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   27 Elul 5774 / Monday, September 22, 2014 | Torah Reading Ha'azinu       
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HomeJudaismConcepts in JudaismSwimming Stormy Seas
Swimming Stormy Seas
By: Rabbi Lazer Brody

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Imagine that you’re standing on the beach in Long Island and a person jumps in the water and starts swimming. You ask him where he’s going and he yells back to you, “I’m swimming to Israel.”
 
You say, “Wait a second! Even a good swimmer can only swim about 3½ miles per hour. It’s 5600 miles from here to Israel; that’s 1600 hours of swimming full speed without taking into account any time for eating and sleeping. That’s 66 days and nights of straight swimming! No one can do that!”
 
The swimmer yells over his shoulder, “So what?”
 
You call back at him, “Hey, I haven’t even mentioned any of the dangers on the way, like shark-infested waters and strong currents. What if there’s a storm at sea? Not even an Olympic swimmer can swim against stormy seas and 20-foot waves!”
 
The swimmer is sitting in the sand at the edge of the water and removing his shoes, about to jump in. He says, “Leave me alone! I want to do things my way!”
 
You can’t believe his stubbornness. You tell him, “Listen, friend. Put your shoes and pants back on, get in the car, and I’ll take you down the road a few miles to Kennedy Airport. You can jump on a plane and in 12 hours you’ll be in Israel safe and sound. Isn’t that more logical?”
 
He doesn’t even answer you and jumps in the water. You say to yourself, “I wonder how long it will take for him to be crying for help…”
 
The swimmer in our little parable seems totally inane, doesn’t he. But really, the parable is talking about many of us; we’re ever so obstinate to make our own decisions by using our own so sorely limited intellects, then we end up in big trouble and start yelling for help.
 
* * *
 
Our individual intellect is sorely limited; but, when we put  it aside and plug into the tzaddik’s teachings, we attain a new and expanded intellect, what our sages call harchavat hadaat.
 
Rebbe Natan: “I threw my own intellect away. I now use Rebbe Nachman’s intellect.” Rebbe Natan had what to throw away…
 
We all have to strive to cast aside our intellects and to adopt a new intellect, that of the tzaddik. The tzaddik already understands the meaning of serving Hashem. We want to reach where he already is.
 
Casting aside our intellect – especially with Western education and indoctrination of “doing your own thing,” is no easy job. Yet, when you succeed, you’re the big winner.
 
When we plug into the tzaddik’s intellect, we refuel in midair and continue to fly spiritually whereas with our own intellect, we’d be grounded already with our limited range and capability.
 
Even when we speak to each other, we should speak about the tzaddik’s teachings. And when we speak to Hashem in personal prayer, we should pray to Him that we internalize and implement the teachings of the tzaddik because these teachings bring us much closer to Hashem.
 
A person’s Western education and ego kicks back and says, “I don’t need anyone to help me find Hashem – I’ll find Him on my own!” That’s just as ridiculous as the parable about the swimmer that wanted to swim across the Atlantic on his own instead of getting on a 747. Remember, that the tzaddik received his knowledge and tradition from tzaddikim before him; he also spent years in hard work, study, and prayer working to get close to Hashem.
 
Rebbe Nachman of Breslev writes in Likutei Moharan I:123, “A person should cast his intellect aside as if he has no intelligence whatsoever except that which he receives from the tzaddik of the generation. As long as a person remains with any trace of his own intellect, he is not fully connected to the tzaddik.”
 
Our job today is to cast our old limited intellects and to obtain a new intellect – that of the true tzaddik. The Torah tells us that even if the tzaddik tells us that right is left and left is right – we must put our brains aside and accept it.
 
Hashem had pity on the world, so he sent us Rebbe Nachman; yet, for many years, Rebbe Nachman’s true light has been concealed. Now – in this generation, when the world is on the brink of total oblivion, Hashem again took pity on us and sent us another very special soul – Rabbi Shalom Arush, who has brought the light of emuna down to this generation’s eye level.
 
Rebbe Nachman stresses (ibid.) that the way to obtain Torah is to cast our own intellects aside and to internalize the new and higher intellect that we get from the tzaddik. He also tells us that the most important way of serving Hashem is with honesty, simplicity and pure awe of G-d – a person can’t attain that level of spirituality unless he casts his own limited intellect aside. By connecting ourselves to the true tzaddik, we obtain a new and expanded intellect, we get closer to Hashem, and we’ll surely see with our own eyes the imminent coming of Moshiach, the full redemption of our people and the rebuilding of our Holy Temple in Jerusalem, speedily and in our days, amen!
 
 
* * *
We invite you to visit Rabbi Lazer Brody’s award-winning daily web journal Lazer Beams.


 

   
 
 


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