The Inner Voice – Re’ei
רְאֵה אָנֹכִי נֹתֵן לִפְנֵיכֶם הַיּוֹם בְּרָכָה וּקְלָלָה (דברים יא, כו).
The first passuk in this week’s parsha encapsulates two of the central themes of the Korban Lechem Hapanim, איזהו עשיר השמח בחלקו and כל ישראל ערבים זה לזה, which I would like to elaborate on in this shiur. Numerous ideas explored here are inspired by divrei Torah I heard from מורי ורבי HaRav Baruch Rosenblum שליט"א.
In many shiurim I focus on the principle of איזהו עשיר השמח בחלקו, which is perhaps the most central musar haskel of the Lechem Hapanim. I often speak about the power of smiling and how it forms the basis and fundamental building block for avodat Hashem. In today’s shiur, we will be approaching איזהו עשיר השמח בחלקו from a different angle, which also has direct bearing on the upcoming month of Elul.
The sources for these principles are the Vilna Gaon (Mishlei 16, 4) and Netivot Shalom (Devarim 11).
The Vilna Gaon in his ביאור on sefer Mishlei brings a tremendous chiddush and says that each and every one of us has Ruach Hakodesh!
We are commonly taught that the powers of Ruach Hakodesh reside only within a few great tzaddikim, like Rashi for example. However, the Vilna Gaon says no - each and every one of us has some measure of Ruach Hakodesh. In certain people this Ruach Hakodesh is more developed and in others less, but each of us has it.
Perhaps the most fundamental question that has occupied mankind since the dawn of creation is “Why am I here?” “Why did HKB”H create me?” “What is my purpose in life?”
The Ari z”l brings a Mishna in Avot (4, 3) –
אַל תְּהִי בָּז לְכָל אָדָם וְאַל תְּהִי מַפְלִיג לְכָל דָּבָר שֶׁאֵין לְךָ אָדָם שֶׁאֵין לוֹ שָׁעָה וְאֵין לְךָ דָּבָר שֶׁאֵין לוֹ מָקוֹם.
No two human beings are exactly alike. Every human is a unique creation. No two humans ever in history have exactly the same finger print pattern or iris pattern in their eyes, but it does not end there, says the Ari z”l. No two humans have exactly the same shlichut in life. HKB”H creates each and every neshama, throughout history with a special and unique purpose that they must accomplish in this life.
The Vilna Gaon says that when נבואה existed, people used to ask the navi this question and he would give them an answer (see the shiur on Bamidbar). The navi would take one look at you and reveal your purpose in life - You are destined to be a Rosh Yeshiva. You are destined to be a Dayan. You are destined to be a cook. You are destined to be a taxi driver. You are destined to be HaRav Firer and head עזרה למרפא. You are destined to be HaRav Yechiel Eckstein z”l and head קרן לידידות. You are destined to be the gabbai of your shul. You are destined to be HaRav Meir Shapiro z”l and found the Daf Yomi. You are destined to be a baker. You are destined to be Uri Lupolianski and found Yad Sarah. You are destined to care for your elderly parents, etc.
Today that we no longer have נבואה, the Vilna Gaon says, we have Ruach Hakodesh instead. Each of us has “hardcoded” into our genetic makeup a kind of “inner voice”, an instinct that directs us what to do and which path to tread.
The vast majority of us are “gilgulim”, being sent back to fix some wrong committed by our neshama in a previous life. Perhaps in a previous life we were a Rosh Yeshiva, an enormous Torah scholar, but we did not make enough of an effort to attract students or to facilitate them coming to learn with us. So HKB”H sends us back to fix this as a taxi driver that all we do each and every day, is shuttle talmidim to and from cheder and yeshiva. This taxi driver is a בור ועם הארץ, he hasn’t got the rudimentary basics of Yiddishkeit. Many may try to dissuade him from being a taxi driver and rather be חוזר בתשובה and come learn all day in a Kolel. However, by doing so, he will not be fulfilling his purpose in life and his neshama will have to return another time to fix the wrong. What “drew” him to become a taxi driver and not an electrician or a plumber? Some inner compulsion, some instinct - that drove him in that direction.
The Vilna Gaon says that each neshama knows its purpose, what role it has to fulfill in this life and it sends subliminal messages to our brains that steer us in a certain direction. We are usually not even aware of these cues and believe we are making a conscious choice of our own volition, but this is not the case, says the Vilna Gaon.
This is why some are “naturally” drawn to becoming lawyers, some to becoming doctors, plumbers, interior designers, social workers, hair stylists, farmers, fighter jet pilots, conductors on a bus, brain surgeons, etc. There is an “inner voice” at work nudging us in a certain direction.
However, says the Vilna Gaon, sometimes we are confused whether it is our inner voice, our Ruach Hakodesh prodding us, or whether it is our yetzer harah dangling a carrot at the end of a stick, trying to lead us astray. How can we distinguish between the two? The Vilna Gaon quotes the Zohar (parshat Va’eira) saying that there is a simple test. Are we drawn by our desires and lusts or are we drawn by a pure motivation to do HKB”H’s will?
Speaking from personal experience, I made such an error as a youth and instead of following my “inner voice” to pursue a career which my neshama was nudging me to – some kind of career in which I would be helping people - instead I followed “the money” and became a computer programmer. I made all kinds of rationalizations like - computer programming stimulated my intellect, I was actually helping people, etc. I eventually got what I “desired” - I earned very well as a computer programmer, but I was never really “happy” with what I was doing, something jarred with my “inner voice” and set me on a slippery slope that led to a serious crisis later on in life. BeSiyata di’Shmaya I was zocheh to correct this error mid-life and reset my compass, so that it became aligned with my neshama.
Someone may be drawn to studying Torah 24/7 and becoming a talmid chacham, but what truly draws him is his lust for honor and respect. Someone may be drawn to becoming a computer programmer, but what truly draws him is a lust for money. How can you distinguish what draws you, your Ruach Hakodesh or your yetzer harah? Simply ask yourself – “If I studied Torah 24/7 and became a talmid chacham but lived on a desert island, with nobody else around – would I still want to study Torah 24/7?” “If I became a computer programmer but worked for minimum wage and donated the balance of my salary to tzedaka, would I still want to become a computer programmer?” This kind of reasoning helps you to focus and remove much of the “clutter” that your yetzer harah distracts you with. Some people are destined to be talmidei chachamim and/or computer programmers, it all depends on what it is pushing them in that direction.
Just as being attentive to your “inner voice”, your Ruach Hakodesh, that helps to pull you in a positive direction is vital, so too honest recognition and admittance of the tug of your yetzer harah, helps to highlight what it is in you that needs fixing.
When a neshama undergoes a gilgul, its purpose is twofold – to build and to fix. Your Ruach Hakodesh highlights the direction that you have to “build” and your yetzer harah highlights the direction you have to “fix”. If someone is repeatedly tripped up by their yetzer harah in a specific area - anger, telling lies, greediness, shmirat einayim, lashon harah, chasing after kavod, etc. this is indicative that HKB”H put you here in this world to fix that fault.
This, says the Netivot Shalom, is what the above passuk means בְּרָכָה וּקְלָלָה. A person is created in this world to pursue the בְּרָכָה, to follow their “inner voice” and build something positive, and to steer clear of the קְלָלָה, to be honestly aware of their shortcomings and to fix them. This “mix” of building and fixing in a person is as unique as their fingerprint and iris pattern. No two people are exactly alike in their purpose in this world, each is totally unique.
This is the underlying principle of איזהו עשיר השמח בחלקו. If a person constantly compares themselves to others, their brother/sister/neighbor/friend and has a strong desire “to be like them” - they have failed their purpose in this life. They have been clouded by the clutter and been led astray by their yetzer harah. HKB”H never creates two human beings equal. Each person’s purpose in life is unique to them only! Someone else’s neshama has its mission to accomplish in this life and it is not your neshama’s mission – your neshama has its own mission. Some neshamot have a mission to be poor, to fix something from a previous gilgul - some to be rich, some to be smart, some to be stupid, some to be pretty, some to be ugly, some to be caring, some to be selfish, some to be humble, some to be extrovert. If you are poor and you constantly live your life wishing you could be rich, you have failed your purpose in life. If you have repeatedly tried to extricate yourself from poverty and failed, it is probably because this is the purpose which HKB”H has intended for you - to repair your neshama. Instead of wasting your life trying to fight it, you should rather accept and embrace it. This is what it means השמח בחלקו - that you accept that this is your allotted mission in life and then, regardless of your financial status, you are an עשיר – you have the greatest wealth a human can achieve – fulfilling your intended purpose in this life.
A person may mistakenly think that having a personal mission/purpose in life means that they are “egocentric”, focused only on themselves, to the exclusion of others. The Kli Yakar comes to teach us that the opposite is the case. When someone is fulfilling their purpose in life that HKB”H intends for them, they are “filling in a specific gap” that needs filling. Only they can fill that gap, nobody else!
This is the basis of כל ישראל ערבים זה לזה. By holding true to their personal mission, each individual is filling another gap that, all together, completes the bigger picture. This is the true concept of the Twelve Tribes, not each tribe trying to, or being expected to - be like the other, but to each fulfill their unique destiny and purpose in this life.
How futile (and wrong) it is for Charedim to expect everyone to be like them - study in yeshivas, run gamachim, blindly obey their Admorim, etc. How futile (and wrong) it is for Secular Israelis to expect Charedim to be like them, to stop studying in yeshivas, serve in the army, work 9-5 jobs, etc. How futile (and wrong) it is for an Ashkenazi Jew to expect a Sefardi Jew to be like them, to enjoy eating gefilte fish, herring and chopped liver, etc.
A person ends up being Charedi, Secular, Ashkenazi, Sefardi, etc. because that is how their own personal Ruach Hakodesh has directed them. They have gravitated to that “stereotype” because their inner voice has drawn them to it, because by being there, they are filling a gap in the bigger picture that nobody else can fill.
How ridiculous it is for one strata of our nation, one Tribe, to mock or scoff at another, to think we are superior (???) to any of the others.
This is the lesson of רְאֵה אָנֹכִי נֹתֵן לִפְנֵיכֶם הַיּוֹם בְּרָכָה וּקְלָלָה. It is also the lesson of the Lechem Hapanim. To respect our “inner voice”, our own Ruach Hakodesh, embrace our purpose in life, not fight it and not try to be like others. To respect that others also have their unique purpose and not try to remake them in our image.
This Shabbat is Rosh Chodesh Elul. We are entering a period where our Ruach Hakodesh is pulling us, more strongly that the rest of the year, to build and fix. At the same time we are in yet another cycle of elections that is headed in the same direction as all the previous cycles. We have reached an impasse and unless we change the rules of the game, the outcome will be identical to the previous cycles. HKB”H is teaching us a lesson and we have to wise up and learn.
The lesson is that we should all stop trying to remake others in our “image”. We should concentrate more on our own “missions” while at the same time respecting all the others and their missions as well. It is the mission of the Charedim to study in yeshivot full time. It is the mission of the Dati Leumi sector to strengthen our hold over the land in Eretz Yisrael. It is the mission of the Secular human rights movement to protect the weak, because by doing that they are all fixing something in the bigger picture, they are filling a specific gap.
Have you noticed that the Charedim are not that great at settling the land, the Dati Leumi do not excel at human rights and the Secular are not exemplary in observing Shabbat? This is not ideological and it is not by chance. Each is drawn to their own mission because it is their personal Ruach Hakodesh pulling them there. Instead of mocking one another and attacking one another, we should let one another do what each does best, because together we complete the picture.
This is a primary lesson of the Lechem Hapanim and this week’s parsha.