Parshat Bo: “And you should take a bunch of hyssop”

Parshat Bo
"And you shall take a bunch of hyssop"

Parshat Bo: “And you should take a bunch of hyssop”

(Shmot 12:22)

More secrets of the Torah, with Rav Eliezer Berland, shlita.

Only someone who dwells in the dust will rise at techiyat hameitim

The essence of a person’s greatness is only his lowliness and humility, because only someone who dwells in the dust is going to rise at techiyat hameitim (the revival of the dead), and will merit eternal life, as we say in the Shemoneh Esrei prayers: “He establishes His emuna for those who sleep in the dust.”

The more a person feels their own lowliness, and is humble, that’s how much he’ll merit to techiyat hameitim, and to have eternal life. The more he gathers all these points of lowliness every day, that’s how much he’ll merit to eternal life, and to the pleasures of olam haba (the world to come), as it’s written: “Rise up and rejoice, those who are asleep in the dust.” (Isaiah 26).

The more insults you get, the happier you should be

Every time a person is insulted, he collects another spark of lowliness, the more he’s humiliated the more he’s put to shame – the happier he should be! If you know that someone is going to shame you on the street, you should go and immerse in a mikva first, because you will get such an enormous (spiritual) light as a result of being humiliated, that’s it’s worth immersing in order to give yourself the keilim (receptacles) to receive this huge light.

Being humiliated brings such a tremendous light down to a person, that can’t be got by doing any other mitzvah in the world. Humiliation turns a person into ‘nothing’, and then he merits to such a big light, to an infinite light, a light which is above all the worlds, and includes and surrounds all the worlds.

The more you collect these sparks of lowliness, the more of this Divine light, this infinite light, you’ll merit to have.

Cleanse me with hyssop

King David says in Tehillim (Psalms): “Cleanse me with hyssop[1] and I will be purified.” Cleanse me with hyssop! I want to be like the hyssop, I want to be humiliated, that everyone should degrade me, that everyone should laugh at me, and take me down a few pegs. Only this is true teshuva.

I need to know that I am the worst of the lot, and that I did more sins than anyone else, I caused more destruction than anyone else. All I ask is please ‘cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be purified’. I want to be hyssop, like the moss growing in the cracks, the moss that everyone walks on, so that I will be humiliated. Every day of my life, I want to be like the hyssop.

The two levels of teshuva

There are two levels to making teshuva. There’s a level where a person is insulted, and he stays quiet. This is called “He’s insulted but doesn’t respond to his insult, he hears his disgrace, but doesn’t respond.” He’s humiliated, but he stays silent, he doesn’t answer back, “And Aharon was silent.”

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But there’s a level of “brought about from love, and being happy with suffering”, when we merit to reach an even higher level. He’s humiliated, he’s degraded – but he’s happy the whole day long! He’s singing and dancing, he accepts all the insults happily, with love, with songs.

Every humiliation heals your wounds

Every humiliation is a healing salve for his injuries, it heals his wounds. When you insult him, he feels as though you’re spreading a healing salve on his injuries. His whole body is full of wounds and lesions. “From the soul of the foot to the crown of the head, nothing is whole.” He feels as though every humiliation is healing his illnesses, every humiliation is ‘purifying waters’ – “And I threw on you pure waters, and you were purified.”

Lowliness and humiliation has no measure. When a person is humiliated, he’s transformed into the ‘ain sof’ (infinite), he’s transformed into ‘no measure’ – into nothing. Now that he has no measure or boundary, now he can feel the Divine light. People say about him: “This person is nothing, he’s worthless, he’s a liar, he’s a hypocrite.”

One insult is worth a million successes

And everything you say about him just makes him even more ‘nothing’, and thus he achieves every success and bounty. When a person is humiliated once – that’s a million successes! After he gets humiliated, his successes won’t stop and his bounty won’t cease. He’ll be the provider for everyone in the aretz (land), he’ll merit to have infinite bounty “And Yosef provided for all the people in the land.”

Yosef provided for the whole country, because after he was sold and humiliated, he was nothing, and all the bounty came down to the world via him. So, the more shame a person receives, the more success and bounty he’ll attain.

We have to acknowledge the truth

Sometimes when a person his humiliated, he says: “Humiliate me, because I’m a tzaddik! And I’m a servant of Hashem.” This is arrogance. We shouldn’t get arrogant about being humiliated, rather we should think that we’re being shamed because we really deserve it, because I am not a tzaddik, and I’m not a chassid.

I don’t learn Torah the way I should, I don’t guard my eyes, in truth, I’m a rasha (evildoer)! We have to acknowledge the truth. If someone tells you you’re a rasha, then you have to think ‘Baruch Hashem, he’s telling me the truth.’

A person is obligated to acknowledge the truth. When someone comes and reminds me who I really am, I should give him a kiss, I should kiss his feet, that he’s telling me the truth. We have to repeat to ourselves: “Hate the one who love you, and love the one who hates you.”

Love the people who hate you

You need to love the people who hate you. A person needs people to speak badly about him, and to humiliate him, as much as possible. When people like you, that counts for nothing! You need to hate the people who like you. That person who likes you, they are really only flattering you and covering things up.

He’s just dragging you into delusions that you’re a tzaddik, that you’re doing fine – “hate the one who loves you!” But love the one who hates you – this is the person who’s rebuking you, and humiliating you. This is the person you need to love. You need to put this person your shoulders.

So, what’s really going to happen if someone tells you the truth? And what are you really getting out of all those friends who honor you and flatter you?

Translated and abridged from the Tzama Nafshi newsletter.

[1] Hyssop was one of the things used to ‘purify’ the sins of the Israelites in Temple times. The word for hyssop, אזוב, also means moss.

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