Parashat Re’eh

I have a problem; I need to help

How does this statement sound to you- I have a problem; I need to help…?  A mess of words!?  A default in the brain!?  A lack of logic!?  That’s understandable.  Nevertheless, it’s not correct.  There is no mistake here; there is a secret here…


Harav Israel Asulin

Wednesday, 27th of Av, 5775


How does this statement sound to you- I have a problem, I need to help…?  A mess of words!?  A default in the brain!?  A lack of logic!?  Do you want to press delete on the last word in the sentence and write instead: “I have a problem; I need help!?”

That’s understandable.  Nevertheless, it’s not correct.  There is no mistake here; there is a secret here.

It is a secret which is called “I have a problem; I need to help…”

In this week’s Torah portion it is said about the mitzvah of tzedakah[1]: “You shall surely give him, and let your heart not feel bad when you give him, for in return for this matter, Hashem your God, will bless you in all your deeds and in your every undertaking.” (Devarim[2] Chapter 15, Verse 10)  The holy Torah reveals to us that in contrast to how we understand it sometimes, to give is not to lose.  To give is to receive a free entrance card to the department of blessings, successes and salvations.

Rebbe Nachman says that giving is the key which opens all the closed gates and expands all of the narrow crossings.  It is like a wondrous formula the paves the path to the light: “Tzedakah expands all the entrances of holiness.  When a person enters into a path of serving Hashem he needs to open there an opening in order to enter that path, and because of this all beginnings are difficult.  Through tzedakah a person expands the opening, because tzedakah expands and opens greatly all of the openings of holiness.” (Likutei Eitzot[3], Tzedakah)

Think about how amazing this is, and it is especially amazing when we contemplate the field of healing the soul.  Just as anyone who recognizes the difficulties and pain in his soul knows- nobody can save himself.  We can and are obligated to make an effort, but there is still no professional formula that heals the soul.

A person can try for years upon years to go in a certain path, to make progress in a certain area, to push forward towards the holiness’ to search for love, good, trust, will and peace, to deeply desire tasting the taste of healing.  However, everything is stuck, exhausted, clogged and sealed.  There are iron gates and steel latches.

What is the advice of the Torah against this closed screen?  To give.

You cannot save yourself, but you can really save another person!

Are stuck on the path? You need to give.

You have a problem?  Then you need to give!

You feel pain?  Come and see what is hurting your brother… leave yourself for a moment.  Stop protecting yourself as if you were in mortal danger.  Give boundaries in a gentle and decisive way to the small and hurt child inside of you, who only wants to be seen and understood and receive mercy and compassion and be loved and honored… and choose for yourself one person- it’s desirable that it be your spouse- to dedicate yourself completely to them.  Put him/her at the top of your priorities- and give!

Why?  What is the connection?  How is my difficulty to wean myself from my addiction to sweets, for example, connected to giving?  Why should giving open for me the gates of dieting and to be satisfied with lettuce instead of ice cream?  Why is it that when I begin to give I move from the department of almost dying to the department of healing?

That’s the way it is.  It’s like a tactic.  This is the data that Hashem inserted into the operating system of a Jew.  You will give and automatically all of the locked gates will be removed from before you in the aspect of “Raise up your gates”[4]… that is the way it is in every area, and especially when dealing with the soul.  The Tsaddikim say that there is no such thing as an emotional problem.  Rather there is something hiding the soul.

What does this mean?

Each and every one of us has an amazing soul which is carved from on high and it has in it all of the good.  All of the light that was inside of you when you were a child and you knew to love with all your soul, and to bounce with laughter from nothing, and to enjoy every floating butterfly, and to cry when it hurt, and to believe, and be happy, and to truly live with all of your energy and strength… all of the light that was there still exists, but it is hidden.

Layers and layers of pain and distance from Hashem are hiding from you your own self, and are causing your soul to appear dirty and sick, addicted, self-centered, depressed, worried, angry and abandoned.

They took from you, betrayed you, laughed at you, belittled you, acted like strangers, threatened you, abandoned you and demanded from you to be a man (at age 5).  You had to adapt yourself to expectations, wipe away the tears and by way of this stop living… life with its many crises buried you to the depths.  They buried the light and froze the love, extinguished will and choked happiness…

However, beyond all of the coverings and concealments, the soul remains the same amazing and gentle one that was brought down from the thrown of glory.  Healing means to peel away what is covering the soul and return to being.

How do we peel away the layers?  With a peeler?  On the fire?  By hand?  With a technological instrument?

There is no way to peel away the layers.  You can go to a professional, speak about yourself and your childhood, learn the skills of coping, and maybe wean yourself from an addiction.  However, yourself, your fire, your soul, where are you?  How do you reach yourself?  How do you break through the concealment?

Hashem put the concealments there and only he, when he wills it, will remove them.  This will happen only when it is clear to you that you are a giver!

If you have at least one person that you dedicate yourself to their healing- then also Hashem, as it were, will dedicate himself to your healing.  He will put aside all of the considerations, the judgements and your debts, and look at you with good and loving eyes, and he will remove from you layer after layer and allow you to be revealed.

[1] Charity

[2] Deuteronomy

[3] Practical teachings of advice taken from Rebbe Nachman’s teachings, complied by Rebbe Natan, Rebbe Nachman’s main disciple

[4] Psalms Chapter 24, verse 7

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