Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

13 Adar II 5768 - March 20, 2008 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Opinion & Comment
That Hashem Should Have Delight in Them

From a droshoh delivered by one of the talmidim on twentieth yahrtzeit of HaRav Yechezkel Levenstein of Ponovezh and Mir. They refer to the remarks of the Mashgiach on the last Shushan Purim of his life, which fell on Shabbos as it does this year.

Although we, and everyone else who was fortunate enough to know and to hear him, have such a massive fund of inspiration to relive, and although there is also so much that needs to be transmitted to the younger generation who only know him through the spoken and the printed word, it is nevertheless correct to pick on just one of the fundamentals [of his teachings, something which is as neglected as it is important. Unfortunately], it cannot [even] be said to be in the process of being forgotten on account of lack of attention. Rather, this element is altogether absent from the mentality of the contemporary world of bnei Torah and talmidei hayeshivos.

This lesson was really included in his last words on the last Shushan Purim of his life, which fell on Shabbos. This is what he said:

"What will be after everything? The same as there was before everything!

And what was there before everything? Only Him yisborach Shemo! That is what will remain after everything!

And that is all there is even now! Only Him yisborach Shemo!...And that is Purim!"

The implication of this is that `merely' to keep Torah and mitzvos is insufficient. Their performance must be imbued with the awareness that every single facet of our existence revolves around a single, central axis, namely, that we exist, we do things and we achieve, while we are continually in His presence, yisborach Shemo — in the presence of the Creator! It was around this pivot that the Mashgiach's entire life revolved. This was the foundation of the awesome edifice of avodas Hashem to which he added, each day of his life.

There are people who act and accomplish, achieving what they achieve with the intention of storing up plenty of merits for Olom Habo — they are working for the future. Others go even further, building up a sound investment, which yields returns that compound as time goes on. While it is certainly positive to serve Hashem even with such attitudes, these [are nevertheless ultimately self-serving attitudes and they] cannot be compared to the person who does what he does simply because he is standing before Hashem and he wishes to fulfill Hashem's will to the greatest possible degree. All his ambitions and all his concern are devoted to examining the extent to which he is fulfilling Hashem's will. How far is he succeeding in bringing pleasure to Hashem yisborach Shemo, in everything he does?

This idea is part and parcel of the Mashgiach's words on Purim, in which he expressed the correct outlook on every single thing and its existence: What will remain after everything? Of course, after everything has ended and returned to chaos, all that will remain is whatever there was before anything was created. But even now all there really is, is Hashem yisborach!

The ultimate definition of the entire universe is simply that it exists [by the will of and] in the presence of Hashem. Deeds are not just the means of acquiring merits or chas vesholom liabilities. They have an overriding significance [beyond how they impact on the individual] as fulfilling Hashem's will and placing a person before Him, as a means of bringing Him pleasure and being favorable to Him yisborach.

This is what there was before the world was created. It is what will be after the world reaches the end of its existence. But it is also what there is from the time the world was created and brought into existence and onwards.

This is what Purim represents. This was demonstrated by the miracle of Purim. There was no king, no Homon, no lots, no feast and no bowing down to Homon. [None of them had independent significance or existence.] There was only the Ribono shel olom! If we merit finding favor before Him, we merit life, as the posuk says, "life is according to His favor,' and it is not in the influence of any power whatsoever to obstruct, to prevent or to lessen anything which is destined for Klal Yisroel. On the other hand, if we fail to find favor before Him, then there is nothing — no survival and no existence chas vesholom.

An Ongoing Call

[In order to maintain awareness of this principle,] the Mashgiach would repeat Rabbenu Yonah's words (in Shaarei Teshuvoh 1:42), over and over again: "The type of success which tzaddikim crave is to derive favor from Hashem and that He should have delight in them. His favor is [the key to] lasting and true life, and to the great light which includes everything pleasant...and Chazal (Medrash Tehillim 80)say, `All we have is the illumination of Your countenance', meaning, the favor [to which we refer]."

The Mashgiach would elaborate: "Rabbenu Yonah doesn't say that tzaddikim desire and crave to do good deeds or to fulfill mitzvos. The only success they crave, to merit spiritual life, is `to derive favor from Hashem.' Though their good deeds certainly provide them with merits, those are no guarantee that they find favor before Hashem yisborach. Additional work is required before one merits to derive favor from Hashem."

Such an outlook is only possible if a person has affirmed within himself that the sum total of his existence is that he stands in Hashem yisborach's presence and that he serves Him. [If this penetrates, then] he will want to draw closer and to reach Him. Only then will a person come to the realization that as well as needing to fulfill his obligations, he also has to try and find favor in Hashem yisborach's eyes...

The Mashgiach repeated this idea many, many times, with varying degrees of length, planting its foundations within the hearts of those who listened to him, inspiring them to seek Hashem's countenance and to aspire to merit attaining the level of finding favor before Him yisborach. Of course, a precondition for this is the realization that all one's avodoh takes place before Him...this was the focus of the Mashgiach's life's work, as all the seekers and desirers [of Hashem] understood in his last words to them: What was, is what will remain — only Him. And so it is even now — even though the physical world seems to us to have a real, ongoing existence — What there really is, is just Him alone, yisborach, and that is Purim!

Decades have passed, but his words still ring in the ears of those who listened to him and also in the ears of those who listen to them, and they continue [to exert an influence and] to yield results. However, even during the Mashgiach's lifetime, only those who made a point of listening and of accepting what he said, were affected and that certainly remains the case now. Whoever goes out of their way to accept the obligations which his teachings confer, will merit the same great elevation as did those who actually heard him, ascending and drawing close to their Creator and meriting a link with eternal life...May our words have an effect upon the public, and especially upon bnei Torah, inspiring them to serve Hashem in the awareness that they stand before Him yisborach Shemo.

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