Thursday, May 3, 2012

322 - Chol Hamoed Pesach - 7th Yahrtzeit

If we were asked to encapsulate all of Rav Wolbe's teachings in one sentence, the task would seem impossible. He wrote numerous seforim and gave thousands of discourses over the course of his life. How could one possibly summarize so much in one single sentence? However, Rav Wolbe himself did just that when he sat with a group of former talmidim.

He asked them to relay what they understood to be the focal point of all the discourses that they had heard during the years they had studied in his Yeshiva. Each student offered an opinion, but Rav Wolbe was not satisfied. "The message I was trying to convey in all my discourses" he said, "is that we should realize that ruchnius (spirituality) is no less a reality than gashmius (physicality)." For example, we must believe that just as eating something dangerous is detrimental to one's body, transgressing a commandment is at least as detrimental to one's soul. Conversely, performing a mitzvah does more for us (and the world around us) than the food we eat.

What can facilitate our achieving this realization? Rav Wolbe would often cite the Kuzari who explains that our imagination should play a vital role in our avodas Hashem. We should conjure up images of the momentous occasions in our rich history: Akeidas Yitzchok, Yetzias Mitzrayim, Krias Yam Suf, Kabbalas HaTorah. The list goes on and on. These occasions come to life and become more of a reality when we paint them in a picture, contemplate them and relive them to the best of our ability.

There is no better time to use our imagination than on the Yom Tov of Pesach. As the Ramban writes (in the end of Parshas Bo), Yetzias Mitzrayim is the foundation of our emunah since at that time it became clear to one and all Hashem's Omnipotence and Omnipresence. It behooves us to take some time this Yom Tov to picture the awesome miracles of Yetzias Mitzrayim: The Ten Plagues, the mass slaughtering of sheep (the Egyptian god) for the Korban Pesach, the exodus with each person leading ninety donkeys laden with bounty, the splitting of the sea and so on. The more we dwell on the picture and the more details we paint, the greater the effect on our emunah. If we can relive those moments, they will become a reality no less than the occurrences that happened to us just yesterday. This was Rav Wolbe's message to us and the key to living a more spiritually centered life!

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