Tuesday, January 27, 2015

On Hosting Torah Scholars

The following are three excerpts from Rabbi Nachman Goldstein of Tcherin’s Otzar ha-Yirah (Subtitle: Likutey Eitzos Hameshulosh), which is an expansion of Reb Noson’s Likutey Eitzos. The first two excerpts (found in the section “Hakhnosas Orchim,” 1-2) are taken from Likutey Moharan, while the third is a synopsis of ideas from Likutey Halakhos. This third teaching seems to shed light on those from Likutey Moharan, which imply that the Torah thoughts of true sages during their travels bring about various purifications. These spiritual benefits extend even to those who show them hospitality.
Translated by Dovid Sears

Likutey Moharan I, 28:
By welcoming true talmidei chakhomim (Torah scholars) into one’s home, one merits to attain faith and to destroy heresies. In this manner, we may elevate and rectify the “fallen” Torah teachings of unworthy scholars—those whom [the Zohar calls] “shedin yehuda’in” (“Jewish demons”). From them derives all opposition to those who fear G-d. Thus we merit to overcome all opponents.

Likutey Moharan I, 209:
Showing hospitality to Torah scholars accomplishes the perfection of prayer. For every person is guilty of “bad prayers,” which then confuse him when he stands up to pray a proper prayer. However, showing hospitality to a Torah scholar is a tikkun (spiritual remedy) for all this.

From Otzar ha-Yirah, “Tiltul u-Nesiyos la-Derakhim” (3):
There are “fallen” Torah teachings, which are in the category of “the air of the world” [i.e., the profane, as contrasted with the sacred]. However, they also contain hidden good—“holy sparks” of the Torah of Truth. And it is necessary to extricate the good within them and elevate it to the realm of holiness. This reflects the principle: “If you find a pomegranate, eat the inner contents and discard the husk” (Chagigah 15b).

This is the spiritual root of all the arduous journeys that people must undertake, when they are compelled to travel on the road and wander about and endure various hardships while they are away from home.

When one is on the road, it is as if he is in the “air of the world” [i.e., the realm of the profane]—for he is away from his established dwelling place [which has been sanctified by Torah, prayer and mitzvos]. But if he is worthy, he can extricate the hidden good in the “fallen” Torah teachings mentioned above, which are an aspect of the “air of the world,” and from them he builds structures of holiness.

This is the secret of the travels of the Children of Israel in the desert with the Mishkan (Tabernacle) and the Aron (Holy Ark) and the Luchos (Tablets); and there [in the desert] they were commanded all of the mitzvos of the Torah. This is why their journeys are written in the Torah—for all of their journeys actually created Torah.

This indicates the lofty level of showing hospitality to Torah scholars, as our sages have taught (see Berakhos 10a, 63b; Midrash Shmuel 18). When such a guest is traveling, this only occurs so that he may extricate the “fallen” Torah teachings. Afterwards, when he enters the home of his host and finds a resting place, he completes the “building” of wondrous spiritual structures, which are made out of the good that he collected and refined from the fallen Torah while he was on the road.

Thus, his journey was truly like that of the Holy Ark—for wherever a tzaddik goes, the Shekhinah (Immanent Divine Presence) and the Torah accompany him. For this reason alone did he set forth on his travels [i.e., to complete the Torah by refining and elevating the good contained in the fallen Torah teachings].

Therefore, whoever shows hospitality to such a guest actually provides a resting place for the Shekhinah and for the tzaddik, as well as for the Torah teachings that the tzaddik extricated. So it is that by showing hospitality to Torah scholars, one [has a share in] perfecting and elevating the fallen Torah teachings (based on Likutey Halakhos, Hil. Birkhas ha-Mazon 5:5-6; ibid. Hil. Shutfim 2:7).

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