Post by Deleted on Jun 7, 2015 9:41:03 GMT -5
The Torah tells us, "And Jacob left Beer Sheva and he went to Haran." Rashi says that the Torah could have sufficed by saying, "And Jacob went to Haran." So why did the Torah have to mention that Jacob left Beer Sheva? Rashi explains that a righteous man's exit from a place leaves an impression; as long as the righteous man - the tzaddik - is present, he is the beauty and the splendor of a place. When he leaves, the beauty and the splendor leave as well.
Rashi teaches us that the tzaddik is a focal point of sublime splendor and holiness wherever he happens to be. Without the tzaddik, a place lacks the beauty of splendor and holiness. Rebbe Nachman says the same (see Likutei Moharan II:67), but goes even further when he says that the tzaddik is the splendor and the beauty of the entire world. Once the world discovers the beauty of the tzaddik, its eyes are opened. Any person who becomes attached to this tzaddik attains an ability to truthfully see the world in general, and himself in particular. Rebbe Nachman adds that a person who connects to the tzaddik is also able to assess his own character development and to fathom Hashem's magnitude.
We can surmise from the words of Rashi and Rebbe Nachman that connecting to the true tzaddik opens our eyes and enables us to see the beauty and splendor of the world in general and of Torah and mitzvoth specifically. By enabling us to see ourselves and our character development, the connection to the tzaddik is conducive to personal growth and refinement. The tzaddik helps the latent Divine spark within each of us to illuminate in brightness.
We can now understand how some people can learn Torah all day long, yet they're so depressed that they can't overcome the slightest evil inclination. The Gemara promises that learning Torah is the antidote to the evil inclination, so what's wrong with this person? The answer is that he learns Torah without having any connection to a true tzaddik. As such, he doesn't benefit from the genuine taste, illumination and beauty of the Torah. He can't internalize what he learns and put it to practice.
A person might consider himself a big tzaddik who needs no help from anyone; but once he sees a true tzaddik, he sees how sorely deficient he is in so many areas. Once connected to a true tzaddik, a person can realistically evaluate himself. Rebbe Nachman teaches (see Likutei Moharan I:7) that in order to obtain emuna, one must obtain truth; and in order to obtain truth, one must be connected to the true tzaddikim.
Truth and emuna are the basis of the good life, and to obtain them, one must be connected to a tzaddik. Truth and emuna are the foundations of upright character; their opposites - lies and heresy - are the basis of corrupt character. Corrupt character is the source of a person's suffering and troubles, when he's full of anger, jealousy, hatred and revenge - all of which can be traced back to his lack of emuna and failure to clarify the truth.
We can now understand Rashi's elaboration of how a tzaddik has such a profound influence on a place. A person's happiness and success depends on his ability to accept and learn the valuable lessons of life that the true tzaddik can teach him. The tzaddik opens up our spiritual eyes, enabling us to see the exquisite internal light and splendor of Torah and mitzvoth, and helps us attain emuna and get close to Hashem.
Rebbe Nachman continues in the above teaching and emphasizes that the solidity of one's connection with a true tzaddik depends on maintaining personal holiness, particularly guarding the eyes. One who blemishes personal holiness ends up as an adversary who opposes the tzaddik. Consequently, all the good things we have just spoken about - emuna, truth, connection to the tzaddik and being able to properly assess oneself - all depend on guarding our eyes.
King David highlights the importance of guarding our eyes. He says in Psalm 73 that he's always with Hashem; in Psalm 25, he remarks that his eyes are always looking to Hashem. In both of these expressions, he is telling us that he guards his eyes always - otherwise, he couldn't be looking to and clinging to Hashem. By "looking to Hashem", his eyes are open spiritually. Spiritually-opened eyes necessitate not looking at the material world, especially anything that triggers or fuels one's lust for women.
While closing one's eyes, one must cling to Hashem. If he doesn't, he merely clings to his own ego. Such a person tells himself what a holy tzaddik he is and how he's better than everyone else. That's why King David says in Psalm 16, "I place Hashem before me always" - again, always. One who doesn't see Hashem sees his own inflated ego.
Arrogance is the father of spiritual impurity. Rebbe Nachman teaches (Likutei Moharan I:130) that arrogant people are blemished in the area of personal holiness. Maybe on the outside, he seems to be guarding his eyes, but on the inside, he's far from holiness. As soon as someone says, "What are you, a fanatic? Wake up and join the 21st Century, Mister Holier-than-Thou!" - he stops guarding his eyes. Why? He guarded his eyes to gain people's respect, so as soon as they stop respecting him, he stops guarding his eyes. That means that he definitely was not clinging to or thinking about Hashem when he was guarding his eyes, and therefore was easily deterred.
With all the above in mind, the way to personal holiness is by clinging to Hashem rather than clinging to one's own ego. May we all succeed, amen!