Getting to Know the Masters

GETTING TO KNOW THE MASTERS

With Rabbi Pamela Frydman

Congregation P’nai Tikvah, Spring 2017

Background information

See these brief biographies and related information:

Reb Levi Yitzhak of Berdichiv http://berdichev.org/rabbi_biography.html

Reb Nachman of Breslov http://www.breslov.org/who-is-rebbe-nachman/

Teachings of Reb Nachman of Breslov

The links in this section provide examples of websites where these Reb Nachman teachings appear:

“Seek the sacred within the ordinary; seek the remarkable within the commonplace.” http://www.rabbimoskowitz.com/2011/04/passover-card_18.html

“You are wherever your thoughts are. Make sure your thoughts are where you want to be.” http://www.azquotes.com/author/23106-Nachman_of_Breslov

“Grant me the ability to be alone. May it be my custom to go outdoors each day among the trees and grasses, among all the growing things, and there may I be alone and enter into prayer to talk with the One to whom I belong.” http://www.azquotes.com/author/23106-Nachman_of_Breslov

“Get into the habit of singing a tune. It will give you new life and fill you with joy. Get into the habit of dancing. It will displace depression and dispel hardship.”  http://www.azquotes.com/quote/1465101

Teaching of Rabbi Levi Yitzhak of Berdichiv from his book entitled Kedushat Levi (The Holiness of Levi) based on the weekly Torah portion. (Translated from the Hebrew by Rabbi Pamela Frydman. © Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.)

Parshat Noah (Torah portion called “Noah”) – “These are the generations of Noah…” It seems that there are two types of righteous people (tsaddiks) who serve the Creator. One type of righteous person serves the Creator with great devotion, but he is just focused on himself and his service to the divine and he does not encourage evil doers toward engaging in divine service. The other type of righteous person serves the Creator and brings others to also serve the Creator.

Abraham was such a righteous person and he converted people to Judaism. It says in the writings of the Ari z”l[1] that Noah was punished because he did not confront the evildoers in his generation. He was, therefore, required to transmigrate in Moses. Moses repaired this lack by always confronting the Israelites. This is the meaning of the teaching of our sages of blessed memory (Kiddushin 40) “good for heaven and good for creation.” A tsaddik (righteous person) who serves HaShem and also brings evildoers toward divine service is called “good for heaven” because he serves the Creator, and he is also called “good for creation” because he encourages people to engage in divine service. However, Noah did not bring others to divine service as described above.

There is a well-known teaching of our sages (Sanhedrin 19) that every person who teaches Torah to his neighbor’s child, it is as if he gave birth to that child. An example of this is where it is written in the Torah that our father Abraham made souls in Haran. (Genesis 12:5) This refers to the fact that our father Abraham converted many people. It is because of this that it does not say [in the Bible] “these are the generations” regarding Abraham as it does regarding Noah. It says that regarding Noah because he only had the three sons mentioned in the Torah, and he did not have more than that. (And that is the meaning of the statement in Torah that “these are the generations of Noah. Noah was a perfectly righteous man in his generation… and Noah begot…”) The reason it says “And Noah walked with HaShem” is in order to express that Noah walked with the Creator and he alone served Creator, but he did not walk with other people to bring them toward serving the Creator. That is why it goes on to say that Noah begot only three sons, Shem, [Ham and Japeth].

[1] Pronounced “Aree-zahl,” meaning “the Holy Lion of blessed memory. This refers to the great rabbi and 16th century kabbalist Rabbi Isaac Luria.