KING OF THE CLASS
Parashat Lech LechaAccording
to Chassidut, the weeks of these Parashiot are weeks when we can ask ourselves the age old question, When will my actions reach the actions of my Forefathers. There is a special Hashpa’a during these weeks, when we can connect ourselves to Avraham Avinu, to his Emunah, to his Hessed and to his Greatness.
The first thing that Avraham ever heard from G-d was “Lech lecha”. Go. Go through life, test after test, traveling towards your life goals. Go. Don’t get stuck on what people have to say about you, what people want to do to you. Go, until I tell you to stop. Just keep on going.
I believe we can all tap into that message. For every Jew, the job in life is – to go! Not to get stuck. But to keep on growing, and growing and growing. Whenever something is bothering us in life, if we are jealous, if we are angry, if we are depressed, if we are insulted… there is only one real reason why. It is because we are not performing the mitzvah “Lech Lecha.” We got stuck.
One of the greatest plies of the yetzer hara is to make a Jew forget what his Tafkid in life is, why we came here and where we are going. What is important, and what is not. We all know that we were brought to the world with a Neshama, with a purpose. And just like the very first thing G-d told Avraham, the first Jew, was “Go”, so too, every Neshama, before being sent down to this world, is told by G-d Lech Lecha. Go wherever I send you. Go away from what is comfortable. Go for the challenges in life. Until I ask for your Neshama back.Â ×œ×š ××œ ×”××¨×¥ ××©×¨ ××¨××š, Go to the land which I will show you. How does G-d show us that land, in our personal life? Your “××¨××š” – binoculars – is the Torah, a similar root. Growing in the ways of the Torah is the essence of Lech Lecha, the only way to “go” somewhere in this World. This is why Halachot are called Halachot, for they show you how to “go” in life. ×”×œ×™×›×•×ª ×¢×•×œ× ×œ×• – ××œ ×ª×§×¨×™ ×”×œ×™×›×•×ª ××œ× ×”×œ×›×•×ªÂ And, as it says, ×™×œ×›×• ×ž×—×™×œ ××œ ×—×™×œ ×™×¨××” ×-×œ ××œ×•×§×™× ×‘×¦×™×•×Ÿ The passuk that is the source of the Halacha that one must go from praying Shacharit, directly to learn Torah in the study hall. (Sh”A 155)
As one goes through life, each stage of life has its ownÂ “king”. In kindergarten,Â the king of Gan is the child who bites the hardest. From first grade till fourth, the king of the class is, commonly, the kid who kicks the strongest. Fourth till High, the kid who has the strongest elbows or is best at sports may be considered king of the class. In Yeshiva Ketanna or high school, the one who knows best how to degrade the other, verbally, might be the [despised] king. And, in Yeshiva Gedollah, the one who can ask the question to challenge the Rosh Yeshiva’s shiur is, in some way or other, Â king of the Yeshiva. From then on, political figures and the rich might be kings of society.
But each one of these examples is no more than a “fake king” – the king who everyone is scared of, but whom nobodyÂ sincerely admires or respects. There is only one real king, only one “genuine ruler”. And he is the undercover king all along, who reigns from kindergarten till his last days on earth. Sometimes, the people of the world discover the identity of the real king only when he is a grandparent. And, sometimes, unfortunately, only from the eulogy at his funeral. The king is the one who is master over himself, over his desires and his temptations. The one who allows his soul, his spirituality, to reign over his wants and wishes, desires and emotions. The real king, the Melech, rules from inside out. Not from outside in.
The letters ×ž×œ×š are really the ×¨××©×™ ×ª×™×‘×•×ª, the first letters of the words ×ž×— , ×œ×‘ , ×›×‘×“. In the ,×ž×— our mind, we have our Neshama, our G-dliness. In our ×œ×‘, our heart, rests our Ruach, and in our ×›×‘×“ , liver, Â our Nefesh. The Ruach is the source of pride, anger, jealousy, and honor. The Nefesh is the source of physical temptations and materialistic drives. If we allow our Neshama to reign, and the letters are in the right order, allowing the Neshama to rule the other two, then we are the ×ž×œ×š, the genuine king. But if we switch around our priorities, allowing our ×›×‘×“ Â (Nefesh), or our ×œ×‘ Â (Ruach) to rule the ×ž×— (spiritual/intellect ), then the letters are switched around, making the letters Â ×›×œ(×•)×, nothing. When you feel emptiness in life, or you feel that your self esteem is very low, like a “nothing”, it is because you are “out of order”. You have allowed your feelings and desires to rule over your “hard drive”, your intellect and spirituality.
So, G-d tells the Neshama before its decent, Lech Lecha. ‘Just make certain that the Neshama is the one who takes the initiative and chooses the direction through life, not letting the Nefesh or Ruach tell you where to go.’Â The way that the Nefesh or the Ruach control the Neshama is by confusing the intellect into perceiving this world as a permanent place, not a place of Lech Lecha.
This lesson hit me as I put away the last board of my Succah. After shlepping my big Succah up 4 flights for only a seven day period, after being rained on the first night of Succot, after being woken up 3 out of 7 nights from the dew that dripped on me at 3 am, I was confronted by my anti religious neighbor, who topped it all off with his annual, annoying, anti-religious question. “So, was it worth all the hassle for just 7 days?” I did not answer. He asked me if I have an answer. I said I don’t, because it is not question. He agreed.
I did not lie to him. I did not have an answer for him, an atheist. I had a real question to ask, both to the atheist and to myself, but I decided not to ask him, preferring to keep my distance. Is it worth it to invest so much in our career, in our homes, in our cars… if it is only for 120 years?
We are not here to stay. We’re just in transit.