Friday, July 4, 2008

Thoughts for Gimel Tammuz

Posted by Rabbi Simcha Werner

The following is a letter from the Rebbe (Igros Kodesh VI pg. 285) to a Tomim. The Rebbe has faith in us; do not let the Rebbe down!

29 Av, 5712
Brooklyn, NY

Greetings and blessings,

For a person like yourself, it is surely unnecessary to elaborate on the concept explained in many places in Chassidus, and also in works of Mussar: that a divine blessing [“arousal from above”] requires a fit vessel, appropriate effort on man’s part [an “arousal from below”]. It is absolutely obvious that one should not initiate something that runs directly contrary to the “arousal from above” for which one is [requesting and] praying.

[In light of the above,] How shocked was I to see your appearance in the office of the Merkos Le’Inyonei Chinuch, that you labored and compelled your divine soul to remove, Heaven forfend, the “Image of G-d” from your face, by cutting and removing the thirteen fixtures of the beard, which correspond to the thirteen pathways of divine mercy! They are the channels for one’s livelihood, as is explained in the Zohar and in Chassidus in several places. Elaboration upon this is unnecessary, especially for one who hails from the Sephardic community who have held fast to the study of the Zohar for all time. There, no opposition ever existed to it, as did exist in several places in earlier days among the Ashkenazim.

It is difficult and burdensome for me to elaborate upon this. Surely these lines will suffice. I give you the benefit of the doubt that perhaps your intention [in cutting your beard] was as follows: You have seen and contemplated the statement of our Sages that earning one’s livelihood is as difficult as splitting the Red Sea.[1] It, therefore occurred to you that perhaps it is worthwhile to assist the A-lmighty (Who sustains [all creatures] from the eggs of lice until the horns of the wild ox[2]) in His task by causing your outward appearance to resemble the gentiles. This would then make it easier for you to be given a rabbinical position, or the like.

However, even one who is not intelligent will easily understand that this is contrary to simple faith: to suggest that laxity in observance of the mitzvos of the Torah—i.e., distancing oneself from the Source [of life]—will bring the person to be granted a large flow of blessing. You should study in-depth that which is explained concerning [the verse], “[He will bless himself in his heart, saying, ‘Peace will be with me, though I follow the caprices of my heart] adding the watered to the thirsty.”[3]

It is my firm hope that the efforts that my father-in-law, the Rebbe, of blessed memory invested in you as his student and his Chossid will assist you to leave behind the aforementioned mistaken thinking. If the hand of someone else is enticing you [to cut your beard], then explain to him as well that such conduct is contrary not only to divine intellect, but also to human intellect. For every Jew believes that G-d is the Master, even of this physical and coarse world. He and only He is the one to allocate sustenance to a person and his family. Thus, the human effort [“arousal from below”] should also be consistent with this.

From one who awaits good news and blesses you with spiritual and material success, which, for a Jewish man and woman, go hand in hand,

The Rebbe's Signature

PS: Our Nesi’im have elaborated upon [the prohibition of] cutting one’s beard: Tzemach Tzedek, Shu”t Yoreh Dei’ah, 93. Tzemach Tzedek, Chiddushim leMakkos, ch. 3. Piskei Dinim on Yoreh Dei’ah, 181, sec. 2. Derech Mitzvosecha, 2:221b. In the book known as Amudei Arazim of Rabbi Margolis of Yerushalayim, towards the end he compiled the opinions of the later rabbinical authorities, etc., concerning all the above.

[1] Pesachim, 118a.
[2] Shabbos, 107b.
[3] Devorim, 29:18. This is explained in Kuntres U’Ma’ayon, ma’amar 5.

For a comprehensive treatment regarding the cutting and growth of the beard in Jewish law, please see sefer Hadras Ponim Zokein (a new expanded edition recently came out) which is available at all sefarim stores. The following is a quotation from a letter from the Lubavitcher Rebbe regarding this sefer, dated 12 Teves, 5739: "I trust you have seen the Sefer Hadras Ponim Zokon, whose author is a Talmid of the Mirer Yeshiva, which was published recently, with Haskomos by prominent Rabbonim, on the great significance and the must and importance of growing a full beard. The Sefer includes also Teshuvos beruros by Gdolei Yisroel who had been asked for an opinion in this matter".

Yeshivacation Upstate Schedule

Click here for the schedule of classes for the Yeshivacation Upstate program.

Shabbos Erev Gimmel Tammuz at Tzemach Tzedek

As per the custom to get an aliya on the shabbos preceding 3 Tammuz, there will be an extra laining at K’hal Tzemach Tzedek at 8:30 AM, as well as multiple lainings during davening.

Shul Schedules

The davening and shiurim schedules for Beis Menachem and Tzemach Tzedek North have been added to the blog (see below).