Monday, January 21, 2008

Coffee, Tefillin, and Trees

This morning I came back to YHSTC with a very humble and devoted servant of Yeshiva, a man so great that his identity must be kept hidden for fear of the evil eye, or possibly world domination by a race so evil that its name too must never be revealed. Or something like that. Anyway, we stopped in an anonymous coffee shop to get high. While our coffees were being made he (our anonymous hero) noticed that some whipped cream had come into contact with the rim of one of the cups. He asked the coffeemaker man to give us a different one. The man obliged. I was very impressed. I absolutely hate making a scene of anything, and would probably have just dumped the coffee or something instead of saying something. But our hero was no shy man when it came to upholding the laws of Kashrus. Though he specifically told me not to write his name, I'd just like to say that I was truly impressed.
After witnessing the above Kiddush Hashem I went to Daven. Since today is a Monday, we read the Torah, and I noticed a kid taking his Tefillin off while the Torah was still out. I went over, with my newly-found assertiveness and told him that his actions were forbidden by the Laws of Moses. I started to wonder why exactly it's forbidden, so I checked it out. The Alter Rebbe says that the reason is the same one as why a person can't take his Tefillin off in front of his Rabbi. The reason a person can't take his Tefillin off in front of his Rabbi is because it's disrespectful to uncover your head in the presence of your Rabbi. The Magen Avraham in Siman 38 says that it appears from the Beis Yosef's words that the prohibition is when the person takes their Tefillin off before their Rabbi, which would make it appear that they're more important, or that they're giving him a sign to take off his Tefillin.
Once I figured out the above I turned my attention to the Maamar in this week's Dvar Malchus, Kuntres Tu B'Shevat 5751. It's so amazing, because it reveals a 15 Shevat that is so much deeper than carob and apricots. I'm not trying to be mean or anything (which of course means that I have every intention of being a jerk), but how exactly is 15 Shevat celebrated in Beth Medrash Gevoha or Mir? They skip Tachanun. They eat some fruit. Perhaps they even have a shmooze about "Ki Haadam Eitz Hasadeh", that man is a tree in the field, which is explained in Taanis 7A. What's funny is that if the Misnagdim knew the way 15 Shevat was explained in Chassidus, it would be their biggest holiday. The Rebbe says, near the end of the Maamar, and I freely translate:

And this is what it means, that the fifteenth of Shevat is the new year for trees, that the concept of tree alludes to Torah, (as was explained in the beginning of the Maamar), that this day gives strength to the entire year with regards to the learning of Torah. The learning of Torah should be with diligence and fortitude, and that the Torah which a person learns should be his pleasure and life force (as was explained earlier, that in Kabbala, a tree is representative of pleasure). And according to what is known, that all of the four Rosh Hashanahs {Jewish New Years} are connected to one another, we can say that the Rosh Hashanah of trees gives the power that the concepts which are connected with the other three new years should be fulfilled with pleasure, like we said previously, that through Torah, even the service of Kabbalas Ol {Acceptance of the yolk of heaven} should be with pleasure. This is the reason why the new year of trees is on the fifteenth of the month, instead of the first like the other three new years, because the fifteenth is the fullness of the moon, while the first is when the moon is just barely visible, because this that the moon is barely visible shows on the concept of Bittul {nullification}, while pleasure in the service of Hashem, and specifically in the learning of Torah, is an idea of completion and greatness.

You understand? All right, so it wasn't the world's greatest translation, and it didn't really make a whole lot of sense, because you don't know all the previous shtuff, but I think it made the point that 15 Shevat is the day which is most connected with the perfection of Torah study, Torah Lishmah, Torah for its own sake. And if the Misnagdim knew that Chassidus explains why Torah is important, then they'd be bigger Chassidim than the Chassidim, because they know how to learn. As I mentioned once before, one of the Rebbe's points was to show how every day is the most important day in the history of time. This 15 Shevat, in 5768, has potential to be the greatest day that mankind has yet witnessed.


e said...

Is "shtuff" in you spellchecker's custom dictionary? (If you leave your response as a comment, I probably will not see it.)


e said...

Who the heck is Doris Danford, and why is his prize in quotation marks? Is it a "prize" as opposed to a prize?

If you're bored, check out

e said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

no, shtuff is not in my custom dictionary. And Doris Danforth is a woman. Google her. What's the problem with the quotation marks here? and what's with the two comments you deleted?
And you had nothing to say about tonight's brilliant post?

e said...

Doesn't it irk you to always have red lines under your writing?

Would you say "the Nobel Prize"? No! You'd just write the Nobel Prize.

I wanted to subscribe to the comments, without burdening your readers with silly comments. Thus I wrote comments and deleted them.

Whenever I have what to write, I write it.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Real Shliach:
I very much appreciated your translation which provided me with a new and valuable insight into the true nature of the day. I suspect you underestimate the effect your blog has - I am reminded of a recent theatrical production I attended in which one of the characters (it was based on actual facts) uses a statement of his grandfather as one of the crucial lessons of the piece. Just as his simple grandfather could not imagine that a statement he made in his store in a small town in South Africa 30 years ago would teach something meaningful to an audience in New York all those years later so too you probably underestimate the power of your words. Please keep writing. L d T.

Just like a guy said...

To Eliezer: No.
To LdT: Thanks :)

e said...

no to what? no it doesn't irk you? No, you wouldn't put the quotation marks? no I didn't subscribe? no, I won't share my thoughts with your readership?

e said...

I googled Doris danford, and there seems to be a lot of them. who's the one who gives prizes? oops, I mean "prizes"

Just like a guy said...

No it doesn't bother me. And the name is Doris Danforth. Get that straight.