Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Segula from Reb Chaim of Volozhin

Today, 14 Sivan, is the yartzeit of Reb Chaim of Volozhin ZY"A, talmid muvhak of the Vilna Gaon ZY"A. Every day I try to learn a little from the seforim of the tzadikim whose yartzeit it is. This morning I was learning Reb Chaim's famous sefer Nefesh HaChaim and learnt this famous piece from him. It can be found in Shaar 3, Chapter 12.

 

Reb Chaim of Volozhin says it is an "Inyan Gadol V'Segula Niflah" to erase and cancel "harsh judgements" if one implants in his heart that Hashem is the True G-d andאֵין עוֹד מִלְּבַדּוֹ (Devarim 4:35) – there is no power except for Hashem. If one does this, Hashem may help him through "natural" means are supernatural means, as the Gemara (Taanis 25a) says that Rebbi Chanina ben Dosa wife didn't have oil to light the Shabbos candles, but had vinegar, which miraculously stayed lit, to which he said: "the One who tells the oil also told the vinegar to burn".

 

There is a well known story of the Brisker Rov, a descendant of Reb Chaim Volozhiner, who concentrated on the words "Ein Od Milvado" and was able to escape the Nazis y's in this manner. Only when he lost his concentration was he noticed by the Nazis. As soon as he regained his concentration, he turned "invisible" again.

 

I was actually thinking of this a few weeks ago in connection with the article I wrote on the Degel Machane Ephraim. There it is mentioned the concept of imagining that when serving Hashem, it should be as if there is no one else but you and Hashem. I understand this as being the same as what the Nefesh HaChaim is saying. Nobody else in the Degel can mean absolutely nothing else – no other person, power or anything else - only Hashem. Also mentioned was the concept of Hashem being "One", which is the letter "Aleph" and also stands for "Alufo Shel Olam". There is a fascinating connection here. The letter "Aleph" spelled out in Hebrew is אלף, which has a numerical value of 111. The first letters of א׳ֵין ע׳וֹד מִ׳לְּבַדּו also equal 111.

 

There is much more to write but time doesn't allow for it now. No sefer needs by recommendation, but I have gained much from the little that I have learnt in Nefesh HaChaim and Degel Machane Ephraim and would encourage everyone to learn these Seforim HaKedoshim.

 

May the merit of

Reb Chaim ben Reb Yitzchok

protect us and all of Klal Yisroel.

3 comments:

A Simple Jew said...

A Talmid: Why in particular do you feel so attached to Degel Machaneh Ephraim? Do you feel this way more so than to other seforim you have learned?

Michoel said...

Shoyach! I have a regular seder in Nefesh HaChaim and didn't realize that yesterday was the yartzeit.

A Talmid said...

ASJ-

First of all, Degel is one of the earliest sources for teachings of the Baal Shem Tov. Also, although I'm sure everything he writes can also have very deep meanings, the pieces are usually "easier" reading. What I saw in the sefer that got me more into it was that a typical piece will show a remez from a posuk that teaches us a way to serve Hashem in way, even if this has nothing to do with the subject at hand.

There are many seforim I like to learn but I would say from the Chassidish seforim this is one I find dear. I also tend to like seforim of tzadikim whose kevarim I go to, such as the Degel.