The Inner Tzaddik
The third Lubavitcher Rebbe, the Tzemach Tzedek, pointed out something interesting about the word for “half” (מַחֲצִית) in the “half-shekel” that each individual gave as a census tax. The word is composed of a letter tzaddik (צ) in the middle, around which are the letters that spell the word “alive” (חַי). Further out from the middle are the two letters that spell the word “dead” (מֵת).
Obviously, the middle letter alludes to the tzaddik. Those who are close to him receive life from him and feel alive in their service. However, this does not relieve them of their duty to motivate themselves as well (עֲבוֹדָה בְּכֹחַ עַצְמוֹ).
The tzaddik can thus be described as the expounder who gives “charity” to those around him. Every Jew has an inner point that is a tzaddik in its own right. It is the point of his or her being from where he provides and influences others positively. Our life force depends on identifying internally with this point in us. We receive life by loving our fellow and from acts of loving-kindness that we do for others. To identify with this inner point of our being means to identify with our very substance.
(from Amudeha Shivah)
Fire and Water
The water basin from which the priests would wash their hands and feet before serving in the Tabernacle was placed between the courtyard altar and the Sanctuary. The altar—upon which the sacrifices were placed and burnt—represents the fire of Divine service, i.e., prayer, which aims to elevate our animal souls, our lower selves. Within the Sanctuary there was another altar, the golden altar upon which incense was burnt, representing the fire of Torah and its inner dimension, as in the famous phrase spoken by the great Torah sage, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, “I burn with a solitary fire.” Thus, in its location between these two altars, the basin represents the water between the fire of prayer and the fire of Torah.
Indeed, of Moses Pharaoh’s daughter said, “I have drawn him out of the water.” Thus Moses represents the waters of the basin. It is from him that we draw the waters with which we purify ourselves before engaging in prayer or in Torah study. In the same vein, we find two phrases, “the Torah of Moses” and “the prayer of Moses,” examples of the purity attained in both when connecting with Moses.
(from Sha’ashuim Yom Yom)
Great and terrible sins are the result of impatience and lack of judgment. Adam and Eve were created in the final hours of the sixth day of Creation. If they would only have been able to delay their gratification and wait until the onset of Shabbat to eat from the Tree of Knowledge, it would not have been a sin. If the people of Israel would have waited for a few hours more for Moses to return, they would not have made the Golden Calf, because the mixed multitudes could only influence them when they were panicky and shaken. Had the people of Israel carefully thought about the report brought back to them by the spies, weighing it in light of the report brought by Joshua and Caleb, they would not have sinned. Had King David been patient, he would have been permitted to marry Bathsheba legally, for she was destined from the outset of Creation to be his wife.
From all these examples of impatience and its consequences, we learn that the most important principle in rectifying our psyche is “patience” (אֶרֶךְ אַפַּיִם), which entails first and foremost patience towards others and in addition, acting non-impulsively, making sure we are patient enough to not force our way through the situations we encounter.
. Exodus 2:10.
. Malachi 3:22.
. Psalms 90:1.