Living up to the high standards that is required by the noble title of children of G-d is not easy. Rabbi Nachman therefore says that the only way to ensure that we act on a high moral standard at all times is for one to look always toward and visualize the hereafter. This will help each individual detach himself from any sort of base behavior that is the standard practice of this world, reminding him that he must adhere to the high standards of which G-d demands, so that we will be prepared to reside in the place where only advanced moral beings can live. This is the most effective way in overcoming the seductions of the evil inclination and the body's natural inclination to act basely. For example, one 'who is tempted to cheat his neighbor must remind himself that in the world of truth (where we all end up) this is unacceptable behavior and would only detract from one's eternal status there. This example can be applied to all other situations as well.
The Talmud tells us that this world is filled with the forces of evil that surround us on all sides (Talmud Berachos 6a) . The forces of evil cloud and cover up the powers of true life, of holiness. This strongly connects them to death, which is the essence of everything that is connected to the physical world. A person's mind and thoughts have the ability to connect his soul to tne place where his thoughts are directed. Therefore, we must do everything in our power to concentrate and not direct our thoughts to death, which are the materialistic thoughts, but to thoughts of the hereafter, "the land of the living" (Psalms 27:13). Then our souls are able to access true life, which gives us the power to overcome death - the vain pursuits of this world which come from the seductions of the evil inclination. This is why the Torah does not allow us to excessively mourn the death of a loved one by making incisions in our flesh or by making bald spots on our heads as was the practice of many Gentile cultures. This prohibition teaches us that if we excessively mourn over the dead by mutilating our bodies and etching a permanent reminder of our loss ir our flesh, this will cause our minds to become overly focused on this world and on death. This will strongly connect our minds and souls to the forces of evil and drag us down to the level of spiritual contamination. We should only mourn the dead in moderation as is prescribed by the Torah. This form of moderate grieving is meant to show respect to the departed and demonstrate that their contributions, which they had given to the world, wil.1 be missed. It also helps the mourner focus his thoughts on the hereafter. The moderate approach to mourning helps the mourner realize that the departed has actually lost nothing in leaving this world and, in fact, has actually gained, for he is now in the place of true life and is close to G-d, the source of all joy. Since the mourner's soul is spiritually attached to the departed as well as emotionally attached, he feels anguish and pain at being temporally separated, just as one feels pain at the severance of one's limb. The moderate approach to mourning helps bring healing and solace to the hurt and grieving relatives and this eventually helps them to continue with their lives. However, as practiced by certain gentile cultures, extremes in grieving only cause the mourner to focus on the finality of this world and death, which only increases his pain and anguish and retards the healing process. (Lekutai Halachoth: Yorah Dayah: Hilchoth Korcha U'kiso'ves Ka'ah'ka 1:1)
Rashi says that G-d created the world for the sake of the Torah. Each person has 248 limbs which corresponds to the 248 positive commandments in the Torah and 365 main veins which corresponds to the 365 negative commandments in the Torah. G-d designed each human in this fashion to indicate to us that each person is part and parcel of the Torah and each person must fulfill it in order to function properly. Because each person's body is so strongly linked to the Torah, the foundation of the universe, the Talmud teaches: "Each person must say about himself: The world was created exclusively for me." Rabbi Nachman interprets this to mean that each individual is responsible to correct any physical, spiritual, or moral deficiency that is found in the world. Just as the body cannot function properly if a limb is missing, the body is also unable to function properly if it is missing a spiritual limb which is nourished through faith and Torah observance.
According to the holy Ari our physical bodies are linked to the Torah, and just as an artist signs his name to his artwork or a person inscribes his name on each item of value that he possesses, G-d, who owns us and is the artist who has fashioned each human being has inscribed His name on each human to remind us of His ownership. The two eyes are very similar in shape to the Hebrew letter "Yud", which has a numerical value off ten. The two eyes therefore have the numerical value of twenty. The nose is very similar to the Hebrew letter "vav", which has the numerical value of six. The value of these three items equals 26, which numerically equals the Divine name for mercy. This numeric code indicates that the artist who has fashioned us and owns us is none other than G-d Himself, who is merciful with His artwork.
There are 600,000 spiritual letters in the Torah. This corresponds to the 600,000 main souls of the Jewish people. Each Jew corresponds to and derives his life force from a particular letter in the Torah. If one letter of a Torah scroll is missing or flawed, the entire scroll is invalid and not fit for ritual use. Every letter is dependent on the other letters. This law therefore indicates that every Jew is spiritually connected to every other Jew. On the practical level this means that each Jew is held responsible for the physical and spiritual welfare of all of his correligionists as well as being accountable for any negative behavior by any Jew. This strong link gives each individual Jew the potential to bring all of his fellow Jews back to G-d. Since each Jew is held accountable for the negative actions of every other Jew, the Torah requires and entitles every Jew to intervene in the life and the affairs of any other Jew when he sees that their behavior is degenerate. For not only will the sinner be blamed for his degenerate behavior, but all other Jews will also be held liable for the sinners actions, because of the strong spiritual bond between each Jew.
The more one activates and connects the parts of his body to the power of the Torah which lies dormant within him the more he is able to spiritually link up with all other Jews who are also bound to the Torah through the spiritual light that is hidden in their bodies and the more he is able to merge his physical body with the spiritual power of the Torah and the light of G-d. Thus the study of the Torah acts as the vehicle which helps 'one to merge his entire spiritual and physical being with G-d. When a person has perfected his entire being through Torah study which is motivated by a sincere desire to find G-d, it causes his face to emit a spiritual glow known in Hebrew as hadlras palnim. The Tzaddik who has acquired hadlras palnim is able not only to activate the power of the Torah that lies within himself, but also to spiritually link up with all other Jews, because the limbs of every Jew contain the light of the Torah. The main difference between the Tzaddik (saint) and the common Jew is that the Tzaddik has utilized much of his full potential and has merged his physical body with G-d through intensive study and practice of the Torah, whereas the common Jew has not activated his potential and thus has not succeeded in merging his body with G-d to the same degree. (Note: Intensive Torah study which does not cause a person's body and soul to be merged with G-d, engendering high moral conduct, shows a certain lack of sincerity and morality on the part of that student who mustf exa-mi'ne himself and go to a spiritual expert for help). The common Jew, on his own, lacks the moral strength to bring out his spiritual potential. The Tzaddik is able to help such a Jew through the power of the Torah that he has refined which links him with all other Jews enabling him to inject his spiritual light and powers into his fellow. When a Jew borrows the strong spiritual light from a Tzaddik (which comes from attaching himself to the Tzaddik) he is then able to use the strength of the Tzaddik's refined light to overcome the urges of the body so that he too can better merge with G-d. When people live up to the high moral standards which G-d expects, it causes them to honor and respect themselves and others. When this occurs, there is peace - peace within the person himself; between body and soul - peace between man and G-d - peace between man and man. Thus the Tzaddik has the power to bring the whole world to peace through the power of the Torah, as the Talmud teaches: "Rebbe Elazar said in the name of Rebbe Chanina: Torah Scholars increase peace in the world, as it says: And all your children shall be taught about (the ways of] G-d (from true and righteous Sages; if their teachings can't accomplish this, (to bring peace to one's soul and body, between man and G-d, and between man and man) find another Sage] and [therefore] great will be the peace of your children" (Talmud: Berachos 64a).
Therefore, the Torah prohibits one from etching a tattoo on to his flesh (which was a demonstration of mourning in ancient times) . This damages the natural form of one's body which G-d Himself had specifically designed and gave certain characteristics which would influence it toward positive behavior. A tattoo deforms the natural design and positive spiritual influence that G-d had intended. The tattoo distorts and pollutes the light of G-d that each person's body absorbs, just as a bent antenna produces a distorted picture on a tv screen. Not only does the tatools mutilation of the body cause G-d's light and perception of Him to be distorted within the person himself, but he then transmits this distorted light and distorted ideas to all other people with whom he associates, who are connected to his soul, and to the upper spiritual worlds which are dependent on the spiritual light that he produces to provide nourishment. Since the tattoo has damaged not only the physical part of the limb that was tattooed but its spiritual essence as well, it is very difficult for that person to attain haldras pay'nim, because hadlras pay'nim is the result of full-body spiritual perfection. Nevertheless, someone who does have a tattoo should not fall into despair. He can rectify this flaw by strongly attaching himself to a Tzaddik and drawing healthy light from the Tzaddik's purified body, which can compensate for the person's own distorted light.
The soul of every Jew is comprised of elements taken from every existing spiritual substance, and the physical body is composed of elements from every physical item. This means that every Jew is connected to every item in the spiritual and physical universe and therefore has the potential to make peace between all the spiritual realms and all the physical realms by acting as the conduit that connects them all together. The more a person can make peace between his body and soul the more peace and harmony he can bring to the physical and spiritual aspects of the creation. To come to this peace one must never neglect the needs of the body or the soul. The key to universal peace starts with the individual himself, who has made complete harmony between his body and soul (the greatest example of this is the Tzaddik and the Messiah).
True peace is attained when two opposites compromise and live in harmony. For example, Rabbi Nachman teaches that one should not study Torah 24 hours a day (even the biggest Tzaddik) giving attention only to the soul, for the body will be consumed and damaged by accessing too much G-dly light from the Torah. In addition, time must be allotted for attention to the body's many important physical necessities in order for it to function properly and be fully able to house the soul. Therefore, one is not allowed to become overly spiritual, to go beyond the body's ability to bear G-d's light. One must strive for the spiritual by going only slightly above one's current physical level. This slow and gradual approach is the only way to attain closeness with G-d without hurting the body. On the other hand, one must not neglect the soul by underachieving in the study of the Torah and the practice of good deeds either, for this will hurt the soul which is a person's very core and essence. Therefore, every person must pursue G-d in a way that feels comfortable, but yet is still challenging enough to cause growth. This is what is called making peace between one's body and soul which causes a person to become well balanced enabling him to relate well with everyone, and to spread peace to everyone he touches.
Death is the ultimate peace between the body and the soul. When a person dies, the soul goes to the upper worlds where it is no longer hampered by the limitations of the body and the body is at rest because it is no longer forced to put up with the dictates of the soul and society. Death creates a tremendous distance between the body and the soul. The greater the person (and especially regarding the awesome and great tzaddikim who ascend to the highest spiritual worlds) the further the distance between the body and soul. Mourning and eulogizing a person reconnects the severed bonds between the body and soul of the departed, for we mourn the total person, his body and his soul. By fulfilling the commandment to mourn the departed, we activate the light of the Torah, which has the spiritual power to bring peace between the body and soul and this causes the soul of the mourned person to be reconnected with his body in the most perfect and balanced way that is amicable to both the soul and the body. Because death causes the soul to be distanced so from the body, mourning, which causes the body and soul to be reunited, creates greater peace in the grave than was ever possible while the person was alive. The greater the distance between two opposites, the greater the peace when there is harmony between them. (Note: This is why there are so many different types of people (eg. men and women, Jews and Gentiles, Europeans, Asians, and Africans etc.) and creatures in the world. The greater the distance between them, the greater the peace caused when they are able to live in harmony. Peace between opposites educates and expands thp. knowledge of the people involved to the greatest degree. The combined knowledge of opposites expands and broadens each person's intellectual spectrum allowing him to understand more of G-d Who incorporates every side of the intellectual spectrum).
Therefore, it is advisable to visit and pray at the graves of Tzaddikim as often as possible. When asking G-d to fulfill a particular recluest at the grave of a Tzaddik, one creates a very high level of peace, because praying at a Tzaddik's grave connects and unites the soul of the Tzaddik to his body as was described above - the bigger the Tzaddik the greater the power of peace that is created. This is the basis for the Talmud's teaching: "Tzaddikim are greater [spiritually] in death than when alive." This means that the departed Tzaddik has the power to inject a much more potent spiritual light derived from the power of peace into his followers when they visit his grave than when he was alive. Therefore, the departed Tzaddik has a greater ability to make peace between G-d and man and between the soul and the body of each of his followers th;,%n a living Tzaddik. This is whv Rabbi Nachman taught that to make any prayer more acceptable, we should, before praying, declare the following: "I bind my prayers to all the Tzaddikim in this generation and to all those Tzaddikim who are lying in the dust" (We apologize that because of the lack of space we were forced to omit many interesting and valuable pieces of information and we were unable to complete this topic. Those who are able should study the following:) (Lekutai Halachoth: Yorah Dayah: Hilchoth Korcha U'kiso'ves Ka'ah'ka 3:1-4)
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Volume 2, Issue 41
The reward of someone who connected his heart to 'G-d: In the year 333
CE there lived in Safed in northern Israel a certain Jew who knew only
how to pray and nothing else, but he was whole-hearted, sincere, and
humble in his deeds. One night after he had finished uttering the
midnight lament over the destruction of the Temple he heard a knock at
the door. When the man opened the door Elijah the Prophet walked in and
the room'was filled with light and joy. Elijah told the man that he had
come to reveal to him the year of the coming of the Messiah on the
condition that he tell him the great deed that he had done on the day of
his Bar-Mitzvah (at 13 years old a boy comes of age, and is responsible
to keep all of the commandments). For on account of this great deed, the
Heavenly Court had decreed that he was worthy of seeing Elijah and'
learning the greatest mysteries. The Jew from Safed refused to reveal
his good deed to Elijah for he said that he did it for G-dis honor alone
and therefore telling Elijah what he had done would detract from the
sincerity of his good deed. "I therefore forgo all the privileges you
offer me, the man said." Because this man had dared to push off Elijah
and had refused to know when the Messiah would come, all for G-d's
honor, the Heavenly Court decreed that Elijah should teach the man the
deep mysteries of the Torah. Through Elijah's guidance, this man became
unique and was the most righteous saint in his generation though no one
knew of his greatness. After he passed away, the heavenly Court decreed
that his reward would be to descend to the world again where he would be
compelled to reveal himself. He would reveal a new approach in coming
close to G-d, which would hasten the coming of the Messiah. The soul of
that simple Jew from Safed is the soul of Rabbi Yisroel Baal Shem Tov.
Due to the warm response to these Torah handouts and an ever increasing circulation, we are looking for people who would like to help with distribution and/or sponsorship to help defray increased expenses. Please call the number listed below.
Volume 2, Issue 41