Never in history have so many people been learning Torah as there are today. In Jewish communities the world over one can find Yeshivas, Kollelim, and synagogues bursting with lectures and classes of all types: Gemora, Halacha, Chumash Prophets, Chassidus, Kabbala, Mussar – there is something for everyone according to his interests and aptitude. There are Chizuk lines, Partners in Torah, Daf Yomi, Mishna Breura Yomi and Chofetz Chaim. We are privileged to hear a constant hum of learning going on in the world - over phone lines, fax lines, emails , CD’s, and MP3’s. There are Torah lectures and books in every language. There are countless Dinners and Parlor meetings to raise funds and honor those who support Torah institutions. There are beautiful Torah- based newspapers and magazines which also teach Torah. With all this, one might rightly want to know. What in the world is holding up the Redemption? If learning Torah is, as we’re told, the greatest mitzvah and equal to all the other mitzvahs combined. What more does G-d want from us?
Only with Emuna
The reason for our exile is nothing more than a lack of Faith. (Likutey Moharan, Torah 7). Likewise, the Midrash teaches: In the merit of their Faith, the Jews will be redeemed from exile (Tanchuma, BeShalach 10) Hashem wants more than intellectual Torah scholarship; he wants us to believe in what we learn even though we are living in a generation of hester panim, where Hashem is hidden. It is not the quantity of our learning but rather its quality that has not yet led to the wide-spread Emuna that is necessary to change the world.
This world was made to be misleading. Emuna is first and foremost an admission of our limitations within a universe that confronts us with mysteries that we simply can’t decipher. Emuna is our deep intuitive belief that the world is much more than we can see. Emuna is also an acceptance of the superior wisdom of the Torah without asking for proofs. A person with Emuna will feel catapulted into a new way of life with friends, family, career – everything.
Through learning the teachings of Rebbe Nachman in depth one begins to see through the falsehood and materialism of this world. Our Sages tell us that there is very little physicality in the world. The world is 99.99999% spiritual but we don’t see it. Imagine a watermelon, its 90% water but we only see the red because the water is hidden from us. Similarly a balloon contains mostly air; the thin rubber membrane is inconsequential. That’s why when we say that Hashem is Ain Ode Milvado, meaning that there is nothing more than Him alone, we are saying that we’re living in the middle of Hashem – He’s everything. What is the “ode”, the “more? It’s like asking a child to tell you the biggest number that he can think of. He tells you a billion. You ask him if he can think of still higher a number and he tells you a billion and one. “There is nothing “more” than Hashem means, in our example, that the physical part of the creation is much less than the “one” that the child added on to the billion – it’s less than microscopic particle and yet has a spiritual essence too which it needs to “exist”. The rest of the world is completely spiritual.
We are living in a spiritual world right here. There are also higher spiritual worlds that go in ascending order towards Hashem. The Bal HaTanya has an example. Imagine a tiny microscopic ray of light in the middle of the sun. The sun, in the example, is Hashem; the microscopic ray of light stands for all the created spiritual worlds plus the less than microscopic physical world that we live in combined. When we think of how great Hashem is and how small we (and our problems) are in comparison, we are humbled and we want to follow him, even blindly.
We can learn something more about how to end this exile by remembering how it started, through Sinas Chinam, senseless hatred between ourselves. What if someone told you that the Jewish people are all the different parts of one body and that the different parts of the same body don’t hate each other? The Tzemach Tzdek said we are all reincarnations of Adam, the first man. He said that the Sanhedrin, the court were Adam’s eyes because they had foresight, those who give Tzadaka are Adam’s hands, those who run to do mitzvas, his legs, and those who pray are his heart - but one cannot know this is true except with Emuna. The Tzemach Tzedek said something else that’s absolutely beautiful, but only someone with Emuna can enjoy it. He said that before we say the Shema we should think about “loving your friend as if he were you”. Why? He asks: what are we doing when we say the Shema? We are offering a Korbon, a sacrifice to Hashem. We are giving Hashem ourselves…we are willing to give up everything for him. Now if I don’t love my neighbor like myself, and even hate him then I just cut him off, but I just cut myself off too, because since we are one body he is one of my own limbs. Now I am a disqualified sacrifice because I’m missing a limb…I’ve lost my completeness because he is a part of me and I’m a part of him.
Bringing the Redemption
The Torah is not just another educational book to be read for intellectual enjoyment or in order to throw a big party when we finish it. We need to internalize the deep teachings of the Rebbe and other Chasidic masters in order to learn the Torah properly. Then we will see through the camouflaged and misleading world that we’re living in. That’s why Rebbe Nachman wants us to turn our learning into prayers. By praying to internalize what we learn we take it into our hearts and make it a part of our thoughts and actions. With Emuna we will bring the Redemption because we will fix the problem of senseless hatred and turn it into love and solidarity between people. As Rav Shalom Arush has said, when the senseless hatred that goes on between (our body-parts: Litvish, Chassidish, Sefardish, Mizrachi) comes to an end then Mashiach can come.
How easily and quickly this could happen if we remember that we are really living in a sea of spirituality and nothing else. Our spiritual habitat is extremely conducive to prayer if we know how to use it. It might be hard for me to move a refrigerator without wheels, using a dolly makes it much simpler and if I place it on a raft floating in the water then even a child can move it with one finger. We simply must pray for each other to be willing to take the plunge into the deep and satisfying sea of Emuna. Pray for Emuna in Hashem, His Torah, His Tzadikim and His Land. May we merit to believe in our ability to unite as a national body; see the ingathering of our people to Jerusalem, the Holy City and experience the rebuilding of our Holy Temple speedily in our days. Amen.
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Zev Ballen, LCSW has been a practicing psychotherapist for 32 years. He is licensed in Israel and the State of New York. Zev has the endorsements of prominent Gadolei Yisrael such as the Nikolsburger Rebba, Shlita, Reb Yitzchok Fagelstock, Shlita, The Kasaner Rebbe of Forshay, Shlita, Rav Shalom Arush, Shlita, and Rabbi Lazer Brody, Shlita. He resides with his family in Jerusalem where he learns in Rav Arush’s Kollel and maintains a part-time practice. You can write to Zev Ballen at: email@example.com call him at: 845-362-8600 (US line) or 054-840-9499 (Israeli line).