The first chapter of our parsha discusses the mitzvah of the Para Adumah, the red heifer. This completely red cow was brought as a special sacrifice whose ashes had the power to purify a person who had become impure due to contact with a dead body. This chapter also talks about the laws of a person who was contaminated in a tent or another type of covering. “This is the teaching regarding a man who would die in a tent: Anything that enters the tent and anything that is in the tent shall be contaminated for seven days.” (Chapter 19, Verse 14)
The verse above in Hebrew states- זאת התורה אדם…, which literally means this is the Torah (the law, teaching) of a person, etc. The Sages learned from this verse that a person needs to have self-sacrifice in order to learn and fulfill the Torah. Therefore, Reb Noson teaches regarding this verse, that a person needs to make himself holier with words of Torah and prayer as much as possible, to the point that his being is nullified before the words of Torah completely. This means that a person’s physical being is connected and included in the holy words, just like the parchment of the Torah scroll is connected to the letters of the Torah to the point that the parchment and the letters become truly one entity. The same is true regarding our physical bodies- they need to be connected and included in the words of Torah until the words become imprinted on the body. When this happens, Reb Noson says, this person becomes holy like the holiness of a Torah scroll, and even more than a sefer Torah. He himself is like a Torah scroll. This is the aspect of the verse in Proverbs, “inscribe them (the words of Torah) on the tablet of your heart.” (Chapter 3, Verse 3) The words of the Torah can become written upon us, just like the letters of the Torah are inscribed onto a Torah scroll. (Liktutei Halachot, Laws of the Synagogue, 4th teaching)
This is an amazingly powerful concept- the more that we speak good words, words of Torah and prayer and faith, the more that they become imprinted into us and purify even our physical being. We merit to reveal our eternal connection to Hashem and to the Torah. However, sometimes we are in situations where we feel like we are so far from Hashem and from His Torah. How can we all relate to this teaching on whatever level or situation which we might find ourselves in?
Rebbe Nachman says in the book Meshivat Nefesh (Restore My Soul) that speech has amazing power to help us find strength. Even if a person has fallen to a very low place spiritually, nevertheless if he continues even from that low place to speak words of truth, words of Torah and prayer, the holy words that he says will remind him of his eternal connection to Hashem. This can give a person strength in any situation, even in those places which are very far from holiness. Our words are the aspect of a mother and her children (Psalms 113, 9th verse). Just like a mother goes with her children, even to lowly and dirty places, and never forgets about them, so too, a person’s words go with them always, even into very low spiritual places, and they remind him of God. His words of Torah, faith, and prayer don’t allow him to forget Hashem. You should understand from this teaching, Rebbe Nachman says, the incredible power of speech. This is an incredible and awesome piece of advice for a person who truly desires to find Hashem and not lose themselves, God forbid. (21st teaching, Part One)
This past Shabbat I read a powerful teaching together with a friend by Rebbe Nachman about strengthening and encouraging ourselves, the 48th teaching in the second part of Likutei Moharan. In Breslov tradition the Chassidim call this teaching the Letter, because Rebbe Nachman speaks in a very personal language, something which is uncommon in Likutei Moharan. He says there that we should know that every effort we’ve made in our lives to come closer to Hashem, they all come to help a person at a time of need, when they are in distress. Every good desire and every good deed we’ve done are a merit for us, and they help us in times of need. If every movement and every effort we’ve made to improve ourselves in order to come closer to Hashem comes with us, this is especially true about words of Torah and prayer as we learned above. Whenever we are in a time of trouble, God forbid, or just struggling spiritually, every word of holiness which we can speak helps us remember that Hashem is with us. In addition, every good word of Torah and prayer which we have spoken in the past also comes to help us in a time of need.
When we accustom ourselves to speaking words of Torah and prayer on a daily basis, each person on their level, we will begin to see the incredible power of our words also in those situations which seem so difficult. Even the few words of prayer and faith which we are able to say in those hard times can help us feel Hashem’s love and help. They remind us that Hashem is always with us, and they will help us see things differently, with eyes of faith, even when we feel like we have fallen so far.
(The image is courteous of Chabad.org)