The Essential Point from which Hashem’s True Voice is Heard
Transcribed and translated from previous recordings of
HaRav Eliezer Berland Shlit”a
“From between the two Cherubs” (25:22)
When Hashem Yisborach chose to create the world for the purpose of showering His creations with goodness and so that all will recognize His greatness and merit clinging to Him, blessed He be – before any of that took place, before creation, He delegated a certain point, a point which is both light and vitality! All of the souls were drawn down from that point, and then each and every person was created from that point. “And I will speak to you from between the two Cherubs.” Man was created from ‘between the two Cherubs’. That point was drawn down from between the two Cherubs. Every person must find his way back to that point. Every person must return to his root and include himself within that point. The whole purpose of our current lifetime as well as our past lifetimes is to elevate us to that wondrous point, which is the letter “Yud”. That is why we are called, “Yehudim” (Jews); we were named after that “Yud”. The essence of a Jew – a Yid, is that little point. Every person must see to it that his entire being, his very essence – will turn back into that little point, that simple point; into the letter “Yud”. Rebbe Pinchas of Koritz said, “What is the purpose of the point on a crown? The word crown means “non-existent”. Who can merit attaining a crown? Who can merit attaining that point? Only one who is humble.”
How can a person become humble? Through Torah and chessed (acts of kindness). Like it says in the Gemara of Avodah Zara (17:2): “Rav Huna said, ‘Whoever spends all of his time just learning Torah is likened to one who has no G-d, as it says (Divrei Hayamim 2:15): And Israel will have many days without a true G-d.” The Gemara is stating that if a person learns Torah but does not do chessed and help his fellow Jew, he is considered as one who has no G-d! “Without a true G-d” – there is no truth to this! During the time that Asa the King Reigned over Israel, everyone learned Torah; there was not one man who did not study Torah! Asa burned all of the statues of Avodah Zara, opened up Yeshivas, and yet, it is written in Divrei Hayamim [that Israel were] “Without a true G-d”. Asa taught all of the Jews to study Torah! However, he did not teach them to do acts of chessed! He didn’t teach them to help the weak, to learn with study partners who were weak [i.e., they needed assistance in their learning]! That, he didn’t teach them! That is the aspect of “without a true G-d.”
If a person studies the Torah but does not do acts of kindness such as helping his friends, helping the weak, etc., it’s as though he learned nothing at all! When he studies on his own, learning with none but himself, he starts seeing himself as the greatest Torah scholar of the generation! He lives an illusion that he is the greatest Rabbi of the generation! Slowly, slowly, he loses Hashem. A person who only learns Torah for his own sake becomes egocentric! He says to himself, “Soon, I’ll become a great teacher, a Rabbi, maybe even a big Rosh Yeshiva!” He is so full of arrogance, he simply can’t find the time to help others; he’s ‘too busy’! He thinks that every second he spends helping another is purely a waste of his ‘precious’ time! What a waste of time it is to speak to others and be kind to them… he has to focus on becoming a great Rabbi! When one does nothing else besides studying Torah he becomes arrogant, as it says, “Whoever is arrogant – he and I cannot live together in the same world” (Sotah 5:1). Whoever is arrogant drives away the Shechina (the Divine Presence)! He is literally pushing the Shechina away! He is removing the Shechina from the world! When the Shechina exits the world, terrible things happen; murder, all sorts of disasters, accidents, etc., may we never know of such things. Every little thought of pride causes the Shechina to leave the world. Contrarily, learning Torah together with acts of kindness nullifies self- pride. If a person studies the Torah and also helps other people, he discovers that there are people who are better than he! If a man starts studying together with another man, one who is weaker than he, he will discover that his study partner actually has better middos (traits), better qualities, more holiness, and more humbleness and so on. This humbles him!
The same rule applies to one who only does acts of kindness but does not learn Torah. He, too, will be full of arrogance. A person may start a big chessed organization, perhaps he gives out tons of food to the poor and needy; this will surely drive him to arrogance. This guy starts thinking that he is the world’s biggest chessed-doer! If he does chessed without learning Torah he’ll think he is the most charitable man in the world! After all, he is the one supporting thousands of families – who is comparable to him?! Moreover, now that he has already become full of arrogance, due to all of his acts of kindness, the result is inevitable; even if he himself is tired of doing kindness for others he will do it anyway because of his lust for pride and honor. He will desperately seek out poor families to help, even if that means searching basements and the likes, anything to find poor families who don’t have food for Shabbos. He’ll rescue thousands of families and do things that no one else does because acts of chessed build his ego! He thinks that he is saving people! He’s the so-called redeemer! He thinks he’s the greatest person in the world! He has broken the world-record of haughtiness! However, if he also learns Torah he will lose his arrogance. He’ll discover that one guy knows how to learn better than he, another guy knows the Tosfos better and yet another guy knows halacha better than he, etc. He’ll see that there are people that are much better than he! There are men greater than he!
Now, his balloon has popped! He will become humble! The bottom line is that Torah without chessed leads to arrogance as does chessed without Torah! Only a person who learns Torah and also does chessed can be humble.
[That is the meaning of “I will speak to you from between the two Cherubs”, only from that essential point of humbleness can a person have a true connection to his creator, from that point of humbleness which is only found between the two Cherubs – representing Torah and Chessed.]