Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Rabbi Yitzchok Ber of Teplik

Otzar Nachmani, sec. 208-209
From the collected talks of Rabbi Nachman Burstein, zatzal
[Also see R. Noach Sternfeld’s “Giduley ha-Nachal,” (Meshekh ha-Nachal: Jerusalem 1984), os yud, sec. 90, about R. Yitzchok Ber]
Translated by Dovid Sears, unedited

[Rabbi Nachman Burstein relates:]
Reb Yitzchok Ber of Teplik (who previously had lived in Terhovitz) used to spend the entire day in avodas Hashem. He prayed with deep deveykus (cleaving to G-d) and fervor, almost to the point of hispashtus ha-gashmiyus (the soul leaving the body; cf. Tur-Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 98)—to the point that he no longer sensed anyone near him.

Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Bender told how Reb Yitzchok Ber once when he came to the blessing “Ha-bocher bi-amo Yisrael bi-ahavah (Who chooses his nation Israel with love),” and wanted to recite immediately, “Shema Yisrael…” But due to the intensity of his deveykus and self-negation, he fainted, and his family had to revive him.

I also heard from Reb Levi Yitzchok that Reb Noson once told Reb Nachman Tulchiner, “Reb Yitzchok Ber davens with mesirus nefesh (self-negation)!”
[Re. mesirus nefesh in prayer, see Likutey Moharan I, 26 and 80; re. mesirus nefesh in thought, see L”M I, 193; DS.]

And Chazal state (Ta’anis 8a, in the name of Rabbi Ami): A person’s prayer is not answered until he “places his soul in his palm” [i.e., he puts his heart into his prayer completely; see Rashi, ad loc.).

Reb Levi Yitzchok spoke many times about Reb Yitzchok Ber’s great efforts in serving Hashem, beginning at chatzos (midnight), continuing through Minchah (the afternon prayer); during this time he was constantly occupied in Torah study and prayer and divine service. Then, it was impossible to speak with him at all. His holiness was so awesome that he was able to say every person must be holy the way Tefillin are holy – of which Chazal state in Berakhos 6a: It is written in the Tefillin of the Master of the Universe, “And who is like Your nation, Israel?” Thus, we find that the Holy Blessed One “boasts,” so to speak, in His Tefillin about the holiness of the Jewish people. So if, G-d forbid, any Jew were to blemish the holiness of the Jewish people, contrary to the divine will, this would effect the Tefillin of the Holy Blessed One—it might bring about a p’sul (invalidating defect) in the letters of these words, “And who is like Your nation, Israel?” For he would diminish, as it were, the pride that Holy Blessed One takes in them.

[Rabbi Nachman Burstein adds:]
I heard in the name of the Rav of Berditchev—or perhaps it was a different tzaddik—that he once overheard someone speak disparagingly about another Jew. The Rav reproached him, “Chalilah, chalilah! (Heaven forbid!) Don’t speak this way! For this would invalidate the Tefillin of the Master of the Universe, in which it is written, ‘And who is like Your nation, Israel?’” According to a different version of the story, he said, “Would you render invalid the Torah, Heaven forbid? Because each Jew corresponds to a letter in the Torah…”

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