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Back in 1996, Rabbi Finman was asked to speak to the niece of one of his students. After spending many hours answering her questions, the woman gave Rabbi Finman her e-mail address. Rabbi Finman wrote the woman a note and included in it a short insight into that week's Parsha and a short Chasidic story.

Realizing that this was something no one was yet doing,, Rabbi Finman sent the missive to his mailing list of about 30 people. Requests from recipients friends came pouring in. The next week Rabbi Finman sent the e-Parsha to 100 people. Within a year more than 2000 people were receiving it. Today, more than 14,000 receive the e-Parsha weekly and the requests keep coming in.

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Mishpatim 5777

More than 35 years ago, Rabbi Dovid Vichnin A"H, rosh yeshiva of Tiferus bachurim in Morristown, New Jersey, casually mentioned to his Chumash class that Chabad custom was to learn Chumash with Rashi, as prescribed by the Rebbe, and to include another commentary each year. This year, I decided to learn Kadushet Levi from the famed Rebbe Levi Yitschok of Berdichev. Each week, the book discusses various Chasidic insights into verses from the Parsha. Parsha Mishpatim - Exocus 21 - 25, mainly focuses on civil laws: slaves, theft, assault, lending money etc. The Kedushat Levi does not discuss any of these but rather, the throne of Glory and the relationship the Almighty has with the Jewish People. WHy is there no mention of these simple commandments? There is a story to answer this question:

Rabbi Dovber (the second Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch) was blessed with eight daughters (and two sons). The second-born daughter, Baila, was the first to get married.** She was betrothed to Yekutiel Zalman, the grandson of Rabbi Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev. This wedding, which took place in 1807 in Zhlobin, Ukraine and was attended by many hundreds of Chasidim. It was known as "the Great Wedding."

The bride and her family arrived in Zhlobin a few days before the wedding. Rabbi Levi Yitzchok and the groom's family arrived in Zhlobin on the eve of the wedding. Rabbi Shneur Zalman told his son to go and greet Rabbi Levi Yitzchok. Rabbi Dovber blanched and said, "Father, you know how the tzadik is upset with me because I teach Chasidus in public! I am afraid to go to him alone." Rabbi Shneur Zalman understood that it was important to resolve this issue before the wedding and he went along with his son to straighten things out. The tzadikim met and warmly greeted one another. "Why are you so upset with my son, Berel?" asked Rabbi Shneur Zalman. Rabbi Levi Yitzchok replied, "Our Rebbe (the Maggid of Mezritch) instructed not to teach Chasidus in public unless the speaker saw the face of the Baal Shem Tov. How could your son publicly teach such deep thoughts?" Rabbi Shneur Zalman replied, "My son knows" The Mechutan responded, "If so, then let us hear what he has to say."

Having no choice, Rabbi Dovber began saying a deep Chasidic discourse on condition that Reb Levik not interrupt him. After about an hour, Rabbi Levi Yitzchok's could not restrain himself. He got up and wrapped Rabbi Dovber's face with a talis, saying, "Oy, G'd forbid that the fiery angels should be envious of you. Beware of an evil eye."

As they stood near the door to go to the wedding, Rabbi Levi Yitzchok insisted that Rabbi Dovber have the honor of exiting first. "You have taught me," he said humbly. Rabbi Dovber deferred to his father; His father maintained that Rabbi Levi Yitzchok was older. Each tzadik gave the other the honor. No one was willing to step through first. To solve the problem,

the Chasidim broke the walls of the doorway and the three tzadikim left together.

The answer to the above question answers the question as to the order of subjects discussed. Last week's Parsha contained the Ten Commandments. These commandments contain the crux of Jewish life. Yet, they are immediately followed by the most mundane laws; societal norms that are practiced by all nations. Reb Levi Yitschok understood the sublime divinity of simple common law. He did not steal because he determined stealing to be wrong. He looked at not stealing as a vehicle for conveying the most sublime levels of Divine Will into this world.

A battalion of soldiers was stationed in Berdichev prior to the holiday of Pesach. The commandant ordered the townspeople to billet his men (one could imagine the huge imposition of needing to feed soldiers during Passover). Suddenly, the commandant ordered his soldiers to pack and ready to leave following the first seder. One soldier was missing. When sent to look for him, the messengers reported that the soldier was frozen in the dining room of the Rabbi. The commandant could not believe his ears and took a small garrison to teach the Rabbi a lesson. When they entered the Rabbi's house, they saw Reb Levi dressed in his Pesach kittel (white robe), engrossed in study at the dining room table, shining like an angel. The soldier was standing terror-stricken, unable to move or talk. As the commandant approached, the Rabbi said, "Let the soldier return the silver spoon he took from the table." The soldiers searched the man's pockets, found the spoon and returned it to the table. With that, the frozen soldier bolted from the house.

The officer quizzed the Rabbi and was immensely impressed with the Rabbi's holiness. As they departed, Reb Levi Yitschak said to the commandant, "One day, you will need to save a Jew. Please take the opportunity to do so." Many years later, the officer became a judge and vindicated a Jew accused of trumped up charges, remembering the words of the Holy Rabbi.


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