source and that the physical world is merely the outer clothing of the spiritual world. By sending the seven kinds of produce particular to the land of Israel as a gift to the Egyptian viceroy, Ya'akov was actually sending along the spiritual energies of the Noam HaElyon, which would rectify the damage and thus bring salvation.


As mentioned above, the forces of evil attack full force when they see that the strength of the Noam HaElyon starts to increase. For this means that redemption is near. That evil manifested itself when Pharaoh made the work harder for the Jewish slaves, counteracting the redemptive powers of the Noam HaElyon with the energies of the Diaspora, which is associated with harshness, din. When the spiritual energies of the Diaspora increase, discord and dispute amongst the Jews increase, as the verse says, "They [Dason and Aviram] said to them [Moshe and Aaron], 'May Hashem look upon you and judge, for you [by your having requested from Pharaoh that he release the Jews] have made our very scent abhorrent in the eyes of Pharaoh and the eyes of his servants, to place a sword in their hands to murder us!" [Dason and Aviram wrongfully challenged the actions of Moshe and Aaron, who were emissaries of Hashem. This verse connects the forces of evil with unwarranted disputes amongsth the Jews.] (Exodus 5:21) The attacks from the forces of evil that Pharaoh aroused by making the work harder, harder, were so intense that they even affected Moshe, the holiest. purest-minded man who ever lived. It clouded his perception, to the point where he, himself actually complained against Hashem about the worsened condition of the Jews, as the verse says, "My L-rd, why have You done evil to this people ...?' (Exodus 5:22) This is consistent with the teaching of Ecclesiastes 7:7, "Oppression makes the wise foolish." Hashem's response to Moshe's complaint was, "Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh ... [but since you complained and did not have faith you will not be privileged to witness the later salvation, when I subjugate the Canaanites -- for you will not be allowed to enter the land of Israel (Rashi)]." (Exodus 6:1)

The reason Moshe was not permitted to enter the land of Israel is because the forces of evil overwhelmed him, influencing him to complain against Hashem. This indicated that he lacked the ability to completely neutralize the evil. The closer one is to entering the land of Israel the harder the forces of evil attack because of the great spiritual treasures contained there. The attacks from the forces of evil would even be greater upon entering the land of Israel than they were in Egypt. If Moshe was unable to subdue the forces of evil in Egypt, he definitely would not be able to subdue them when the Jews were about to enter the land of Israel. In addition any spiritual damage incurred in the land of Israel causes greater harm than same damage in the Diaspora. For these reasons Hashem saw fit not to allow Moshe to enter the land of Israel.


Rav Noson asks the obvious question. How is it possible that so many very righteous and holy individuals experienced such great difficulty in reaching the land of Israel, not to mention the spiritual giants who were never even able to get there, such as Moshe and the holy Baal Shem Tov, while many simple people and those on comparatively lower spiritual levels are able to get there with little or no difficulty? Rav Noson answers that due to Moshes awesome holiness, if he would have entercd the land of Israel he would have caused great harm. Each Jew is connected to the energies of the land of Israel associated through the Noam HaElyon. The greater one's level the more of the Noam HaElyon he is able to access. The more the Noam HaElyon is accessed, the greater the rectifications are to one's mind. Adam's sin damaged his mind and the minds of all of his descendants, clouding their perceptions. This, the Messiah will completely rectify in the end of days (may it come speedily in our days), using the Noam HaElyon, to enable us to clearly perceive Hashem. If Moshe had been allowed to enter the holy land, he would have activated most of the Noam HaElyon, which would have completely rectified the minds of everyone in the world, undoing the damage caused bv Adam's sin. With each individual's mind rectified, everyone in the world would have clearly perceived Hashem and the deep secrcts of die Torah. However, all of the other areas that needed to be rectified would still have been in need of rectification, such as the total suppression of the forces of evil. Then, the forces of evil would have attacked with such power that they would have caused everyone to use their newly acquired, superhuman intelligence for destructive purposes, causing great havoc. As long as man has not perfected himself, he needs the resistance of the forces of evil to help him develop his spiritual muscles, just as a weight-lifter needs the resistance of weights. It is necessary and beneficial to be challenged by the forces of evil in order to attain spiritual growth and perfection. This is why Hashcm doesn't want evil to be destroyed all at once. Since Moshe was unable to bring total rcctification to every aspect of spirituality and physicality, it was too dangerous to allow him to enter the holy land.

Moshe's student, Yehoshua (Joshua), was able to bring the Jews into thee land of Israel because he was on a much lower spiritual level than his teacher. Because of the need to maintain the balance of free choice, the attacks from the forces of evil are always in direct proportion to the flow from the Noam HaElyon that an individual is able to access. Since Yehoshua was inferior to Moshe and therefore unable to access as much of thie Noam HaElyon, the counterattacks from forces of evil were much more mild than if Moshe would have led the Jews into the land of Israel. The Jews were better able to handle the more moderate attacks from the evil forces resultant of a Yehoshua-led entrance into the land, and the greater assaults that would have occurred with Moshe leading the way. However, cverything that Ychoshua was able to accomplish was done through the power he received from Moshe, similar to the sun being the source of the moon's light.


Rav Noson explains how Yehoshua was able to nullify the forces of evil, that derive their power from small-mindedness, dispute, and anger, which is associated with the spiritual energies of the Diaspora. Just before the Jewish assault on the city of Jericho, Yehoshua encountered Hashem's chief angel, just outside the Jewish encampment. Rav Noson says that this angel's essence was resonated with energies derived from holy debate for the sake of clarifying points of Torah law, as recorded in the Mishna. Yehoshua used those spiritual energies to neutralize the negative energies of unholy dispute from which the forces of evil derive their power, as the verse says, "Everything that comes into [spiritual contamination through the impurc use of] fire, you shall pass through the fire [of purity in order to bring about spiritual cleansing]." (Numbers 31:23) [Debate is of the essence of fire.] Therefore, the verse alludes to the concept that it was the spiritual energies of the Mishna which were the main instrument for bringing about the fall of the forces of evil and the Canaanitcs, "It was when Yehoshua was in Jericho [in preparation to besiege the city] that he lifted up his eyes and saw, and behold! A man [the angel Michael (Rashi)] was standing opposite him with his drawn sword in his hand [The sword of Torah study, as the verse says, "A double-edged sword in their hand." (Psalms 149:6) (Lev Aaron)]. Yehoshua went to him and said to him 'Are you for us or our enemies?' And he [the angel] said, 'No, I am the commander of the Host of Hashem; now I have come [to reproach you for the people's neglect of Torah study this night (specifically the Oral Torah of die Mishna), which is needed to defeat the forces of evil. (Talmud: Eruvin 63b)]" (Joshua 5:13-14)


Now we can understand our verse as consistent with our teaching. The forces of evil that dominate the land of Israel cannot be neutralized in one fell swoop. They can only be driven out slowly, step by step. As mentioned above, defeating forces of evil is dependent upon the strength of the Noam HaElyon. The more of the Noam HaElyon we are able to access, the more we can vanquish evil. However, when we attempt to access the Noam HaElyon, the forces of evil fiercely counterattack in their attempt to defend themselves. The counterattack is in direct proportion to the intensity of the Noam HaElyon accessed. Too much of the Noam HaElyon at one time invites stronger countermeasures from the evil forces, which may be too much for a person to handle, and may lead to his own destruction. Therefore, the Torah warns us, "I (G-d) shall not drive them (the forces of evil) away from you (the Jews) in a single year [all at once], lest the Land [of Israel] become desolate [through the destruction of the inhabitants by the forces of evil, if they were to attempt to destroy evil all at once, using too great a quantity of Noam HaElyon] and the wildlife of the field multiply against you (i.e.. the counterattacks from the forces of evil would be too strong for you to handle.]" (Exodus 23:29) Therefore, when we attempt to come closer to Hashem, we must be careful not to do too much at one time. If we ascend too quickly, the counterattacks from the forces of evil will be too much for us to handle and we might be severely hurt, as the Talmud teachcs, "The greater the man, the greater his Evil Inclination." (Talmud: Sukkah 52a) And so, our verse recommends a balanced, moderate, and gradual approach to all our goals in life. (Lekutai Halachot: Orach Chaim: Hilchot Birchot Ha'Pay'rot 4:6-7)

HITHBODEDUTH (secluding oneself)

Rabbi Nachman taught that along with reciting the mandatory daily prayers contained in the prayerbook, we should also speak to Hashem, just as we would confide in our best friend. in seclusion, in the language and style with which we feel most comfortable. This is based on the advice of our sages: 'Rebbe Yitzchak said. 'Why were our forefathers barren? Because Hashem desires the prayers of the righteous." (Talmud. Yevamoth 64a) "Hashem seeks nothing other than to hear the prayers of Israel.' (Medrash Tehillim 116:1) The following is an example of such a session:

Help me to observe the holy Shabbos (Sabbath) with great joy. Protect and save me from coming to any sadness, depression, moaning, groaning, or worry on the holy Shabbos. Help me to merit to rejoice with all my might, soul, and heart on the holy Shabbos, with boundless joy as is fitting for such an awesomely holy day. As the Zohar, as well as many other holy books say, the joy of the Shabbos is so awesome, that it illuminates all of the upper worls with boundless joy. (1 Lekutai Tefilos 13)


Based on the advice of our sages (Talmud: Megilah 28b), Rabbi Nachman stressed that everyone should study at least one law from the Shutchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law) (or its equivalent, other books which are based on the Shutchan Aruch) everyday without fail. (Sichoth HaRan 29)

It is forbidden to give a false impreswon, i.e. to deceive any human being, Jew or non-Jew, even by mere words, even though no loss of money ls involved. It Is forbidden for example, to sell unkosher meat to a non- Jew who seeks to buy kosher meat. If one sells an article that has some imperfection, even if the price being charged for the item is a fair price. One is, nevertheless, obilged to inform the purchaser of the imperfection. In the case of a gift, this is not necessary. One must refrain from extending an invitation to anyone whom he really does not want to invite, but does so to create a false impression that he enjoys their company, while knowing that the invitation will not be accepted. In all cases where one expresses what he does not truely mean, as when one compliments his neighbor, when it does not reflect his true opinion, it is forbidden. (Note: This does not mean that one should violate the prohibition against hurting another's feelings by giving his honest opinion, if he knows that his opinion would hurt or harm the other. In such cases, it best to say nothing, rather than give a false complement or be blunt and cause hurt. In cases where it is necessary to express one's true opinion despite the fact that it will hurt the feelings of his fellow, one should express his opinion using the most delicate terms to lessen the blow.) (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch: 63:4-5)


We mentioned that many spiritual giants were unable to enter the land of Israel because of the greal opposition they faced from the forces of evil. The following is a true account of such a situation:

After many years of wanting to go to the land of Israel the holy Baal Shem Tov finally decided to make the long journey, in order to perform awesome spiritual rectifications that could only be accomplished there. The Baal Shem Tov hired a wagon and set out from Nedzeboz, Ukraine together with his righteous daughter Udel and his student and attendant Reb Hirsh Sofer. They planned to travel to Istambul by wagon and from there, by ship the remainder of the journey to the holy land. After severe months on the road, they finally arrived in Istambul on the eve of Passover. The holy Baal Shem Tov had not taken much money with him. because he had absolute faith that Hashcm would provide for all his needs on the journey. He had just enough money to rent the cheapest room in a local inn, but did not have any left over to buy the necessary items to celebrate the Passover Seder (ritual meal) that evening. He decided to go to the local study hall, learn Torah and wait for Hashem to provide him with the necessary funds. Udel and Reb Hirsch were also not the least bit concerned, because miracles often occurred to the holy Baal Shem. They expected that Hashem would certainly not abandon him now. Since Udel expected Hashem to provide for their needs, she decided to go to the seashore to launder her father's clothing for the upcoming holiday.

There was a very wealthy couple whom the doctors had told could never have children. They heard about the Baal Shem Tov and decided to travel to Medzeboz -- perhaps he would be able to perform a miracle whereby Hashem would give them a child. When they arrived in Medzeboz, they discovered that the Baal Shem Tov had already left for the holy land. They decided to follow his trail and try to catch up with him. Since they were wealthy, their coach was pulled by the best horses, and relatively quickly, they arrived in Istambul also on Passover eve. They registered at an inn and asked many people in Istambul if they had seen him pass through, but no one had. They decided to go to the docks and ask the sailors if the Baal Shem Tov had already boarded a ship and set sail for the land of Israel. As they came to the docks. they saw a woman who was doing her laundry and they asked her if she had seen the Baal Shem Tov. She said that she was his daughter and that her holy father was staying at the very inn in which they were lodging. When the couple heard what the woman had said, their joy knew no bounds. They invited Udel her father and his attendant to join them in their room that evening, where they were preparing a most elaborate Seder.

That evening, the Baal Shem Tov returned from the synagogue after the evening holiday prayers. Having divined what had happened. he was not the least bit suprised. Without saying a word, the Baal Shem Tov and his party joined the wealthy couple at their Seder. At the conclusion of the Seder, the Baal Shem Tov turned to the couple and said to them, "I know why you have come and your salvation will soon be on its way." No sooner had he spoken, when his face suddenly, drastically changed, and a tortured pained expression replaced his pleasant countenance as he went into a trance. Everyone in the room was concerned, even his daughter, who had seen her father go through this many times before. His soul would ascend to heaven, but she had never seen her father's face so lifeless. Before long, however, the Baal Shem Tov returned to normal beaming with joy and said. "Heaven was angry for me for violating the laws of nature to make a miracle that would grant children to this couple, they therefore decreed that I should lose my share in the world to come for this act. I answered that now I could serve HaShem for pure motives without expecting any reward and I rejoiced. The Satan saw that I became even happier when they took away my reward in the hereafter and he then convinced the heavenly court to return my share in the future world. [While in Istambul, the Baal Shcm Tov also saved the Jewish community there from a edict of destruction against them. Unfortunately, due to space considerations, we arc forced to omit this incident].

After the first two days of the holiday were concluded, to show their gratitude, the wealthy couple paid for the Baal Shem Tov's passage on a ship bound for the holy land. At sea, a massive storm broke out and threatened to sink the ship. The Baal Shem Tov divined that in order to calm the storm he had two options, either to throw his Torah writings or his daughter overboard. Udel knew how valuable his Torah writings were and therefore decided to jump overboard. As she was about to jump, Divine inspiration came upon her and she refused. She turned to the other passengers and said, "It is better that you should take my father's writings and throw them overboard, because I am destined to have a grandson who will produce some of the most beautiful teachings and writings of all. His writings will save thousands of Jewish souls who have fallen to the depths of impurity and will help them return to their Father in Heaven. [She was referring to none other than Rebbi Nachman of Breslov]." They immediately threw her falhcr's writings into the sea and the storin abated.

The passengers were exhausted from their ordeal, so the ship weighed anchor near a small island so the passengers could rest and regain their lost strength. The Baal Shem Tov and his party went ashore and further inland to rest under the shade of some trees. They were met by some of the island's inhabitants, who were cannibals, intent on killing and eating them. They were abducted and tied up by the cannibals, who proceeded to sharpen their knives before slaughtering them. Reb Hirsh turned to the Baal Shem Tov and yelled, "Do something! Save us from these animals!" The Baal Sliem Tov didn't say a word. Reb Hirsh screamed in panic, "Why do you remain silent?!" The Baal Shem Tov answered, "I forgot everything, I can't even remember the alphabet, maybe you can remember something?" Reb Hirsh answered, "I can't remember anything more than the alphabet!" "Then why do you remain silent? Say the alphabet" the Baal Shem Tov ordered. The Baal Shem Tov repeated each letter of alphabet after Rcb Hirsh. In the middle of the recital, the Baal Shem Tov's knowledge and powers suddenly returned to him and he said that they would be saved shortly. Suddenly a loud whistle blew in the distance and frightened off the cannibals. Another ship had just arrived on its way to Istambul. The ship's crew untied and freed the Baal Shem Tov and his party and brought them back to Istambul. They arrived safely in Istambul on the final day of Passover. The Baal Shcm Tov said, "Now I know for certain that Heaven doesn't want me to go to the land of Israel." Immediately upon the conclusion of Passover the Baal Shem Tov and his party returned to Mezeboz. [The Baal Shcm Tov's arrival in the holy land would have brought the Messiah before his time, i.e. before certain rectifications could be accomplished that needed to occur first. This would have created the problems mentioned in the main text.] (She'va'chai Ha'Baal Shem Tov)

Volume 4, Issue 18