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Parshat Vayak'hel (5768)
This Shabbat is the last one this month, Adar Alef introducing and 'blessing' the next month; Adar Beis. And this week's Torah portion begins with the words "VaYakhel Moshe"; "Moses Gathered" (all the Jews).
'Torah' means 'teaching". The Torah is G-d's blueprint and instruction manual for every detail of His Creation and if interpreted properly it brings love, enthusiasm and joy in every detail of our lives.
According to the Chassidic interpretation, VaYakhel teaches us to 'gather' and be united to the Creator.
But this does not seem to make sense. How can we get excited about this? Can people possibly be 'united' with G-d!? G-d is infinite and we are very limited and finite!!
Also, Adar is the month of Joy and being that this year is a leap year and there are two Adars it means doubled joy.
What is there to be so happy about?
To understand this, here is a story. (Likutei Sipurim, Perlov pg. 29)
The Baal Shem Tov began a new movement in Judaism called Chassidut and its purpose was (and is) to prepare the world for Moshiach; a Jew who will cure the entire world of all its ailments and problems.
Here is one way he did it.
One of his followers, who we will call Reb Ephraim, was a successful businessman who made his money by being in the right place at the right time; buying cheap, selling dear and making handsome profits.
Needless to say such an occupation was fraught with risks and dangers; often he had to carry large sums of money and precious gems, but that was exactly why it was so profitable. He gave a good portion of his well earned money to charity and to help others and that, he believed, protected him.
He would regularly visit the Baal Shem Tov to partake of his unending wellsprings of knowledge and inspiration but at one occasion the Besh't called him aside and told him that he must always be careful to have a candle with him at all times.
It wasn't always easy and there were many times when it was cumbersome and got in the way; when his pockets were full or he almost forgot and it didn't really make any sense. But Reb Ephraim didn’t ask questions and after a while it became second nature.
One wintry day, years later, he was on his way to some distant place when night began to fall. He turned his wagon off the road at a roadside inn, entered and, as was his custom, requested the most expensive room available.
The innkeeper; a massive fellow, excused himself saying that he was not feeling well and was going to sleep shortly. He took him to his room and showed him in, lit a small candle on a table, bid Reb Ephraim good night, closed the door behind him and locked it from the outside.
At first Reb Ephraim didn't give it much thought, he just prayed the evening prayer and began getting ready to go to bed but little by little he felt something was wrong; why did the innkeeper lock the door from the outside and not give him a key? Perhaps because he wasn't feeling good the poor fellow forgot or got confused.
But after just a few minutes the candle began flickering; in just seconds it would go out and there were no other candles there.
Something was very wrong here. He had to work quickly. He remembered his candle! He took it from his pocket, managed to light it in the last sparks of the dying fire and with his new light he began looking around the room. Perhaps there was another door, or perhaps a key.
But there wasn't, only a window high in the wall of the room. As quietly as possible he pushed the bed to the wall, stood it on its end just under the window and climbed up to have a look into the moonless dark night.
His room was on the second floor, a long jump, but the window had bars on it. He was imprisoned! He climbed down and noticed that in pushing the bed he moved a large rug from the middle of the room revealing what seemed to be some sort of door in the wooden floor! Maybe it was a way out!
He pulled the ring attached to one end and sure enough … it opened! But what he saw made his blood curdle; it was a dead body!! The owner must be a murderer! He probably killed this poor fellow for his money and threw him in this secret compartment until he would have a chance to bury him!
He had to remain calm! Any second the innkeeper would return. Fight was out of the question, the innkeeper was twice his size. He prayed to G-d for a miracle or at least for a clear head.
Suddenly he knew what he had to do. He moved the bed back to its place, dragged the dead body from the hole, pulled it into the bed face down and covered it with the blanket.
Then he took his clothes and his money belt and put them on the chair next to the bed to make it look like he was the one sleeping there. He then put the rug back over the trap door, climbed under the rug, opened the door and slipped into the hole pretending to be the dead man and praying that he wouldn't be for real.
Sure enough a few hours later he heard the door slowly open and the innkeeper quietly enter, stand over the bed and, certain it was the Chassid asleep, suddenly take out a hatchet and strike!
Then the innkeeper took the money pouch put it in his shirt, pulled away the rug, opened the trap door, dragged the body off the bed and into the hole, and closed and covered it to make it look as though nothing happened.
Reb Ephraim waited to hear the door lock and after a few more minutes pushed the trapdoor open and crawled out into the room happy to be in the fresh air and happier to be alive.
He waited quietly in a corner until the morning and then, when he heard people walking by the hotel he pushed the bed to the window again, climbed up and began shouting to the passers-by to save him.
It wasn't long before a crowd gathered and they, together a policeman, entered the inn looking for the owner and an explanation.
The innkeeper tried to explain that the shouting man was his insane brother that he kept locked away so as not to put him into an asylum and that it was dangerous to open the door. But when the policeman insisted on having a look for himself and Reb Efriam showed him the body under the trap door the innkeeper was arrested, handcuffed and led away to prison.
Somehow the Baal Shem Tov knew of the impending danger and how to stop it; that candle saved Reb Ephraim's life for sure.
This answers our question. G-d is called The Creator. As King David says in his book of Psalms, "How many are your creations, G-d!" (Psalm 104:24) and He made every creation different; each has a different nature, a different place, purpose and time.
That is what it means "Joining" everything to G-d (VaYakhel); namely to reveal and express the true, unique individuality and contribution of each creation to the world.
This is the excitement taught in this week's Torah portion .
When we understand that it is within our ability to reveal our true potential, indeed it is our duty and the sole reason we were created! It should make us excited, even joyous every moment.
When we realize that even the most mundane of objects, like the candle in our story, is a part of a master plan to illuminate, unify and enliven the world it gives us enthusiasm in even the most seemingly insignificant actions…. transforming them into holy deeds.
This is the true Joy of Adar when we defeated (albeit not totally) Haman who was from the nation of 'Amalek'.
Amalek signifies 'doubt' ('Suffek' which is gematia Amalek) and coldness. (Asher Karcha b'derech).
Namely Amalek is the cold urge in each of us to doubt that G-d exists, loves, encourages and creates each of us to be special and important.
But it is Tzadikim.. righteous Jews like the Besh't and like Mordechi thousands of years before him that defeat this doubt (like the Besh't did to the innkeeper in our story, and like Mordechi did to Haman.) by warming up the Jews.
But all this is only a preparation for Moshiach.
Moshiach will destroy Amalek totally. And then he will gather (VaYakhel) all the Jews and build the Temple where all mankind will be joyous…. constantly!
It all depends on US. We just have to do ALL we can as OFTEN as we can to bring….
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