By: Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron
Inviting the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
I Am Hashem Your Healer
In this parsha, Hashem blesses Israel that if they keep the Torah, He will save them from all the maladies He plagued Egypt. This is juxtaposed to sections that discuss the sustenance of Israel through food and water. In a similar sense, we find that in the Amida prayer, the blessing for sustenance is compared to the blessing for healing.
In addition, our Sages teach that one who steals money from someone is as if he has stolen their soul. Rabbi Nahman of Breslov takes this a step further: by stealing, one may even prevent the one he stole from from marriage, i.e. connection to their “soul”mate, or from having children – “souls” that are a continuation of that person. Obviously, “measure for measure” stealing also has such detrimental ramifications on the one who stole.
In other sources, we see that our Sages equate someone who has lost their possessions or has become impoverished considered as if “dead.” In a similar way, our Sages teach that the “righteous endeared their possessions even more than their bodies” (obviously this is not referring to literal pikuach nefesh – a full discussion of this interesting teaching is out of scope here). These sources point at a deep connection between financial wellbeing and health/soul wellbeing. What is the deeper meaning of all this?
In explaining “righteous endeared their possessions even more than their bodies,” the Arizal (Shaar Hamitzvot parshat Mishpatim) explains that there is a spiritual light attached to possession and if one deals haphazardly with their possession causing it to be lost, then also the spiritual light attached to this possession is also lost. However, this rule does not apply to money invested in charity and mitzvoth, as these themselves carry great spiritual light and value. On the contrary, one who invests their money in such spiritual endeavors will be rewarded multifold with even more financial success. According to the sefer “Or Tzadikim” (Tfila 24, 31), written by the famous Kabbalist Rabbi Meir Papirush (compiler of “Etz Haim”), those who have financial loss and as a result cut their charities are to be likened to those who try to extinguish a fire with hay. In the beginning, it will seem that the hay has smothered the fire, but soon after the hay will actually be the cause the fire to become greater…
Our Sages teach (Shabbat 33b) that when the Torah says that Yakov arrived in Shechem “intact”, it refers to Yakov being “intact” in “body, possession, and Torah learning.” The term used for “intact” – “shalem” – also means “complete” or “whole,” and is also strongly related to the word “shalom,” peace. All terms “complete,” “whole” and “peace” connote a unification of facets in a harmonious whole, whether between parts or between parties, as is the case in “peace”. “Wholeness of body” means good health, a state where the facets of man work together as a harmonious whole in proper equilibrium. Similarly, “wholeness of possession” implies a unity between man and the “spiritual sparks of possession” associated with him, so that they are not lost or misused. “Wholeness of Torah learning,” also implies a unity between man and the Divine through Torah knowledge.
Yakov’s “wholeness” in the aforementioned three topics is linked in the verse to his coming to the city of Shechem. It seems that this “wholeness” is linked to Yakov’s arrival to Shechem for the reason that Shechem was the first city that Yakov planned to settle in the Land of Israel after his return from Laban. It is in Shechem that Yakov encamped, bought property and built an altar to Hashem. This matter teaches us that the unity achieved through “wholeness” and “peace” in the aforementioned topics is ultimately achieved through “uniting” with the Holy Land by acquiring it, settling it (as Yakov encamped there), and making spiritual strides within it (as the building of Yakov’s altar indicates). All this said, we should remember that Yakov’s ultimate goal was to return to Hebron, where his father Yitzhak lived and his grandfather Avraham had lived. In the past, we have discussed how Hebron and Shechem are “sister-cities,” as can be hinted in the verse “and he (Yakov) sent him (Yosef) from the depths of Hebron and he (Yosef) arrived in Shechem.” This also means that the inspiration to buy property in Shechem, build an altar there, etc., i.e to “unite” with the Land in Shechem, can be sourced to Hebron, the first Jewish acquisition in the Holy Land. Moreover, the very name Hebron means unity, revealing this city’s great power in “uniting with the Holy Land”; thereby “achieving unity” in bodily health, financial success, and Torah greatness.
Real Stories from the Holy Land #298
The Mitteler Rebbe (1773-1827), the second Rebbe of Chabad, had raised money for and supported a shul in Hebron and the Jews in Hebron. He was imprisoned in Russia for his fundraising activities, and was falsely accused of sending funds to the Turks, who ruled Israel at that time and were enemies of Russia. His shul is still used 180 years later. The Mitteler Rebbe called for Chabad Chassidim in Russia and Safed and Tiberias, holy Israeli cities, to move to Hebron to concentrate their presence there. In 1819, many Chabad Chassidim from Russia moved to Hebron. The Mitteler Rebbe’s own daughter, Menucha Rochel, also fulfilled her dream of moving to Hebron. In 1845, after her father had passed on, and her cousin, the Tzemach Tzedek, was Rebbe, she and her husband, Rabbi Yaakov Kuli Slonim, left the city of Lubavitch and made the move with a contingent of Chassidim to settle in Hebron. On the day they left, it was raining, and she told the Tzemach Tzedek that she wanted to wait until the rain would stop. He told her that she should not delay, and the rain would not fall on her. She followed his instructions, and indeed, though it was raining, it is said that no rain fell on her carriage for hours.
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