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    When my grandfather
    conducted a tisch, he
    would often repeat over
    and over again: “There

    is no hope for me – oth-
    er than teshuvah… It is

    time to do teshvuah…
    The time has come to do
    teshuvah…” He spoke
    to himself, but his

    words inspired every-
    one present to do tes-

    After the ticsh, he
    would shake the
    bachurim’s hands and
    would bless them,
    “Learn the holy Torah
    and be healthy.”
    One time, the Rebbe took the hand of one of
    the bachurim and said, “Why is your hand so
    cold? What happened to you?” Then the
    Rebbe added, “Have good friends, study
    Gemara, and be healthy.”
    The bachur left the Rebbe’s room ashamed
    and devastated. The gabaim tried to calm the
    distraught bachur. They said, “The Rebbe is
    very weak, and he’s sensitive to cold.
    Apparently, your hands were cold.”
    The bachur replied, “The Rebbe knows

    exactly what he was saying, and his words
    were on target.” I was with this bachur when
    we returned to our yeshiva, Yeshivas Ponoviz.
    We were still outside the yeshiva building
    when one of his close friends came over and
    greeted him. The bachur replied, “I was just
    with Rebbe Moshe Mordechai. He held my
    hand for five minutes, asking me why my
    hands were cold. Then he told me that I
    should have good friends, learn Gemara, and
    be healthy. This means that we cannot be
    friends anymore.”
    That boy wasn’t an ideal friend for him, and
    the Rebbe was hinting that he should break
    up that friendship. Years later, the bad nature
    of that friend became known to all. And then
    I understood why the Rebbe warned him to
    have good friends.
    The Ahavas Yisrael fo Viznitz would often
    say, “One must be good to everyone, but not
    with everyone.” Be kind to all, but don’t
    spend too much time with them. You must
    choose your friends carefully.
    The Shlah Hakadosh writes that חבר can also
    be spelled בחר] to choose], or חרב] sword], or
    ברח] escape and run away]. The Shlah
    Hakadosh explains: One should be a friend
    (חבר ( to those who choose ( בחר ( to be good.
    But from those whose deeds are harmful like
    a sword (חרב ,(one should run away ( ברח (

    and keep a distance.
    A good friend can do wonders, and a bad
    friend can cause destruction. One must
    therefore choose his friends very carefully. In
    last week’s parashah, Pharaoh said (5:7), לא
    longer no will We, “תאספון לתת- לכם תבן
    supply straw.” It seems the Torah should have
    written, תוספון לא” ,We will no longer.” The
    word תאספון with an extra alef, means to
    Rebbe Dovid of Lelov zt’l explains that
    Pharaoh sought to destroy the Yidden’s
    spirituality. The Midrash tells us that the
    Yidden got together every Shabbos in
    Mitzrayim to discuss emunah. Pharaoh
    understood that these meetings strengthened
    their Yiddishkeit, therefore, he decreed לא
    תאספון , that they may not gather anymore.
    Rebbe Dovid of Lelover said, “I’m certain
    that when I go up to heaven, Moshe Rabbeinu
    will come out to greet me, to tell me that I
    revealed the correct reason he wrote תאספון
    with an extra alef.”
    When Yidden gather to speak divrei Torah
    and to sing songs to Hashem, their hearts
    become filled with emunah and yearning for
    As the Chinuch (mitzvah 384) writes, “There
    is nothing that awakens the heart as much as
    songs do.” Tzaddikim from the Ruzin dynasty

    told the following mashal: A king wanted to
    build a large castle but didn’t have where to
    build it. So he instructed his servants to clear
    a large area in the forest to make space for
    this large edifice.
    The servants began cutting, one tree at a time,
    but the task was endless, and the work tiring.
    There were so many trees. A wise man
    suggested to the king, “Instead of cutting
    down the trees, just set the forest on fire. The
    forest will be cleared in moments.”
    Similarly, some people attempt to uproot bad
    middos and negative tendencies, one middah
    at a time, but that is a long and arduous task.
    But if one can light a fire in his heart for
    Hashem, all the bad will disappear
    Similarly, the Sefas Emes (Tzav 5634) writes,
    “When one has genuine love for Hashem, it will
    burn away all foolish thoughts. And this is the
    only effective way to overcome bad thoughts:
    to have a constant desire to serve Hashem.”