I was always jealous of those who went to Rav Ovadia Yosef. When he gave brachos, they were usually accompanied by a slap in the face. I always wanted one of those, and such a thing doesn’t occur in the Ashkanazi world.
Well, I was wrong.
This week, I made a quick trip to Yerushaliyim to see a certain Chassidish rav. After speaking to him, he stood up, put his hands on my head, gave me several brachos, and continued to slap me around as he did so.
It felt good.
So good, that I started doing it to my children. It feels good for me, not so much for them.
Okay, on to Torah!
One of the more popular things about the Parah Adumah (red heifer), is that it seems to be a bit of a contradiction. When burned into ashes and sprinkled on a person who has been ritually impure from contact with the dead, it makes the impure person pure, yet the pure individuals who make it, become impure.
This, says Rav Pincus, is a basis in our spiritual lives. The times that we are spiritually on the rise, are the times that we are most susceptible to a spiritual downfall. And the times that we are on a spiritual low, we have the greatest opportunity to grow.
Rav Pincus compares this to a person who has a clean, white shirt. After several days of wearing it, small spots of this dirt or that sauce appear on the shirt. However, they’re small and not really recognizable, so the person can continue to wear the shirt. Then, one day, the person starts getting bothered by them, and attempts to clean them off. So, he gets a wet cloth and starts rubbing away. What happens? Those small stains begin to spread out more from all the wiping. Now the shirt looks worse than it did before!
During the year, we pick up spots here and there. However, the shirt is generally clean and we don’t focus on them. This enables us to continue on and move forward. However, there are certain times, such as the months of Tammuz (which we just entered) and Av, where we start to notice those spots and start to worry about them. At this point, things begin to get a bit dangerous. By focusing on those spots, one risks making things even worse. While acknowledging our sins is one thing, putting too much focus and emphasis on them, can easily lead one to depression and descent. And from here, the pure can become impure.
The goal during this time of the year is to recognize that we have spots, see what caused those spots to begin with, and come up with a plan not to attract any more spots to our spiritual shirt. But, let’s not focus too much on the spots, because we run the real risk of making the rest of the shirt dirty as well.
Have a great Shabbos!