Day 18 of the Omer

הפטורה: וַיְהִי דְבַר גו' הֲלִדְרוֹשׁ אוֹתִי.

[On Shabbos Parshas Kedoshim,] the haftarah begins Vayehi dvar…halidrosh osi (Yechezkel 20:2-20).1

אֵין שׁוֹתִים מַיִם קוֹדֶם הַבְדָּלָה.

[On Motzaei Shabbos, even] water should not be drunk before [reciting or hearing] Havdalah.2

כָּל הַמִּדּוֹת, אַף גַּם הַמִּדּוֹת הַלֹּא טוֹבוֹת, אוֹ גַם רָעוֹת עַל פִּי תּוֹאֲרָם וּשְׁמוֹתֵיהֶם, אֶפְשָׁר לְהִשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ בָּהֶם לַעֲבוֹדַת ה' עַל פִּי הַתּוֹרָה. וּכְמוֹ שֶׁהָרַב הַצַּדִּיק ר' מְשׁוּלָם זוּסְיָא זצ"ל מֵהאַניפָאליא לָמַד כַּמָּה דְרָכִים בְּדַרְכֵי הָעֲבוֹדָה מִגַּנָּב: א) הַצְנֵעַ לֶכֶת ב) מַעֲמִיד עַצְמוֹ בְּסַכָּנָה ג) דָּבָר הַיּוֹתֵר קָטָן חָשׁוּב כְּדָבָר גָּדוֹל ד) עָמֵל בְּטִרְחָא גְדוֹלָה ה) זְרִיזוּת ו) בּוֹטֵחַ וּמְקַוֶּה ז) אִם לֹא הִצְלִיחַ בַּפַּעַם הָרִאשׁוֹנָה חוֹזֵר הַרְבֵּה פְּעָמִים.

All character traits, even those that are not good, or are even evil in name and description, can be used [as a lesson] in serving G‑d according to the Torah.

In this vein, the saintly R. Meshullam Zusya of Hanipoli learned several approaches to Divine service by pondering on the work ethic, so to speak, of a thief:

(a) A thief is modest.3

(b) He is prepared to endanger himself.

(c) The minutest details are as important to him as greater considerations.

(d) He labors with great exertion.

(e) He works quickly.

(f) He exhibits trust and hope.

(g) If he fails the first time, he tries again and again.4

Living as a Chassid

Every potential that G‑d has granted man is intended to find expression in His service. If a person finds himself aroused to love, the Torah does not command him to eradicate that emotion, but to direct it to that which is truly worthy of our love — G‑d and the manifestations of G‑dliness in the world, or simply the fellow Jew whom we are commanded to love just as we love ourselves. If a person desires power, he should apply himself to roles in the world of Torah that generate respect and authority, in the spirit of the verse,5 “Through me (i.e., the Torah), kings reign.” And if he is sensitive and compassionate, he can express those qualities by following the Torah’s “pleasant and peaceful ways”6 in his encounters with those around him. In similar ways, all kinds of personality traits can be sublimated by being expressed positively in the course of our Divine service.7