23 Kislev 5782 / Saturday, November 27, 2021 | Torah Reading: Vayeishev
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Ki Teitzei: Find Yourself Again    

Ki Teitzei: Find Yourself Again

We forgot who we are. We got lost. We go searching for our lost objects, for the Torah we forgot when we were born, for our special mission. Only one person can help us find it…


One of the many commandments taught in this Torah portion is the mitzvah to return a lost item. “You shall not see the ox of your brother or his sheep or goat cast off, and hide yourself from them; you shall surely return them to your brother. If your brother is not near you and you do not know him, then gather it inside your house, and it shall remain with you until your brother inquires after it, and you return it to him” (Chapter 22, Verses 1-2). 


Rabbi Natan of Breslev explains that the Tzaddik is the main person who can return all of the lost items of each and every person. He exerts himself in his service of Hashem until he is able to find the lost items of each individual. The Tzaddik constantly yearns to return to each person their lost items, their special light, the light of their soul, which is lost and hidden from them.  


Therefore, Rebbe Nachman explains in Torah 188 in the first part of Likutei Moharan that a person needs to go to the Tzaddik in order to seek what he has lost. These souls who come to the Tzaddik come to him to request their lost items. The Tzaddik takes these souls and lifts them up and renews them with new Torah revelations and insights. Through this, he returns to them their lost items, because the main thing which they have lost is the Torah which they forgot when they were born.  


Each and every time that a person comes to pray by the Tzaddik, the Tzaddik raises up their soul and renews it. He reveals to them more of the light of the Torah which they’ve lost. In addition, Rabbi explains, the Tzaddik illuminates their soul in such a powerful way through the Torah that he reveals to them, that they themselves receive the strength to begin looking for the lost items which they still haven’t found. This process happens slowly over time. However, the light of the Torah which is revealed to them by the Tzaddik is now like a candle for them, illuminating the way for them in the darkness (Likutei Halachot, the Laws of Lost and Found Objects, 3rd teaching). The Tzaddik returns our lost items to us. 


After reading this teaching, I thought about the annual Rosh Hashanah gathering in Uman. What draws so many people to travel to Uman for Rosh Hashanah from all different parts of the world? If you go the annual gathering you will see every different type of Jew you could imagine, and they are all there because something powerful draws them to travel to this small city in the middle of Ukraine. I think that this is one of the main things which pulls people to come. Even if someone might not consciously be aware of it, their soul is telling them - I’m lost, I feel lost, I need help to find the way. I want to remember who I really am. I want to find my way home to Hashem and to the Torah. I lost the light of the Torah. The Tzaddik, Rebbe Nachman, helps each person who comes to pray by him to find their own way back to Hashem. He helps them find again the special path which they saw clearly when they were still in the womb. 


Elul is a time of remembering - remembering our connection with Hashem, and wanting to remember who we really are. A time of remembering - what am I doing here in the world? Before we were born, we knew the entire Torah, and we knew our own personal, unique purpose and what we need to rectify during our lifetime. Then everything was forgotten. The Tzaddik wants to help us remember and re-discover the Torah that we’ve lost, and he wants to show us our soul’s special mission in life.  


This month of Elul is a powerful time to search for our lost items. We should all merit this month to find what we’ve lost along the way, and to shine the light of our soul more and more! 


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