TORAH PEARLS FROM RAV ELIEZER BERLAND, SHLITA: PARSHAT KI TISA
Binding One’s Self to the True Tzaddikim
(Transcribed and translated from the book “Eish Moharan,” taken from lessons of Morenu HaRav shlita.)
Who merits to act for Hashem’s sake?
When a person is a small child in yeshiva he learns for candy, to receive a good grade. And after that, he learns to [find] a [good] marriage partner. And after that, he learns in order to become a Rosh Yeshiva. And after that, he learns in order to give over a Torah lesson. And when does he learn in order to give spiritual satisfaction to Hashem?
And even if you state that this [is your intention], it won’t help, because your entire being is pride. How can you reach [even] the first speck of [giving] spiritual satisfaction to Hashem, [so] that you won’t even have the slightest self-interest in anything? How can a person reach the state where every mitzvah that he does is spiritual satisfaction for Hashem? Really, the entire reason a person comes to this world is only to give spiritual satisfaction to Hashem.
THE IMPORTANCE OF BINDING OURSELVES TOTHE TRUE TZADDIK
Therefore, Rabbi Nosson says (Likutey Halachos, Shaliach Leg’bos Chovo, 2): Therefore, we need to do all the mitzvos according to the intention of Moshe Rabbeinu. Therefore, in everything, we say, “I bind myself to Rebbe Nachman ben Simcha ben Feiga,” until we merit to be truly like the Rebbe, [an aspect of] “the land eats its inhabitants” [—translator’s note: that we should be completely like the Rebbe the way that food becomes part of the one who eats it].
Therefore, we need to bind ourselves at the moment that we do each and every mitzvah to the true Tzaddik in the generation…[the Tzaddik] who through every mitzvah sees Hashem as through a clear looking glass.
This true Tzaddik has joy from every mitzvah itself. He doesn’t want any reward in the World to Come for the mitzvah. He doesn’t want a reward…he doesn’t want anything. He doesn’t want honor…he doesn’t want people to relate to him. He doesn’t want attention from any person in the world. And he does all the mitzvos out of joy from the mitzvah itself, and he doesn’t want any reward in the World to Come for the mitzvah. This Tzaddik…everything he does is only to become included within Hashem. He has no intention for himself…rather, only to be included within Hashem through His mitzvos.
Reb Ephraim’l’s custom in saying, “I bind myself…”
The author of “HaOneg Shabbos,” when he was going to recite “I bind myself…,” would wash his face, wash his mouth, put his side-locks in order. “I bind myself to the Rebbe [Rabbi Nachman]!” In order to say “I bind myself to the Rebbe”…he would mamash prepare himself to say “I bind myself.”
You bind yourself to the Rebbe! Right now you’re tying a shoelace? You bind yourself to the Holy Rebbe! Do you know what this is—the Holy Rebbe? Do you have any idea what the meaning is…[or] even what words are coming out of your mouth? Can you imagine what the meaning of this is, that you bind yourself? You bound yourself to the Holy Rebbe!
When you say “I bind myself to the Holy Rebbe,” you should consider yourself binding yourself to the Rebbe and that from now on you will be his follower—forever…and that the Rebbe will lead you, and you will listen to his counsel…and you love him.
YOU CAN BIND YOURSELF TO THE REBBE AND ALSO GET ELECTROCUTED!
Imagine that you have communications equipment with an antenna, and you need to set up the antenna—you need to receive a communication from some place, and you need to be careful not to get electrocuted there.
You can bind yourself to the Rebbe and also get electrocuted. This is the highest voltage that’s possible in the world. This isn’t simple to bind oneself to the Rebbe; like the person who communicates who needs to set up the antenna, to set up the equipment, to worry and make sure that the buttons are working right. To bind oneself – a person needs to know how to bind himself to the Rebbe.
The intention in the first blessing of the Amidah prayer– binding one’s self to the Forefathers
A person who didn’t focus in Bircas Avos (the blessing of “our Fathers”, the first blessing) in the Amidah prayer didn’t say anything. If he didn’t focus in [saying] the “G-d of Avraham”…and didn’t focus in the “G-d of Yitzchak”…and didn’t focus in “the G-d of Ya’akov,” the prayer doesn’t ascend. Who can focus on what is the “G-d of Avraham,” what is the “G-d of Yitzchak,” what is the “G-d of Ya’akov?” A person doesn’t understand what this is at all…what they are talking about here.
The [Forefathers] were around 3,000 years ago. How did they get them into the Amidah? In the blessings Barech Aleinu (Bless us), and Refa’enu (Heal us), [if] he needs healing or livelihood, with difficulty he focuses; however, this he still can understand. Refa’enu, Barech Aleinu…also in Selach lanu Avinu ki chatanu (Forgive us, our Father, for we have sinned), and in Chonen hada’as (Grant us knowledge)…but the G-d of Avraham, the G-d of Yitzchak, the G-d of Ya’akov…how is this connected?
HOW WE GET OUR PRAYERS TO ASCEND TO HEAVEN
However, since Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya’akov are the ones who established the prayers, without them, the prayer doesn’t ascend. Reciting their names is binding oneself to them…[and] it’s through them that the prayer ascends above [to Hashem].
We must have the Tzaddik, as it’s related in the Talmud regarding Shimon HaTzaddik, that without him the scarlet string on Yom Kippur wouldn’t turn white [miraculously indicating Divine forgiveness], even though there was [in those times] the service in the Holy Temple. The generations are declining and becoming weaker…people pray less with focus, [but] the power of the Tzaddik is greater. Just bind yourself to him…“the G-d of Avraham, the G-d of Yitzchak, the G-d of Ya’akov.”
A PRAYER FOR BINDING ONESELF TO THE TRUE TZADDIK
(Transcribed and Translated from “Tefillah L’Ani: Leket Tefilot u’Bakashot” by Morenu HaRav shlita)
Ribono Shel Olam (Master of the Universe)!
He Who does great deeds beyond inquiry, miracles and wonders beyond number…please, reveal to us through Your many wonders the Tzaddik, who can cleanse the entire world of its lusts…the tzaddik who took the Jewish people out of the 49 Gates of Impurity, and brought them into the 49 Gates of Holiness.
Please, have mercy and compassion on us, because now we are in terrible need of the Tzaddik who is an aspect of Moshe, who will elevate us to the 50 Gates of Understanding…who will reveal to us anew the pleasantness that there was at the moment the Torah was given, and who will envelop us with the clouds of Glory…who will feed us the manna…and give us to drink from the well of Miriam…who will reveal to us that everything is through Your supervision, and that there is nothing besides You…until at every moment the “the sound of the Shofar getting increasingly stronger without limit” (Exodus 19:19) can be heard anew, making its sound heard to all those who are falling into the depths of the klipos (forces of evil).
Please, bring us close to this Tzaddik, who will make us know that hope is never lost, and that there is “absolutely no despair in the world”…who will make me know that also I have a way and path to reach the true Tzaddik, who is an aspect of Boaz.
“And I will gather BaShiBaLIM (among the ears of grain)” (Ruth 2:2) – BaSheViLIM (on the paths), until I merit to reveal the path to the true Tzaddik, who upon him is dependent the entire tikkun (rectification) of my spirit and soul…the Tzaddik who makes the ruling: “A male Ammonite [is barred] and not a female Ammonite; a male Moabite [is barred] and not a female Moabite”…and finds for us the way to make us fitting and to elevate us out of the impurity of Ammon and Moab, to uproot from my heart the spirit of jealousy and gratuitous hatred in a manner that I will be worthy of the Holy Temple being built in my days.
Ribono Shel Olam!
Let me merit through your great compassion to draw close to the true Tzaddik, who already merited to the wondrous pleasantness of the holy and awesome song which is played on 72 strings. Fortunate are the ears that will merit to hear this song, and fortunate are the eyes that will merit to see the Tzaddik who the Faithful Shepherd [Moshe] is clothed within him, of whom it is said, “And then [Moshe and the Jewish people] will sing”…the Tzaddik that are revealed to him all the songs and all the melodies of all the generations…also the songs and melodies that will be played in the future, the song of the angels and the melodies of the souls…the Tzaddik who the soul of David also entered into him…that on his harp he [David] could subdue the watch of the dogs [an aspect of the klipos] and cancel from the Jewish people all the accusations…that on his harp he could even revive the dead.
Please, let us merit to the MaChoL (dance) that is impossible to reach except through MeChiLat (the forgiveness) of sins. Let us merit to the pleasantness of the [holy] singers and dancers of all generations, and to the dance that in the future the Holy One will make for the Tzaddikim in the time to come.
Ribono Shel Olam!
Let us merit to draw close to this Tzaddik, who can shield us and save us from the hand of our oppressors in body and soul. Let us merit to cling to the Tzaddik who can kindle within us the fire which will burn out our evil inclination from within us and to turn the 70 bonfires which blaze within us day and night, to endless bonfires of love and longing for Hashem, an aspect of “an eternal fire shall burn on the altar; it shall not be extinguished” (Leviticus 6:6)…that this is the fire which burned in the heart of the High Priest 24 hours [a day], and through its power and merit he would enter into the Holy of Holies, escorted by an angel of Hashem, like Shimon HaTzaddik, whose likeness would fight the enemies who came to annihilate us in our Holy Land.
Let me merit to come close to the true Tzaddik who never gives up on any person, and who acts especially on behalf of those who raise their eyes to him and who plead and request that he should come out to greet them.
Let us merit to come close to true Tzaddikim such as these, who always hold our hands, and who hasten and strengthen us to draw close and long for You at all times, no matter what happens, without looking at any obstacle, block or confusion…strengthening us with counsel of singing and dancing, an aspect of, “And He saw when they were in distress, when He heard their rinah (outcry/song)” (Psalms 106:44).
 As the Holy Rebbe wrote in Likutey Moharan 135: “If he is bound to the Tzaddik, he can feel the holiness of Yom Tov, and the main binding is love, that he should love the Tzaddik with complete love.” See also Tanya, Igeres HaKodesh, 27.
 Rabbi Chayim Vital in Sha’ar HaGilgulim 38 writes: “That I should mention Rabbi Akiva ten times consecutively before every prayer, evening morning, and afternoon, and through this his soul will enter me and assist me.”
 The Ammonites and Moabites were barred from marrying Jews, even after conversion, although there was a long-lived controversy whether this ban also included women or only men. It was resolved in the times of King David, in favor of the latter view.