This is an Ishbitser Torah teaching:
A circle needs a center. You cannot have a circle without a center. Four corners don’t need a center.
There are people who live in the world of a circle, always connected to the center. They are always connected to the center.
And you know, friends, even if you do wrong sometimes… as long as you are connected to the center…
And you know, the center itself has a center. Do you know what the center is? The center of it, the most important thing in it, the essence of it is the point!
You know, I have seen people talking to you for ten years about Yidishkiet [Judaism], and when you walk away, you still don’t know what they want, and they don’t know either.
If you stop them and say, “Tell me, what is it to be a Jew?”
They say, “Send money to Israel. On Yom Kippur, drive to the synagogue, try not to be too late. And what else?… and join the breakfast club. Ahh what else… Make sure your children are going to a Jewish camp. It does not matter if it is kosher or not, as long as it has a Jewish flag over the dining room. What else…? Remind me of something else. By the life of me, I can’t think of anything else.”
I will ask you, “What is the center of Shabbos?”
They say, “You shouldn’t work and you should enjoy yourself, and have fun.”
‘Beautiful,’ right? They don’t get to the point.
You know, friends, it is obvious that ninety-nine percent of the world doesn’t know what the point of living is.
There is this awesome prayer of Rebbe Nosson for peace, and this is based on Rebbe Nachman’s Torah teachings. Rebbe Nachman asks: What do people talk to each other about? The more pointless it is, the more people talk about it. Can you walk up to somebody and mamash say, “What is the point? Tell me. I know you for ten years, what is the point of our relationship.”
What is the point? You keep Shabbos for one hundred years, but what is the point!
This comes from the holy Bal Shem Tov. Mashiach has a lot of meanings. Mashiach means ‘the anointed,’ and Mashiach comes from the world lasuach, to talk. Rebbe Nachman says, people don’t talk to each other. They talk about anything in the world. Can you walk up to another person and say, “Listen brother, what are you really doing here? What are you really doing here? What is the point of your life?”
What are you doing here?
Here is a little story which is just so heartwarming.
Rebbe Nachman became a Rebbe when he was fourteen years old. He got married when he was fourteen years old. Can you imagine, at the time, all the holy Chassidim of the Bal Shem Tov were still alive, but for Rebbe Nachman that was not enough. He wanted more than that.
So during his wedding reception, he walked around asking people, “What are you doing here?”
“What do you mean? I am here, I am a friend of the groom….” “I am a friend of the bride.” Everyone said something else.
“What are you doing here?”
“I am related to the bride’s mother.”
Finally he found one boy his age, fourteen years old, standing by the door. Rebbe Nachman said, “What are you doing here?”
And the boy answered Rebbe Nachman, “This is why I can’t sleep at night. I don’t know what I am doing here.”
“Ahhh,” Rebbe Nachman said, “There is one guest at my wedding… one guest.”
Then he says to him, “Do me a favor, it is not for you and not for me here. Let’s get out of here.”
So he said to Rebbe Nachman, “I want you to know, that there are thirty young people in this city who don’t sleep at night because they don’t know what they are doing here.”
Rebbe Nachman said, “Let’s get together fast.”
So then they walked out to the forest, and that night Rebbe Nachman became a Rebbe.
So the Ishbitser says, do you know when you need tzitzis? When you are in the world of four corners. Four corners – no more point. No more point…
When the spies came back from scouting the Land of Israel, and they told us, “Israel is not good, and also Moshe is no good, G-d is… the whole thing is bad.” You know what they did to us? The whole thing has no more point. “There is no more point. What is the point of everything? Moshe Rabbenu took us out of Egypt to bring us to the holy Land!”
You know how many things we work on all our lives, and then in the end we are not doing it. Where is the point? So G-d, in His utmost mercy, gave us tzitzis.
And you know what the thing of tzitzis is? That on every corner, you make a little hole, a little point. For the moment there is a point.
And above all, when you come to a corner, G-d forbid, on the four corners of your pointless life, you are at the end, you are at the end… but tzitzis comes from the Hebrew word “seeing.” You know what we do when we put on tzitzis? We put them over our eyes, and suddenly we see the point again. Urisem oisoi [and you will see it], G-d promises you, even if you are in the most distant corner, suddenly you put the tzitzis over your eyes, and gevalt….
You know, it is crazy, we have so many mitzvas, we have so many good deeds, but we don’t kiss them.
Friday night, the challah is very holy, yet the only one who kissed the challah Friday night was Rebbe Levy Yitzchak of Berdichev. He couldn’t stop kissing the challah. Gevalt. Friday night, lechem mishna [the two loaves], it blows his mind. Rebbe Levy Yitzchak of Berdichev kissed the esrog, kissed the lulav, kissed the megilla, we don’t know how much he kissed them.
Ok, but that was because he was the deepest. But even people like you and me, we kiss the tzitzis.
Who do you love the most? Someone who connects you back to their center, who gives you back your point again.
Do you know why it is so easy to kiss children? Because children never lost their point. Until we un-point them, until we un-center them. Grownups, sometimes you would love to kiss them, but, oy vey, it is really hard, they have no point.
The point, you cannot see it; it is deeper than prophesy. It is just, that G-d opens your eyes. But you know the way G-d opens your eyes? When you close your eyes. Do you know, when we say shema Yisrael, why I close my eyes? Because G-d opens my eyes inside and I see there is really one G-d. There really is one G-d.
The mezuzah: Do you know how many people live in a house, but there is no point? People get married, they live in a house, but what’s the point? What’s the point!? Mezuzah, gevalt, G-d is the center of the world. G-d is the point of everything.
Shabbos: Rebbe Nachman says, the world thinks that the week is seven days. It is not true. There are three days – Wednesday, Thursday, Friday – and the other three days – Sunday, Monday, Tuesday. Shabbos is the center. Shabbos is the point of everything. The Gemara says, the whole Torah is connected to tzitzis, the whole Torah is connected to Shabbos.
Why do we say good Shabbos to each other and it is so deep? Do you know what I’m saying to you when I say, “Good Shabbos.” I’m saying, “G-d opened my eyes, and I see you.” You know, there is a Wednesday and Thursday kind of seeing; “Your name is Max. You work for the UJA. You came to collect some money. I see you.” This is not what the kind of seeing that I mean. I mean Shabbosdike seeing… connected to the point seeing…. You know how beautiful it is when people say, “Good Shabbos” to each other. They are blessing each other that each should be connected to the point, that G-d should open each one’s eyes.
You know, friends, until G-d opens your eyes, you can have pictures of everyone in the whole world, but you never have seen anybody.
The Gemara says, when you run, it is bad for your eyes, and when you make Kiddush it fixes your eyes. Kiddush is fixing your eyes. You know what the whole world is doing with wine? They get drunk, and they really lose their vision, right? What is a drunkard? He is off center, he can’t walk or talk straight. You know what Friday night wine does to us? It brings us right back to the center. It opens our eyes in the deepest way.