Secrets of the Torah with Rav Berland: Parshat Ki Tisa

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(Translated from the book Aish Moharan from the teachings of Rav Berland Shlit”a[2])

The Nation of Israel was not fitting to perform the sin of worshiping the Golden Calf.  However, the Nation of Israel felt so much arrogance and reached a level of so much arrogance because they saw Hashem (G-d) face to face.  So there was no choice, the Nation of Israel had to fall and perform the revolting sin of the Golden Calf.

And Rashi[3] says this, that the sin of the Golden Calf was “Hashem’s (G-d’s) decree,” since “The Nation of Israel were all warriors that ruled over their bad impulses, so their evil inclination was not fitting to overcome them at all.”  Therefore, the whole Golden Calf was not fitting for the Nation of Israel since their physical impurities had already been removed, but their arrogance remained.

Even though their physical impurities had been removed, their arrogance had not left.  Rather it was the complete opposite since after seeing Hashem face to face, this caused the Nation of Israel to receive extra arrogance.  And it was “Hashem’s decree” to throw them into such a lowly thing like the Golden Calf, and to have the Golden Calf rule over them[4] “to give a opening for Jews to return to Hashem in repentance,” since all of a person’s disgraceful behaviors are “Hashem’s decree.”

From the sin of the Golden Calf we learn that if a person each time wants to repent and serve Hashem (G-d) after his downfalls meaning every time he falls, he wakes up and he is shocked at his own sin and disgraceful behaviors, this is a sign that all of his sins and disgraceful behaviors are, “Hashem’s decree.”

If a person feels good in his disgraceful behaviors, may Hashem (G-d) have mercy on his soul meaning this person is in bad shape.  However, if every time one wakes up and is shocked at his own sins and disgraceful behaviors and asks himself, “How could I fall this low, what is going on with me?  Why do I keep falling?  Why can’t I hold onto my Judaism?”  Then he should know that his downfalls are only to break his arrogance and they are “Hashem’s decree.”

By all the Tzadikim (righteous ones) and also by us, if every time we sin or behave disgracefully we wake up, and are shocked at our downfall, and we cry about our downfall.  If we run to the field and scream to Hashem about the pain of sinning and behaving disgracefully, and we run to the Western Wall (Kosel) and scream out to Hashem to save us from our evil inclination, then this is the sign that all our sins and disgraceful behaviors are “Hashem’s decree.”

Meaning there is a condition for one’s sins and disgraceful behaviors to be “Hashem’s decrees,” and the condition is that one wakes up, and is shocked at his sins and disgraceful behaviors and he repents and returns to Hashem (G-d) from love.

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By this process of waking up and being shocked at one’s disgraceful behaviors a person receives more humility and lowliness and his heart gets more broken.  Since through waking up and being shocked at one’s disgraceful behavior, one’s willful transgressions switch and become merits (זכויות).  Therefore, it is written[5], “In the place where the Master’s of repentance (Baale Teshuva) are standing, great Tzadikim are not able to stand.”

And even “a Tzadik[6]” cannot come to humility, except for a Tzadik like Rabeinu (Rebbe Nachman of Breslov) who was a real Baal Teshuva[7] since Rebbe Nachman would repent for every second of his life.


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A PRAYER[8] FOR TESHUVA (repentance):

PLEASE merciful father, despite us being how we are, please do not hide your face from us, even people as lowly as us that are continually falling down level after level, falling more and more downwards, falling into places that are so lowly they cannot be described or mentioned.

Since specifically these places which are lower than 10 tefachim (80cm) which is lower than any spiritual level and completely within all the impurity and within the deepest depths of the sinful waters…Specifically in those low places the true Tzadikim are trying reach and pull us up from their with all their strength in their abundant mercy and humility.

To find even from those impure places all the good points of every Jew that truly regrets and repents for all his transgressions and screams out from all the pain in his body and soul (Nefesh) because there is no pain worse than the pain of one’s sins.  Ribono Shel Olam – Master of the universe, master of mercy and forgiveness, the one who looks for a wicked person and desires to bring out his righteousness.

The one that opens the gate for those who knock on it in repentance, allow me to merit in your abundant mercy that I will return in complete repentance before you quickly and speedily.  And I will repent on all my sins, transgressions and willful sins, that I sinned, transgressed, and willfully sinned from my youth to this day and please Hashem do not let the hour devour me since before you created the World in your highest wisdom you began by creating teshuva (repentance).


One of Rav Berland Shlit”a’s students kept having doubts and confusion creep up on him about the Rav, and his questions on the Rav kept him from feeling truly close to the Rav.  On Rosh Hashana 5777 this student was in Uman and he had fallen asleep in the balcony seating[9] of the Kloiz[10].

At Chatzos (Jewish Midnight) this student suddenly woke up and felt as if Hashem woke him up, and he saw Rav Succot searching for something between the chairs of the balcony seating with someone else.  This student instantly seized this good opportunity to approach Rav Succot and to speak with him about his doubts and confusions regarding the Rav.

Specifically, he wanted to ask Rav Succot, how is it possible that the Rav and his students stay weak and unobtrusive against those who are embarrassing them and putting them down? Furthermore, how can the Rav’s students still pray in the Kloiz when so many people in the Kloiz are against the Rav, and the Rav himself is not present at the Kloiz?

So this student approached Rav Succot and began a conversation with Rav Succot by asking, “Do you need any help?” since Rav Succot was still searching for something between the chairs.  Rav Succot answered, “I am doing fine.”  This student did not give up and told Rav Succot, “I have a question. Can I please ask you my question?”  Rav Succot responded, “No.”

However, the student was not put off since he knew that Tzadikim do not operate according to the regular customs of the World and it is impossible to understand them, so this student stayed quiet and began preparing himself for the Rosh Hashana Morning Prayer Service.  Yet, a little while later Rav Succot come over to this student and said to him, “The Rav once said to me that anyone that reads 15 minutes of Rebbe Nachman’s Story Tales[11] each day will not have doubts and confusions.”  This student smiled a big smile and thought this is exactly what I wanted to talk to Rav Succot about!

As this student reviewed this practical advice from the Rav he thought to himself, “But I am very connected to Rebbe Nachman’s Story Tales.  I already learn them every day.  So why did I have questions on the Rav before hand?”  As he began to reflect on his doubts and confusions regarding Rav Berland Shlit”a he saw that the real truth is that he never really had questions on the Rav or on the Rav’s community, rather he saw for the first time that all his doubts and confusions only came from his own imagination.

[This story I heard on Purim 5777, by the student himself named Dan Kotter.  Anyone who would like to hear this story from him or to speak with him about it can contact him at 054-851-9148.]


To continue the light of Purim all year round means continuing to fight Amalek all year round.  And on a practical level fighting Amalek means getting close to the Tzadik of each generation since Amalek’s main goal is to separate a Jew from the Tzadik of the generation.  And Rebbe Nosson[12] explains, “Due to the fact that Amalek sees that he has no power over those who are close to the true Tzadik, because the Tzadik gives them life in all their downfalls and he never pushes them away no matter what.

Rather the Tzadik always brings them closer to Hashem (G-d) no matter where they are spiritually.  Therefore, Amalek is wise and develops cunning and crafty ways to make a lot of controversy and tumult in every generation on the true Tzadik.  Amalek mesmerizes and incites the World so everyone should go against the Tzadik.

And Amalek causes people to make a mistake through all sorts of deception and all sorts of false proofs to explain why the Tzadik of the generation is not a Tzadik at all, and Amalek keeps deceiving the people until they completely go against the Tzadik of the generation.”

So why would the Rav tell this student to learn Rebbe Nachman’s Story Tales in order to be saved from the battle plans of Amalek?  In the introduction to Rebbe Nachman’s Story Tales[13] it is written, “These stories have a great power to wake each person up to Hashem (G-d),” and in Likeutey Halachos[14] it is written,

“That it is impossible to come close to Hashem except through true Tzadikim.”  Therefore the Rav’s advice to this student makes perfect sense since Rebbe Nachman’s Story Tales straight away connect a person to the Tzadik of the generation by waking him up to recognize that Hashem (G-d) truly exists in his life.


To do the Mitzvah of “Kimcha Dipischa” today do we still buy wheat and distribute it to poor people for Passover? No.  The Piske Teshuvos[15] writes, “Today, in the last generations the custom is to collect money for Kimcha Dipischa…and we give poor people all their needs for Passover.  Furthermore, the products and food provided to the poor need to be in abundance and at the same level as the important well to do community members.

Is it better to give money or food prodcuts for the Mitzvah of “Kimcha Dipischa?” The Piske Teshuvos[16] explains, whether one gives money or food products for Passover, what is important is that the giving should be in a respectful way and the poor person should receive benefit.

[To do the Mitzvah of Kimcha Dipischa through Simchas Rabeinu visit: TODAY! See below.]


HaRav Eliezer Ben Etyah and the Rabbaneat Shlit”a, Matisyahu Yisrael Ben Rachel Malka, Ester Rachel Bas Nurit, Menachem Ben Ester Rachel, Moshe Ben Ester Rachel, Sarah Bas Ester Rachel.

[1] שמות פרק לב פסוק א ~ וירא העם כי בשש משה לרדת מן ההר ויקהל העם על אהרן ויאמרו אליו קום עשה לנו אלהים אשר ילכו לפנינו כי זה משה האיש אשר העלנו מארץ מצרים לא ידענו מה היה לו:

[2] אש מוהר”ן פרשת כי תשא עמוד רפב

[3] עבודה זרה דף ד: לא עשו ישראל את העגל רש”י שם: כלומר גבורים ושליטים ביצרם היו ולא הי’ ראוי להתגבר יצרם עליהן אלא גזירת מלך היתה לשלוט בם כדי ליתן פתחון פה לבעלי תשובה שאם יאמר החוטא לא אשוב שלא יקבלני אומרים לו צא ולמד ממעשה העגל שכפרו ונתקבלו בתשובה.

[4] שם

[5] ברכות דף לד: ופליגא דרבי אבהו, דאמר רבי אבהו: מקום שבעלי תשובה עומדין – צדיקים גמורים אינם עומדין

[6] The word Tzadik here is in quotes because Rav Berland Shlit’’a is eluding to the idea that someone maybe thought of as a “Tzadik” since he maybe the head of an important Yeshiva or Chassidic movement or the like.  However, if someone does not possess humility he is not really a true Tzadik no matter what his title maybe, rather he is a “Tzadik” like Haman since Haman is arrogance (see Simchas Rabeinu Parsha Sheet 7).

[7] Master of repentance

[8] This prayer is from Reb Nosson’s book Likeutey Tefilos and Rav Berland’s book Tefilah Liani

[9] This seating is referred to as “the Galleria” by the Breslover Chassidim.

[10] The Kloiz is the central shul (synagogue) in Uman where all the Breslover Chassidim gather for the Rosh Hashana prayer services.  The term “Kloiz” comes from Rebbe Nosson who originally built it in Uman.  The Kloiz today stands in Uman almost exactly, where Rebbe Nosson originally built it.

[11] The original title of this book is ספורי מעשיות and Rebbe Nachman wrote this book himself in Yiddish.  Reb Nosson translated it into Hebrew and Rav Aryeh Kaplan translated it into English and titled it “Rebbe Nachman’s Stories.”

[12] לקוטי הלכות הלכות חושן משפט הלכות מתנה ג אות קטן ד עמוד ד

[13] ספורי מעשיות הקדמה (הקדמה ראשון)

[14] לקוטי הלכות הלכות חושן משפט הלכות מתנה ג אות קטן ד עמוד ד

[15] פסקי תשובות סימן תכט אות קטן ב

[16] פסקי תשובות סימן תכט אות קטן ב

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