March 29, 2016
Beis Moshiach in #1015, Bitachon Bytes, Shmini

By Rabbi Zalman Goldberg 

The Rebbe has often taught that all the concepts in one Parsha are intrinsically related. Even though there may sometimes seem to be more of a connection between the beginning of the Parsha to the end of the previous Parsha, or from the end of the current Parsha to the beginning of the next Parsha, nonetheless, whichever ideas are included in one Parsha must be deeply connected, no matter how disparate those concepts may seem.            

This discussion is especially relevant to Parshas Shmini in which there is an obvious relationship to the previous Parsha, which discusses the seven days prior to and preparing for the “Eighth Day,” the eighth day in the process of the consecration of the Mishkan, but there seems to be no relationship between the following events and commandments discussed in the Parsha.

First the Torah relates that the Mishkan was erected in a permanent manner on Rosh Chodesh Nissan (and was not taken down on that day as it was for the previous seven days). Even on the earlier seven days during which the Mishkan was built and dismantled, spiritually speaking it was an eternal affair, for everything the Torah commands is everlasting holiness even if the actual fulfillment is temporary. How much more so is the official inauguration of the Mishkan, which was a more permanent endeavor physically; surely it was an exalted event! Especially when we learn that the Yidden merited that a fire descended from Hashem to consume the offerings, a first time experience in the Mishkan!

The parsha then continues and tells us about the death of the two sons of Aharon, which resulted from their tremendous yearning to cleave to Hashem. This shows that they were on a very exalted spiritual level.

Yet the parsha continues and proscribes consumption of non-kosher animals and crawling creatures.

How do these concepts come together in one parsha where all discussions should be seamlessly connected?

The answer lies in the fact that in addition to all the holiness that exists, we must be aware of the potential of other influences to take over. We must be on the lookout that the גוף (body) should not have a negative influence even on a person who is experiencing G-dliness.

An illustration of the necessity for the above-mentioned precaution can be seen in the following story. One Friday night at the Shabbos meal, the Baal Shem Tov was surrounded by many great disciples as well as simpler Chassidim. The closest disciples noticed how the Baal Shem Tov showed a remarkable bond to some of the simpler Chassidim, sharing with them his wine, challa, and fish. The next day at the Shabbos meal, when only the most knowledgeable and accomplished of the Baal Shem Tov’s students were allowed to be present, there were those who entertained thoughts wondering about the Baal Shem Tov’s conduct of the night before, and how nice it was now to experience only deep Torah thoughts and general spiritual elevation.

The Baal Shem Tov sensed these thoughts and instructed his disciples to place their hands on the shoulders of their neighbors. He himself placed his two hands on the shoulders of the disciples next to him, and began to sing a chassidishe niggun, and all present joined in. A moment later, the exalted students envisioned some of the simple Chassidim sitting in shul reciting T’hillim with a pouring out of the soul to Hashem and with a love and yearning for Hashem, such as they themselves could have never imagined. Not only did the students feel remorse for their belittling thoughts; they themselves wished that they could connect to Hashem with such pure devotion.

The Mezritcher Maggid later related to the Alter Rebbe that he suffered immense internal agony over the fact that he doubted the actions of his holy master the Baal Shem Tov. He worked very hard to fix his misjudgment. One evening he saw a vision of Moshe Rabbeinu teaching Parshas Lech Lecha in Gan Eden to children; when the pasuk regarding Avrohom Avinu laughing when he was promised that he would have a son, Yitzchok, was read, Moshe Rabbeinu explained that even a holy body is also a body, and is capable of laughing even when receiving a guarantee from Hashem.

Needless to say, this greatly calmed the Maggid for he realized that his doubt regarding the Baal Shem Tov’s relating to the simple Chassidim was a result of his physical body, and thus it became a possible occurrence.

Interestingly enough, the body which can cause the opposite of satisfactory conduct actually has the potential to reach levels higher than understanding. This power, however, can also be the cause of the greatest descent, and a person may come to do things that are lower than understanding, like eating insects, etc. as generally the body does not operate according to intellect.

This is similar to what is explained in Chassidus regarding the necessity for intellect to not only be the reason and cause for a character trait, but to continuously control the character trait even after it has been created. The reason for this is that even a good character trait can go sour if not properly guarded and guided by the intellect, due to the fact that emotion can wildly change direction if left to its natural tendencies.           

Parshas Shmini comes and relates that the very same people experiencing a high of inspiration at a holy and G-dly experience can later find themselves doing the most foolish things if the influence of the body is not taken into account. The only way to control the body is to accustom it to follow Hashem’s word with full kabbalas Ol. Incidentally, in the story told above, the G-dly encounter that the exalted talmidim were experiencing lacked the Kabbalas Ol to the Baal Shem Tov’s conduct. On the other hand the simpler Chassidim represented the Kabbalas Ol type of relationship where the body didn’t have influence over them, which is why their Avoda was so pure. Perhaps this is what the Baal Shem Tov wanted to teach his students: not only to appreciate their pure Avodas Hashem, but to learn from people by whom Kabbalas Ol is intact.

Only when one’s Kabbalas Ol is present can one be sure that his conduct will follow Hashem’s Will all the time, both during holy times and also when the physical body wants to put in its two cents. Ultimately the Kabbalas Ol will negate the potential of the body to cause one to violate one’s close relationship with and Bitachon in Hashem.


Rabbi Zalman Goldberg is a well sought after speaker and lecturer on Chassidic thought. His writings and recordings on the topic of Bitachon can be accessed at You can also receive his one minute daily Bitachon clip by sending a WhatsApp to: – -347-581-3830 with the word “Bitachon.”


Article originally appeared on Beis Moshiach Magazine (
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