Today, 5th of the month Menachem Av, is the hilloula (yahrtzeit) of the Ari Hakodesh, who brought to this world the teachings of kabbalah, the inner part of Torah.
It also is the yahrtzeit of my father Meir ben Rachel.
So in honor of these great souls I would like to speak about the portion that we learn today in Tanya (the study of Chassidus). Today’s Tanya speaks about how we have to constantly remember our past sins. But it also mentions we need to serve G-d with joy. So remembering one’s sins would not bring about joyful feelings. Tanya goes on to explain that we do not have to constantly think about our past sins. We just have to have a remembrance in our minds, like from a distance, to keep us humble so we are able to truly serve G-d with simcha. And if any difficulties befall us, chasve shalom, we can attribute them to our past sins, hence we are able to accept any afflictions or suffering also with joy. And when we are joyful, this is the idea of teshuvah ilaah, the higher level teshuvah (repentance). There is a lower level repentance where we feel remorse and we repent for our mistakes or sins. But the higher level repentance is serving G-d with great joy and appreciating or being grateful for everything. This is the level of Shabbos. But it is a level we need to work on all the time . Joy is the greatest healer and brings all the blessings. Joy sweetens all harshness and gevura. Joy makes life worth living and makes us able to tolerate everything.
The Ari Hakodesh also performed every mitzva with great joy. This was one of his main characteristics: simcha shel mitzvah.
My father also lived his life with joy and humility. As he grew older, he became even more humble and more grateful and more appreciative. Despite certain health issues, he was always smiling, always happy, always ready and eager to help others with no consideration for himself.
May his neshomah have a great Aliyah.
And may the study of the inner parts of Torah (kabbalah, chassidus) bring the Moshiach , as the Baal Shem Tov said when he ascended the Heavenly realms in his spiritual thoughts once on Rosh Hashanah and he came to the chamber of Moshiach and he asked him when he would come. Moshiach answered when your wellsprings (the teachings of chassidus and penimiyus haTorah) will spread out to the entire world. So may we all increase in learning Chassidus (Tanya etc.) which will bring the geulah with rachamim and chesed.