The Mitteler Rebbe: Wealthy Chassidus



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    The Mitteler Rebbe: Wealthy Chassidus

    Whether wealth is defined by quality or by quantity, anyone who becomes acquainted with the Mitteler Rebbe’s Chassidus sees just that wealth. In this special interview, Rabbi Noam Yisroel Harpaz, a sought-after mashpia and lecturer in Eretz Yisrael, leads us into the world of the Mitteler Rebbe which he was led into by a personal story Presented in honor of Tes-Yud Kislev, the birthday, yom hilula and chag hageula of the Mitteler Rebbe • By Beis Moshiach Magazine • Full Article

    By Nachshon Peretz, Beis Moshiach Magazine

    I caught up with Rabbi Noam Harpaz at the end of an hour and a half long deep shiur in Chassidus on the teachings of the Mitteler Rebbe. Of the hundreds and thousands of shiurei Chassidus that take place at yeshivos and places where Anash live around the world, few shiurim are on the Mitteler Rebbe’s teachings. Not every maggid shiur “dares” to delve into these deep waters and extract for his audience the G-dly pearls contained therein. Nevertheless, Rabbi Harpaz gives no fewer than three weekly shiurim on these deep maamarim!

    A BAAL TESHUVA WHO LATCHED ON TO THE MITTELER REBBE

    What motivates you to give shiurim on the Mitteler Rebbe’s Torah. Wouldn’t it be better to learn easier, simpler maamarim, especially for guys like these who did not necessarily grow up in Tomchei Tmimim and who are unfamiliar with the language of maamarei Chassidus?

    The truth is that this is a story of amazing divine providence that began over forty years ago and continued to evolve in recent years. I came to Chabad as a seventeen-year-old bachur from an irreligious home. I had tremendous siyata d’shmaya in how I got from here to there and I found myself, in Elul 5737 in the yeshiva in Kfar Chabad.

    At that time, the teshuva movement was in its beginning stages and the people in the yeshiva in Kfar Chabad had no idea how to digest it all. We were a small group of bachurim who had just come to Chabad: Rabbi Yisroel Halperin (shliach in Hertzliya), Rabbi Ofer Maidovnik (mashpia in Tomchei Tmimim in Tzfas), and myself. They didn’t know what to do with us, what to say to us, how to guide us.

    Rabbi Noam Yisroel Harpaz

    Many Chassidim from the yeshiva’s staff, and from Kfar Chabad in general, wanted to help and each one tried to give his ideas and advice. An older Chassid came over to me, I remember this till today, and told me: In yeshiva they will teach you Gemara and Chassidus and that’s all fine and good. But you should know that if you want to really be a Chassid, you should take the Sefer HaToldos (which had just been published) and go through the series, because this is the right way to be a Chassid, to know the stories of Chassidim well.

    I took what he said seriously. Much later, I found that the HaYom Yom of my birthday, 26 Menachem Av, says, “to tell Chassidic stories and to ‘sense’ and apprehend the story in one’s deepest inwardness. One must know that every narrative is guidance for living. Every story must bring forth (in the listener) a fine character trait, an inner enthusiasm for hiddur mitzva and should enable the listener to sense the ‘ways of pleasantness’ of Chassidic teachings.” From the very start, I began to plow through the series in the order of the Rebbeim.

    Beis Moshiach

    When I got up to the story of the famous Chassid, R’ Yekusiel Liepler, it made an enormous impression on me. On the one hand, here was someone limited as far as his intellectual abilities. On the other hand, the message of the story is that if you have a strong desire you can accomplish everything! The point of the story, as I see it, is the moment R’ Yekusiel decided he was taking the study of Chassidus seriously, he was able to achieve the highest levels of intellectual accomplishment so that the Rebbe Maharash writes that he would talk to him about deep topics in Imrei Binah and developed his intellect by him. We need to understand what an amazing level is being described here…

    I thought about this story and it occurred to me, what caused this to happen for R’ Yekusiel? The enactment of the Mitteler Rebbe. When the Mitteler Rebbe took on the nesius, he made a number of enactments including that every Chassid returning home from Lubavitch must stop in every community of Anash along the way and review the maamarei Chassidus that he learned in Lubavitch for the people there.

    Ohel of The Mitteler Rebbe in Niezhin

    When a young Chassid passed through the town where R’ Yekusiel lived, he reviewed the deep maamarim of the Mitteler Rebbe. R’ Yekusiel did not understand them and was devastated by this; this is what motivated him to travel to Lubavitch and to immerse himself completely in Chassidus until he attained the lofty levels he attained.

    This idea grabbed me and I decided I would commit to learning the Mitteler Rebbe’s maamarim. This was when I first started learning and so the entire language of Chassidus was new to me. Thus, aside from the material we learned in yeshiva, I learned the sefarim of the Mitteler Rebbe: Shaarei Orah, Shaar HaYichud, Derech Chaim, Shaarei Teshuva, which are the easier sefarim and focus more on topics of avoda, and I became deeply connected to these maamarim. Over the years, I progressed and at a later point, my mashpia got me into a number of the deep inyanim in the teachings of the Mitteler Rebbe which brought me all the way in.

    ‘RECHOVOS HA’NAHAR’ – MATERIAL PLENTY!

    And yet, despite your personal connection to the teachings of the Mitteler Rebbe from the beginning of your journey in Chabad, you still weren’t giving shiurim in these maamarim. What changed in that regard?

    About ten years ago I was in a terrible financial situation. For a long time I tried this and that and couldn’t manage to get out of it. By divine providence, I came across a sicha of the Rebbe which was said on 8 Cheshvan 5752 in which he speaks about learning the Mitteler Rebbe’s teachings and explains at length that with the Mitteler Rebbe we see the idea of “rechovos ha’nahar” (the expansiveness of a river), tremendous expansiveness in the explanation of Chassidus which was not found in earlier generations.

    The Rebbe goes on to say, “And to add more in the study of pnimiyus ha’Torah … and by trying to do what is incumbent on him, G-d will give him such success that by minimal exertion, like the exertion needed to move a single finger, he merits expansive material parnassa.” The Rebbe explains, in simple words, that by learning Chassidus in an expansive way, it brings about material expansiveness too.

    I took this seriously and since, in the sicha, the Rebbe speaks about maamarim that were printed recently, I concluded that the Rebbe was talking about the maamar, “Al Totzar es Moav” of the Mitteler Rebbe which had been published at the time (5752) in a new edition. I began learning the maamar and within a short time, miracles happened from all sorts of unexpected places, financial salvation that put me into a whole different space! It was simply incredible!

    I did not keep the treasure for myself; I decided I had to publicize this. I began farbrenging and bringing this up from time to time and a few years ago I farbrenged in the Chabad community in Gilo on 9 or 10 Kislev and told this story. The chevra were excited and said: We want a shiur!

    We arranged a shiur in the maamar “Al Totzar es Moav” and in a little less than a year we learned this maamar which is about 100 pages! The participants of the shiur said, one by one, that since they started the shiur, their income doubled or tripled.

    GEULA COMPREHENSION OF DEEP CHASSIDUS

    I apologize in advance for this question but I must ask it. Do the people really understand the subtleties and depth in the maamarim of the Mitteler Rebbe?

    You’d be surprised to hear, but for me too it was a surprise. When we finished learning the maamar, the chevra decided they wanted to learn more. We decided to learn Imrei Binah.

    “Imrei Binah” is the ultimate. Even veteran maskilim who swim easily through maamarei Chassidus, come to a crash with Imrei Binah. In fact, at first it was very hard, but I saw the miracle with my own eyes – the more we learned, people began to understand what we were learning.

    It’s completely not what you would expect. It is told in the history of Chassidim that there were mashpiim in Lubavitch who chose some of the veteran tmimim to learn Imrei Binah on condition that they learn it at least twelve hours a day, because without this tremendous exertion, it is not possible to understand these deep maamarim.

    Now, I teach Imrei Binah in three places and some members of the audience are people who did not learn in Tomchei Tmimim; they come once a week to a shiur an hour and a half long and one can see that they are into it; they ask questions, discuss the material, debate among themselves, it’s unbelievable! This is one of the most tangible expressions of the fact that we are in Yemos HaMoshiach.

     

    We clearly see how we are in the era about which it says, “and the earth will be filled with knowledge of G-d.” The Rebbe Rashab says that when he was thirty and learned Imrei Binah, his hair fell out from tremendous intellectual exertion. And here it’s young fellows who are learning this once a week, and they are clearly living it, connecting to the maamar! Obviously, we can’t compare our understanding in Chassidus to the understanding of the Rebbe Rashab, but we can definitely see that the world today, including our physical mind is much more ‘refined’ and a vessel to comprehend G-dliness.

    To me, this is an inseparable part of the revelation of Yemos HaMoshiach, that deep topics in Chassidus are accessible to all. This is precisely what will happen in the Geula, when the teachings of Moshiach are revealed. The loftiest levels spoken of in Chassidus will be comprehensible to every Jew in the simplest way.

    By the way, I found a few pearls, i.e. topics mentioned in the teachings of the Mitteler Rebbe, that the Rebbe refers to in maamarim, developing and expanding on them in a way that illuminates them in a whole different light.

    Is there something that you see that singles out the teachings of the Mitteler Rebbe from that of the other Rebbeim?

    In this week’s Dvar Malchus (Vayeitzei) there is an amazing explanation from the Rebbe about how the Mitteler Rebbe’s birthday and yahrtzeit are on the same day, 9 Kislev. The Rebbe explains that this indicates the fusion of the loftiest with the lowest which expresses the whole inyan of the Mitteler Rebbe. We can see this point in a very plain way in his teachings and maamarim.

    On the one hand, he speaks about the highest levels, deep ideas the likes of which we cannot find anywhere. On the other hand, it is with the Mitteler Rebbe that we find an emphasis on maamarim of avoda which guide one in how to serve Hashem, how to do teshuva, etc. Chassidim would say about Derech Chaim that it’s a plow that can turn over and plow the most subtle layers of the soul.

    “OPEN YOUR EYES” – SIMPLETON OR HERETIC?

    In the Dvar Malchus, the Rebbe says that now, after we completed all the avoda and everything is ready for the seuda, we just need to “open our eyes” through learning Chassidus and studying Geula and Moshiach “in a way of seeing,” “that they understand and see and hear in simple reality the true and complete Geula.” What is the chiddush in learning Chassidus now, relative to the study of Chassidus that existed throughout the generations? How can we meet the demand made of us, to learn Chassidus in a way of seeing?

    When speaking of “vision” in Chassidus, it means “making it real.” When a person sees something, even if he doesn’t understand all the details of what he sees, it becomes reality for him. This is why the Gemara says, “a witness cannot be a judge,” because a judge needs to come to court with an open mind. The moment someone sees something, he cannot hear an opposing side and cannot consider anything other than what he saw.

    There is an expression quoted in Chassidus from the Zohar, “In the eye of the intellect and heart all is seen.” In other words, when a person learns something and contemplates it, he reaches a state in which he “sees” it before his eyes. Indeed, there is a situation when learning Chassidus when what a person learns becomes so real to him that it’s clear to him that that’s the way it is!

    Usually, the harder something is to understand at first, and you need to exert yourself and sweat to understand it (not like reading a magazine), the greater the exertion, the more the matter becomes engraved in you. As a result, in your everyday life the core concepts of Chassidus that “there is nothing but Him,” and that everything is by divine providence, will be lit up, in a way that you see that this is simply the way it is, and it can’t be any other way.

    Obviously, when speaking of such a level, you need to be careful not to be delusional. As the young chevra say, “not to fly too far past yourself.” I remember, when I was a young bachur, that I heard a vort from one of the mashpiim that compares it to the approach of the Baal Shem Tov stories. Regarding Baal Shem Tov stories the Chassidim would say, if you believe that everything they say really happened, you’re a simpleton; but if you don’t believe that the Baal Shem Tov could do this, you’re a heretic.

    מרכז סתם

    The same is true for living life according to Chassidus. Someone who learns Chassidus and thinks that all the levels spoken about in the maamarim pertain to him as he is in his present state, is a little too simplistic. But someone who learns Chassidus and, G-d forbid, thinks it has nothing to with him, that’s a matter of heresy, G-d forbid.

    Getting back to our subject, every person in his situation and at his level can attain a sort of ‘making it real’ in avodas Hashem, to start seeing what the Rebbe talks about in the sichos and maamarim in front of his eyes as something palpable and can’t be any other way. This is the Rebbe’s demand of us now, to learn Chassidus in a way of seeing it, to try and learn in a way of applying it to our selves, to contemplate and toil until something penetrates.

    I want to be sure I’m understanding correctly. Are you saying that today everyone can learn Chassidus in a way of ‘making it real’?

    I believe that with absolute emunah and I try to promote this in any way I can. As I said before, one of the promises of the Geula that we see happening today is the tremendous thirst for learning Chassidus along with the ‘refinement’ that has taken place in the world which makes it possible to learn and relate to the depths of Toras HaChassidus. And of course also to fully identify with things that you learn and start seeing them in life itself. The fact that I saw how learning in a manner of “rechovos ha’nahar” of the Mitteler Rebbe led to “rechovos ha’nahar” in my parnassa, is to me ‘making it real’ and seeing how the G-dly inyanim of Chassidus are affecting the material world.



    A few years ago, I farbrenged on Sukkos in Petach Tikva about the special quality of the Chassidus of the Mitteler Rebbe and I told them my personal story, how it broke through the barriers in material parnassa. A week later I got the good news that they started a shiur on the maamar “Al Totzar es Moav” with over 20 participants!

    THE REBBE IS BRINGING THE GEULA DOWN TO THE WORLD

    There’s the saying about the Chassidim of the Mitteler Rebbe that they weren’t lacking Moshiach because for them it was a state of Geula, Chassidus in abundance, etc.  What is the advantage of a Chassid today when he learns Chassidus and inyanei Moshiach and Geula, over the Chassidim of the Mitteler Rebbe who learned Chassidus in abundance and in depth?

    The Rebbe took the Geula that is latent within Chassidus and brought it down “below ten hands-breadths” to this physical world. The Chassidim of the Mitteler Rebbe were poverty stricken. They were removed from matters of this world and were immersed in the secrets of Toras HaChassidus. For us, the Rebbe turned everything upside down, the more a Jew learns Chassidus and is immersed in “rechovos ha’nahar” of the secrets of the Torah, this will bring him all the more actual material bounty!

    When we use the enormous kochos that the Rebbe gives us, and we immerse ourselves in learning Chassidus in a way of “rechovos ha’nahar,” we will immediately merit to learn Chassidus, the teachings of Moshiach, from the Rebbe MH”M with the true and complete Geula now!

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    Beis Moshiach

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