This past Shabbos was Parshas HaChodesh, the Shabbos which comes before the new month of Nissan, the month of Pesach. In the special liturgical poems for this Shabbos we said, "This month, the month in which salvations surround us." The Hebrew word for "surround" is also the word for "to extend credit", (see Ethics of the Father 3:16). The Apter Rav used to explain the poem in this way. It is the month in which salvation is extended to us on credit. Even though we are not yet ready or worthy, Hashem extends to us all that is necessary for spiritual and even physical salvation. That was the story of Pesach. Even though the Children of Israel were immersed in 49 levels of the impurity of Egypt, nevertheless, when the month of Nissan came around, the stage was prepared for the beginning of the Exodus. God willing we will see salvation from our constraints in this month and in this year!
Short Biography: The Apter Rav, Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Heshel , (1748-1825), was one of the greatest of the disciples of Rebbe Elimelech of Lizensk. He was the disciple that received the gift of the power of speech from his Rebbe. He is known as the "Ohev Yisrael", The lover of Israel after his magnum opus. This quality was an outstanding part of his character and doctrine. He believed that his life was an incarnation brought about in order to finish the perfection of his love for his fellow Jew, He likened this to one's love for G-d himself. He was known for his ability to reconcile rifts between certain branches of the Chassidic movement.
The Parsha deals with the matter of Tzaras, commonly but
mistakenly identified as leprosy. The truth was that it was a
plague that occurred as a result of foul language or gossip.
It served as an immediate message to enable a person to
change his ways on the spot. The rigorous process of
purification insured that he would be as careful about what
came out of his mouth as what went in. The verse (Vayikra
13:3) tells us that when a person would experience a
"Tzaras", a lesion on his skin, he would show it to
the Cohen Priest on duty in the Holy Temple who would decide
if it was indeed Tzaras.
Rebbe Asher of Karlin derived an important lesson from this. He once explained, "The Chassidim of this generation are made of straw (weakhearted), without real content! When they go to visit the Rebbe, they endeavor to show the Rebbe all the good they have within them, but they hide their faults. When I used to go to my Rebbe, R' Shlomo Karliner, I would lay out all my faults in front of him and hide any good that I might have found in myself. I would beg him to show me a path of rectification for my soul that I might better myself." "This I learned from the verse, (Vayikra 13:3), "..and the Cohen would see the lesion...". The Jew had to show his faults in order receive his path of rectification".
Short Biography: Rebbe Asher of Stolin (the 1st), 1760-1828, was the son of Rebbe Aharon HaGadol of Karlin. When his father passed away, he was raised by his successor Rebbe Shlomo Karliner who became one of his main influences. Rebbe Asher later settled in Stolin, thus the Stoliner Chassidim got their name. He was well know for his support of establishing Torah learning and a Chassidic presence in the Holy land.
The Chofetz Chaim and another Rav were eating in an inn
renowned for its standards of kashrus. The innkeeper,
realizing that he had two illustrious guests, did all he
could to serve them the finest meal. As the dessert was being
brought out, the innkeeper asked them, "How did you like
the meal?" The Chofetz Chaim complimented the innkeeper
and his cook, and thanked them warmly. The other Rav however
mentioned that the soup could have used a little more salt.
The Chofetz Chaim turned white. "My whole life I have
managed to avoid hearing Loshon Hara (bad speech) and here
you have just spoken Loshon Hara." " What are you
talking about"? The Chofetz Chaim described the scene
that must be going on in the kitchen right now. The cook is
probably a poor widow and the innkeeper is chastising her for
not putting salt in the soup and thereby ruining the meal of
his illustrious guests. He would be screaming at her and
ready to fire her over the incident. Besides, you have also
violated six injunctions:
1) You spoke Loshon Hara.
2) You caused others to hear it.
3) You caused the owner to repeat it (rechilus).
4) You caused the cook to lie, since she said that she did put salt in the soup in order to save face.
5) The owner caused distress to a widow.
6) You caused an argument.
The other Rabbi smiled. "Surely you are exaggerating." "Let's go see", said the Chofetz Chaim. They went together into the kitchen to find the innkeeper berating the poor cook for her stupid mistake. The second Rav, realizing his blunder, begged the innkeeper to the cook on, assuring him that the soup was quite good, and the rest of the meal extraordinary, and promised that he would always stop to eat at this inn on all his journeys.