Monday, November 03, 2014

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Stay In or Reach Out?

Some Torah from Rav Shalom Arush, shlita, is being made available to us to share.  We’ll be publishing, with some edits as appropriate for our audience.

on Mystical Paths, Torah by Rav Shalom Arush, shlita

Parshas Noach (the Torah portion of Noah) opens with the verse: “These are the descendants of Noach, Noah was a tzadik, perfect in his generations; Noach walked with G-d”. Rashi says that it seems like the verse should have said tzadik and left out the ‘his generations’ and explains: “There are those of our Rabbis that explain this verse for praise: he certainly would have been a greater tzadik if he was in a generation of tzadikim. There are those who explain it as a disgrace: according to his generation he was a tzadik, but if he was in the generation of Avraham Avinu [Abraham] he wouldn’t have been considered anything.” People say on this Rashi that is we look closely Rashi is calling those who explain this as praise “our Rabbis” and those who explain it as a disgrace as “others”. From here we learn that those whose explanation turns to disgrace are not among our Rabbis. We want to learn only to praise, not to disgrace.

…if the Torah praises Noach so much, why didn’t Hashem bring from him the chosen nation (the Jewish people)? Why did Hashem wait and choose Avraham Avinu for this? We’re forced to see that Hashem is sending us a message in this and we should look see what Hashem wants from us as the chosen nation, the children of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov. So we can ask ourselves already in the opening of the Book of Bereshis  “When will my deeds reach the deeds of my fathers?” Like the Ramchal says in the book Derech Etz Chaim: “What is it that the fathers of the world did that Hashem desired them?”…

It’s known… that Noach was a tzadik for himself. That is, he was closed off from the outside world. Opposite this, Avraham Avinu was always involved with others, to influence them, to make Hashem known in the world, convert converts and bring people close (to G-d). This is one of the things that sticks out most in the Torah and in the words of our sages in the character of Avraham Avinu, that he wasn’t just the first of the believers, but he and his wife Sarah would bring people close everywhere they went. Everywhere he went he’d call out in the name of Hashem and invite guests and bring them under the wings of the Shchina, devine presence, and was careful to see that his children would continue in this. His whole essence was to shine, bring close and change the world…

This is something that we need to understand in depth. It seems like Noach was right, all of the people of his generation were really evil. It seems like he was right in deciding to stay away from so he wouldn’t be influenced by them and pulled after their evil ways. Also we have a question on Rashi that said that Avraham would strengthen himself – Avraham didn’t need the help of the Creator heaven forbid? What does Rashi mean that ‘he would strengthen himself’? We learn from here an important foundation in outreach. A person whose whole essence is to hide away and stay clear of bad influence is in constant danger and fear of falling. One however, who is always influencing and giving doesn’t have to worry about anything. He is given wonderful powers and is guarded by heaven and is much better guarded from bad influence than the one who hides away from the world. A person who gives and influences others receives powers way above his own abilities….

A certain tzadik, while a still a young man went to one of the tzadikim of the previous generation who asked him what his plans were for the future. The young man answered that he wanted to grow in Torah, to finish Shas Gemara, to become a rav, and so forth. This tzadik told him: “You should work in outreach. Know that there is nothing in the world as great as outreach. If you bring a single person back in tshuvah, this is more precious in heaven than if you complete all of Shas Bavli and Yerushalmi, all the books of poskim, Zohar, the books of Ari, etc.” [it’s more precious than completing all the main books of Torah] Even if you just bring back a single person! …

The main thing is that these words shouldn’t be left as nice ideas for the Shabbat table. Everyone needs to wake up and act on them. Everyday a person should ask himself: what did I do today to bring another Jew close to Hashem? What did I do today so that another Jew should know Hashem? We should all be strong and not hide away and leave the wonderful sweet light of Judaism just in the confines of the house. We should all walk in the way of our first father ‘My beloved Avraham‘ to work at outreach and see to it that the name of heaven is loved and take a part in the work of The Creator blessed be He in His world.

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