Thursday, June 20, 2024

Why Should We Lose Out?


One remarkable topic in the Parshah is Pesach Sheni, the second chance to perform the Korban Pesach. To recap: there were Jews in the desert carrying the coffins of the 12 tribes, making them tamei met (ritually impure due to contact with corpses). As a result, they couldn’t participate in the Korban Pesach on time. These Jews approached Moshe Rabbeinu and Aharon at the Ohel Mo’ed (Tent of Meeting) and asked, “Lamah Nigara’a – why should we lose out? Just because we’re doing something proper and right, yet we are impure, should we miss out on the Korban Pesach?”

Moshe Rabbeinu responded to them with these words, as stated in Chapter 9, Verse 8: “VaYomer Aleihem Moshe Imdu Ve’eshme’ah Mah Yetzaveh Hashem Lakhem.” He told the impure individuals to stand by while he listened for Hashem’s command. The essence here is that a whole new Torah law was established because these Jews yearned to do good. They questioned why they should miss out, and Moshe acknowledged their point, asking Hashem for guidance. Hashem affirmed their request, introducing Pesach Sheni, which occurs a month later on the 14th of Iyar. During Pesach Sheni, one can have chametz and matzah at home, but the Korban Pesach must be eaten with matzah and maror, without any chametz during the meal.

Their earnest desire to participate in the Korban Pesach led to the creation of this second chance. If they hadn’t asked, the law of Pesach Sheni would not exist. Their question stemmed from not wanting to miss out on the mitzvah of the Korban Pesach.

Reb Noson explains in Likutey Halakhot, Nefilat Apayim #4 that the Korban Pesach represents a profound spiritual light, an elevated awareness of Hashem. This awareness is so lofty that the Jewish people choose to embrace it through Emunah (faith) without fully understanding it. This concept is embodied in the phrase Na’aseh VeNishma (we will do and after we will understand), signifying that the Jews act with pure faith. The term Pesach means to skip over, implying that instead of taking time to understand and internalize, the Jewish people follow Hashem’s instructions immediately and without question. This skipping over is essential for connecting to such a high level of Divine light, which is the essence of the Korban Pesach.

Every year, the Korban Pesach offers this opportunity to access this light, which is what the Jews in the desert desired. They were unable to partake in the Korban Pesach because they were tamei (ritually impure), and they missed out on experiencing this heightened awareness through Emunah. This desire for the Korban Pesach’s spiritual light is crucial because it can lift a person out of depression, worries, and distorted imagination. This light serves as a means to pull people out of their stuck places and initiate a new beginning, with Hashem’s help.

When these individuals asked Moshe Rabbeinu, “Lamah Nigara’a – why should we lose out on such an extraordinary experience once a year?” Moshe acknowledged their point and sought Hashem’s guidance. Hashem granted them the opportunity to observe Pesach Sheni, but they had to wait one month.

Why one month? A month, or Chodesh in Hebrew, spans 30 days, during which the moon goes through a complete cycle of waxing and waning, from total darkness to full light and back to darkness. This cycle is significant because it represents renewal. On the 15th of Nisan, when Pesach is initially observed, there is a full moon. By Rosh Chodesh Iyar, the moon is at its lowest point, and by the 14th of Iyar, it is full again. This 30-day period tests whether the individuals can maintain their spiritual yearning and commitment. If they can hold on through this entire cycle, they are deemed worthy of participating in Pesach Sheni.

The second chance of Pesach Sheni allows them to perceive and experience the special light associated with the Korban Pesach. This light comes with the mitzvah of eating the Korban Pesach, providing a unique opportunity for spiritual renewal and connection.

To go deeper, Moshe Rabbeinu says: “Imdu,” which means “stand,” and “Ve’eshme’ah,” meaning “I will listen to what Hashem will command you to do.” Moshe Rabbeinu could have used other words, like “wait,” but he specifically chose “Imdu,” meaning to stand. The implication is to wait while he asks Hashem, to give him a moment to hear from Hashem what to do. Why did he choose “stand”? And why did he say “I will hear/listen”?

This choice of words is significant, as Rebbe Nachman discusses in Lesson 24 of Likutey Moharan. To experience the profound light of the Korban Pesach one must know how to stop and stand. Moshe Rabbeinu was instructing them to stand still, indicating that to merit the existence of Pesach Sheni and to rectify their situation, they needed to know how to stand still, not to move forward impulsively.

Rebbe Nachman elaborates on this in Likutey Moharan lessons 6 and 24, emphasizing the need to be a “Baki BeRatzo Baki BeShov”, which means to be an expert in running forward and an expert in waiting. “Matey VeLo Matey” means reaching and not reaching, a concept from the Zohar.

The greatest challenge many people face is impatience and not knowing how to wait. However, the secret to advancement in Judaism and in life is learning how to wait and to accept it with joy. To navigate life effectively, one must master the art of moving forward and stopping, reaching and not reaching.

Moshe Rabbeinu told them to “Imdu,” meaning “stand.” He instructed them to stand because, although they missed the Korban Pesach for a valid reason, they missed out on a significant opportunity. Therefore, they needed to rely on Moshe Rabbeinu, the Tzaddik. He said, “Imdu, and I will hear from Hashem what needs to be done.” This highlights that when someone faces difficulties in life, they may realize the necessity of having a tzaddik in their life. Tzaddikim have already achieved spiritual heights and continued progressing because their primary goal is to benefit others.

A true tzaddik is not focused solely on personal benefit but seeks to share their spiritual achievements with the world. A tzaddik who only pursues personal gain is missing the essence of being a true tzaddik, unlike Moshe Rabbeinu. Moshe Rabbeinu demonstrated repeatedly that he was a true tzaddik by his willingness to sacrifice everything for every Jew. This level of selflessness is extraordinary and challenging to attain under pressure.

Rashi praises Moshe Rabbeinu’s greatness, highlighting Moshe’s exceptional ability to communicate directly with Hashem at any time. This underscores the high caliber of Moshe Rabbeinu as a tzaddik.

The Jewish people who were tamei (ritually impure) had a valid reason for missing the Korban Pesach. Moshe Rabbeinu told them to “stand,” implying that he would now work to seek a new rectification for them. They didn’t know what the outcome would be. When they asked, “Lamah Nigara’a – why should we lose out?” they had no idea that Hashem would create a second chance. Their yearning, combined with Moshe Rabbeinu’s intercession, led Hashem to command the observance of Pesach Sheni.

This situation involved three key elements: the yearning of the people, the intercession of the Tzaddik (Moshe Rabbeinu), and Hashem’s kindness. The people’s yearning was crucial, even though they were considered simple compared to Moshe Rabbeinu. The Tzaddik’s power to request and hear from Hashem was also essential. Finally, Hashem’s infinite kindness created a new Torah commandment, providing a second chance to experience the light of the Korban Pesach, a light everyone needs.

The importance of the Korban Pesach is underscored by the fact that intentionally missing it incurs the severe punishment of Karet (excision). Every Jew had to ensure they participated, and if they missed it for a valid reason, such as being too far from the Beit HaMikdash or being ritually impure, they were given a second chance 30 days later. This 30-day period allowed for renewal, proving their ability to endure through challenges.

May we be blessed to continually seek Hashem’s help, follow the teachings of the true tzaddikim, and find second chances, again and again. There are endless second chances in the Torah, but they depend on our yearning and persistence. We must continually ask, “Lamah Nigara’a – why should I lose out?” regardless of our background or circumstances. We should strive to learn Torah, improve our lives, and not let our past hold us back.

Reb Noson, in a beautiful prayer for the Sefirat HaOmer period (Part II Prayer 36), expressed the belief that tzaddikim have endless advice and solutions. Even if previous advice failed, there is always more advice to try. It’s up to us to keep pressing, seeking new solutions, and asking Hashem, “Why should I lose out?” We should learn from this Parshah not to give up, to believe in the endless power of the true tzaddikim to provide guidance, and in Hashem’s infinite compassion to reveal new paths for us.

(This article also appears on the BRI website:

(For a video presentation of this article:



With immense gratitude to Hashem for His abundant blessings, we are thrilled to announce the upcoming marriage of our youngest daughter, Odel Tova, in less than two weeks (Sunday, June 30). 

If you can please help out and/or share this info with people you may know who can help: 

As we prepare for this joyous occasion, we humbly seek your support to help cover the essential expenses associated with the wedding and the new life ahead for the young couple.

Your generous contribution towards this sacred mitzvah of bringing joy to the Chatan and Kallah would mean the world to us.

**List of Expenses (in USD):**

1. **Kallah classes** - $810
2. **Wedding gown** - $940
3. **Hair and makeup for Kallah** - $755
4. **D.J. for wedding** - $740
5. **Wedding photographer** - $900
6. **Car rental + driver for Kallah on wedding day** - $110
7. **Kiddush cup gift for Chattan** - $108
8. **Tallit/Tefillin bag for Chattan** - $270
9. **Tallit for Chattan** - $270
10. **Full furniture set** - $2,685
11. **Rent for first six months** - $1,620
12. **Initial grocery shopping for newlywed couple** - $405
13. **Dowry gift for young couple** - $1,620
14. **Wedding hall and Seudat Mitzvah** - $13,000
15. **Schotenstein Talmud for Chattan** - $1750
16. **Family wardrobe for wedding (including grandchildren)** - $4840

**Total Needed: $31,795**

**How to Donate:**

- **For US Donations (Tax-Deductible):**
Credit Card: [Donate via Stripe] (

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Your kindness in supporting this milestone in our lives is deeply appreciated. May your participation in this mitzvah bring you boundless blessings and joy in your connection to Hashem.

With sincere thanks and warmest regards,

Shabbat Shalom
Meir Elkabas

Thursday, June 6, 2024

Every Jew Counts


Bamidbar normally falls before Shavuot. The Sages give us a sign – you count (in other words, the census of the Jewish people), and then you observe the Chag of Shavuot. There’s a lot of depth in these things; let’s try to see some connections.

Rebbe Nachman already makes a connection with the letters found in the 12 tribes – Reuven, Shimon, Levi, Yissachar, Zevulun, etc. When you count the letters of the 12 tribes, there are 49 letters. Rebbe Nachman hints that these correspond to the 49 days of the Omer, the 49 gates leading to the 50th level, which is the highest gate. All of these are interrelated.

We’re counting the census of the Jewish population at the time – the generation who received the Torah – in Parshat Bamidbar. Right after that, we’re re-receiving the Torah on Shavuot. What’s the connection here?

Every letter of every tribe relates to another day of the Sefira counting and another gate of holiness. Meaning, every detail counts; every detail of the 12 tribes, plus their offspring – the descendants (which includes us) counts. We all count!

In this week’s Parsha, there’s a census. But we know there’s a rule: in general, it’s not good to count because blessing is found in that which is concealed. When you count something, there’s no blessing in it.

Here, the Torah makes such a big deal to count every single Jew – every single male above the age of 20, and from the tribe of Levi, every male above the age of one month is counted. What’s going on? Why this counting of every single Jew, and why right before Shavuot?

Reb Noson explains that when you count, the concept of numbers (minyan) represents the most physical level one can reach. In other words, it’s the furthest point of physicality. When you count: one, two, three, you’re acknowledging the existence and value of matter. So physically counting people represents the most extreme level of physicality.

So, the idea of counting every Jew is because every Jew – especially in the case of the Jews in the desert – is a vessel. When you count, for example, 24,000 Jews in the tribe of Binyamin, or 45,000 in the tribe of Yehuda etc., this counting essentially creates vessels. For what? Vessels for each Jew in the desert to receive the Infinite Light within them, and that’s why they needed to be counted.

Hashem was concerned with counting the Jews when they were in the desert – after the golden calf, after the Mishkan was erected, and before entering the land – we have several censuses in the Torah. All this shows that every Jew counts, every Jew makes a difference, and every Jew is a vessel to receive Light.

This is the same idea behind why we count the days of the Omer! The countdown of the Omer’s days, those 49 days, creates vessels. Once you count them, every day – day 1, day 2, day 3, etc. – is like a vessel. By singling it out through counting, you enable that day to be a vessel for what? For the light of the 50th level, the 50th day of Shavuot – receiving the Torah.

Even if we may think lowly of ourselves, without much worth – nonetheless, in Hashem’s eyes, we have value!

Once we count and reach the 50th day of Shavuot, and we receive the Torah anew every year, it shines into each of the days that we counted.

The same is true with all the Jews in the desert – 600,000+ Jews, and every one is a vessel! What does that show? That every Jew counts! Every Jew counts, from the greatest tzaddik to the lowest of the low. He is part of a tribe, he is part of the Jewish nation, and he has to be located in a certain place.

Just imagine going back to the desert: maybe there was a Jew who wasn’t such a tzaddik. We know for sure there were Jews who weren’t that righteous, such as Datan, Aviram, Korach etc. There were people who weren’t the best! And they were in the census, and they were allotted to the tribes in the desert, to show us that every Jew counts!

Another point – the Parsha is called Bamidbar – in the desert – and this census is taking place in the desert. Why count the Jews in the desert, a wasteland?

And yet, we’re counting the Jews to strengthen this point: that every Jew, as far as he is and as low as the situation is, makes a difference in Hashem’s eyes. Hashem wants that census – Hashem ordered that census! Hashem wants them to be counted because each Jew is precious. Each Jew – once counted – becomes a vessel to receive within him the Infinite Light.

This is one of the big messages of Sefirat HaOmer and this Parsha of Jewish census, which culminates towards the end of the Sefirat HaOmer. All this counting right before Shavuot is to show us that every detail of us counts.

Even if we may not think that way, even if we think lowly of ourselves, we think that we don’t have much worth because we see all of our bad deeds outweighing our good, still – nonetheless, in Hashem’s eyes, we have value. Every Jew has what’s called a nekudah tova, a good point, and it’s this good point that Hashem counts.

The counting of the Sefirah-Omer days – we count them and we verbalize them, it counts! Us being counted among the census of the Jewish people, we count! We are descendants of these 12 tribes and the 600,000+ Jews who were in the desert.

The point is that we count, and Hashem wants us to be counted, in order to stress and reiterate the value that we have. The value is that when we appreciate our own value, we then serve as vessels to contain within each and every one of us the Light of Hashem – the Infinite Light.

On Shavuot we redo that every year, we go through that experience every year to receive more and more light to shine into our daily lives, thus enabling the light of Hashem to shine into the world.

This article also appears on the BRI website:

For a video presentation of these concepts:


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Shabbat Shalom U’mevorach!
Meir Elkabas

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Wednesday, June 5, 2024

The Keter of Joy-Simcha


If you have been inspired by this class/lecture please share it with your friends. Thank you. Likutey Halakhot, Orach Chaim, Nefilat Apayim #4 013-4

Based on Likutey Moharan lesson 24

Why did the Jews specifically get "crowns" for saying "we will do and then we will listen/understand"? The connection between the crowns and joy etc. Follow us: 

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Finding the Good Points and Not Falling into Phobias and Melancholy


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Alim LiTerufah - Letter #31a

Letter written while Reb Noson was writing his discourse - Likutey Halakhot, Even HaEzer, Ishut #4 based on Likutey Moharan lesson 24.

Reb Noson tells his son to stop over-worrying about things as this just leads a person to ruin his minimal daily schedule, rather a person should bring himself to joy by finding the good points. A person should not get carried away with sadness, rather set a fixed time to daven about his difficulties etc.

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Friday, May 31, 2024

Parshat Bechukotai - The Pele of a Vow


The majority of this parsha discusses various punishments that befall someone who doesn’t study Torah, doesn’t fulfill the Torah’s commandments, doesn’t seek deeper understanding of the Torah, mocks the sages, mocks faith in the tzaddikim, and prevents others from following the sages’ teachings. There are five groups of seven punishments listed, and they are quite daunting. The parsha culminates with exile, but Hashem reassures that even in exile, He will not reject or loathe the Jewish people to destroy them. Instead, they will do teshuva (repentance) from exile and return. Hashem promises to be with them even in exile, ensuring their return.

Immediately following this, the parsha addresses the laws of arachim, or endowment valuations. This involves a type of neder, or pledge, in the form of a vow of tzedakah (charity) given to the Beit HaMikdash (the Temple). The verse reads, “ki yafli neder be’erkecha nefashot laHashem” – if a person expresses a vow of a monetary value of people to Hashem. It categorizes pledges based on age and gender, such as valuing a person over 60, over 20, over 5, or over five months. The categories extend to animals, land, and other possessions.

The question arises: why is this parsha, detailing the punishments for not following the Torah and the subsequent exile (which allows the land of Israel to recover the sabbatical Shemitah and Jubilee years that were neglected), immediately followed by the parsha of tzedakah and endowment valuations through a vow? What is the connection between these sections, and what lesson can we learn from their juxtaposition?

The parsha seems to be telling us that, God forbid, to avoid a repetition of this damage and to prevent further harm, the solution is a neder, or a pledge, particularly tzedakah in the form of a neder. Rebbe Nachman discusses this in Lesson 57, emphasizing the power of a neder and the importance of fulfilling it immediately. Reb Noson specifically highlights that giving charity as a neder helps connect a person to the highest spiritual levels. The pasuk in this week’s parsha states, “Ki yafli neder” – a person *expresses* a vow. The word “yafli” is rooted in “pele,” meaning wondrous, which in Kabbalistic terminology refers to the Keter, the gateway to the Infinite Light.

Reb Noson explains that a neder, or vow, allows a person to create a new Torah, something that wasn’t there before. For example, a person can eat a piece of cake that is kosher and medically safe. However, if the person vows not to eat the cake to work on self-control over desires for food and sweets, then eating that cake becomes as prohibited as eating on Yom Kippur or desecrating Shabbat. This transformation occurs through the power of a vow.

Reb Noson asks how one can create Torah from nothing. He explains that this is the hidden Torah, found everywhere in Creation. Even in items unrelated to Torah laws on a basic level, a person can activate Torah configurations, making something forbidden that was previously permissible. This is the power of the neder.

When a person takes a neder, it elevates them to the level of the Keter, the gateway to the Infinite Light and the source of the Torah. By making a vow, a person accesses the source above the Torah we have today, creating a new extension of Torah from the root. Now, this cake is forbidden for the person, as strictly as if it were a violation of Shabbat or eating on Yom Kippur.

That’s the power of the neder. It ascends to the Pele, which is why the verse uses the words “ki yafli.” While “yafli” is translated as “express,” it shares a root with “Pele,” referring to the source, or Keter. Pele is synonymous with “the source” or “Keter.” Remarkably, Rashi comments on the word for valuation, “erech” (ayin, reish, kaf), which appears in the parsha as “erkecha,” adding a second kaf at the end. This addition is unusual since “erech” and “erkecha” have the same meaning. Rashi notes this anomaly, stating he doesn’t know what the extra kaf signifies.

In Kabbalah, the letter kaf symbolizes the Keter. Rebbe Nachman refers to the phrase “ein Keter belo kaf” in Lesson 6 of Likutey Moharan, meaning Keter corresponds to the kaf, and you need kaf to have Keter. Rav Yaakov Meir Shechter explains that the initial letter of a word, its shape, and concept represent the word itself. For Keter, the opening letter is kaf, indicating the concept of Keter. Rebbe Nachman teaches in Lesson 24 of Likutey Moharan that Keter is the domain of not knowing. The famous dictum “tachlit hayedea delo neda” means the ultimate goal of knowledge is to recognize that you don’t know. Emunah (faith), which transcends all learning, represents this higher level of Keter.

Thus, Rashi’s statement, “I don’t know,” about the extra kaf can be understood as pointing to the concept of not knowing, or Keter. The extra kaf in “erkecha” signifies that these vows connect a person to Keter. This added kaf indicates that with a neder, one connects to the root of the Torah, a level higher than the existing Torah, creating a new Torah. A vow transforms something permissible into something forbidden. For example, a kosher piece of cake becomes as prohibited as eating on Yom Kippur or desecrating Shabbat due to the neder. While others may eat it without issue, the person who made the neder cannot, because the power of the vow, derived from Keter, places it beyond intellectual grasp, embodying Rashi’s notion of “I don’t know.”

With that said, we can now understand the connection between this section of Parshat Bechukotai, which discusses punishments, and the section of arachin, which discusses vows and endowment valuations. When a Jew realizes how far they have fallen and fears the consequences of not learning Torah and not exerting themselves spiritually, they may wonder where they can find the strength to avoid such pitfalls. They know their own weaknesses and vulnerabilities, how easily they can falter. They ask Hashem for the strength and power to avoid falling into the unfortunate circumstances mentioned in Parshat Bechukotai. They do not want these punishments to recur, even though they are currently in exile. Despite the challenges, there is still hope for salvation.

Throughout history, Jews have experienced times of peace and times of persecution, such as the Holocaust and pogroms. In these difficult times, people wonder how to avoid punishment due to a laxity in Torah observance and learning. The answer, according to Reb Noson, is the power of a vow – a neder. Giving tzedakah is good, but giving tzedakah through a neder is even more powerful. In Likutey Halakhot, Reb Noson gives an example: a person has a coin to give to charity and a charity box in front of them. They can say, “Hashem, I take upon myself as a neder to give this coin to charity,” and then immediately put it in the charity box. By doing this, they not only fulfill the mitzvah of tzedakah but also fulfill it in the form of a vow. They commit to giving that specific coin and cannot change their mind or delay the donation.

Usually, when giving tzedakah, one can choose which dollar or coin to give, or even refrain from giving altogether. However, when it is done as a vow, they are bound to fulfill it. This connects them to the world of neder, to the realm of Pele – “ki yafli neder,” the domain of Keter, this high spiritual level. Rebbe Nachman explains in Lesson 57 that this action reconnects a person to the root of the Torah, boosting their spiritual energy.

Now, although the Shulchan Aruch advises against making nedarim because they can be very dangerous – for instance, the Gemara warns, “ba’avon nedarim banim metim” – for the sin of not fulfilling your vow, a person’s young children may God forbid die. This danger makes us cautious about making vows. However, in cases where the vow is fulfilled immediately, such as when a person says, “I take upon myself as a vow to give tzedakah,” and then does so without delay, this is considered beneficial. The intent here is to activate the neder, the vow, in order to connect to the level of Pele. This is the rationale behind the juxtaposition of the parsha about valuation vows with the parsha about punishments for not fulfilling the Torah. It teaches us that vows, when done properly, give a person strength and power from the root of the Torah itself, thereby giving them more spiritual energy.

In a sense, we can see this concept reflected in the word “erech.” Erech (ayin 70, reish 200 and kaf 20) has a gematria of 290, which is also the gematria of “ratz,” to run. When a person activates a neder, the “erech” – their valuation vow – connects them to the “kaf,” the Keter. They are running towards the Keter, meaning they are tapping into a higher level of strength and energy to help them fulfill, study, delve into, and listen to the Torah and the words of the sages, with the help of Hashem.

May we merit not to panic or fear further descent in our exile, but rather to use the tools and teachings that the Torah and the tzaddikim advise us, in order to connect to the higher levels of Torah – its roots – which will only strengthen our observance of the Torah that we have. 

This article also appears on the BRI website: 

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Shabbat Shalom UmeVorach!
Meir Elkabas