Day 11 of the Omer

מְבָרְכִים רֹאשׁ חֹדֶשׁ אִיָר. אֲמִירַת כָּל הַתְּהִלִּים בְּהַשְׁכָּמָה. יוֹם הִתְוַעֲדוּת. הפטורה: הֲלוֹא כִּבְנֵי כוּשִׁיִים.

[On Shabbos Mevarchim, it is our custom] to recite the entire Book of Tehillim early in the morning and to hold a farbrengen on that day.

The haftarah begins Halo chivnei Chushi’im (Amos 9:7-15).1

מִשִּׂיחַת אַאַמוּ"ר: חֲסִידוּת מאָנט אַז וְרָחַץ אֶת בְּשָׂרוֹ בַּמַּיִם וּלְבֵשָׁם. דאָס הֵייסְט דִי הַשְׂכָּלָה פוּן חֲסִידוּת מוּז אוֹיסוואַשׁעֶן דעֶם בָּשָׂר, אוּן אַראָפּשְׁווֵיינקעֶן דעֶם אֶת בְּשָׂרוֹ, אֶת הַטָּפֵל לִבְשָׂרוֹ, דִי אַלעֶ רְגִילוּת'ן, וועֶלכעֶ בָּשָׂר מאַכט, אוּן דאַן קעֶן מעֶן עֶרשְׁט אָנטאָן דִי בִּגְדֵי קֹדֶשׁ. מַחֲשֶׁבֶת וְדִבּוּר חֲסִידוּת וְהַנְהָגָתָם שֶׁל חֲסִידִים בְּהִתְבּוֹנְנוּת קוֹדֶם הַתְּפִלָּה בִּגְדֵי קֹדֶשׁ הֵם, דאָס אִיז בְּגָדִים וועֶלכעֶ מעֶן האָט געֶגעֶבּעֶן מִן הַקֹּדֶשׁ, אָבּעֶר דעֶר וְרָחַץ בַּמַּיִם אֶת בְּשָׂרוֹ דאָס דאַרף מעֶן אַלֵיין. לְבוּשֵׁי הַנֶּפֶשׁ דאָס גִיט מעֶן מִלְמַעְלָה, אָבּעֶר אָפּוואַשׁעֶן דעֶם טָפֵל וואָס וועֶרט פוּן בְּשָׂרִיּוּת אוּן דעֶם בָּשָׂר אַלֵיין מאַכעֶן פאַר אַ בָּשָׂר קֹדֶשׁ, דאָס אִיז נאָר בְּכֹחַ עַצְמוֹ. אוּן דאָס מאָנט חֲסִידוּת, אוּן אוֹיף דעֶם האָט רַבֵּנוּ הַגָּדוֹל געֶהאַט מְסִירַת נֶפֶשׁ. עֶר האָט געֶעֶפעֶנט דעֶם צִנּוֹר פוּן מְסִירַת נֶפֶשׁ אוֹיף עֲבוֹדַת ה' בִּתְפִלָּה, זַיין צוּגעֶבּוּנדעֶן צוּ עַצְמוּת אֵין סוֹף, חֲסִידוּת שְׁטעֶלט אַוועֶק אַ חָסִיד פָּנִים אֶל פָּנִים צוּ עַצְמוּת אֵין סוֹף.

From a talk of my revered father, the Rebbe [Rashab]: Chassidus demands that [every individual in his Divine service should fulfill — in spiritual terms — the Torah’s instruction concerning the vestments of the Kohen Gadol, the High Priest],2 “He shall wash his flesh in water, and wear them.” This means that one’s contemplation on the conceptsof Chassidus must wash the flesh,and clean away “those matters that are adjuncts to one’s flesh”3 — all the habits that the body creates. Only then can one put on “holy garments.”

Thinking and speaking about Chassidus and following the chassidic practice of meditation before prayer — these are “holy garments.” They are garments bestowed by a holy source. To “wash [one’s] flesh in water,” by contrast, must be done by oneself. The garments of the soul are given from above, but washing away the extraneous elements that derive from material involvement, and furthermore transforming the flesh itself into “holy flesh” — this can be done only through one’s own efforts.4

This is what Chassidus demands and this is the goal for which the Alter Rebbe5 devoted his life.6 He opened up the channel of utter self-sacrifice to serve G‑d in prayer, to become bound to G‑d’s infinite Essence.7 Chassidus places a chassid face to face with G‑d’s infinite Essence.

Delving Deeply

R. Shlomo Chayim Kesselman, a well-loved mashpia,8 used to tell the following parable: A German count came to visit his cousin, a Russian nobleman, at the latter’s estate. Anxious to please his guest, the Russian summoned all of his chefs and ordered them to prepare their finest delicacies.

Now, one of these chefs was Jewish, and among the foods he prepared was the Jewish favorite — kishke, which is stuffed derma. The German count tasted all the dishes prepared for him, but most of all he enjoyed the kishke. He even asked for more, until he finished all that had been prepared for him.

“Can you get me the recipe?” he asked his host. The Russian nobleman was happy to oblige, and he hurried to get the recipe from the Jew.

On arriving home, the count gave the recipe to his chefs and asked them to prepare the dish. They duly took the intestines of a young calf, purchased the finest flourand spices, and prepared the delicacy with care. But when they brought it before the count, its odor was rank and its taste was foul.

Fuming, the count penned an express letter to his Russian cousin. Why had his chef mocked him? The Russian hastily summoned the Jew and demanded an explanation. Why had he given the German the wrong recipe?

The Jew explained that he had given the count the correct recipe, and that he was ready to travel to Germany and prepare the dish for the count himself. The Russian arranged for the journey, and in no time, the chef was busy making delicious kishke for his German host.

“Why couldn’t my chefs do this?” the count asked, eagerly cleaning his plate.

The Jew thought a moment and replied: “Derma means intestines. Tell me: did your chef wash them out first…?”


No matter how much we study and we pray, our Divine service will not be palatable — unless we first “wash the flesh.”