1. This Shabbos, the 22nd of Iyar, commemorates the first Shabbos that the Jews received the Manna in the desert and on this day the Divine directive was pronounced by Moshe:

You must realize that G‑d has given you the Shabbos and that is why He gave you food for two days on Friday. (Shmos 16:28)

The Torah describes this segment of the story of the Exodus thusly:

They moved on from Eilim, and the entire community of Israel came to the Sin Desert, between Eilim and Sinai. It was the 15th of the second month after they had left Egypt. (Shmos 16:1)

Rashi comments:

The day of this encampment is specifically mentioned because on that day there came to an end the cake (provisions) they had brought with them from Egypt and they now needed the Manna.... For the Manna fell for them on the 16th day of Iyar, which was the first day of the week just as is stated in the Talmud Shabbos. (Rashi, loc. cit.)

All occurrences that happened in connection with the Exodus carry a double message, because the Exodus was the birth of the Jewish people. So that, in addition to being part of Torah, every event and incident becomes very significant in teaching us important lessons for all generations.

How does the Gemara describe the events of that week:

They moved from Eilim, and the entire community of Israel came to the Sin desert, between Eilim and Sinai. It was the 15th of the second month after they had left Egypt (Shmos 16:1). Now that day was the Shabbos, for it is written, “and in the morning you will see G‑d’s glory” (Ibid.:7), and it is written, “You are to gather this food during the six weekdays” (Ibid.:26). (Shabbos 81b)

Rashi explains that on the day they arrived at the Sin desert they complained to Moshe that they had no more food and he promised them that on the morrow they would find the Manna. They were told to collect the Manna for six days — from Sunday till Friday — and that on the seventh day — Shabbos — they would not receive any Manna. So we see that the first day they received Manna was on a Sunday.

The Torah then goes on to relate that in fact they gathered Manna for six days — till the 21st of Iyar — and on that day:

What they gathered turned out to be a double portion of food, two omers for each person. All the leaders of the community came and reported it to Moshe. Moshe said to them, “This is what G‑d has said: ‘Tomorrow is a day of rest, G‑d’s holy Shabbos.’“ (Ibid.: 22,23)

Then when the day of Shabbos dawned — the 22nd of Iyar:

Moshe announced: “Eat it today, for today is G‑d’s Shabbos. You will not find anything in the field today.... You must realize that G‑d has given you the Shabbos....” (Ibid.: 25,29)

Thus, the 22nd of Iyar represented an important theme in the day of Shabbos — it was the first Shabbos in the period of receiving the Manna, of which Moshe emphasized, “You must realize that G‑d has given you the Shabbos.”

Coming to this important Shabbos it behooves us to once again relive the theme of that first Shabbos after leaving Egypt, when the Jews came to the realization of G‑d’s plan for Shabbos, as well as G‑d’s plan for the Manna.

In studying this episode we are faced with several questions which Rashi chooses to ignore.

Following the order of the verses we find:

1) The first appearance of the Manna:

Then in the morning, there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the layer of dew evaporated, there were little grains all over the surface of the desert. It looked like fine frost on the ground. The Israelites looked at it and had no idea what it was. “What is it?” they asked one another. Moshe said to them, “This is the bread that G‑d is giving you to eat.” (Ibid.:13-15)

2) After describing the initial experience with the Manna, the Torah goes on to relate the details of what happened on the first Friday and Shabbos. (See above v. 22-30.)

3) Only then does the Torah relate:

The family of Israel called the food Manna. It looked like coriander seed except that it was white. It tasted like a honey doughnut. (Ibid.:31)

4) Then Moshe tells them:

This is what G‑d has commanded: Fill an omer measure with the Manna as a keepsake for your descendants. They will then see the food that I fed you in the desert when I brought you out of Egypt. (Ibid.:32)

The sequence of the story seems to be distorted. The description of the Manna and the name given to the Manna should have been related to us at the outset. Why does the Torah wait till after relating the incidents of Friday and Shabbos — that they rested and did not gather manna on Shabbos — to describe the Manna to us?

Similarly, the commandment to set aside a jar of Manna as a keepsake should have come on the first day that the Manna fell, not after the first Shabbos!

Rashi of course explains when the keepsake was eventually used:

In the days of Yirmeyahu: Yirmeyahu was rebuking them, saying, “Why not engage yourselves with Torah?” And they answered him, “Shall we leave our work and engage ourselves with Torah? From where shall we earn a living?” He brought out to them the jar of Manna and said to them, “See the thing of the L‑rd.” It is not said, “Hear the word” but “see the thing” — this thing is what your fathers were fed with. The Omnipresent G‑d has many messengers to provide food for those who fear Him. (Rashi, v. 32)

Although there are places in Scripture where the narrative is interrupted to describe a tangential matter, that would only be the case if it were necessary to better understand the story at hand — this seems not to be the case here, so why the strange sequence?

Here, however, we must say that the verses are in the proper chronological sequence, which leaves us a bit bewildered as to the meaning of the order.

The answer lies in understanding the step-by-step development of the Manna experience.

When the Manna first appeared the people did not imagine how, or if, it would go on. After five days of gathering one omer daily; and one day on which they gathered two omers; and then the first Shabbos when nothing was gathered, they began to perceive the routine of the miracle of the Manna. So, back on the first day the Jewish people had simply expressed their wonder — “What is it” — and they waited to see what would happen. After the complete cycle of one week went by, they realized what it was and became accustomed to the Manna. Then the people could give it a name, they called it “Manna,” and the Torah could describe it for us. They knew all there was to know.

Even the storage of the Manna as a keepsake could not be done until all the details were discovered. Only then could the Manna be stored as a lesson for future generations.

Thus, the first Shabbos had to pass in order to complete the cycle and meaning of the Manna. Chassidic philosophy also indicates that although the Manna did not fall on Shabbos in the corporeal world, in the spiritual realm, the origin of Manna and its bestowal on the world, is closely related to the theme of the blessing of Shabbos. (See Torah Or, Beshallach 65:3.)

Being that today is the 22nd of Iyar it is appropriate that we should garner some lesson from the total Manna experience for our Divine service.

The Manna in its time provided all the physical needs of man. Both the essential, basic human needs as well as luxuries and pleasures.

As their substantive food, this “bread from heaven” provided their basic sustenance, “bread that sustains man’s heart” (Tehillim 104:15).

At the same time it provided an aspect of delicacy and delight, for it tasted like “honey doughnuts” — “dough cooked in honey” (Rashi), a real delicacy. Moreover, the Gemara says that the Manna had the potential to satisfy a craving for various foods by assuming the desired taste. (See Yoma 75a and Shmos Rabbah 5:25.) So that all the most pleasurable tastes imaginable could be experienced by eating the Manna.

But the Gemara also says that the source of pleasure provided by the Manna did not stop with its various tastes. For “along with the Manna there rained down for the Jews precious stones and pearls” (Yoma, ibid.).

Thus, Manna represents the sum total of G‑d’s benevolence from Above, down to the Jewish people, in all their material needs. All in a pleasurable and bountiful way.

What does this teach us for our generation and in our time.

The Manna was given to the Jewish people for a limited period of time — the 40 years they spent wandering in the desert. Yet, at the same time, G‑d commanded Moshe to store away a jar of Manna as a keepsake for all future generations. The purpose was to teach all the generations, till the time of Mashiach, that we have the potential and ability to reach a degree of involvement in Torah to the point that we no longer need worry about material needs — for the Holy One, Blessed be He, cares for all our needs. The Omnipotent bestows upon us His blessings to care for all our needs, in children, health, long life, and abundant livelihood, all of these blessings in abundance, with bounty and pleasure.

And, although so many years have gone by since the Manna, and now we stand in the generation “at the end of the galus,” there is still this aspect of a keepsake for the generations. Each Jew, at all times, should be able to actually live like those who ate the Manna, who studied Torah, and were taken care of by the Holy One, Blessed be He, by giving them bread from Heaven. And we speak clearly of down-to-earth things, the real corporeal needs of the individual.

This phenomenon must take on a visible and tangible existence and truly enhance the person’s position. The later generations must not just hear about it, but they must see the word of G‑d and its accomplishment. As Yirmeyahu told the people, “See the thing of G‑d.”

There are important incidents in our history which we have a responsibility to remember, for example: we must remember the splitting of the Red Sea; we do not have the actual miracle now — we only have the memory that at the time of the Exodus the sea split and the Jewish people crossed the sea.

But in the case of the Manna, since the Torah calls it a “keepsake,” this indicates more than just remembering, for the Manna itself still exists in that jar which Yirmeyahu showed to the people. And although it was sequestered (Yoma 52b) and we may not know its present whereabouts, we do know that it still exists!

This also points out how important this keepsake is for G‑d. The nature of Manna is to spoil after one day, but the jar of Manna continues to last indefinitely and eternally, a miraculous change in the nature of the Manna.

It should also be emphasized that the existence and physical presence of that jar of Manna actually provides the conduit by which the potential for Divine service on the level of “those who ate the Manna and were provided for by G‑d in all their needs,” receive their blessings.

In describing for us the wondrous nature of the Manna, the Midrash relates:

Each Israelite could taste therein anything he particularly liked.... They were even spared the utterance of their wish, for G‑d fulfilled the thought still in their heart and they tasted their hearts’ desire. (Shmos Rabbah 25:3)

Normally one must, pray for, and request — verbalize — his hearts desire, which in turn, engenders the benevolence from Above. And sometimes that blessing does not come in the exact form the petitioner had in mind, for the process of Tzimtzum (restriction or condensation) can sometimes interfere and introduce modifications or roadblocks. Then a redoubled effort is needed — more prayer and supplication — to actually receive the blessings.

Chassidus explains that the Kohanic blessings had the special quality of immediate benevolence, which was also the case when the staff of Aharon bloomed overnight. It needed a special act (to be placed in the Sanctuary) but occurred quickly.

The blessing of the Manna however was exceptional in that as soon as a person had the desire in his mind, it was granted by G‑d and instantaneously he felt the longed-for taste. The reason for this was that all the potential blessings were already included in the Manna whenit fell. There was no need to pray again for some additional benevolence. It had just to be revealed by the process of desiring in his heart.

Both the jar of Manna and the staff of Aharon were sequestered in the Mishkan. One showed the ability to receive G‑d’s blessing quickly and the other showed that certain blessings are instantaneous and must only be revealed.

Thus, the presence of the jar of Manna shows us that every Jew has the potential to receive “bread from Heaven” with all the desired fringe benefits.

The true inner desire of every Jew is to do all the commandments of G‑d, as the Rambam rules. And the desire of the Holy One, Blessed be He, is for the redemption to come, as the Gemara says:

The Holy One, Blessed be He, repents that He had created...the exile. (Sukkah 52b)

and the heavenly voice proclaims:

Woe to the Father who had to banish His children. (Berachos 3a)

It is self-evident that the Jewish people also express the intrinsic desire for redemption. If so, all we have to do is desire in our hearts and, like the Manna, G‑d will satisfy our cravings immediately! And the redemption will be realized through our righteous Mashiach, when the jar of Manna will be revealed and Moshe, the first redeemer, will also be the ultimate redeemer. Not only will this come speedily but it will occur without any special supplications, just the true, intense, inner desire in our hearts for the redemption. And, as the previous Rebbe expressed it: “We must only polish the buttons on our uniforms” and we will march out to greet our righteous Mashiach, may he come and lead us “walking upright,” speedily and truly in our time.

2. This Shabbos follows Lag BaOmer and thereby effects perfection and completion in all the days of the concluding week, including the theme of the special day of Lag BaOmer, the Hillula of R. Shimon bar Yochai.

By Divine Providence we will find a common theme in the Manna and in the life of R. Shimon bar Yochai.

As we have seen, the Manna represented the loftiest spiritual forces, “bread from Heaven.” Yet at the same time the Manna fell to the earth to give physical sustenance to the Jewish people.

In the Rashbi’s life we will also find two extremes. On the one hand, Rashbi attained the loftiest levels, and on the other hand, he operated and functioned on the most elementary level.

Rashbi attained the lofty state of “Torah was his occupation,” far beyond the worldly existence. In his Torah study he concentrated on the esoteric teachings of the “inner” Torah, symbolic of “Shabbos” of Torah. True, every scholar is compared to the level of “Shabbos,” above worldly corporeality, yet, among the scholars, Rashbi was seen as the “Shabbos” of scholars, because of his association with the esoteric teachings of Torah. In fact, Rashbi was so exalted that the Zohar says of him:

Who then is the “face of the L‑rd”? None other than R. Shimon bar Yochai. (Zohar II, p. 38b)

And yet we find that he involved himself in rectifying the world. So much so, that when he emerged from the cave:

“Since a miracle has occurred,” said he, “let me go and amend something.” (Shabbos 33b)

Contemplate this!

After 13 years in the cave Rashbi had risen to the loftiest levels of Torah knowledge. The Gemara relates that R. Pinchas ben Yair was extremely pained when he saw the physical condition of Rashbi after the privation of the years in the cave. And yet Rashbi exclaimed:

“Happy are you that you see me in such a state,” he retorted, “for if you did not see me in such a state you would not find me this learned.” For originally when Rashbi raised a difficulty, R. Pinchas b. Yair would give him thirteen answers, whereas subsequently when R. Pinchas b. Yair raised a difficulty, R. Shimon bar Yochai would give him 24 answers. (Shabbos 33b)

This means that in merit of the suffering he endured in the cave his Torah knowledge rose to amazing levels — immeasurably higher than his previous state. Whereas previously he asked questions, now he gave answers! Answers on the level of the innermost secrets of the Torah!

And yet, what did he find most important to get involved in upon leaving the cave? Not Torah, but finding a remedy for a worldly problem!

This is because the end purpose of learning is action!

And this action could deal with the simplest and most elementary aspects of the world.

The Gemara relates that R. Shimon bar Yochai once sent his son, Eliezer, to someone for a blessing and R. Eliezer thought that the blessing sounded like a malediction. The Rashbi, however, explained that in fact his words were all blessing, because he saw the inner meaning of the words and even on so low a level he could find the loftiest concepts. Just as the warnings and curses of the portion Bechukosai are really blessings in disguise! Chassidus explains, that they are similar to the “blessings” which were given to R. Eliezer — blessings from the hidden levels, much higher and much loftier. All this was accomplished with the power of Rashbi.

Thus, we see how concerned Rashbi was to deal with worldly matters, to go down to the lowest levels and to convert what ostensibly appears to be negative forces — into open blessings, on a much higher plane.

R. Shimon bar Yochai’s intrinsic theme was the esoteric knowledge of Torah — the book of Zohar. Chassidus uses the metaphors “Shabbos” and “bread from Heaven” when referring to his teachings. Thus he drew down into the everyday world the esoteric aspects of Torah for all to study.

The Hillula of Lag BaOmer accentuates this point, for it has become a holiday which all Jews celebrate.

Similarly, many of R. Shimon bar Yochai’s customs have been accepted and are regularly observed by all factions of Jews, not just Kabbalists. This is in keeping with R. Akiva’s dictum that Ahavas Yisrael is a basic rule of Torah, and so Rashbi revealed the hidden secrets of Torah for all Jews.

Although in his days the secret teachings of Torah could only be revealed to his close circle of disciples, nevertheless, it was he who opened the channels and set the stage for these teachings to be disseminated later, so that in our generation it is a mitzvah to spread these teachings, especially as they are metamorphosed in the philosophy of Chassidus.

The universality of the Zohar is accentuated when we remember the words of Raya Mehemna:

With this work of yours, which is the Book of Splendor (Sefer HaZohar)...Israel will taste of the tree of life, and through which they will leave their exile with mercy. (Zohar III, 124b; Iggeres Hakodesh 26)

In other words, everyone who has a connection to the redemption has a connection to the Zohar.

When the secrets of Torah are revealed by Rashbi they are seen, just as the teaching of Mashiach will be visualized. That is why in the Talmud the common rejoinder is “Come and hear,” while in the Zohar the expression goes: “Come and see.” For seeing something is more convincing than hearing of something.

This power of vision will be prevalent at the time of the redemption, when:

And the glory of the L‑rd shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the L‑rd has spoken it. (Yeshayahu 40:5)

A visual revelation which will be perceived by all flesh, penetrating to the essence of their existence.

There is also a connection between the Manna, this Shabbos and the first maamar in Likkutei Torah. At first glance it seems strange that Likkutei Torah, which basically covers the section of Pentateuch from Vayikra to Devarim, should start with a discourse on Beshallach. Torah Or covers the book of Shmos, not Likkutei Torah?!

However, the first maamar in Likkutei Torah begins with the verse: “You must realize (see) that G‑d has given you the Shabbos,” which Moshe announced on this Shabbos, that culminated the first week of receiving the Manna — bread from Heaven. For this reason, when a new revelation of Chassidus — “bread from Heaven” — came into being with the publication of Likkutei Torah, it was appropriate to lead off with a maamar that discusses the phenomenon of the spirituality of Shabbos connected with the Manna.

May everyone increase the study of Chassidus starting with Likkutei Torah. And may it take on the aspect of visuality which will bring the revelation of Mashiach and we will merit the revelation of the inner secrets of the Torah — the teachings of Mashiach. When the actual Eden will be revealed, which until then is sequestered, as it says:

Neither has the eye seen, G‑d, besides You. (Yeshayahu 64:3)

The study of Chassidus will also create a conduit for all the blessings of G‑d to be bestowed in the physical world, for children, health and long life, abundant sustenance; great abundance in all these matters.

And may the main blessing come, the true and complete redemption through our righteous Mashiach, for the complete nation, with the complete Torah and mitzvos and the complete land, speedily and truly in our time and with joy and glad hearts.

* * *

3. At the close of the second reading section in this week’s portion we find the verse:

..and [I will] establish My covenant with you. (Vayikra 26:9)

Rashi’s commentary on this verse raises several troubling questions. Rashi states:

A new covenant; not like the covenant which you broke (by worshiping the golden calf) as it is said “I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Yehudah. Not according to the covenant....” (Yirmeyahu 31:31-32) (Rashi, loc. cit.)

This Rashi seems to break several of Rashi’s self-established rules.

A — Rashi normally cites only the words which he goes on to explain, if so, why does Rashi quote the whole clause: “and [I will] establish My covenant with you”? He goes on to modify only the word, “(My) covenant”?!

B — The verse seems to be self-explanatory without additional commentary, what bothered Rashi and motivated him to elaborate?

C — The explanation that the covenant referred to here is not the original covenant seems out of place, for the simple intent of the verse seems to be that G‑d will establish the original covenant — of which the five-year-old Chumash student has already learned. He remembers that G‑d made a covenant with the Jewish people at Matan Torah. In this portion too, the Torah refers to the covenant of Yaakov, Yitzchok and Avraham, etc. Rashi seems to feel that the simple import of the verse is somehow not sufficient, and he goes on to adjust it. Looking for another covenant, he must refer us to the book of Yirmeyahu! Why?

D — The verb used in our verse (establish) would seem to indicate the establishment of the existing covenant — if not, the Scripture should use the same verb used in Yirmeyahu: to make (or pledge) a new covenant.

Moreover, by citing the word “I will establish” Rashi seems to be undermining his own interpretation, that its speaks of a new covenant.

Let us first contemplate a perplexing “klotz-kashe” which glares at the five-year-old Chumash student.

The plain meaning of the words “I will establish My covenant” is that G‑d will fulfill the promise which He gave to the Patriarchs and to our ancestors. As such, this assurance should be stated at the outset. After telling us:

If you follow My laws and are careful to keep My commandments,

then, the Torah should have said:

I will establish My covenant,

and then,

I will provide you with rain at the right time,

followed by all the other blessings enumerated in this chapter.

However, after having listed all the promised blessings including the blessing “I will turn to you,” which Rashi expanded on to mean:

I will turn away from all My business in order to pay you your reward,

the loftiest of benedictions, what sense is there in saying now, “and I will establish My covenant?”

Unless — these words come to add something even more wonderful and rewarding than all the aforementioned blessings!

So, Rashi reasons these words must refer to some superblessings — above and beyond all the classic rewards! What could that be? A new covenant!

But why pledge a new covenant if the old agreement still stands, and what can the new covenant add to the blessing of “I will turn away etc.... to pay you your reward”?

In answer to these questions Rashi states:

Not like the covenant which you broke,... but a new one which you will not break.

The five-year-old Chumash student sees that we are in galus — why did G‑d exile the Jewish people after pledging a covenant with us? Probably because we did not keep our part of the deal! [If the child has been taught stories of Jewish history he will be familiar with such events.]

He also knows this from his own experience. As much as he promises his teachers and parents, and his own good impulse, that he will study diligently, he knows that there are times when he fails to keep his word.

The new covenant, however, will be one that only G‑d has to honor; which He will! And the Holy One, Blessed be He, will establish it, and it will never be broken.

Rashi therefore quotes the verses from Yirmeyahu, spoken at the time of the exile, after the Jews had broken their promise, in which G‑d pledges a new promise.

Knowing, however, that all of the fundamental principles of Torah must be found in the Torah of Moshe, Rashi directs the five-year-old Chumash student to the understanding that after all of G‑d’s blessings there will be a greater reward and blessing — that of a new, unbreakable covenant prophesied by Moshe — “And I will establish My covenant”!

Not to comment on this verse, Rashi would be remiss, because clearly it is out of context here, and so Rashi says it speaks of a new covenant. Why does the Torah use the words “I will establish”? to show that the main quality of the new over the old is the fact that G‑d will do all the action necessary.

For this reason Rashi must cite all the words in the clause — it will be established and not broken by you.

* * *

4. This week we study chapter five of Pirkei Avos which concludes with the Mishnah:

He used to say: At five years of age, the study of Scripture [should be commenced]; at ten — the study of Mishnah...at one hundred.... (Avos 5:22)

We have often discussed the concept that the main thrust of Pirkei Avos is to teach “Mili d’Chassidusa” — matters which lead to piety. This means that the adages of Avos must teach a Jew how to live and act piously beyond the basic halachic requirements. For this reason we study Avos during the weeks preceding Shavuos as a preparation for receiving the Torah. As the Midrash teaches us:

The duty of Derech Eretz (piety and exemplary moral conduct) precedes the Torah. (Vayikra Rabbah 9:3)

Proper behavior in a pious manner is a preparation for Torah. “When the teacher is like an angel of G‑d then seek Torah from his lips” (cf. Moed Katan 17a).

With this in mind the ten-year-old Mishnah student ponders: What manner of sublimepiety can we find in the words of the Tanna who tells us that the five-year-old child should study Chumash, the ten-year-old, Mishnah, etc.? Is this not the basic rule of Halachah, without any added saintliness?

Coming as it does at the conclusion of the five chapters of Avos [the sixth chapter is an added chapter of Beraisa] it would seem that certainly here, in the summation, the aspect of piety should be stressed.

Several individual segments of this mishnah have been explained in the past in a way that highlights the theme of piety (more than the minimum requirement), e.g. “at thirteen — the obligation to observe the mitzvos,” means that age alone should be the criterion for mitzvah observance even without the concomitant signs of physical maturity.

This approach is not satisfactory, for it causes us to seek an individual explanation for each case of the mishnah. Certainly there must be some common, blanket explanation which will illuminate the aspect of piety in all details of the mishnah.

The Explanation:

In each case enumerated by the mishnah: five year old, ten year old, etc., we may find a mode of execution which strictly adheres to the letter of the law, and we can likewise find a manner of fulfillment which goes over and above the minimum requirement. Thus, when we read “He used to say” — we are to understand that the Tanna taught us to seek out and apply the manner of piety in carrying out the particular directive.

Take for example the five-year-old Chumash student:

A five-year-old may simply be a “good boy” in school by learning well and behaving properly out of fear of the “rod.” The expert teacher of course never has to resort to punishment; just pointing to the “strap” is enough. For the wise child a hint suffices.

And yet, that same five-year-old Chumash student can also act in a more pious manner — not out of fear, but out of true thirst for Torah — so that when he returns home, despite his weariness, he shows that he is enthused by his studies of Chumash and he runs to his mother to repeat for her what he learned in school that day, about Avraham or Yitzchok, and so on. His own conduct is full of grace and he brings refreshing joy to his parents — who will be further motivated by their own child. He will even cause his teacher to be more pious for he will request of his teacher to be a living example of how one is to be saintly and pious — a true chassid! He beseeches his teacher:

Teach me the wonders of Rashi. Show me how to combine the Aleph and the Kamatz (vowel) to create the first syllable of Anochi — I am your G‑d. (See Likkutei Dibburim III, 326a, et passim)

Similarly, in each of the segments of this mishnah we can find the basic halachah, as well as the “matters of piety.” “He used to say” means, look for the higher aspects and act in a saintly manner.

We should keep in mind that many modes of conduct and forms of observance, which in the earlier generations were considered to be acts of piety, have been incorporated into the body of Halachah as requirements, and therefore we must strive to reach even higher levels of saintliness.

5. In today’s section of Rambam we may direct our analysis to deal not with matters which are prohibited, rather with the rejection of luxury and pleasure.

Among Chassidim there is an oft-quoted aphorism:

That which we must not, is out of the question, but that which we may, we should not.

Certainly, one who was educated in Yeshivah Tomchei Temimim should be on the plane of “I don’t even need it.”

If you are concerned about your role in purifying the “lost holy sparks” — you can accomplish the same through Torah study.

And if you refer to the admonition of the Yerushalmi: “It is enough to prohibit that which the Torah prohibited.” Your advice is not to place a prohibition on all luxury — just don’t do it.

And if your Torah learning is not satisfactory and does not solve all your problems, then follow the rule that a Jew must learn the entire Torah — when you do so you will surely find the portions of Torah which bring complete healing and satisfaction to you.