Dvar Torah for Parshat Shemini

A rendering of Likutey Halakhot, Tolaim 1 (abridged)

“And every creeping thing that creeps on the earth shall be an abomination; it shall not be eaten” (Leviticus 11:41).

WARNING! YOU MAY NOT WANT TO READ THIS WHILE YOU ARE EATING.

Worms, insects and vermin manifest the essence of the Serpent’s poison and filth. They are the poison and filth. This is why they have height, even as animals have. They have no feet. They crawl on the ground—“on your belly you will go” (Genesis 3:14). More than any other creature they are mired in the dirt, the Serpent’s element. Their prohibition is so severe and they are forbidden a few times over because they are so disgusting and filthy, literally the Serpent’s scum. They horribly infect the soul because they are the reverse of the soul’s holiness.

Because they are so disgusting and vile worms and vermin find their way into every sort of food and drink. They imbed themselves deeply and stick and stick and stick. It’s pure Serpent scum infesting all that’s sacred. They spoil whatever they enter, bringing decay and rot wherever they visit, to anything insufficiently unprotected. They are the lowest form of that sleazy lowlife, the damn fool Evil Inclination, his poison and filth. He swarms and infests anything holy, weighing a person down with depression and lethargy. Look how slow and heavy their motion is, how little vitality they have!

You have to be very careful to not let them get to your soul. They way this Evil Inclination swarms, sticks and infests—“Good Lord! There’s still more of them!”—makes it seem invincible. It’s not so. With a bit of foresight and strategy, attentiveness and initiative, it can be easily defeated. It’s weak, remember? At first, because they teem, it seems an impossible task, but just stay alert. The key is to nip them in the bud, to not let that first thought of laziness or apathy attach itself to your interest in a mitzvah, prayer or Torah study. One burst of energy to do—or think or say—a mitzvah will kill thousands and thousands of Evil Inclination vermin.

Ah, but what if your mind has already begun to spoil, if the rot of despairing thoughts or the decay of lazy sentiment always make the first move, have become the “fruit” of your mind? REBUKE THEM! Don’t give them room to grow. Don’t give them any outward expression. In its incipient stage it’s much easier to change a bad thought into good one. The trick is to not let it fester.

The prophet Elisha was so holy a fly never came to his table (Berakhot 10b). To benefit from his holiness, learn from the Shunamite woman.

Make an “attic” for the tzaddik, a place for him in your mind. The more the refined, holy tzaddik occupies your mind, the less abominable, sleazy scummy vermin will.

agutn Shabbos!

Shabbat Shalom!

© Copyright 2011 Breslov Research Institute

Author: Ozer Bergman

Ozer Bergman is an editor for the Breslov Research Institute, a spiritual coach, and author of Where Earth and Heaven Kiss: A Practical Guide to Rebbe Nachman's Path of Meditation.

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1 Comment

  1. The Parsha Shemini is about the completion of the inauguration of the Tabernacle. The number seven represents all things occurring within the natural construct of this finite world, while the number eight represents all things beyond nature, or infinity. According to Rashi, the eighth day was the day of re-establishing the eternal connection with the Almighty that we had lost when we stumbled and fumbled with the golden calf. Here at the beginning of this portion, we are witness to the momentous occasion of our reconciliation with our Creator, who is beyond all things natural and supernatural. Once Aaron had achieved atonement with the final offerings of the eighth day, the Shechina descended into full view and all of the people fell on their faces. G-d resumed His place among His people. Thus the Torah reminds us that we are a Holy people whose very existence as a nation is beyond nature. Therefore, the prime minister would do well to remember that G-d is the Guardian of Israel and that destroying Jewish homes gives the impression to our enemies that the Israeli government has abandoned the Jewish people who remain in Samaria leaving them at the mercy of the Arab cutthroats. The only way to prevent more killing is for the Israeli politicians to back up the Jewish heroes who are establishing their homes on Jewish land in the face of Arab hatred and, worse yet, Israeli government apathy. More at http://moshesharon.wordpress.com

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