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    There was once a
    priest who was very ill with wounds all
    over his body, and he asked the Baal Shem
    Tov for a cure. The Baal Shem Tov told him
    that his illness came because he pursued his
    taavos. “The only solution is to stop
    pursuing your desires.”
    The priest responded that he was so
    addicted to his temptations that he couldn’t
    control himself. He asked the Baal Shem
    Tov whether he successfully controlled his
    The Baal Shem Tov pointed to his white
    beard, indicating that he is an old man, and
    he doesn’t have to struggle with these
    matters anymore.
    The Baal Shem Tov’s grandson, Rebbe
    Boruch’l of Mezhibuzh was present during
    this exchange.
    Rebbe Boruch’l asked the Baal Shem Tov,
    “Why didn’t you tell him that you are a Yid,
    and a Yid is able to control his temptations”?
    The Baal Shem Tov replied, “It is
    impossible to explain to a goy what it
    means to be a Yid.”
    We add that it is impossible to explain to a

    Yid what it means to be a Yid.
    We don’t recognize our greatness, our
    potential, how much Hashem loves us, etc.
    As it states (Tehillim ,האדם לבני להודיע
    145:12 (, גבורותיו this means we must tell
    people about their strengths and how much
    they can achieve, if they put their heart to it.
    And even if you are at a very low level,
    you are beloved to Hashem. The following
    story took place in the year 1960, and it was
    well known at the time.
    The Pittsburg Rebbe zt’l
    lived in Ashdod. From time to
    time, he traveled to his
    chassidim in New York. Once,
    he was flying to New York,
    together with eight other
    Yidden. Midflight, the plane
    began gliding downwards, and
    the passengers didn’t know
    why. They were still far from
    their destination.
    Panic reigned on board.
    Finally, a flight attendant
    announced that they were
    having engine problems, and
    they were hoping to find a runway nearby.
    Otherwise, the plane will plummet into the
    forest below.

    The Yidden on board said viduy, kriyas
    Shema, and davened for a miracle. It was a
    frightening moment. With Hashem’s
    compassion, they found a small airport in
    the vicinity, and the plane landed safely.
    It was time to daven Shacharis, but there
    was a lot of commotion in the airport. The
    Yidden approached a member of the ground
    crew and asked, “Is there a secluded place
    where we can pray?” The man fainted on
    the spot.

    When he awoke, he spoke to them in
    Yiddish. He said, “Don’t judge me by my
    appearance. I am a Yid. I was brought up in
    a chassidic home in Williamsburg. I was
    orphaned from my father when I was
    ten, and I made some foolish choices in
    my life. I now live and work here,
    distant from all Yidden.
    “Last night, my father came to me in a
    dream and said, ‘It’s my yahrtzeit and I
    want you to say Kaddish for me.’
    “I replied, ‘How can my Kaddish help
    you? I’m so distant from Yiddishkeit.’
    “My father replied, ‘No, my son. Your
    Kaddish will help me immensely.’
    “’But there is no minyan where I live.
    How can I say Kaddish for you?’
    “My father replied, ‘If I send you a
    minyan, will you say Kaddish for me?’
    “I said I would. And here you are, nine
    people, sent down from heaven so I can
    have a minyan and say Kaddish.”
    What a lesson in the value of every
    A wise speaker was called to speak
    before bachurim who fell to very low
    levels, r’l. He stood before them and
    raised a one-hundred-dollar bill. “Who
    wants this bill?” he called out. They all
    raised their hands.
    He crumpled the bill until it was a tiny
    ball and announced, “Now who wants
    it?” Once again, they all hooted and
    raised their hands.
    He threw the crumpled, hundred-dollar
    bill into the mud, and asked them, “Now
    who wants the hundred-dollar bill?” and

    they all said that they
    wanted it.
    He trampled on it,
    he jumped on it, and
    he asked them, “Who
    wants this crumpled,
    dirty, stomped on
    bill?” They all said that they nevertheless
    still wanted it.
    He asked them for an explanation. They
    replied, “A hundred dollars remains a
    hundred dollars, no matter what you did
    to it. We can straighten it out, wash it
    off, and we have a hundreddollar bill.”
    The speaker told them, “The same is
    with a Yid’s neshamah. Even if it is
    crumpled, covered in mud, and is
    trampled on, you can wash it off and
    straighten it out, and it remains a holy,
    special neshamah.”
    פרתו של ר‘ Shabbos (Mishnah The
    אלעזר בן עזריה היתה ,) 4:5 יוצאה ברצועה
    ,Shabbos On , “שבין קרניה שלא ברצון חכמים
    Reb Elazar ben Azaryah’s cow would
    walk outdoors while wearing a strap,
    and the Chachamim didn’t agree to this.” It
    is forbidden for one’s animals to carry on
    Shabbos. (It’s called בהמתו שביתת , the Jew’s
    animals must keep Shabbos, too.)
    It actually wasn’t Reb Elazar’s cow. It was
    his neighbor’s cow. But since he didn’t stop
    her and didn’t rebuke her for doing so, the
    Mishnah attributes the aveirah to Reb
    Elazar ben Azaryah.
    The Yerushalmi (Shabbos 5:4) tells us that
    Reb Elazar ben Azaryah did teshuvah for
    this, and “His teeth turned black because of
    all his fasting.”
    Reb Chaim Vital asked the Arizal, “If Reb
    Elazar ben Azaryah did so much teshuvah
    for his relatively minor aveirah, what will
    be with us? If so much teshuvah is needed
    for every sin, how can we possibly attain
    forgiveness for our many aveiros?”
    The Arizal replied, “This story happened
    in the previous generations. But in our
    times, the darkness of galus is very great.
    Even just one moan from the depths of the
    heart is equal to years of fasting in years
    gone by.” (Written in Yismach Yisrael,
    Chanukah 56).
    Therefore, we must believe in the
    greatness of a Yid. In the previous section,
    we discussed raising our awareness and
    belief in Hashem.
    These two emunos: belief in Hashem and
    belief in the Jewish nation, are related to
    this week’s parashah. Although we don’t
    have a yetzer hara to worship avodah zarah,
    there remains a struggle to believe in
    Hashem and to believe in ourselves. When
    we study about the egel, it is an ideal time
    to train ourselves to believe in Hashem and
    to believe in ourselves.