Sunday, December 03, 2006
The Bas Ayin – Finding the Beauty in the Land
He was a Rebbe in Europe for forty years and in Tzfas for ten; a disciple of Rebbe Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev and the first two Rebbes of the Chernobyl dynasty. One of his disciples was Rabbi Shmuel Heller, the chief rabbi of Tzfas. His famous book, Bas Ayin, was written in Europe, but he refused to allow it to be printed until he could 'expose' it to the air of the Holy Land and refine it there.
"Come to the ark if you wish to be saved!" shouted the Rebbe in a powerful voice. Immediately everyone crowded around him. The Rebbe threw himself on the ground, praying and weeping. Local tradition records that although most of the building collapsed, the part where the men were clustered remained upright and everyone was saved.
The the complete story of the giant earthquake can be found here.
But Rebbe Avraham Dov didn't always find it so easy to live in the Holy Land. Rebbe Avraham of Kalisk, who came to the Land of Israel on the first Chassidic wave of Aliya in 1777, wrote in a letter, printed in the sefer Pri Ha’aretz, that anyone who comes to Eretz Yisrael goes through a great deal of tribulations until he is able to live there. It's not a matter of days or months or even a year, but of many years. A person is literally "born there" - one has to pass through a period comparable to conception, development and childhood, until "face to face, he will see the Face of the Land, and his soul will connect with its Soul."
Opening His Eyes
from the L'Chaim Weekly website
When he was already elderly, Rebbe Avraham Dov of Avritch settled in the Holy City of Tzfas. But although he had waited many years for the opportunity to bask in the spiritual light of the Land of Israel, once there he found life in the Holy Land too difficult to bear. The hardships were all too apparent, while the holiness of the land was hard to discern.
When he felt he could bear no more, Rebbe Avraham Dov began to think of returning to his home in Avritch. "After all," he reasoned, "I left my relatives and my students behind in order to live in the land, but it's all to no avail, for I am suffering so bitterly. Let me return to Avritch, and they will be happy to see me, and I will be glad as well."
When Rebbe Avraham Dov reached the decision to return home the rainy season in Israel was approaching. One day, as he was walking to the synagogue for the afternoon prayer, he heard noises coming from the surrounding rooftops. He couldn't identify the strange sounds, and he asked the people he passed, "What is happening? Where are these noises coming from?" The people were amused that he didn't know.
"Here, in Tzfas," they explained, "we have the custom of performing household chores on our flat roofs. We also use the roofs for storing food and other household supplies. The noise you hear is caused by the women scurrying about, removing all these things from the roofs."
"But why are they doing that?" Rebbe Avraham Dov asked.
"Why so that nothing gets ruined by the rain, of course," was the incredulous reply. But Rebbe Avraham Dov was still confused. He looked up at a sky as blue as the sea when there are no waves in sight.
"It certainly doesn't look like rain," he said, hoping for some further explanation.
"Surely you remember that tonight we say the prayer for rain. We beseech G-d to remember us and send benign rains to water our crops and provide water for us. Since we are sure that our Father in Heaven will hear our prayers and will heed our request, we take precautions so that our possessions won't be ruined when the rains come."
The unquestioning faith of the people affected the Rebbe deeply. Suddenly his eyes were opened and he saw the sublime heights of faith achieved by the simple Jews of the Holy Land. His pain and disappointment were replaced by a sense of awe at the holiness of the land and its people. At that moment, he abandoned all thoughts of returning to Avritch and began a new leg of his own spiritual journey to the holiness the Holy Land.
Jewels of Our Lives
Excerpted and Adapted from a story by Reb Shlomo Carlebach as told by Mimi Feigelson
The Bas Ayin, Rebbe Avraham Dov of Avritch, was one of the Chassidic leadership who made aliya. One day, a stranger entered his chazter (courtyard) in the city of Tzfas, and Rebbe Avraham Dov ran to greet him. The Chassidim couldn’t hear what they spoke of, but as soon as the stranger left, the Rebbe returned to his study and did not emerge for three weeks.
The Chassidim were puzzled: Who was that person? What did he and the Rebbe discuss? Why did the Rebbe lock himself in his study for three weeks? Their puzzlement grew when the Rebbe finally emerged and commanded his Chassidim to prepare the most amazing Tish (a festive meal at the Rebbe’s table).
The Chassidim did as they were told. They ate and drank and sang and danced. But the whole time, all they really wanted to know was: Who was the stranger? What did he and the Rebbe discuss? Why did the Rebbe lock himself in his room for three weeks?
At last one of the Chassidim mustered up the courage to ask the Rebbe, "Why?"
The Rebbe silenced them and began: "Many years ago, while still in Avritch, I would always sit for hours with anyone that came from Eretz Yisrael. I would question them about the Holy Land and what it was like to live there.
"He said to me, ‘I’ve told you everything.’
"But I insisted, ‘Tell me more!’
"He said to me, ‘What more can I tell you? When you stand at Me’arat HaMachpela along with the Patriarchs and Matriarchs [in Chevron] you will know.’ And he turned to leave.
"I begged of him, ‘Please, tell me more!’
"He said, ‘What more can I tell you? When you stand at Kever Rachel [Rachel’s tomb] and cry with her, you will know.’ And again he turned to leave.
"I continued to beg, ‘Please, tell me more!’
"He said, ‘I’ve told you all I can. When you get there you will see for yourself, even the stones are precious stones. Even the stones are made of emeralds and rubies and diamonds!’ And with this he left.
"So you see," the Rebbe turned to his Chassidim, "when I arrived, everything was exactly as he said it would be. Everything but the stones -- they were regular stones, they weren’t precious stones at all. I could never understand why he lied to me. Why the last thing he told me was not true.’
"Three weeks ago, he walked into the chatzer, and despite the passage of 20 years I recognized him immediately. I ran to him and said, ‘Everything you told me was true, but the stones! Why did you lie to me? Why did you tell me they were precious stones when they are not?!’
"So I locked myself in my study and I began to cry. Every day I would cry and look out at the stones. Today, finally, while looking out of the window I realized that every stone was precious. Every stone was an emerald or a ruby or a diamond!"
May we all learn to appreciate the simple spiritual beauty of our Holy Land!
Zechuso yagein aleinu, May the Bas Ayin's merit protect us!
Before his histalkus/petira, Rebbe Nachman spoke of the arithemetic? or geometric progression[math[s] geniuses help me out, please gained by kiruv rechokim of a fellow jew. The mashal he used was''stones''