Thursday, January 24, 2008

Finding Merit in other Jews

Sichos Kodesh 5735, Vol 1, p.17
Talk of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Day of Simchas Torah 5735

I heard from a reliable source a story that happened in the times of the Alter Rebbe. Once the Alter Rebbe sat with certain select individuals, and a man was brought before him into whom a ruach (spirit) had entered. The Alter Rebbe began to speak about those who had killed Zecharia Hanovi, that it says about this "Shall a Cohen and Novi be slain in the Mikdash of Hashem?" (Eicha 2:20)), and the Alter Rebbe said that those who had killed Zecharia Hanovi were tzaddikim, and the reason that they killed him was because there is a difference when the Novi says the prophecy and if he doesn't say it--that before he says the prophecy in speech it is possible for it to change, and it does not necessarily have to be fulfilled, which is not the case when the Novi says the prophecy in speech, which already brings it down further into the world and then it has existence. Since they heard that Zecharia Hanovi is going to say a prophecy about the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash, and in order that the prophecy will not come into the speech of the Novi (at which time it will need to be fulfilled), therefore they sacrificed themselves to do such a thing as to slay a Cohen and Novi in the Beis Hashem, in order that the prophecy will not come into speech. As the Rambam says, that even though when the prophecy comes into speech it still isn't necessarily going to be fulfilled and it can be changed, but one can't compare the nullification that is required to nullify something that was only in thought and didn't come into the speech of the Novi, compared to the nullification of something that already came into speech and revelation, particularly in a public setting, and in the Beis Hashem. Since they knew all of this, and they didn't want the prophecy to be fulfilled, this is why they killed him.

The Alter Rebbe continued: if so, seemingly we should ask a question on Zecharia Hanovi himself--certainly he knew about the difference between prophecy that is spoken by the prophet and prophecy which is not spoken, and if so how could it be that he wanted to say this prophecy, since it was able to cause it to be more likely for such a thing to occur in actuality? If it is said that he wanted to say the prophecy because one who receives prophecy but doesn't say it is punished with death, this doesn't make sense, because those who killed him would also receive the death penalty, but nonetheless they sacrificed their lives to do this thing for which they received death--in order to prevent the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash. If so, why did not Zecharia himself do this? Explained the Alter Rebbe: since Zecharia was a Novi and he had a command from Hashem to say the prophecy, his being a Novi--a Novi has no existence of his own, and his entire existence is that he says the word of Hashem and he has no self-awareness (tfisas makom l'atzmo)--thus it is impossible for him to make calculations, etc. and not to actually say the prophecy, because he has no existence of his own. This was not the case with those who were not on the level of a novi, who has no existence of his own, but they were also very great tzaddikim, and thus they were able to do this thing--to kill the Novi--in order that the prophecy should not come into speech.

When the Alter Rebbe finished saying these things, the ruach departed from this man, and the Alter Rebbe said that this ruach was from those who had killed Zecharia Hanovi and entered via Ibbur into this man. By having spoken meritoriously (lamad zchus) of those who had killed Zecharia Hanovi he had been able to rectify the ruach, and also that this man should not be burdened but this ruach. From all this we see the great importance of finding merit (limud zchus), that by speaking this way it reveals the positive thing and in this way, relating to speaking meritoriously, it reveals the true matter that was present originally as well.



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