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Divrei Yoel - Behar

1. The Gemara in Meseches Ta'anis tells us a story of the great tzadik Elazar Ish Bartusa, who was very poor. Not only was he poverty-stricken, but also whenever the tzedakah collectors came around, he would give them everything that he had. On the day that Elazar Ish Bartusa's daughter was to be married, he was walking in the marketplace when he was spotted by the tzedakah collectors. Knowing Elazar Ish Bartusa would give them everything if he saw them, they attempted to hide, but Elazar Ish Bartusa saw them and ran over to them, giving them almost all the money he had. With the tiny bit of money he had left, he bought a small quantity of wheat. When Elazar Ish Bartusa came home, he put the jug with the wheat inside a room. Later, when his wife went to try to open the door of the room, she realized that the room was completely full of wheat. The Gemara goes on to relate that when Eliezer Ish Bartusa heard about what had happened, he refused to benefit from it since it was a neis (miracle).

We find (Midrash Rabbah Bereishis 68:2) that Ya'akov Avinu also did not want to benefit from a miracle. When Ya'akov arrived at Lavan’s house, he had nothing to his name. He said: "Mei'ayin yavo ezri?" (From where will my help come?) Ya'akov surely did not doubt that Hashem would provide for him, rather he did not want to benefit from a miracle, which would have been necessary for Ya'akov's needs to be supplied. There are, however, two different types of miracles. In the case of Elazar Ish Bartusa, the miracle was a miracle "from something," since he did, in fact, have a little bit of wheat, which merely grew. Regarding Ya'akov Avinu, however, he had absolutely nothing. This is a miracle "from nothing." It is even more severe a prohibition to benefit from miracles "from nothing" than to benefit from miracles "from something." Elazar Ish Bartusa, however, did not want to benefit even from miracles "from something." (Divrei Yoel Parashas Behar, p. 289)

The Rebbe is explaining to us the way in which we should view nissim in the context of our lives as Yidden. To benefit from miracles is not the proper thing. In fact, here in Divrei Yoel, the Rebbe refers to the "prohibition" of benefiting from miracles. The question arises: why would Hashem perform miracles for tzadikim if it is forbidden to benefit from them? Perhaps, the answer is simply that Hashem is testing the tzadikim so that they stand strong and not benefit from miracles. Additionally, it is not always a good sign when miracles are performed for someone. The Gemara in Meseches Shabbos 53b tells us a story of a man whose wife died, and he had no way to feed his nursing baby. Hashem made a miracle for this man, and he changed anatomically so that he was able to feed his child. The Gemara comments: "How deficient was this man, that nature had to be changed for him!"

It is imperative for us to understand this and not be enthralled with someone just because it appears as though miracles are performed for him. We must look at what any particular person or organization actually does and represents rather than just be swept off our feet by "miracles." We must also look at how they react to any possible "miracle." Do they eschew any benefit from these nissim, or do they publicize them and gloat about them? In fact, most of the people in the latter category did not even see true miracles and are just glorifying events that are not miracles. The Satmar Rebbe, ZY"A, in Divrei Yoel (Chanukah, p. 339) explains that we know that the miraculous victory that the Jewish People experienced in the time of Mordechai and Ester was from the side of holiness, through the hands of Mordechai Hatzadik, since people were drawn closer to Hashem because of it. People are not brought closer to Yiddishkeit and kedushah through a miracle that emanates from the side of impurity. [The Megillah says: "V'rabim mei'amei ha'aretz misyahadim ki nafel pachad ha'yahudim aleihem" (many of the people came close to Judaism because the fear of the Jewish People had fallen upon them).]

This discernment is vital today. We must understand that most of the events surrounding the Zionist conquests and wars publicized as miracles are not miracles and are simply proclaimed this way in order to fool the world into believing that these misguided, nationalistic escapades have been given divine sanction. This, however, is simply nonsense. Everything that the Zionists do comes from the side of impurity and none of their victories will ever bring us closer to Moshiach and the final redemption. The Rebbe explains this extensively in Kuntres Al HaGeuah V'al Hatemurah. He explains there (Siman 11, p. 39) that a miracle from shamayim is not performed for someone who transgresses a prohibition of the Torah. However, a miracle can emanate from the side of the Satan.

When the Zionists claimed that miracles were performed for them during the Six-Day War, the Satmar Rebbe, ZY"A, stated that, in truth, the events that occurred during this time were not miracles and the claims of the Zionists were simply lies, spread in an attempt to gain support for their evil sins. The Rebbe cryptically said: "Either these are not miracles or President Lyndon Johnson is a navi." At the time, no one understood what the Rebbe meant, and only later did the explanation for this seemingly strange statement come to light. Before the war, President Johnson had met with Israeli leaders and told them that they were assured, due to their superior army, of a victory in the event of war between Israel and the Arabs. The truth that emerged was that the Zionists knew very well that their victory was not due to miracles, and they knowingly spread lies to fool the masses. It took a great tzadik like the Satmar Rebbe, ZY"A, to see past the mask of the heretics.

Indeed, the truth is that Zionism is a satanical movement that is fueled only by impurity. The evil heretics actually look for every way possible to sin and become contaminated. This has always been personified by the Zionists, their "state," and their army. However, these forces of impurity cannot withstand the true forces of holiness. The Rebbe writes (Al Hageulah V’al Hatemurah p. 133) that when Moshiach comes, everything the Zionists built will be destroyed. May we merit seeing that day with our very own eyes, very soon. Amen!

2. "Behold, we say that Shabbos is the life force and soul of the world. [Shabbos also gives the power of existence] to the six weekdays that follow. So, too, the Shemittah year is the same concept as the life-giving force of Shabbos; and this is as the Ramban Z"L says that just as Shabbos is the seventh day so, too, Shemittah is the seventh in the years; and so, too, the Ibn Ezra, Z"L, writes. Just as Shabbos upholds the world and strengthens the six days so, too, in regard to Shemittah, the seventh year upholds the world and strengthens the other six years...." (Divrei Yoel Parasas Behar, p. 292)

When analyzing the tremendous importance of the mitzvos of Shabbos and Shemittah, we can clearly understand why these mitzvos were two of the many on which the Zionists focused great energy and attention in an attempt to uproot them, chas v' shalom, from Klal Yisroel. From what the Rebbe brings here in Divrei Yoel, it is apparent that the Zionists, whether consciously or not, are aiming to destroy the entire world by attempting to uproot the mitzvos that sustain and strengthen the world. Through strengthening ourselves in these mitzvos and, indeed, in all mitzvos, we can wage war against the enemies of Hashem.

3. The Satmar Rebbe, ZY"A, (Divrei Yoel Rosh Hashanah) explains the meaning of what we recite during Mussaf on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur: "But teshuvah, tefillah, and tzedakah remove the evil of the decree." The Rebbe explains that before we give tzedakah, we must first perform the deeds mentioned before tzedakah in our davening: teshuvah and tefillah. This way, we will not stumble into giving tzedakah to an unworthy person.

We must understand that before we do anything that we think is in the service of Hashem, we must first do teshuvah and cleanse ourselves so that we are able to perform the mitzvah properly and not stumble. Certainly we must guard ourselves against the Yetzer Hara, who tells us that it is fine to join with the wicked in order to accomplish things. If the Yetzer Hara can cause us to stumble even in a mitzvah, he certainly will invest great effort to cause us to stumble in regard to an aveirah, such as joining together with the wicked, which causes terrible damage to all of Klal Yisroel, R"L.

Many people believe that by connecting themselves to and befriending the evil sinners, they will be able to effect positive change and, perhaps, even bring about a sanctification of Hashem's name. However, to the contrary! The sinners ride right over any well-intentioned peer and, R"L, and cause a terrible chillul Hashem in which this frum, well-intentioned but misguided soul is an equal partner. The greatest kiddush Hashem we can make is by refraining from joining together with any heretical establishment or individual. Everyone will then see that we are Torah-true Jews, who have nothing to do with the low existence of the heretics. May we merit seeing the glory of Hashem uplifted speedily in our days. Amein!

4. The Satmar Rebbe, ZY"A, in Divrei Yoel (Parashas Behar, p. 298) explains something wonderful regarding the final and true redemption. The passuk that introduces Shemittah tells us that we are to observe Shemittah "when you come to the land." The Rebbe teaches that this explains Chazal's statement that because of the violation of the mitzvah of Shemittah, the Jewish people were exiled from Eretz Yisroel. The Rebbe goes on to explain that we know that Hashem's attribute of reward is much greater than His attribute of punishment; therefore, through the mitzvah of Shemittah, we will surely merit returning to our land with the coming of Moshiach, heralding the final and genuine redemption. May this long-awaited day come to us speedily. Amein!