Monday, July 26, 2010

The Three Weeks

Rabbi Gadol emails:

The 3 Weeks - Bein Adam Lachaveiro (rather than mere rituals, see Haftarah, Yeshayah 1:10-23)

Rabbi Aryeh Levin, (March 22, 1885 - March 28, 1969), known as Reb Aryeh, was an Orthodox rabbi dubbed the "Father of Prisoners" for his visits to [the mainly irreligious] members of the Jewish underground imprisoned in the Central Prison of Jerusalem in the Russian Compound during the British Mandate.

He was also known as the "Tzadik ("saint") of Jerusalem" for his work on behalf of the poor and the sick.

[He has become famous through the book "A Tzaddik In Our Time" by Simcha Raz, which very many have, and it's greatly recommended as a life-changing book. "One of the very few which motivates one to be a better person."]

1) ENTIRE TORAH: (Shabbat 31a) Hillel said: "The entire Torah is to not harm your fellow man; the rest is commentary [how to be a better person! Bereishit Rabbah 44:1], go and study."

2) MAIN EMPHASIS: (Rosh, Pe'ah 1:1) Because Hashem desires bein adam lachaveiro more than bein adam lamakom.

[Note: This is nothing but the most basic logic; it may be explained some other time. I have been amazed at how many people never even heard this life-changing idea, and are tragically even a bit surprised by it, which explains a lot. Those who think the opposite will have a different religion, obviously, as I once did to some extent.

Almost all Chilul Hashem, religious divisiveness, machloket, denigration of non-observant and "goyim", obliviousness and never even mentioning the suffering of 99.98% of humanity, except to even callously justify it with a stone heart while the Israeli government or non-Jews send help, etc., will tend to result far more easily from this pietistic and irrational outlook.

See BR 44:1 and countless places in Nach and Shas (perhaps some other time), all in addition to the Rosh and Hillel.]

3) CAN BE A DEATHLY DRUG: (Yoma 72b, Taanit 7a) When a person studies Torah with the wrong intent [or without tikkun hamiddot, or correcting character faults with self-criticism], it can easily become a "sam hamavet", or deathly drug.

(And it may easily make him a MUCH worse person than if he had never studied - GRA. See also Shabbat 31a, "better that you never studied")

4) WHEN ARE MITZVOT HATED: (this week's Haftarah of Shabbat Chazon, Yeshayah 1:10-23)

All the korbanot, chaggim, prayers and Birkat Cohanim with all their rituals are not merely worthless,

but even HATED by Hashem when there is a lack of bein adam lachaveiro and selfless concern for the weaker people of society. (Likewise Haftarah of Shabbat Yom Kippur, 58:1-12, and many other places in Nach)

5) BEAUTIFUL BEHAVIOR: (Avot 2:1) Rebbe said: "What is the best way which one should choose? (Not rituals and piety, or stern rabbis promoting chumros who are not famous for sever panim yafot, but) beautiful behavior which is praised by all people."

"When a person dies, all that is left is... character."


(a) R Aryeh would take each inmate's hand and cup it inside his own. Slowly he would rub and squeeze the prisoner's hand as he sat and talked with him.

His eyes radiated love and comradeship, and he spoke soft and soothing words of encouragement. Even the most stubborn prisoners succumbed to his simple, untainted love for his fellow Jew.

(b) HIS LOVING INFLUENCE: The prisoners spoke of his influence on them. The following are some of their comments:

"I still thank the G-d of Israel that as the door of Cell 48 opened to lead me into an unknown future and life behind bars, He sent me this good angel of His."

"If you never saw a camp of prisoners receive Rav Aryeh and give him welcome, you cannot know the power of love and faith."

"About this Jew there was always a wondrous aura."

"His eyes illuminated the darkness of our cells... For us he was a bridge to the past generations, a link of prayer with the Almighty."

The three converts said: "The sternness of Shamai wished to chase us out of the world; but the gentleness of Hillel brought us under the wings of Hashem's presence [the Shechinah]." (Shabbat 31a, bottom)