Every eighth year all of Israel came to Yerushalayim, mamash all of Israel, men, women and children. And they were doing the mitzva of Hakhel, mamash learning together. And the Gemora says, “Why did they bring the children, the children can’t learn?” The Gemora says, “Letain sachar limvi’eihem.” The way it’s translated simply, which doesn’t turn me on a bit, is, “in order to give reward to those who bring them.”
Can you imagine, a little Yiddele from Beersheva with 11 children shleps them nebuch all the way to Yerushalayim, where everybody’s learning. The children run around like wild, and he has to run after them. When he comes up to the other world after 100 years, G-d says, “I’m giving you a special reward because you were running after your children.” It sounds sweet, but it’s got to be better than that. G-d is capable of doing just a little bit better than that.
What does it mean if I lift up my hands? This is not the level of action, this is mamash I’m longing for something which I can’t even reach.
When a person, G-d forbid, is caught, they hold up their hands. At this point, someone took away their freedom. Gevalt, the only one who can give me back my freedom is something from Heaven, from the highest place.
I want you to know the deepest depths. We read the Torah, and then we take the Torah and hold it up and we say, “Zot haTorah asher sam Moshe” [This is the Torah which Moshe gave us]. Why don’t we say, “This is the Torah” while it’s lying on the table? There are two teachings: There is a teaching while it’s lying on the table, learning it, fixing where I can reach. And there is another Torah, where nothing reaches. Learning doesn’t reach there.
When you pray hard mamash you lift up your hands.
There are two kinds of learning, there is ‘head’ learning, or even ‘heart’ learning, and then there is “Zot haTorah asher sam Moshe” [This is the Torah which Moshe gave us], this Torah of the greatest longing, of the greatest loving.
When I carry my baby, on what level are my hands? Are my hands on the level of action, or are my hands on the level of holding up? The Gemora says, “Letain sachar limvi’eihem.” This is mamash a Torah from Heaven; when you carry your children to Yerushalayim, mamash that is the time when G-d gives you that Torah which is unreachable. That is the time when G-d gives you the Torah which is unreachable….
Seven years you are learning the Torah with your head, seven years you are fixing that part of you which can be fixed. The eighth year is that Torah which is fixing that inside of you which you don’t know how to fix. You’re fixing it when you carry your children to Yerushalayim. I’m telling you, this is the deepest.
To be a slave means my hands are tied. Not my hands of actions. ‘My hands are tied’ means I cannot lift my hands. “Seu yedeichem kodesh uberchu et HaShem” [lift up your hands in holiness and bless G-d]. “V’yehi yadecha emunah” [your hands should be faith].
My hands have to do with believing. Which part of my hands is believing? Not my actions, you don’t have to believe in actions, you are doing them. What is “v’yehi yadecha emunah?” My hands are on the level of believing when I lift up my hands.
When people get married, the whole ceremony is between the two hands. The groom puts the ring on her hand. On what level are those hands, if it’s on the level of just action, the whole marriage will be nebuch on an action level. It’s up to them.
Yakov [Jacob] is: I’m so much in darkness that I can’t even lift up my hands anymore, not that I don’t want to, I just can’t lift up my hands anymore. I was holding them up so long and G-d didn’t answer. I don’t have strength to hold up my hands anymore.
“Al yedei David Mashiach tsidkecha” [By the hands of David, your righteous Messiah]. David is the one who will teach us how to hold up our hands again.
The Beit HaMikdash [Holy Temple] is built by G-d’s hands, not G-d’s hands of action. “Mikdash HaShem konenu yadecha” [Your hands established Your Tabernacle, G-d.] The holy Temple is built when you hold up your hands.
Simchas Torah is the holiday of the Torah which I’m holding up with my hands. On Simchas Torah children are the strongest. Because like the Izbitzer says, when am I fixing my soul the most? When I carry my children.
My hands are not working on Shabbos. On Shabbos my hands are uplifted to the level of “seu yedeichem kodesh ubarchu et HaShem” [Lift up your hands in holiness and bless G-d]. What am I doing with my hands on Shabbos? “Shabbos shalom umevorach” [The Sabbath, peaceful and blessed]. On Shabbos my hands are on the heads of my children and I bless them with my hands.
“Ve’ata pen yishlach yado v’lakach gam me’Etz HaChaim” [And now lest he send his hand and take also from the Tree of Life], G-d says, “I’m afraid you’ll take the hands of action and reach for the Etz HaChaim.”… “Etz Chayim he lamachazikim ba” [It is a Tree of Life for those who hold onto it]. If you hold onto the Etz HaChaim with hands of action, you don’t reach it, you destroy it.
If someone shakes your hand and, achh, you want to take away your hand, it’s because it was only the level of action. If someone shakes hands with you on the level of holding up my hands, then the hand is so deep, then the hand becomes the Tree of Life.
When did Moshe Rabbenu get the Torah of the upheld hands? When he broke the tablets. Because what did he do? He raised his hands and dropped the Tablets: it was action. He was then mamash begging the Ribbono Shel Olam, “Please give me a Torah which can reach their hearts. Because obviously the Torah I gave them is not enough.”
“Atah noten yad laposh’im” [You, Lord, give a hand to sinners]. Which hand does G-d give us? He doesn’t give us His action hands. Can you imagine G-d holding up His hands? To do teshuva [return to G-d] means that G-d gives me His hand. Can you imagine when G-d is holding up His hands? This is doing teshuva. ‘Yedid’ in Hebrew means friend, the Slonimer Rebbe says Yedid is a combination of yad yad, two hands.
We say, “yedid nefesh Av harachaman” [G-d you are my best friend, you are my yedid], which is on the level of teshuva, holding hands with G-d. Where G-d is holding up His hands, these are unbelievable levels.
When our holy sisters, our holy mothers, kindle lights Friday night, they hold up their hands against the light. This is the fixing of the hands. The highest fixing is to get beyond the action hands, putting your hands on the level of holding up your hands.
If you do something with your hands and you get it, it’s on the level of simcha [joy]. Laughter is when you get something when you’re holding up your hands. It says, when Mashiach comes, “az y’male sechok pinu” [then our mouths will be filled with laughter], which is Yitzchak, laughter, because when Mashiach is coming it’ll be that fixing, mamash GYd will give us the level of where we were reaching up to with our hands.
One of the holiest, holiest, the absolute holy of holiest masters, was the heilege Reb Mendele Vorke. He was known as ‘The Silent Rebbe’ because he never spoke. On occasion, he spoke, but his teaching was not in words. He would sit with the Chassidim for 14 or 18 hours, without saying a single word. Everybody who was in that room was out of his body, they didn’t have to go to the bathroom, they didn’t have to cough, they were just out.
One of his greatest Chassidim was the heilege Reb Bereshel Bialer. Reb Bereshel Bialer was at that time a rich man. He was friends with the Rabbi of the city, Reb Nehemiah. Reb Bereshel would ask Reb Nehemiah, “When are you coming to my Holy Master the Vorke?” Reb Nehemiah would say, “I heard your Rebbe doesn’t know anything, he doesn’t know how to learn, he doesn’t say anything.” Because the world would say: ‘You know why he doesn’t say anything, because he has nothing to say.’
So Reb Bereshel Bialer says to him, “Every Rosh Chodesh, every new month, you’re supposed to have a feast. Why don’t you come and celebrate with me Rosh Chodesh in Vorke?”
You’ve got to be a master over your senses in order to know how to drink whisky and not to get drunk. In Vorke you drink a lot, but if you’re drunk, you’re out. Reb Bereshel takes two glasses and says, “Here Nehemiah, here, drink.” Nebuch, he thought he was the greatest scholar in the world, but a little whiskey can take off your head. So he drinks two glasses of whiskey and he’s out. He’s lying on the table snoring. He wakes up the next morning and nobody is there; he was so broken. Because he realized that obviously, they did something very deep and he wasn’t a part of it. “I thought I’m a great scholar and I can’t even handle a glass of whiskey.” So Reb Nehemiah went back four weeks later to the feast again, and this time he decided, I will pretend that I am drinking but I will not, I will also pretend that I’m drunk and I’ll lie on the table… I want to see what they’re doing. Again he comes in and Reb Bereshel says, “Reb Nehemiah, I’m so glad to see you, here’s a glass of whiskey. And when he thought that Reb Bereshel didn’t notice, he pours it out under the table, and puts it down empty. Reb Bereshel gives him another glass, and he pours it out again, and then he lies down, pretending he’s drunk. Reb Bereshel sees Reb Nehemiah is out. All the water-carriers and shoemakers are sitting around the table. Reb Bershel Biale says to one of them, “Bring me the sefer Etz Chaim.” Etz Chaim is one of the deepest – deep is not the word, beyond deep – one of the deepest of the deep Kabalistic books. Reb Bereshel Bialer says, “Let’s learn together.” Now this Reb Nehemiah thought of himself as being a great Kabalist and a great scholar, and while he was listening to them he realized that he doesn’t know anything. He was so broken; here all of those water-carriers know more than he did.
”I am the Rabbi in town and I think I’m the greatest scholar, the greatest Kabalist, and I don’t even know what those Vorke Chassidim know. Those water carriers are giants.” Then Reb Nehemiah heard everybody leaving and the only one left was Reb Bereshel. Reb Bereshel walks up to him and says. “Nehemiah’le, I know you’re not asleep, I watched you, but just tell me one thing; did you understand what we were learning?” Reb Nehemiah says, “I’ll tell you the truth, I didn’t. I’m so downhearted. Here I thought I’m a great Kabalist and your water-carriers know more than I do.” So Reb Bereshel says, “Listen to me, brother, those water-carriers, those Vorke Chassidim, are great Kabalists, they’re great giants in learning, the only thing is they don’t blow their tops like you, and they don’t tell everyone what they know, but they’re great Kabalists. Yet I want you to know, without making myself big, when it comes to me, they don’t know anything. But I want you to know one other thing; I am only a great scholar until I come to my holy Rebbe. When I stand behind his door I know that I don’t know anything.”
So that Friday Reb Nehemiah’le went with Reb Bereshel to the holy Vorke, and the holy Vorke obviously doesn’t say anything. Every Friday two thousand people come for Shabbos, and Reb Mendele Vorke is just looking at each one, giving you his hand, looking at you, that’s it.
After everything was over, Reb Bereshel went to look for Reb Nehemiah. He saw him sitting and learning in a corner. Bereshel Bialer says, “Tell me the truth, how was it when he held your hand?” Reb Nehemiah says, “I want you to know, I always thought I believe in G-d, but it wasn’t real. When the holy Vorke held my hand, I want you to know that suddenly – in every nerve, every inch of my body – suddenly it was revealed to me, I felt it, I knew there is one G-d. There really is one G-d.”
The saddest thing in the whole world is when people say, “We know each other so long, I know them like an open book.” You know what that means? They stop learning each other. The more you learn, the more you realize it’s so much deeper than you thought. It is so much deeper.