Kaayal Taarog Rav Ofer Erez newsletter for Nissan/Pesach

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It is written in the holy books that the entire process of the exodus that the nation of Israel went through in Egypt, from the exile to the slavery and to the redemption, applies to each and every one of us personally. The Egyptian exile is called the root of all exiles; in general and personal. In fact, the order of the exodus of Egypt is also the order and way each of us go through when doing teshuva, repentance, and coming close to Hashem the Almighty.
Let’s take a look at a few points of the Exodus. Pharaoh and the Egyptians were hit with ten plagues before the nation of Israel left. The tenth plague was the death of every Egyptian firstborn male which occurred at midnight on the 15th day of the month of Nisan, the eve of the exodus. In preparation for the tenth plague, G-d tells Moshe Rabbenu [Moses] to command the people of Israel to slaughter the Passover sacrifice and smear that blood on the door posts of their homes. Why smear this blood? So Hashem the almighty will skip – Pass-over, the homes of the Jews and take the lives of only the Egyptians’ first born not the Jewish ones.

Here a question arises.
Why did Hashem need them to smear blood on the doorposts? Does he not know where the Jews reside? (In which house the Jews lived) ?
Chazal, our holy sages, tell us that the reason Hashem decided to kill the Egyptian first born males was because they were immersed in great sins, impurity, and idolatry. Furthermore, the sages tells us something amazing, that even the people of Israel were immersed in the same idolatry and impurity so according to law and true judgment Hashem was supposed to punish them as well. That is why they needed to smear blood on the doorposts so the angel will know to skip and pass-over their homes.
The nation of Hashem.

The question is now asked,
If there was no difference between the Jews and the Egyptians; why then did Hashem save only the Jewish firstborn males?

It is written in the holy books the reason is that on this event the Keter D’kdusha [The Crown of Holiness] was revealed. There are a few ways to understand what is this revelation of Keter D’kdusha. One of the deeper understandings of this Crown of Holiness is that Hashem chose us, the Jewish people and we do not have any idea or comprehension as to why g-d decided to choose us. This “choosing” was a Free Gift.
So on the Seder night, the eve of our Exodus, was when it was revealed to the entire world for the first time that Hashem chose us. Really according to Din, judgment, the Jewish first borns should have died as well. But for reasons unknown to us, Hashem decided not to punish the Jews, that we are his nation- his children. This stems from the secret of the Keter D’kdusha, a place where we have no understanding in Hashem’s ways. Opposing this power of the Crown of Holiness is an equal level of evil forces called Keter D’klipa, the crown of evil forces, that claims that there is no such thing that G-d chose the Jewish people. And even if He did in the past, in the meantime, after all the downfalls we’ve had, Hashem has given up on us.
2 Hashem is with you in every situation.

Just like Hashem chose us over all the other nations and gave us the holy Torah – we don’t know why specifically us. His decision is above all logic, all human comprehension, and so too when a person feels a desire to come closer to Hashem – to pray and to do mitzvot, we do not know why specifically this person and not another. This is all part of the revelation of the Keter D’kdusha which is the root of all the spiritual worlds. On the seder night [of passover] it is revealed that Hashem chose us whether we were worthy of it or not. Just like a child can break something expensive in the house and it does not mean he stops being a son to his father – a person cannot tell his child due to your actions you are no longer my child (and even if he does it has no meaning). This is what stems from the Keter D’kdusha.
Sometimes the evil inclination comes and tells us, “Look how you look! where are you! Look how you are unworthy…” He has a lot of ways, explanations, and theories of how to weaken us at this point. A person has to say: “Yes, I need to do teshuva [repent] and to fix, no problem! I will do it, but there is no such thing as being distant and separated from Hashem or that G-d will abandon me”. The Yetzer Hara continues to ask: “Why then do you not feel closeness to Hashem?” We have to answer: “I may be in a concealment and therefore I don’t feel that connection, but the connection does not stop! We need to ingrain into our hearts this knowledge that there is never any separation between us and Hashem. And there are times when we must shout:” I am not separated from You, G-d! When a person shouts this, he reveals the spiritual level of the Keter D’kdusha [Crown of Holiness].
The preparation for Pesach is to look into this point, the amazing merit that we had, that Hashem chose us, wants us aways and planted a holy soul in us. We make a great Tikun [rectification of the soul and world] when we clarify and illuminate this point.

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3 Sometimes it’s not enough to send angels

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Another point in the Pesach Haggadah [book of passover] it states that It is written in the Torah: “G-d passed through the land of Egypt, I myself and not an angel! I myself and not a messenger! I am He, and no one else!”
And the haggadah emphasises this point of Hashem going Himself. Why did hashem have to go down into egypt Himself? It says in the holy books that if the angels would have went into Egypt to take out the Jews, the angels themselves would have gotten infected with the impurity of Egypt.
Our sages ask: how is it possible for an angel to become impure? Angels don’t have an evil inclination!?
Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler explains this;
It is not that the angels would become impure themselves, in their essence, but rather in the eyes of the Jews they would appear to be impure. Egypt had such a great force of evil and the Jews were deeply immersed in it, therefore, even if the angels would of came down and displayed amazing Kedusha [holiness] it would have impressed us but not enough to cause us to want to leave Egypt. Just another puppet show for us. The Evil forces of idolatry in Egypt were more powerful than all the angels!

4 How does a Jew do Teshuva [repent]

If the evil forces were so powerful the how did the exodus happen? In order for the Jews to leave Egypt there needed to be a revelation of the Shechina, divine presence, the light of Hashem in the land of Egypt, and only that can break all the evil forces in just one moment. As soon as the Shechina was revealed; it ignited the amazing love for Hashem in our hearts with tremendous magnitude causing the us to want to leave the idolatry and impurity.
The Shechina was revealed in two ways – a pillar of fire at night and a pillar of cloud by day.
At sunrise the the pillar of cloud began to move towards the desert and all of Klal Yisrael followed it into the desert.
Rabbi Natan says in Likutey Halachot a tremendous fundamental concept;
Every person that does teshuva is because of the shechina being revealed – especially in our generation. We see that today the real revolution that is happening in Klal Yisrael is that of Teshuva, repent, and coming close to Hashem. Hashem is doing this quietly and under the radar. While everyone is busy with nonsense and the desires of this world – one is running after the dollar and the other after other worldly desires – G-d is busy bringing everyone back in a way of distraction. It is an amazing wonder how a person is able to do Teshuva. A person lives and absorbs the culture of the world opposite of Kedusha from a young age, being taught that pride, money and lusts are the goals of life. He is immersed in impurity for so many years and then wakes up one morning and asks, where am I? He then starts searching for himself and for Hashem. Where does this come from all of a sudden?

5 The revelation of the Shechina
Says Rabbi Natan; the same revelation that happened then is happening now; there is an exodus of Egypt occurring in our days. We have to understand that this is not a natural phenomenon. Why would you think about G-d? What do you have to do with him? The answer is that now the time has come and the light of the Shechina of Hashem of starting to light up in our hearts. Rabbi Natan continues to say that when the Shechina is revealed in our hearts it gives us great powers to fight against all the desires of this world. It is a miracle and opposite of nature that a person can get up and say if the Torah tells me to guard my eyes then I am ready and willing to start with great devotion. But it is important to know a big rule – all this lasts for a certain period of time. A person feels and knows that there is Kedusha and a pleasantness in the observance of the Torah but after that, this light disappears and all that is left is the memory of it. Now it is up to us to fight and desire to merit to get that light of the Shechina in our hearts forever. May we all merit!
Concept for life – 370 lights [ש”ע אורות]
It says in the holy books that there are 370 lights in the spiritual light called “Arich” [one of the levels of Keter d’Kedusha] and when we merit to reveal these lights we feel tranquility, calmness, happiness, and pleasant feeling in our soul. The feeling that nothing can bring us down or take us off balance. We feel we have the ability to deal with everything with great presence of mind. There were great Tzadikim [righteous ones] that merited to this light and they only saw G-d and nothing else bothered them.
The advice – how do we merit the 370 lights?
It is written in the Zohar that for every plague that G-d hit the Egyptians with there was a remedy for the Jews. The second plague was the frogs, this plague represents the Midat Hayesod [spiritual term for foundation] which alludes to Tikkun Habrit – Fixing of the holy covenant. It refers to the matters of Kedusha [holiness], guarding one’s eyes and fighting against the known lust, and for women this applies to the matters of dressing modestly. Our sages tell us that the frogs filled up the entire land and the Egyptians suffered immensely from the noise of the frogs.
Rabbi Tzadok of Lublin says that when a person blemishes the holy covenant it causes him/her to have noise in the mind; the noise of the frogs – confusion, inner mental conflicts, lack of direction, and the inability to deal and cope with anything. This was the essence of the plague in egypt. For the Jews however this was the remedy; frog in hebrew is called צפרדע {tzfardea} this word when split into two becomes ציפור דעה and the numerical value within the word ציפור is 370.
We go back to those 370 lights of the Arich in the Keter – the Crown of Holiness; when we merit to guard our holy covenant with Hashem and try to go in this way we start to feel calm,
a presence of mind to deal with any challenge, and we do so with great knowledge attained from the lights of Arich. These lights fix our mind – our entire life starts to change and this is also why the great Tzaddikim [righteous ones] worked on this so much since they knew that it is the entire purpose; to purify the holy covenant, and this was the remedy for the Jews in the second plague!
Mimamakim – From the Depths {Book by R’ Ofer Erez}
There are days where we don’t feel the Siyata Dishmaya [divine assistance] at all and it hits us like the Makah of Choshech [plague of darkness in egypt]. We wake up one morning and forget our name and what we are even doing here. We feel like we are not able to do anything at all, whether spiritually or physically; like the exile of Egypt. In these times it is important to know how to act, what is expected of us, and what is we can do. The main thing is to know that it is not expected of us to redeem ourselves from this situation but rather work on our Emunah – faith in Hashem, that he alone can save us and will do so even if we can’t see any possible way to get out; G-d will pull me out – I have no idea how but I trust in him!

Har Hamor – {Book by R’ Ofer Erez}
“It is not my fault that I don’t feel the love between us; no one ever taught me about that love,
no one ever educated me or told me that you love me – Hashem please reveal to me this love and light it up deep in my heart”

Sefer Hamidot – {Book by Rebbe Nachman of Breslov}
● The tzadik has the power to pray for a person to be saved from sin.
● The tzadik endures suffering of those who sustain him at the time of their pain.
● Connecting to the Tzadikim is a great healing.
● Sometimes a person comes very close to the tzadik, and yet does not feel within himself any fear of heaven. He should know that if he had not come close; he would not be worthy of living at all.
● Those who are close to G-d fearing people will merit to knowledge and fear of G-d.
From the book Otzar Hayir’a.

Section 10 – Advice for Bad Thoughts.
The main way to purify oneself from the impurity of Egypt is through Tikkun habrit,which is cleansing the mind of bad thoughts. Even if a person is already immersed in a bad thoughts, one should try to think of something else since there is no way the brain can hold two thoughts in one place.

Section 88
In every generation a person must view himself as if he just left Egypt. One of the aspects of every person’s exile is the hardship and worry of Parnassah [monetary living]. The main remedy of the soul for this is coming close to true tzadikim and by that we merit the aspect of geula [redemption]. Which brings us ashirut D’kdusha [spiritual abundance] and with this we can merit to receive materialistic wealth as well.
This is the final redemption of mashiach; all the spiritual abundance will be returned to the Jews – everyone will be tzadikim [righteous]. We will merit all of this just because of the bitterness of exile. The hardships of this exile would have taught us great humility, so when we will get that final redemption and great abundance, we will not easily forget and fall to gaava [haughtiness]. So too, mashiach himself is humble and poor; one can only merit both spiritual and physical shefa [abundance] through real humility!

An amazing story – “The light of the Tzaddik”
I am a well known artist; my paintings sold for thousands of dollars. I have had success, fame, and whatever else an artist can wish for – money was never an issue. Life was great up until one day my son was in a terrible car accident and was left paralyzed from both his legs up to his neck, and lost his ability to speak. My wife and I went to doctors and specialists all over the world and each one gave up faster than the previous one. We were left hopeless. As an artist I just channeled my pain into my paintings and that made it easier on me. However, my wife took it extremely hard and was not ready to accept the reality. Our son Shneur is our only child and he came after many difficult years.

At that time my wife was managing a chain of malls across the country when one day one of her employees walked in after a two week vacation with a head covering on. When my wife asked her why she is covering her hair the women replied that she was engaged to a doctor by the name of Boaz, who was a secular American Jew. She continued and explained that a short while earlier Boaz was about to begin surgery on one of his patients who was paralyzed. But before the surgery began his patient started to pray and asked from Rabbi Nachman of Breslov to be a messenger before G-d and plead on his behalf. Miraculously the patient was cured and against all odds recovered completely from being his paralysis. From having witnessed this, Boaz began the process of teshuva and becoming torah observant and I followed suit. We have now gotten married and are living an observant life so I have begun covering my hair.

After hearing the story my wife immediately purchased three flight tickets to Kiev for the next day. She came barging into my studio and firmly exclaimed; “me, you and Shneur are flying to Uman tomorrow, to the grave site of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov. I already bought the tickets!” I didn’t know what she wanted from me and why we had to fly off to a grave site of some rabbi in the Ukraine, but I saw she was serious and felt the pain of her heart. So just like that, without any understanding, we got on the airplane- wheel chair and all, and made it to the holy grave site of rabbi Nachman.

I will admit, and not be embarrassed to say, that I had never prayed in my life, I never wore a kippah [skull cap], I had never even spoken to a religious person before. I was born in a completely secular home and environment which never had anything to do with judaism.

The area by the grave was empty, it was just me, my wife, and Shneur. I did not know what to do with myself. My wife had asked her employee what to do and she told her that she has to go to the kever [grave], kiss it, and ask for whatever you need. I looked around to make sure no one was looking at me as I kissed the marble stone – my wife did the same, but did not step away as I did. She kept her head down and began to talk and cry in prayer. As for me, I just sat down next to the kever and did the only thing I knew how to do, paint. I took out a paper and started to draw a picture of my wife leaning over the kever with my son Shneur in a wheelchair next to her. Hearing my wife’s cries moved me and I started to cry as I drew up the picture. The next moment changed our lives forever. I was very focused on drawing Shneur- his head tilted back on the chair and the tension in his body. When suddenly Shneur straightened up his head after two years of not moving it. He opened his eyes and began to speak in a language I did not understand. We were American and, neither us nor Shneur, ever spoke any other language. Yet Shneur was now speaking in Hebrew. He was speaking as if someone was standing in front of him and said the words “but I cannot walk”. I looked at Shneur with great awe, he had a vibrant look on his face. He then reached out his hands forward, as if someone is asking to hold his hands. Then suddenly Shneur simply stands up on his feet, his hands reaching forward, and began to walk; step by step – – –
I shouted “Liz”!! My wife lifted her head from the kever, her eyes were red from crying. When she saw Shneur she fell to the ground and fainted. When I saw her faint I myself fell down, as did Shneur. A few minute later I woke and had to make sure this was not an illusion. I quickly realized it was real, it was no dream. We lifted Shneur and walked around the Kever with him, all the while, trying to digest all that had just occurred. The joy was like the joyous day he was born, after twenty painful childless years. After we had calmed down and came back to our sense, we asked Shneur to explain to us what he had seen.
At first it was very difficult for him to speak but then he explain. “I saw a beautiful person with a long white beard and deep bright blue eyes. He stood above me and told me to stand up. He spoke to me in a language that I did not recognize but I understood what he was saying. I simply believed in him and I started to walk after him, step after step, while he was saying words of Tehillim [psalms].” My wife then told over that she was begging the tzaddik to make a miracle for her, and that if that would occur, she promised to repent and become an observant Jew. The tzaddik fulfilled his part, now it was her turn to do hers.
We returned to our home and the doctors could not believe the miracle they saw before their eyes. Thank G-d my wife started on her path to observance and we all did teshuva and began going in the ways of Hashem. Today Shneur learns Torah and prays most of the day. But this wasn’t the end of our miraculous miracles. With the loving-kindness of Hashem we merited to bring another child into this world, a beautiful baby girl, Odelya, at our late age of 65. We thank Hashem every day for his mercy and love that he bestows upon us each day! {Excerpted story taken from Haor Haganuv}
“Bring one child into the Torah and all his descendants will remember the first that brought him in” Chafetz Chaim.

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