Three weeks by Rav Avitan

Yeshuot from the Tzaddik HaNistar (The hidden Tzaddik) that Rav Avitan is a student of, regarding the 3 weeks, known as המיצרים בין -Bein HaMetzarim. Translation of the 50 minute lecture (we will share the youtube link for those who want to listen in Hebrew) that Rav Avitan gave us special permission to share with our groups, we were the only other people allowed to share this publicly. Thank you Leor Gabbai for her amazing efforts in translating this video TODAY (Friday morning). We are in a type of Eit Ratson (time of salvation) that is similar to the Aseret Yemei teshuva (ten days of repentance). I will shortly explain why and how this is so, but know that this is a tremendous evening and therefore I ask that whoever is in attendance, please try to focus. We will split the evening into two: the first is to explain what we hope to gain and what salvations we have during these three weeks. And the second part will be comprised of the “tikkun” (repair) and prayers that are relevant, through which many have witnessed salvations. If someone has a few children, and let’s say two of them are now faced with taking their final exams. One son, since a young age is very intelligent, well behaved, studious and hard working. He gets a 100 on his exam and he is even chosen among 50 other children to represent Israel in international competitions. His sister, though, is more problematic. She has trouble studying and isn’t focused. But for the final exams she really tried hard and made sacrifices such as studying instead of going out with friends – yet she only scored a 70. It’s not great, but not too bad. Who do you think the parents are more satisfied with? The son or the daughter? The daughter. Even though she only got a 70 on the exam, she tried hard and made a great effort, especially since she isn’t in the habit of doing so. Her 70 is equal to her brother’s 700! It doesn’t detract from the son’s grade – he did excellent! But the joy and real satisfaction and pride is in the daughter. That’s the parable. What does this mean? Each one of us who is still seeking salvation in life and especially when we come upon the high holiday season, who is praying for specific things: like finding their soulmate, or cure for their fears, or livelihood, or peace in their marriage, everything he lacks physically or emotionally and has yet to receive. This person says: “G-od I did everything I was supposed to do. I went to synagogue and prayed well. I participated in all the holiday rituals. I did whatever I was supposed to do. So how am I still single? How am I still in debt?” Today we will learn that in this case our investment was in the wrong place. What does this mean? If people will invest in these three weeks what we will learn today, then in the 3 weeks in the months of Tishrei (high holidays), they will receive their salvation. There are 21 days of Bein Hametzarim and 21 days between Rosh Hashana and Hoshana Raba, which is when the book is sealed and stamped. I’ll tell you about Tzadikim who discovered amazing things. We need to turn on a switch in our head and get this point: whoever succeeds in these three weeks to do what is required, and will make more of an effort than usual – when the three weeks in the month of Tishrei arrive he need not have any worry or fear. Of course, he will still have to do what he is required -- pray, hear the shofar, fast, etc., but he need not be concerned about receiving his salvation because he already attained it in the three weeks of Bein Hametzarim. Let me share a lesson from Rabbi Yehoshua MiEstrova his merit shall protect us. The three weeks of Bein Hametzarim are days of sorrow and darkness, and it takes an immense effort to overcome evil during this time. We all know this is a time when the Yetzer Hara (evil inclination) is at its height. This is the time of vacations, beach outings, trips, and relaxing. Even when a person walks to the synagogue to pray these days, he has already lost so many things along the way just as a result of what he sees and thinks during this time. How can we compare the prayers we say during this time to the prayers of Aseret Yemei Teshuvah (10 days of repentance) when masses of people go to pray in the Kotel, say Selichot, there is a general feeling of holiness, etc.? We can’t compare—two different worlds. The Toldot Adam says a person needs to make a special effort during these 21 days because they are parallel to, and correspond with, the 21 days from Rosh Hashana to Hoshana Raba. Whoever works on repairing his soul during this time will be judged favorably during the Yemei Hadin (days of Judgement)? Do you know what a gift it is? And what does it depend on? These three weeks. If one does what he is supposed to do during these three weeks, he should not be afraid on the day of Judgement because he will be meritorious. This is especially true of the Shabbatot of the three weeks because these are the most powerful of the year. This upcoming year what will be decided on Rosh Hashana and “signed” on Yom Kippur will not depend on our actions on Rosh Hashana. You need to start early and do what needs to be done, pray, and get stronger to be judged favorably on Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, and Hoshana Raba. What does that mean? Make an effort during the three weeks of Bein Hametzarim. You will remove all negative judgments against you and receive the salvations you want: marriage, money, refuah (recovery from illness) – whatever you lack. Before Rosh Hashana, especially in Jerusalem, you start to feel like an angel on earth. There’s an environment of holiness. It’s not so difficult to go to synagogue when there are so many others there. It’s not such a big deal, knowing that the Day of Judgement is just around the corner. But if a person makes an effort during these three weeks (in which we don’t feel any particular holiness, which are filled with destruction, mourning, sorrow, Yetzer Hara, etc) and prays, says Tehillim, strengthens themselves in learning and in their relationship with others its worth 100x much more than what they would do on Aseret Yemei Teshuva because it’s so much harder to this during these three weeks. For example, take someone who is a smoker. He smokes several cigarettes a day. On Motzei Shabbat, when his reward is determined for keeping the Shabbat, do you think my reward for not lighting a fire on Shabbat (when I’m a non-smoker) is the same as his? Of course not. Why? Because he was struggling. For me, it’s not an effort. So a prayer that is said during Bein Hametzarim, when you don’t feel like it, and there isn’t an ambiance of holiness, is exceptionally meritorious. To merit salvation, there are three requirements 1) prayer and 2) progress – any sort of positive movement or improvement 3) the prayer needs to be heartfelt. When does a person pray more, during Aseret Yemei Teshuva or Bein Hametzarim? When does he take it upon himself to be better? During Aseret Yemei Teshuva or Bein Hametzarim? When is the prayer most heartfelt? Of course, during Aseret Yemei Teshuva. It’s so much more challenging to pray meaningfully and make positive changes during Bein Hametzarim, but in these merits, you will see salvation for the entire upcoming year. The Magid Hakadosh Mekozhnitz z”l, may his merit protect us (this Tzaddik was so great that Rabbi Nachman from Breslev asked for his approval for Likutei maharan) writes in his book something extraordinary. What’s the difference between our prayers now and the ones during Rosh Hashana? Imagine that there is a party at the king’s palace -- a real celebration. Everyone is invited. Everyone is in a festive mood, singing, dancing, eating, and drinking. Is it difficult to get people to participate in such an event? No, everyone is invited and gladly shows up. But, the Maggid says, if there is a tragedy and the king is depressed, not everyone is called over to the palace. Only special people that know how to make the king happy and lift his mood. What is this likened to? Hashem’s angels in heaven and his creatures on earth praise Him all year long. But when the Beit Hamikdash was destroyed the king was filled with sorrow. He needs someone to make him happy, tell him he is the King of Kings and will rule forever. And during this time he is also more accessible to his loyal followers and can answer their prayers immediately. During the Aseret Yemei Teshuva, all Jews gather to get close to the king. But this isn’t the case when the king is sad. But when you still come to pray to the king during this challenging time, and believe in Him, you become his VIP and everything is open to you. You are among His immediate network. And because you helped Him when he was going through a difficult time, He will help you when you struggle. ִמן־ ַ֖ה ֵּמַצֽר ָקָ֣רא ִתי י-ה ָ֜ע֗נָנִי ַּב ֶּמ ְר ָ֣חב י-ה From the straits I called G-d; G-d answered me with a vast expanse (Tehillim 118:5) We say in Tehilim “Min Hameitzar Karati…” We call to Hashem during the Bein Hametzarim, and he answers us “Bamerchav Yah”. Merchav (expansion) is 250 in Gematria, which is the same number as Ner (candle). You call to him now, during the Bein Hameitzarim, but he will answer you (BaMerchav) with a candle of Salvation during Rosh Hashana. If we take these 21 days and multiply them by 24 hours for each day we get 528 hours. The Gematria of 528 is Mafteach, which is “key” – these are days that open the physical and spiritual salvation of mankind. Because at such a low time, when we are so depressed and down, and we are busy and distracted, when people are not actively seeking G-od, we still make an effort and pray it counts so much more any opens immense Yeshuot. R Meir Halevi MeAptas (Haor Lashamayim in one of the biggest kaballah books written 200 years ago, parts of which were given to him directly from an angel in Shamayim). The Zohar says that world is made of three components known as Ashan – Olam, Shana, Nefesh. All creation is located in this earth which is the place, Shana is the dimension of time, Nefesh are the creations themselves that fill the world. Where was the greatest “exit” in the world? Yetziat mitzrayim. That happened in the physical world. What is the most significant exit of the Nefesh? Whenever a person has a challenge, and he overcomes it, it is like yetziat mitzrayim. And what about in time? When is the most significant time of exit during the year? It’s the time of bein hametzarim – it’s a time of hidden holiness. These 21 days are equivalent to the name of G-od “Eheyeh”. This is the greatest name of G-od that appears in the dimension of Keter. Moshe asked Hashem what should I tell Klal Yisrael is your name? And He answered, “Eheyeh asher eheyeh”. Eheyeh is the name that saves a person from his exile. Eheyeh is language of the future. Eheyeh is 21 in gematria. This name and these days sweeten all of the harsh judgments against man. These days are capable of great tikkun for mankind more than any days of the year. They are especially capable of bringing bountiful livelihood – to the point that a person will say “enough”. This happens every year anew during these 21 days of Bein Hametzarim. Yes, our livelihood is determined on Rosh Hashana but it’s based on what we do now. Yes, a person’s zivug (soulmate/partner) is decided on Rosh Hashana, but it’s based on what he or she does during the three weeks. Yes, freedom from fear and anxiety is determined on Rosh Hashana, but it’s based on the merit of these three weeks. This information is too complex to put into a small video clip. So much of a person’s life is based on these three weeks. Not just for one year, but for years to come. For example, if a person merits marriage or parnassah this year, it is a gift that extends into the future. Marriage and money, for example, don’t just last one year but continue on. You will see for yourselves that if you do what is required during these three weeks, when Rosh Hashana comes around you are promised to see salvation. Our entire year is essentially based on these three weeks. There’s a name of MemBet in the Zohar. What is that? It’s 42 letters. Whenever a person is supposed to be raised to the next level spiritually or materialistically, what lifts him there is the 42-lettered name. Where does this name appear? In the prayer of “Ana Bekoach Gedulot yeminecha,” there are seven pesukim, each with six words -- this equals 42. That’s why we say it at Shema, because the soul goes up to shamayim at night and we need this protection. Before we say korbanot or start shabbat we say this because we are entering into a higher plane. Whenever a person wants to go to a higher level, what gets him there and protects him is the name of Membet. The magid Mekozhnitz says that in these 21 days the name MemBet is activated. Why? Because we have 21 days now and 21 days from between Rosh Hashana and Hoshana Raba. Together its 42. And every year the tikkun (repair) that is achieved is even greater, until we reach the coming of Moshiach. R Yisrael MeApta Hakadosh says all the holidays of the year, and the Shabbatot have their own blessings and salvations. Where do these holidays get their light and bounty? Let’s do the math: 8 days of sukkot + 7 days of Pesach + Rosh Chodesh and Shabbat (17) + Rosh Hashana 2 + Shavuot (2) plus YK (2) is 21. These 21 days of Bein Hametzarim are the source and the power of all the 21 holidays and shabbatot. And the most difficult/depressing day of the year is Tisha Ba’v but it’s the day that has the greatest salvation for Am Yisrael. Mashiach was born on Tisha Ba’v and he is the Geulah. It’s the darkest day and the day with the greatest light. The Rav from Lublin says that every Tisha bav in the afternoon after chatzot all those of Klal yisrael who do what is required during the three weeks receives in their soul a type of personal salvation. A certain light of Mashiach is given to him or her and they receive what they need. This is true for those seeking marriage, livelihood, recovery from illness and fear, etc. Just as Mashiach was born on Tisha Bav after midday so can we receive our own personal salvation on Tisha Bav after midday. So it’s definitely worth making the effort during the 3 weeks. But what we have discussed until now is nothing new. What we are going to learn from here on is going to be a chiddush (novelty) that I learned from a Tzaddik. Just like the bein hametzarim can save us from our sorrow and exile, a person needs to understand and learn how we were rescued from Egypt. In this way a person can understand how to escape from his own personal “Mitzrayim”. The Baal Shem Tov says that any person who wants to move from a lower place to a higher place in any aspect of his life, spiritual or physical, has to go through 3 levels. First is surrender, second is separation and the third is sweetening. Whoever makes effort in these three aspects: surrender in the first week of Bein Hametzarim, Separation in the second and Sweetening in the third you can promise him that he will see salvation that year. These three weeks can determine and bring about his salvation for many years to come. What do these words mean? Understand that each of these aspects is detailed in 50-60 pages in the books of the Baal Shem Tov. I’m not going to explain each one at length. Next week and the week after that we will learn about these aspects. I’ll go a bit this week into the concept of Surrender. But just keep in mind and continue to remind yourselves that our salvation is contingent on these three concepts. We need to really focus on self-improvement and work on ourselves. What is surrender, in a nutshell? It has two components that are inter-dependent. One is that we repress the greatest obstacle that is interfering with our life. What does that mean? For one person, it can be his bad temper – which disrupts his entire household. For someone else, it can be their jealousy, for another it can be his lust, for him it’s his tendency to be depressed, for her it can be lack of modesty. Each person has their own personal struggle and it is this that they have to overcome. You can’t do it all at once, but choose what is most difficult for you, and try each day as much as you can to overcome it. How do we do this? We will get more into it in the next lesson but basically the way to do this is by surrendering ourselves to our Creator. The moment that we humble ourselves and surrender ourselves to Hashem, we also minimize that quality that is our defect. Let’s talk about anger, for example. You knock on your neighbor’s door and ask to borrow some eggs. As you go into her apartment, you notice that it is in complete disarray. Are you going to start criticizing her because her house isn’t clean? No! Why? Because it’s not your house. But imagine you then get home and see that your kids made a mess. Will you yell at them? Of course. Why? It’s your house! Why does a person get angry and yell? Because he thinks he is the master of his “home”. If you think you are the master of the house you feel that you can offer your opinion. But when you realize you aren’t in charge, you let God run the world. He knows very well what he is doing generally and specifically which each one of us. When a person realizes this, he slowly humbles himself before God and represses his bad inclination. This is what happened in the exile from Egypt. There was surrender, separation and sweetening. What was the surrender? The Egyptians succumbed to us after reigning for 210 years. We left Egypt there was a separation. Before hand we were mixed with all the other nations. Then came a separation – we are Jews, they are Egyptians. We are Am Israel, they are Goyim. We are under Moshe, they are under Pharoah. As soon as we had separation, our Judgements become sweetened. When was there a sweetening in the story of the exile from Egypt – during the parting of the Sea. The Egyptians were still chasing us, but during Kriyat Yam Suf when they drowned and we were able to cross, there was the ultimate separation and sweetening. And what do we liken the parting of the sea to? The attainment of one’s soul mate and livelihood. These are salvations that can be achieved during the three weeks. Until next week try to take at least 5 minutes a day to speak to Hashem and say, for example: I know and admit that I have a tendency to be jealous. Whenever I see someone’s good fortune I become envious, and I start becoming upset that I am lacking. Please help me overcome this and be better. Don’t just say “help me overcome my evil inclination” – you have to be honest with Hashem. Admit that you are wrong. Admit that you have a weakness. For example, say to Hashem: I like to dress immodestly, even if I know it’s wrong. I like the attention that I receive and the looks I get. I feel important. I wish it would say in the Torah that dressing this way was permissible. But I know it isn’t, so give me the strength to overcome my desire to dress this way. One’s Yetzer Hara is renewed each and every day, and if Hashem doesn’t help him/her overcome it he can’t do it alone. So this first week, we start by overcoming our most problematic and challenging bad quality. Please excuse any typos and or grammatical errors.