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From the Desk of Rabbi Levitin‏

From the Desk of Rabbi Levitin | Parsha Beshalach

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Dear Friends, 
We are pleased to send you this week’s edition of Here’s My Story
Mr. Ron Nachman (1942-2013) served as mayor of Ariel, Israel, for 28 years – from 1985 until his passing. He was interviewed in January of 2001. 
Click  
here for the story.

Warmly,
Rabbi Levitin 

From the Desk of Rabbi Levitin | Parsha Bo

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Dear Friends, 
We are pleased to send you this week’s edition of Here’s My Story
Rabbi Fishel Jacobs is a speaker, author and the head responder for numerous websites dealing with issues of family purity. He has previously served as an officer in the Israeli army and a rabbi in the prison service. He was interviewed in May of 2014. Click  here for the story.

For a video of Rabbi Jacobs recounting his experience with the Rebbe, as well as a recording of his yechidus (private audience), click here .

Warmly,
Rabbi Levitin 

From the Desk of Rabbi Levitin | Parsha Va'eira

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Dear Friends, 
We are pleased to send you this week’s edition of Here’s My Story. Mrs. Chaya Hecht (1931-2017) lived in Brooklyn, New York and worked as a preschool teacher for over fifty years. She was interviewed in February of 2015.

Click here for the story: 
http://myencounterblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/262.-Vaeira-5778-EMAIL.pdf 

Warmly,
Rabbi Levitin 

Alta Rebbe's Yahrzeit - 24 Tevet

But Rabbi, Are We Destined to a Life of Struggle!?

It was a very stimulating group of students. I was their Tanya teacher for over a period of three years, when they were ages 14 to 17. I was a no-nonsense teacher. They had to memorize the chapters of Tanya. When I see them, even today 20 years later, I ask them to say a few lines of Tanya for me. They smile as they say a few lines from memory. These young ladies are living all over the world, serving as leaders in their communities and raising beautiful families.

I remember vividly, in discussing the struggle of the “Beinoni” (the intermediate level) between the two forces found in each individual – the G-dly Soul and the Animal Soul, and that this was a life-long struggle, one of the young students raised their hand and said, “But Rabbi, Are we destined to a life of struggle?”

Napoleon’s Invasion of Russia

This coming week, Thursday, January 11th is the 24th of Tevet, the Yahrtzeit of the Alta Rebbe, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Laidi, the first Rebbe of Chabad. From Ha Yom Yom: “He leaves Laidi on the eye of Shabbat Mevarchim Elul 57572 (1812). After wandering with his family and many Chassidism, he arrives in the village of Piena, Kursk Province, on 12 Tevet 5583 (1812). There, after Shabbat ends, the eve of Sunday, 24 Tevet, he passes away. He is interred in Haditz, Poltava Province.”

The reason the Rebbe decided to leave the city of Laidi was to avoid Napoleon’s advancing armies. Napoleon invaded Russia in 1812 as part of his plan to bring all of Europe under his hegemony. The Rebbe was fiercely opposed to Napoleon’s grand designs. Supporting the Czar of Russia, the Rebbe was escorted by a troop of soldiers by express order of the Czar.

For more information on this history between The Rebbe and Napoleon: https://goo.gl/G9Beyd

Beinoni

“Rabbi Shneur Zalman was a brilliant Talmudist and an original thinker of the highest order. He composed a famous and authoritative halachic work, Shulchan Aruch Harav that ranks among the classic works of Torah law. His magnum opus, however, was a book of philosophical and Kabbalistic treatment of the basic ideas of Chassidus. Entitled Likkutei Amarim, but popularly known as Tanya (after his first word), this work was first published in 1796 and became one of the basic texts of Chassidus.”

“His Sefer HaTanya is likely the seminal work of Chassidic/Kabbalistic philosophy.”
(Above quoted from Triumph of Survival: The Story of the Jews in the Modern Era 1650-1990, by Rabbi Berel Wein)

Tanya, chapter 12:
“The Beinoni (the “inbetweener”) is a person whose evil never gains enough momentum to conquer “the small city” to influence the body to sin. This means that the three garments of the animal soul, which are thought, speech, and action, of Kelipah never overcome the divine soul within him, so as to become “dressed” in his body, brain, mouth or the other anatomical parts which total 248 (Mishna Oholos 1:8) causing them to sin and be defiled, G-d forbid.”

“Only the three garments of the divine soul, they alone influence the body. Namely the thought, speech, and action of the Torah 613 mitvahs, and once he has reached the level of beinoni it is as if he has never committed any transgressions in his life (because any trace of prior sins has been wiped away through repentance – Notes onTanya).”

“However, in the case of the beinoni, the divine soul’s deep core, which is its ten powers of intellect and emotion, are not the only forces attempting to direct and dominate “the small city”.”

Comments in Tanya, Chapter 12:
“…The war between the Divine and Animal Souls initially acts itself out in the heart. The Divine Soul, whose influence emerges on the right side of the heart, wants its feelings for G-d to overflow into the left side of the heart, where the Animal Soul’s emotions of self-gratification emerge. Each soul desires to saturate the heart completely.

In the case of a tzadik, the Divine Soul’s goal has been achieved, and the Animal Soul has been silenced completely.

But with the Beinoni, the conflict remains. At an emotional level, the beinoni is still torn between love of G-d and the desire for self-gratification, though he has achieved enough self-mastery not to allow these feelings to surface behaviorally in any way.

While externally the tzadik and beinoni appear identical, their inner life is likely to be quite different. The tzadikexists in a state of inner peace, his whole being singularly devoted to G-d. For him, worship is innate and natural. The beinoni, on the other hand, lives a life of inner tension, with his heart tugged by strong forces in opposing directions. For him, worship remains a strongly disciplined practice, to contain his inner negativity and selfish drives, preventing them from surfacing at any moment.”

 

The Brain Rules Over the Heart

 

Comments Continued:
“There are times, however, when the beinoni does enjoy inner peace and the urges of the Animal Soul are temporarily quieted.”

Tanya, continuing chapter 12:
“Except on particular occasions, such as when performing the Mitzvah of reading the Shema or when at prayer.”

Comments Continued:
“The focused meditations of the Shema and of prayer can temporarily generate such emotion from the Divine Soul, on the right side of the heart, that the beinoni’s Animal Soul, on the left side, is totally overwhelmed.”

Tanya, continuing chapter 12:
“However, after prayer, when the expanded consciousness of the Blessed Infinite light of G-d departs, the beinoniloses the external assistance in focusing his mind and heart, and consequently the evil in the left chamber of his heart reemerges and awakens, leaving him to have a desire for the temptations of this world and its pleasures.

Only since this force, in the left side of the heart, is not the only ruling power prevailing over “the small city” the negative energy is unable to bring its desire to fruition to influence the body’s parts in action or speech - or in substantive thought.

From allowing his thoughts to dwell on the pleasures of this world, how to satisfy his heart’s desire. Since, inherently, in its natural capacity, the brain rules over the heart (as stated in the Zohar, portion of Pinchas 3, 224a), for that is how man is formed at birth.

This means that any person can, with the will-power of his brain, restrain himself and take control of his heart’s urges, so as to prevent his heart’s desires from being enacted, spoken or contemplated, to divert his attention away from his heart’s urges entirely, to something completely different.”

Feelings of Success

It was midnight, after a long day, and I stood looking at the chocolate chip cookies left out on the table (I love chocolate!). I had a tremendous urge to take a cookie. I then said to myself, “would this be a rational decision – a person my age – at midnight – chocolate?” I appealed to my rational soul (which is a whole separate discussion). I overcame the desire, walked away and felt great (I’m not always so successful against chocolate). The feelings engendered when you walk out victorious in the struggle discussed in the Tanya are profound.

Have a Good Shabbos.

To Be Continued.

Warmly,
Rabbi Levitin

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