Ki Tavo- 5780 The Power of Happiness

The first Mitzva the Parasha orders us is the Mitzva of Bikkurim, as if immediately upon settling in Eretz Yisrael the Mitzva applied. This Mitzva requires the Beth Hamikdash, and as we know the King Shlomo will build it. It will take 480 years after the crossing the Jourdain for the Beth Hamikdash to be built, and so for 480 years we will not be able to perform the Mitzva of Bikkurim. So why did Moshe teach it at the beginning of the Parasha? The Midrash Bereshis Rabba on the first Pasuk of the Torah explains that the reason the Torah starts with the word “Bereishis”, is to hint the deeper purpose of its creation. The world was created for three reasons, all name “Reishis”, the Torah, Bnei Yisrael and the Bikkurim. So, the translation of “Bereshis” is “for Reishis”, underlying all what the Torah names Reishis were the reason of its creation. The importance of the Torah and Bnei Yisrael is understandable, but what is so important about the Mitzva of Bikkurim? What would the world deserve to be created just for it? The Baal Shem Tov answers; it is because it teaches us the fundamental way to practice all the Mitzvos. The Mitzva of Bikkurim must be performed with tremendous joy, which teaches us that a Mitzva is complete and will shower the person with blessings only when done joyfully and happily. A Mitzva performed out of sadness or any other feeling other than joy is alike a body without soul that cannot be alive. That is the reason the Parasha starts with the word “Vehaya” which refers to happiness as stated in the Talmud [Megila 10b]. At the Shabbat night Tish, the Baal Shem Tov once sat with his students, and immediately after Kiddush he started laughing. Then he sat at the table for a while and laughed a second time. He waited a bit and laughed a third time. The students were perplexed, And they asked Rabbi Ze’ev Kitzis to ask the Baal Shem Tov on Motzoei Shabbos the reason that strange behavior. On Motzoei Shabbos, Rabbi Ze’ev entered the Baal Shem Tov’s study and asked him for the reason he laughed 3 times by the Tish, seemingly for no apparent reason. The Baal Shem Tov replied tell the other students to get ready to travel, I will show you the reason. They all jumped on the cart and traveled all night, not knowing where they were going. At dawn they arrived in a large city called Koznitz, and the Baal Shem Tov was hosted by one of the wealthy people. He asked his hos to call Rav Shabsai. The host was shocked and argued, the Rebbe probably does not want to see him, he is very simple and not even a learnt person. After they arrived, the the Baal Shem said to R. Shabsai: Please tell us in detail, what you did on Friday night. RaV Shabsai thought to himself he must have erred and was required to make Teshuva. He gathered his courage and told the Baal Shem, I admit I have sinned please tell me how to make Teshuva. The Baal Shem brushed off his worries and asked him to recount the events that took place. Rav Shabsai recounted, I used to make a living from the binding of books, and as long as I had the strength I would make a profit, and I used to buy all my Shabbat necessities on Thursday, and on Friday at ten o’clock I stopped working and went to Shul. Now in my old age I no longer make a living from my craft, and I live a life of sorrow. I can no longer purchase the necessities for Shabbos on Thursday. But this Mitzvah of going to the synagogue on Friday morning at ten, I did not neglect it, happens what happens. Last Friday at ten o’clock I still did not have any money to purchase even the basics for Shabbos. Seeing that there was now no chance to make money and my Shabbos would have to be without any food. All my life with Hashem’s help, I supported myself and never requested anything from anyone else, so I decided today was not going to be the day this would change. I believed that it is better to fast than relying on others. I also warned my wife that even if a neighbor felt we had nothing for Shabbos and wanted to give her challah or fish, not to accept, rather to accept love what Hashem has decreed upon us. After I made my wife promise I left to Shul at my usual time. After the evening prayers I lingered in Should and avoided the other worshipers, out of fear they would ask me why there was no candles lit in my house as I would not know what to answer. And my wife, when I went to the synagogue, swept the house in honor of the Sabbath, swept away the dust in all the corners and holes, and found old hand-houses, which had been lost from her for several years, and on that garment were silver buttons and flowers, as was the custom in old clothes. She immediately went to the goldsmith and sold them, and the groceries were enough for all her Shabbat needs at a profit and she also had left on Sunday. She immediately bought challah and meat and fish and prepared everything for Shabbat. In the evening, when the whole crowd had finished leaving the synagogues and going home, When I finally decided to go home, from a distance I could see there was light in my house. I told myself that my wife probably could not sustain the test and went to neighbors to borrow candles. I was surely not ready for what awaited me home, the table was set there was wine Challah and fish It was a shock to me but decided to remain quiet and to not spoil my wife’s Shabbos. After making Kiddush and Motzi I told my wife softly: Probably, it was difficult to accept to spend a Shabbos with nothing. She cut me off and said, do you remember the garment with the silver buttons, which we have lost for sometimes? I replied: I remember! Well – said my wife – today while sweeping the house in honor of Shabbat I found it and went immediately to sell them to the goldsmith, and this is how I purchased all the Shabbat needs. When I heard this, tears welled up in my eyes. I thanked Hashem profusely for His kindness to us, it was such an overwhelming feeling I could not resist and took my wife to dance with her to thank Hashem. After eating the fish, I was again overwhelmed by the need to thank Hashem, and again my wife and I danced with tremendous gratitude to Hashem. It happened again after drinking the chicken soup. Please Rabbi if I have sinned tell me how to correct it. The Baal Shem Tov was beaming of joy and turned to his disciples and said: Believe me, all the Heavens danced and rejoiced with them, and me too was very happy so I laughed three times as he danced three times. Addressing the wife of Rav Shabsai the Baal Shem asked: What do you want: whether to live the rest of your days in wealth and honor, or to have a son despite your age [the couple had not yet deserved to have children]? The woman answered: Who knows how many days of life are remaining, hence wealth and honor are not important to us. However, to have a good son that will go in the right path, this is what we want! The Baal Shem Tov told her: Next year at this time you will make a Bris, but I have two conditions: to be the Sandak, and that you should name him Yisrael like me. The couple agreed. The Baal Shem informed them that they will have a son that will enlighten the worlds with his Torah. He was the Holy Maggid of Kozenitz. have a son that will enlighten the worlds with his Torah. He was the Holy Maggid of Kozenitz.

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