This weeks Words of Prayer, Words of Kindness is prepared in the merit of the
Secular / English Birthday of Yehudah Leib ben Devorah and
the Hebrew Wedding Aniversary of Eliyahu ben Devorah Gitta and Shoshanah bas Rachel Chanah
May it be a year of revealed blessing.
This Shabbat is Chai Elul, the Yartzheit of the Maharal of Prague and the Birthday of the Baal Shem Tov and the Alter Rebbe, Rav Shneur Zalman of Liadi. It is no co-incidence that the Baal Shem Tov and the Alter Rebbe are born on the Maharal of Prague's Yartzheit, let us share a little about this connection to understand the wonders of the timing of Birthdays, Yartzheits etc.
In a town in Germany called Worms, lived a Rabbi with his wife and 4 children, 3 sons and a daughter. Rabbi Chaim was able to send two of his sons to Yeshivah in Poland and not knowing which of them would have the greatest potential in Torah he sent his sons Yaakov and Helman, his younger son, Betzalel remained behind to involve himself in the special Mitzvah of caring for and assisting his parents.
On a visit home from Yeshivah, the family gathered together, all except for the daughter who had married and just given birth to her first son. Rabbi Chaim began to discuss a certain Tosafos with Yaakov and Helman, his wife and son, Betzalel looking on. Now Betzalel had a sharp mind, sharper than his brothers and began to enter the Torah discussion. He held his own but lacked the abilities that come from learning how to learn. In his frustration, Betzalel asked his father why he was not sent to Yeshiva as he so much loved Torah and had a sharp mind. He knew he had to concentrate now on getting married and would not be able to dedicate himself to Torah and now stood to lose out on being the Torah Giant he could have been.
Rav Chaim responded that he could only send two sons to Yeshiva and Betzalel had fulfilled the great Mitzvah of assisting his parents, sacrificing his opportunity to learn in Yeshiva. Rav Chaim who was a Holy man and whose blessings were answered put his Holy hands on his son's head and blessed him to have 4 lights come from him, sons who would provide the Torah he was not able to learn.
After the passing of his parents, Betzalel married and in deed fathered 4 sons. Each one was great in Torah. The second son, named after his great grandfather Yehudah Loew, is better known as the Maharal of Prague, who later became Chief Rabbi of Prague (1525- 17 September 1609 / Chai Elul in Hebrew Calendar)
Rabbi Yehudah Loew was a giant in all areas of Torah. He was particular about Shmiras HaLashon, had a special way of learning Mishnayos and influencial in the manner of education of our children. Rabbi Yehudah Loew was a prolific writer and many of his works have been published.
Rabbi Yehudah Loew's Torah and approach had a very great impact. Amongst his direct students was Eliyahu Loanz of Worms (1564 – 1636) the leader of the Hidden Tzaddikim and forerunner to Chassidus.
Rabbi Yehudah Loew's Torah had an impact on the thinking and Torah of The Gaon of Vilna and on great Chassidic giants including Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the Alter Rebbe, a direct descendent of the Maharal of Prague who in turn was a direct descendent of David HaMelech, both connected to David HaMelech through their father's side.
Before we mention an example of the Torah of the Alter Rebbe, here is something special from one of the grandsons of the Maharal of Prague. Rabbi Yehudah Loew had a special connection with his grandson Shmuel and made him a promise that Shmuel would one day be buried next to his grandfather, the Maharal. When Shmuel became ill and was nearing the end of his life, he called the Chevra Kadisha and notified them of the promise the Maharal had made to him. The Chevra Kadisha apologized that this was no longer possible as since the burial of the Maharal of Prague, there had been other burials and there was no longer enough space next to him for Rav Shmuel.
Upon hearing this, Rav Shmuel ordered the Chevra Kadisha to go and begin digging his grave and to request of his grandfather, the Maharal to move over to make space for Rav Shmuel to be buried next to him as he had promised.
The Chevra Kadisha did so and after starting to dig the grave for Rav Shmuel, made the request of the Maharal to please move up to make space for his grandson. After making this request, there was a shuddering and the gravestone of the Maharal of Prague moved, leaving just enough space for Rav Shmuel to be buried next to him.
To give a glimpse as to the power of the Torah of the Maharal of Prague, let us take a look at this weeks Parsha. In this weeks Torah reading, we customarily read the Tochachah, or curses, ie if we the Jewish people don’t do x then y will result.
One year, when the Mitler Rebbe, was 12 years old, his father, the Alter Rebbe was not in the city and unable to read the Torah in Shul as he usually did. When the Baal Korei came to the section of the Tochachah and began reading, the Mitler Rebbe (not yet Rebbe) fainted. When they were finally able to revive him, the Mitler Rebbe became very ill, so much so that they were nervous as to whether he would manage to fast on Yom Kippur, some weeks ahead.
The Alter Rebbe asked his son, "son, is this the first time you have heard this section of the Torah being read? Why did you react so this time?" To which the Mitler Rebbe answered that when Tatti, (ie the Alter Rebbe) reads this section of Torah, all one hears is Brachos. But now when the alter Rebbe was unable to read and another read the same Torah portion, now, for the first time the Mitler Rebbe heard the curses and the information was so shocking to his sensitive ears that he fell in a faint.
The teaching of the Alter Rebbe is that when we study Torah, we must know that everything in the Torah is beautiful and when we come to something that seems bad or appears like a curse, it means we have mis-understood and we need to learn the Torah correctly.
As the Torah teaches, if one is meritorious, the Torah becomes an Elixir of Life, if one is not meritorious, then the Torah becomes the opposite.
Shabbat Shalom and Ketiva VeChatima Tova, Shanah Tova UMetukah