Parshas Hashavuah Lech Lecha transcribed and translated from previous shiurim of the Tzadik Rabbi Eliezer Berland Shlit”a
“When the officials of Pharaoh saw her…” (12:15)
“‘But it occurred with Avraham’s coming to Egypt, the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful’ (12:14). Rebbe Yehuda said that they had hidden her a casket and the Egyptians opened it in order to check if it contained anything that needed to be taxed. When they opened it, they saw a light shining like the light of the sun. And this is what it means when it says that they saw that she was very beautiful? Why is the word “very” used? It was because they saw that there was nothing in the casket. They took her out and saw that the light was shining from her. And this is the explanation of, “The Egyptians saw her.” It is written “the Egyptians saw the woman”—what does it mean that the officials of Pharaoh saw her? That they took her out and saw that the light was shining from her. And then they praised her to Pharaoh, etc.” (Zohar, Parshas Lech Lecha, 82)
The Zohar asks: It is written in verse 14, “The Egyptians saw the woman” and in verse 15 it says again, “The officers of Pharaoh saw her.” Why does it say that she was seen twice? Why is the description drawn out? They saw and then they saw her again. Rather, the Zohar says an awesome thing: when Avraham Avinu arrived in Egypt, the Egyptians said to him: Open up the casket! We want to see what you really have in there. We want to see what you are hiding. And when they opened the casket up a great light shone out—a light like the sun at noon. Midnight was turned into noon. Hashem took the sun out of its sheath. “When it was opened the light was like the light of the sun.” Sara Imeinu was shining like the sun and suddenly all of Egypt was shining from the light of Sara. All of Egypt was filled with light. The Egyptians thought that Avraham had some kind of invention inside the casket—some kind of electrical device or magic, some sort of concealed rays, some kind of diamond that emitted light. They didn’t want to believe that Sara was the source of this light. They said: Can a person radiate such light? They didn’t believe that a person could emit such light. They thought that there was something else causing the light that came from the casket. It couldn’t be that it came from Sara. Maybe there was some kind of hidden device that emitted those rays. So they decided to check the casket. They pulled Sara out and started checking with all kinds of instruments to determine the source of the light—where was the hidden source of the light that lit up all of Egypt? “Since it is written that the Egyptians saw the woman. What does it mean “and the ministers of Pharaoh saw the woman?” They saw that the light didn’t come from the casket but from Sara. This is why it is written “and they saw” twice. They were moving Sara in and out of the casket again and again and checking the casket to determine from where the light was emanating. Maybe there is some kind of diamond here? Some king of glowing source of light? And only after they checked the casket several times did they realize that this great light was coming from Sara herself. Sara merited completely shedding her impure body. She was shining like the sun! This is just as the Baal HaTurim says in Parshas Chaye Sara on the verse, “and Sara lived one hundred years…(chaye Sara Meah Shana). The rashei teivos spell the word shemesh (sun). Sara was literally a sun. If a person wants to shed his physical body and to extricated himself from his bad character traits—to change his leprous body to a holy one from Gan Eden and to merit shining like the sun—he can only accomplish this through learning Torah.
The Rebbe says in Torah 101: a person is steeped in 70 bad character traits and only through learning Torah and Gemara can he break away from all of the bad character traits. This is what is really called “accepting upon himself the yolk of the Torah,” because only the Torah can change the nature of a person’s body. The body is the aspect of, “Let one who is [like] a wild ass be reborn as a man” (Iyov 11:12). The body is full of jealousy, hatred, the evil eye, forbidden gazing, and forbidden thoughts, and only by learning Gemara and learning Torah in depth can he change this. Only when he merits to Anpin Nehirin—Penim Meirot are all of his bad character traits and desires uprooted. A person is always battling his desires and bad character traits, and he doesn’t realize that it is only though learning Torah that he can be freed from them.
The Rebbe said that there is Anpin Nehirin (glowing face) and there is Anpin Hashuchin (darkened face). A person who doesn’t learn Gemara has a Anpin Hashuchin! An Anpin Nehirin can be achieved only by learning Gemara. There is an entire lesson about this in Likutei Moharan—Torah 101. There it is written that a person cannot achieve Anpin Nehirin—the glowing face—other than by learning Torah b’iyun. Does a person think he is smarter than Rebbe Nachman? Smarter than the Torah? Smarter than HaKadosh Baruch Hu? Hashem said: “A man’s wisdom lights up his face” (Koheles 8:1). Only wisdom lights up the face. A person needs to go around with enlightened eyes and a glowing face, but this only comes from learning Gemara! The Rebbe said: A man’s wisdom lights up his face. Where is your light? Why do you think about money all the time? Why are you thinking about nonsense all day long?
The essence of Rebbe Nachman is wisdom and intelligence—this is the basis of the Rebbe! This will remain the essential foundation for all generations. When Moshiach comes, this will also be the basic foundation—it will never change. A person must achieve wisdom and intelligence. That his whole existance will be wisdom and intelligence. All the 248 limbs and 365 sinews will be only wisdom and intelligence. By learning Gemara a person merits to wisdom and intelligence, and the intelligence is a shining sun. When a person has intelligence, everything shines and is clear. A person wonders around all day long without any vitality or joy: “Life is so bitter. I don’t have strength for anything. I don’t want to do anything.” You have no energy? You have no desire to do anything? This is because you aren’t learning Gemara! You look for things to keep you occupied—it’s only because you don’t learn. Vitality comes only from wisdom and intelligence, as it is written, “Wisdom preserves the lives of its possessors” (Koheles 7:12).
All of a person’s work is to increase his intellect, and as much as he increases his intellect and learns Shas, so does he build the Beis HaMikdash. If we want to build the Beis HaMikdash, to speed up the geulah, we need to develop the intellect and understanding, as Chazal said, “Whoever has intelligence it is if the Beis HaMikdash was built in his days.” And as much as a person develops his intellect, so he builds the Beis HaMikdash. The only reason the Beis HaMikdash has not been built is because there is not enough learning of Shas b’iyun—in depth. Today the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash depends completely on learning Shas. The moment that a person learns Shas, the Sitra Achra will fall. A person needs to sharpen his mind. This is the whole work of a person: to sharpen his mind, to learn Torah, so that he will have a quick and nimble mind. A razor sharp mind, as Rabbeinu says: it’s a great mitzvah to sharpen the mind.
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