Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thursday's Thoughts on Teshuva - The Rabbi Mansour Derasha Vol II

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, on Tuesday night, Mrs KB and I went to see R' Mansour give a teshuva derasha in Far Rockaway. Due to the length of the derasha and my lack of time, I was only able to post half of the derasha summary last evening. This post will attempt to complete the summary of the derasha, although I caution that I cannot hope to replicate the awe inspiring delivery. Same rules as usual apply - I have attempted to reproduce the derasha to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Mansour.

To answer the question as to what "interest" Hashem has in us, R' Mansour made reference to a Zohar which discusses man's creation. The Zohar writes that when Hashem made man, it was a creation without life. In order to bring Adam alive, Hashem blew into Adam's nostrils. In so doing, a piece of Hashem was implanted into Adam. Similalrly, when we blow into a balloon, a small piece of us is injected into the balloon. The Zohar uses the term "Bas Melech" - daughter of king to describe the neshama - as if Hashem is saying - you have a the daughter of the king inside of you and when you sin, you impact on your soul and the daughter of the king. The sin causes dirt or damage to the soul which must be cleaned.

R' Mansour then digressed to tell a story about his young son who came home from school and told him that he had learned that the Torah forbids tattoos. The boy told his father that he knew which pasuk in the Torah proscribed tattoos and R' Mansour thought to himself that this was incredible as the pasuk on kesoves caca is not a very well known pasuk. He asked the boy to repeat the pasuk to him and the boy said that it was prohibited under V'lo Tatturu! After the laughter in the audience died down, R' Mansour explained that this is the same concept as the soul - Hashem gives us a body but it is not ours. We did not purchase it in a store - it was a gift. We must return the body and soul and do not have permission to damage them.

R' Mansour next made an analogy to a woman who goes to a wedding and checks her long black mink coat with the coat check room. When she is leaving the wedding, the woman returns and presents her ticket and asks for her coat back. Instead of receiving the coat she expected, she is given a short brown jacket. She asked the coat check lady - where is my coat? The lady answers - brown is much more in style this year and no one wears long coats - only short jackets. So we changed the coat so that you would be stylish. The same way that the attendee at the wedding would be upset with a change to her coat, Hashem is unhappy when we alter our bodies to conform with the current style.

Similarly, Hashem gives us neshamos to watch for a short period of time, but they must be returned in the form that they were given to us.

R' Mansour next made reference to a story about the Chafetz Chaim who told the boys in yeshiva that he wanted to tell them a secret that night after night seder. That night, the beis medrasha was packed with people waiting to hear the "secret." When the time arrived, the Chofetz Chaim told them the prayer of Elokai Neshama and made specific reference to the line that Hashem will one day take our neshamos away and then return them to us. He said this is the secret - one day the neshamos will be returned.

The Chofetz Chaim then explained that Gehennim is when Hashem returns a misshapen or dirty neshoma to a person who must then wear that neshoma for eternity. The person is embarrassed and there is no escape from the shame over the state of the neshoma. Therefore, we must fix or clean our neshamos now while we are still in this world so that they will be clean when Hashem takes them away at the end of our mortal lives and we will be happy with their state when the neshamos are returned to us for eternity.

R' Mansour made reference to the game of musical chairs. Everyone knows this game - when the music stops all the children must be in a seat. The child without the seat when the music stops is out. We don't know the moment that the neshoma will be taken from us, but if we are not ready for it, we will be stuck with the neshoma in the state that it is forever, without a chance to clean it.

Crossover alert! R' Mansour next made reference to a story that he said that he had heard from R' Frand a yeshiva boy who played the drums in a club at night after yeshiva. One night, the boy was approached at the club by a promoter who told him that he could get the boy a gig at a big club in New York City. A short time later, the boy heard again from the promoter who told him that he got him a job playing at the largest club in NY. However the event would be held on Shabbos. The yeshiva boy told the promoter that he would get back to him.

The boy went back to his yeshiva and spoke with his Rebbi about the situation and asked for advice. The Rebbi told him - take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle and make a list. On one side write the pros of going to play at the club and on the other side write the cons.

A few days later, the boy returned to his Rebbi with his list. The side of the paper with the positives of playing at the club was filled practically to the bottom of the page. On the other side there was only one word - eternity. The boy explained that if he went to play at the club on shabbos in NYC he would never be able to take it back and it would be a smudge forever. The Rebbi asked - so what will it be? The boy cried and said I will not play.

The upshot of the story is that we need to know that a sin can leave a mark on the soul which if left untreated in this world will stain the soul forever.

R' Mansour remarked that Yom Kippur is not a sad time like Tisha B'av - it is a happy time. We need to view Yom Kippur as the day that the neshoma is clean and be happy about it, much like the good feeling that a person has when they get a crisp suit back from the cleaners or a car that is freshly washed -there is a sense of happiness with getting our possession back clean.

R' Mansour then asked - why is there a mitzva to eat on the day before Yom Kippur. He offered two answers, one from Rashi and one from R' Yona. Rashi explains that the mitzva to eat is Hashem's way of insuring that we will have strength to fast on Yom Kippur - much like a mother would prepare her child before he goes away on a trip. R' Yona answers that Yom Kippur is a happy day and we should be eating on Yom Kippur, but we are commanded to fast. Therefore our seudas mitzva for Yom Kippur occurs the day before.

R' Mansour closed the shiur by wishing everyone a good yom tov and that when the music stops they should be blessed with having a chair.

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