Come tomorrow!

Thursday, 12 March, 2015 - 5:40 pm


I heard from my teacher, Rabbi Chaim Shalom Deutsh, that when he was learning in the Yeshiva in Kfar Chabad, they sat one year at the Hitva’adut (Chassidic gathering) on Purim with the Mashpi’a (spiritual guide), Rabbi Shlomo Chaim Kesselman z”l. During the long night, he spoke many words of Torah and gave inspiring messages. They all drank “L’chaim” and sang moving Chabad Niggunim (tunes), of the type that take your spirit and elevate it more and more, until you feel that you are somewhat above this material world. In Yiddish they call that state “A Tefach Hecher” – a Tefach above the world (“Tefach” is a Talmudic measurement).

Rabbi Shlomo Chaim had already gone home, but a small group of students continued to sing for several more hours.

Very early in the morning, when people were beginning to gather for Shacharit (morning prayers), the young men came to the home of their beloved Mashp’ia, and knocked on the door. When he opened the door, they said, all excited, “We want to pray.” Translating this into our own language, they meant they were asking his permission to pray longer than usual. Why did they have to ask for permission? Because Rabbi Shlomo Chaim did not allow everyone to pray at great length: before a young student begins to pray that way and cleave to Hashem – in other words, to elevate himself – one has to make sure that his foundations in Torah and Chassidut are sound. But on this morning, after hours of Hitva’adut, they all felt that they were worthy of praying at great length, and therefore asked for permission to do so. Rabbi Shlomo Chaim, in his great wisdom, didn’t wave them away, but, rather, said, “O.K., but not today. Come to me tomorrow.”…

The next day only one (!) young man showed up, asked for permission to “begin praying” and received it.


From this week’s Parasha we learn the thirty-nine Melachot (actions) that are forbidden on Shabbat. One of the most well-known ones is the prohibition to kindle a fire on Shabbat. Halacha says, that if someone lights a fire, he has transgressed, but he is not liable to punishment, unless he lit the fire for the sake of some benefit to himself – for instance, if he lit the fire because he needed the ashes that would result from it. Only then is he punished, because only then has he performed the Melacha completely.

The Rebbe explains, that a person serving his Creator must perform his actions in a complete way as well. Lighting a fire without any benefit is not considered to be a Melacha.

A person who lights the inner fire within himself, awaking and coming closer to Hashem – even dancing and singing “HaKadosh Baruch Hu, we love You!” and feeling connected to the Creator, and even love for Him – that is all fine and good. But these actions cannot be considered a “Melacha” as long as there is no goal that continues to exist even after the “fire” has gone out. Only if the goal is the “ashes” – the material, tangible part that remains after the fire – then the act of kindling the fire is complete. Because the fire of the soul has to touch a person’s materiality as well.

Or, perhaps, in the words of Rabbi Shlomo Chaim, “Come tomorrow!” He who comes even after the fire has gone out is the one who will really connect.


Shabbat Shalom,


Zalmen Wishedski

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