Monday, February 9, 2009

Emuna Goes Beyond Miracles

While learning Mishneh Torah of the RAMBAM, we went over a very interesting concept involving the prophecy of Moshe Rabbeinu as well as the prophecy of anyone after him. RAMBAM says that a Prophet who says that he comes in the name of Hashem is not required to perform miracles, and if he does this should not be the determining factor in his authenticity, because miracles can also be performed with sorcery and magic. Why then did Moshe Rabbeinu perform so many miracles before and during the Exodus from Egypt? The answer is that those miracles served a purpose. They were not to bring legitimacy to Moshe, but to accomplish something that could not be done by natural means. RAMBAM says that "one who believes in another person because of signs has apprehension in his heart [...] and doubt."1

After learning this, I came home to read A Simple Jew's blog

"Even though the Jewish people had witnessed many wonders and miracles firsthand they still needed to have emuna. For emuna is on a higher level than sight; indeed, it enables a person to see more than the physical eye can ever observe."

(Chidushei HaRim - First Gerer Rebbe)

In today's day where Hashem is the most hidden and we must fully rely on Emuna it helps when the great Sages of our day help us relate to Hashem. May Hashem bring us to the final Exodus of this Galus to Geula, Moshiach, and the Revelation of the Emes of Hashem and his Torah.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Yechidus with the Nikolsburg Rebbe

(Rabbi Mechel Lebowits Shlit"a the Nikolsburger Rebbe)

When my wife and I were visiting New York, we tried to meet with the Nikolsburger Rebbe but were not able to get a hold of the Rebbe's Gabbi. I had read many amazing things about the Rebbe and his perfection of the mitzvah of Ahavas Yisroel. The Rebbe was an inner-circle student of Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum, zt"l, and some say was a potential candidate to become Rebbe after his passing. Nikolsburg isn’t a dynasty, but was the city where Rabbi Shmuel Shmelke Horowitz was the chief Rabbi. The first Nikolsburger Rebbe was a student of the Maggid of Mezeritch. He was the teacher to many students who became Chassidic Rebbes in their own rite, such as the Chozeh of Lublin, R' Menachem Mendel of Rimanov, and the Koznitzer Maggid. The current Nikolsburger Rebbe's father was the son-in-law of a 7th descendent of the first Nikolsburger Rebbe. The Vizhntiz Rebbe of Monsey gave him the title of Nikolsburger Rebbe after this lineage, but he had already begun to form a following of thousands of Chasidim.

My father spoke to me earlier this week and told me that he took my mother with him to go see the Nikolsburger Rebbe to speak with him and ask for a Bracha. He told me that the Rebbe was in Los Angeles only for a short while longer and I should try to meet with him as well. I asked for the number to call and told myself I wasn't going to miss out on this for anything. I called the Gabbi and he told me to come Thursday night around 7:30pm.

When we arrived we filled out a kvitel and waited for our turn with the Rebbe. There were quite a few people in line ahead of us but most only took 5 or 10 minutes with the Rebbe. After about an hour we were told to go inside the Rebbe's room. He greeted us and the first thing he told us was how to keep Shalom Bayis in the home. He told me to compliment my wife more and criticize less, and that I should share the Torah I learn with her. I’m sure he tells this to every married couple that comes in but it hit close to home. Shalom Bayis is something I hold very high and many something I try to work very hard to keep. He asked us if any one was sick and we told him about our Rav's Rebbe HaRav Chaskel Besser and my Aunt who both need a Refuah Shelemah.

He then asked me about where I went to yeshiva and what learning I do. I told him about my learning chevrusim and he commented to me about my learning of Masekta Makkos. He went over one of the daf with me that I had trouble not understanding but agreeing with. He quoted Rashi beautifully and used a Kal Vachomer to explain why both this case and another case were both Hashem bringing justice to the world. He then told me, I tell you this because I know you were having trouble with that. I understand that he could have said any halacha from a masekta and told me that I was having trouble with that. My Chevrusa and I struggled with this halacha for some time, even with the Rashi and other commentary I just couldn't move forward. This made his words really hit me, in a way that felt like he could see right through me. The Halacha was when Edim Zomemin successfully have someone executed for a murder and are found out to be Zomemin (False) witnesses, they are not executed. After he explained it I felt a sense of relief as if I now truly understand the Pshat of that Gemara.

He asked us about our names and where our families came from. He told us that our ancestors in Europe were big Talmid Chachamim and were very proud that we have chosen a path back to Torah. We spoke about our plans to learn in Eretz Yisroel for the next year or so and he blessed us that this should happen. My Rav told me to buy my wife a bracelet and have him bless it. This was the point that shook me down to my Nefesh and Ruach. I told him that I bought a bracelet for him to bless, and He asked for it. I put it on the table and he took it. He held it tight and blessed us to learn in Israel, to build a Torah him, and have healthy children. As he blessed us every thought left my mind, my yetzer harah with knocked unconscious and my wife told me after that the back of her chair moved. It was such a good feeling to be by such a Tzaddik and to have spent almost 30 minutes with him, which felt like hours. All I could think about was Hashem and his Torah and how badly I wanted a Rebbe. He told us to come to him for Shabbos when we are in New York this summer and we were very honored and iy"H well be by him. He refused my tzedakah and told me to save for Israel and when I become a rich man to come back to him.

We spoke to the Gabbi outside and he told us to come for Shabbos to be by them. They were all very nice and asked me if I wear a streimel for Shabbos v'Yom Tov. I told him no, a little embarrassed, as I still don’t feel I am worthy to don such a garment. They asked my wife what she think, and to listen to what she says. I told them they were right cause she is the boss. Right now I need to save up for Yeshiva, then next its some sort of fur hat. The Nikolsburger Rebbe is truly an amazing and special Rebbe and I hope this meeting was the beginning of a special relationship.