Ki Teitzei: Wife from Another Dimension




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    Ki Teitzei: Wife from Another Dimension

    This week’s Torah portion contains 73 commandments, more than any other. One of them is how to divorce one’s wife; a document must be written etc.  Interestingly the Talmud (Gittin 90a) teaches that divorce is bad. In fact, G-d dislikes it so much that every time a woman is divorced the Holy Temple Altar sheds tears… Read the rest of this article by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton • Full Article

    By Rabbi Tuvia Bolton

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    Parshat Ki TeitzeiThis week’s Torah portion contains 73 commandments, more than any other. One of them is how to divorce one’s wife; a document must be written etc.

    Interestingly the Talmud (Gittin 90a) teaches that divorce is bad. In fact, G-d dislikes it so much that every time a woman is divorced the Holy Temple Altar sheds tears.

    This is very strange. What is so bad about divorce? Sometimes things just don’t work out between people and divorce allows them to begin new lives.

    On the other hand, if divorce is bad and G-d doesn’t like it, then why does He permit it? It should be forbidden!

    To understand this, here is a story.

    The Baal Shem Tov (a.k.a. Besh’t) founded the Chassidic movement of Judaism. He was a more than just a great Torah scholar, Kabbalist, or Jewish leader or a pioneer – he was a new type of Jew. A forerunner to Moshiach with a message to all the Jewish people, utilizing the entire body of Torah including the deepest secrets of Kabala.

    Here is an example:

    The Besh’t had many pupils and some of them were scholars of the highest caliber. But one of them had a lot of difficulties with his wife.

    No matter what he did or said she made his life miserable. She would belittle him in public and anger him in private. She refused to cook, clean the house, take care of the children or treat him with anything that vaguely resembled respect or consideration.

    With her friends she was polite and normal but as soon as he came into her sights, she became volatile.

    To make things worse she had a robust voice that could be heard at great distances and she used it unsparingly. So, the only peace he had were his few precious hours in the synagogue or at work.

    His friends made suggestions; to buy her presents, to spend more time at home, to answer with praises, to get her friends to talk to her. But it all failed miserably; the only solution seemed to be divorce.

    No! He would give it another try …. he needed a miracle! And he was sure that HaShem would make one. He went to the Besh’t for advice. If anyone could make a miracle it would be him. But he was in for a disappointment; the master said nothing. He evaded the question completely.

    But our hero did not give up. He wrote desperate letters to the Baal Shem begging for help. With the same results.

    He took the hint. Obviously the Besh’t was indicating that he should divorce his wife, so he wrote asking the master if that was his intention. The answer was quick in coming.

    “No divorce.”

    “Nu!” The Chassid quipped to one of his friends. “At least now I have two things to comfort me; I know what not to do and I know that it can’t get worse!! It’s as bad as possible right now!!” But he was wrong….

    It got worse.

    She began throwing things, cursing him with curses that curdled his blood and following him to the synagogue and to work…. It was unbearable.

    He wrote again to the Besh’t begging for him to change his mind, and again and again until finally the Besh’t invited him for a private audience.

    Our hero entered the Besht’s study and stood sheepishly before this spiritual giant. He wanted to just apologize and back out of the room but his wife’s last string of curses was still ringing in his ears. The Besh’t opened up a small piece of paper, wrote something on it, put it on the table before him and said.

    “You can divorce if you really want to, but first I want you to go to this village and look for someone who knew this man.” he pointed to the name on the paper as he spoke. “This man is no longer alive, but you should know that you are his gilgul (reincarnation).”

    The Chassid took the paper, asked where the town was, borrowed some money from friends, took his Tefillin and some clothes and set off with wings on his feet and a song on his lips. Finally, he would be free of his wife! For that he would travel a thousand miles!! And for the Besh’t he would travel to the end of the world!!

    Three days later he arrived at his destination and began his mission; showing people the paper. But none of them knew. Obviously they were too young,  So, he began asking the elders, also with no success until finally one of them directed him to Reb Feivel.

    Some say Reb Feivel was over a hundred and ten years old. His hearing, seeing and other limbs didn’t work very well but his mind and memory seemed to be as fresh as ever.

    Our Chassid found the address, introduced himself as a follower of the Baal Shem Tov and asked him if he knew the name that appeared on the paper. The old man couldn’t see so the Chassid read off the name in a loud voice.

    “Menashe Feffercorn!!”

    “Ehhhhh?” Reb Feivel answered, cupping his hand to his ear, “Feffercorn? Feffercorn? Menasha Feffercorn?? The old man spit on the ground with a loud ‘Ffooo’, and, shaking with rage yelled in a broken decrepit voice.

    “Yemach Sh’mo!!! May he rot forever!! May his foul name be blotted out! May his memory be cursed for eternity!!” and he spat at the ground again.

    “Why?” asked the Chassid “Why are you so angry? What did he do??

    “What DID he do? WHAT DIDN’T he do!!!! He did every sin possible; may he suffer for each one!!! He took children from their parents and sold them to the Czar’s army. He had men murdered, widows and orphans evicted and confiscated their homes and belongings. May he burn forever!!!”

    “Well,” said the Chassid “I am his gilgul. His incarnation.”

    “What!!??” Reb Fival stood, leaned forward, lifted his long brows so they wouldn’t get in his eyes and with difficulty tilted his face up and squinted at the Chassid in disbelief.

    “I don’t believe it. If I only lived just to see this miracle it was worth it! Feffercorn is now a Chassid of the holy Baal Shem Tov!!!?? A miracle!! A miracle!!! If so, no soul is lost! Everyone will return to the Torah!!”

    It took a few minutes but suddenly it hit our Chassid why the Besh’t sent him. He dropped his plans for divorce.

    This answers our question.

    Nothing in the world happens by mistake, everything is according to G-d’s plan. And everything that occurs to us is a ‘marriage’; we unite with our experiences.

    The Baal Shem Tov taught that really everything, even things that seem to be awful like the Chassid’s wife in our story, can be really good if looked at from the proper viewpoint.

    That is why G-d opposes divorce. Divorce means abandoning uncomfortable challenges.

    But, as we saw in our story, often this stems from our misinterpretations of life and if we change our prospective; to G-d’s point of view, the suffering not only has meaning but it often disappears.

    [A classic example is the point of view of the founder of Chabad Chassidut, Rabbi Shneur Zalman (whose birthday is on 18th of Ellul, this coming Thursday) toward Napoleon.

    While virtually ALL the great Torah scholars and Tzadikim of his generation favored Napoleon with his promises of fraternity, equality and liberty, Rabbi Shneur Zalman was passionately opposed. And he did all he could to actively contribute to Napoleon’s eventual defeat.

    “Napoleon will raise the material glory and splendor of the Jews” he said, “but spiritually it will be disastrous.”

    In other words, he favored a life of difficult challenge over one of apparent ease, not unlike the Chassid in our story.

    But on the other hand, G-d wants us to have free will. To choose for ourselves, even if it causes the Altar to weep.

    Because free will is the essence of man.

    That is the purpose of Moshiach.

    Moshiach will reveal the true holiness and the true free will of the Jews. Then will be manifested; (as the old man in our story exclaimed), “no soul is lost! Everyone will return to the Torah!!”

    And even if it may seem at times that everything is wrong and we consider (G-d forbid) divorcing G-d or think that G-d has ‘divorced’ us, we should remember G-d’s promise (in this week’s HafTorah “The Mountains will move… but my love for you will never move”.(Isaiah 54:10)

    This is what we pray for on Rosh HaShanna. For a good, healthy, happy, successful new year; that G-d should reveal Himself until all mankind exclaims that “the G-d of Israel is King and His kingship is over the entire Creation!”

    It all depends on us to make it happen. One more good deed, word or even thought can tip the scales and bring.

    Moshiach NOW!

    Rabbi Tuvia Bolton
    Yeshiva Ohr Tmimim
    Kfar Chabad, Israel


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