Â Â A LESSON FROM A MEKUBAL
like this story, and not only because I am Sefardi. A certain X-Kollel guy went to a Mekubal. He was down about his spirituality, for although he was still learning Daf Hayomi and reviewing what he had learnt from his Yeshiva and Kollel years in his spare time, he felt that he was a failure. He had not fulfilled his life-dream, his greatest aspiration – to become a lifelong learner. His dream was to be what the Rambam calls Shevet Levi, that G-d will find sustenance for him and his family in a miraculous way, as He does for other Kollel men. But, it did not work out for him. ×”×¨×‘×” ×¢×©×• ×›×¨×‘×™ ×©×ž×¢×•×Ÿ ×‘×¨ ×™×•×—×™ ×•×œ× ×¢×œ×ª×” ×‘×™×“× The Talmud teaches that many tried to live a life-long lifestyle ofÂ “learning without working”, and they could not manage (Berachot 35b) . He consulted his Rav, who told him that he needed to make some money to support his wife and kids. He was down about this, and he felt as if his fire- his love for learning and religion – was at a low. He needed Hizuk.
This was the Mekubal’s response. In Kabbalah, there is something called Shoresh Nishmatto. The “root” of the Neshamah. Of course, we all want to be at the highest level of holiness, of closeness to G-d. The highest level is to be like the Aron Hakodesh, the Holy Ark that is in the Holy of Holies, front row, center aisle to the Master of the World. The Holy Ark has the Tablets in it, the Ark representing the Torah scholars who carry the Torah within them. (see Yoma 72b) Therefore, the container of Manna was together with the Ark,Â showing that in order to learn Torah properly, one needs to be like the generation of the Jews who accepted the Torah, the generation that did not worry about their livelihood, for they were nourished by the Manna. (Yermiyahu 2 31) And it is a tremendous merit for those who connect to that “Holy Ark” zone, to live a life of breathing Torah. A person who is totally engrossed in learning merits special, Divine assistance.Â Just as G-d supportedÂ the Ark and made it possible for the Ark to carry those who carried it, G-d gives the Kollel man the special miracle of the Manna and the Ark.
And the Mekubal went on… The Ark was the first on the list of items to be built for the Mishkan, for it is the most central point, and the place where the Shechina dwells. But the Mishkan was not only about the Ark. The Mishkan had in it the Shulchan, the Menorah, the two Altars, the “Kior”, washing basin,… If the Menorah had wanted to be the Aron, we would have no Menorah, and we would not have a Mishkan, for the Mishkan is not a Mishkan without all of its parts.
The world needs learning people, who are similar to the Ark. They fulfill G-d’s purpose in creating the world. They are not to be involved with going out into the world to do Kiruv or serve the communities; rather, it is their job to sit in the Study Hall and to do nothing else but learn and teach high-level learning. But the world also needs learning people who are similar to the Menorah, who can take the Torah that they have learnt in the Bet Midrash, the study hall, and spread it to the world.Â To show the world that G-d rests amongst His people, and that we can be a light to people. We can teach the world how to behave. What modesty in an office is supposed to look like. What it means to have guidelines; what it means to do business with honesty and trust. What etiquette and manners are all about. And how to live a modest lifestyle. We can bring Torah classes to work, and disseminate Torah learning while in transit. The Jewish nation needs working people, like the Shulhan, that can supply the world with sustenance, while supporting the Yeshivas. And Mashiach will come when two millionaires can close a big business deal, and then sit down and discuss how each one answers the Raavad’s question on the Rambam. (R’. M’. Gifter’s Ben Hazmanim Shmuess.)
R’ Baruch Ber L’ in Birkat Shmuel writes that a father is to bring up his son to be the best possible in learning. This is the highest aim, the goal of each and every Jew.Â To be an Aron. Those who merit being lifelong Shevet Levi, do so because that is their Shoresh Neshama, to be Ark-like.Â Â Of course, one does not know if he can be or cannot be Ark-like until he gives it all he’s got. It is easy for one to just say, “Learning is not for me. I’ll go for the Menorah, or for the Shulchan. I’ll leave the Ark for someone else.” If one takes that approach, he ends up not a Menorah, not a Shulchan and not a Mizbeach. One can’t be a Menorah, Shulchan or Mizbeach, until one has done his best to reach being an Ark. Â If you have already tried, and your Rabbi said that it is not for you, then find the spot that is best for you – the one that can give full expression to your own, unique Shoresh Neshama. Are you a Menorah? Are you a Shulchan? An Altar, who gives up his job, his parnassah, not to transgress even one transgression, etc..? And, be who you are. Accept who you are. For that is how G-d made you. That is your Shoresh Neshama, and you can learn better if you look at yourself honestly, and if you accept yourself as you really are.
There are two types of working people. One “went out” to work. And the other worked to stay alive. One became an X- Kollel guy.Â He got rid of his yeshiva dress-code the first minute possible. And the other one just “dresses up” to go to work. There is a world of a difference between the two.