Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh English Sefer with Stories

$36 of $30,000 raised

raised by 2 people in 2 weeks

This project is to help print a new English translation of Selections of Divrei Torah and stories from the holy Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh Rabbeinu Chaim Ben Attar, dedications are available for the cover and project name as well as full page, half page and title page for each Chumash.

The format follows the popular English Noam Elimelech, a vort and a story for each parsha. 

The sefer is ready to go, it has been translated and edited, it needs typeset, layout, proofread, graphics and printing.

Here are some samples more are available upon request.

Ohr HaChaim

The gates of heaven opened up and I saw G-dly visions, the Creator of the four corners of the earth, and I gazed and meditated upon that which I had permission to, and began to explain at the beginning of Hashem’s holy words.” (Ohr HaChaim, Bereishis)

 

The Nusach HaTefilla of the Ohr HaChaim

(TO BE RECITED ON ROSH HASHANA AFTER ELOKAI NETZOR AND ON YOM KIPPUR BEFORE THE YUD-GIMMEL MIDDOS SHEL RACHAMIM, WHEN THE SHATZ SAYS VAYAAVOR HASHEM AL PONOV – IN THE TEFILLA YESHORA BERDITCHEVER SIDDUR, IT IS ALSO PRESENTED BEFORE THE DAILY TACHANUN IN THE SAME PLACE, BEFORE THE YUD-GIMMEL MIDDOS)

 

May it be Your will, our Father, our King, our G-d, the very light of our nefesh, ruach and neshoma – our lower soul, spirit and our higher soul, on behalf of Your covenant which You sealed for the thirteen attributes of mercy which are never left unheeded and unanswered, which You never turn away empty-handed from before You. Please remember our love and return Your Divine Presence, the Shechina, to our holy Mikdosh, the Temple, and delight in us once again as You have in the past! Because Your departure is as painful and difficult to us as the departure of our soul from our body! Our innards pine away and our souls expire for the time of the redemption of Your Shechina and for Your holy abode, the Temple, and we desire Your good will! We hereby beg, plead and cry before You, Hashem, merciful Father, over the exile and Golus HaShechina. Save Your Shechina, Hashem! And attach and bind our souls in dveikus to Your heartfelt love, which is pleasant and sweet for our souls and spirits, and may the King return to the halls of His palace!

 

PRAISES FOR THE HOLY OHR HACHAIM HAKODOSH

When Rav Avrohom Elimelech of Karlin was in America visiting his Chassidim, he told them to form groups and study together the holy sefer, the Ohr HaChaim HaKodosh, each leil shishi (Thursday night). He explained that this is a segula to receive noam kedushas Shabbos – the pleasure and delight of the sanctity of Shabbos.

 

Afterward, when he returned to Eretz Yisrael, he confirmed that his Chassidim did indeed experience a greater, more pronounced delight and sweetness of kedushas Shabbos by learning the Ohr HaChaim HaKodosh as he had instructed them.

 

Another Tzaddik also used to say that one of the ikorim – the primary principles of Avodas Ho’Odom, serving Hashem on Shabbos Kodesh, is to study the sefer Ohr HaChaim HaKodosh. The reason he gave was that many Tzaddikim taught that the study of the Ohr HaChaim is beneficial to the soul, just like the study of the holy Zohar, and since Shabbos is called Yoma DeNishmosa – a day of the soul, studying the Ohr HaChaim is intimately bound up with the sanctity of Shabbos Kodesh. (Shivchei Ohr HaChaim)

The Holy Lights of the Ohr HaChaim HaKodosh – Emor

 

In Meor HaChaim, Rav Moshe Franco cites several teachings from the Ohr HaChaim’s deroshos in Italy regarding the pesukim about Sefiras HaOmer in our Parsha. Here are some of those teachings:

 

Usefartem lochem mimochoras haShabbos – “And you shall count for yourselves from the day after Pesach” (23:15).

 

In Shemos (24:10) the pasuk says, “And they saw the G-d of Yisrael and beneath His feet was like the work of a sapphire stone”. The Ohr HaChaim asks why the pasuk says kema’aseh – “the work of”? What is the significance of this description?

 

He answers that there is a difference between the souls of Bnei Yisrael and those of the other nations. The souls of the nations are like glass, whose shine, luster and brilliance do not compare to that of jewels and gemstones, especially the sapphire. The souls of Bnei Yisrael, however, are in fact compared to the brilliance and lustrous shine of the sapphire, as is known that the souls of Bnei Yisrael were hewn from the Throne of Glory – the Kisei HaKovod – which is compared to the sapphire. This is what our pasuk in Shemos is referring to: the throne beneath the feet of Hashem, which is likened to sapphire.

 

Any gemstone quarried in its natural state requires work. After it is mined and removed in its raw state it does not have the shine and brilliance we are used to seeing. It requires the work of a skilled craftsman and gemologist to use tools to hone, cut, polish and create those shining facets that a cut gemstone has, which then shine with a brilliant, lustrous light. This work is the kema’aseh referred to in our pasuk in Shemos: the shining, brilliant light beneath the feet of the Shechina is like the light of a brilliant sapphire after it has been skillfully worked, cut and polished.

 

This is the hint in our pasuk in Emor as well. Usefartem lochem sefartem has the same linguistic meaning as sapphire: make yourselves shine like a sapphire by counting fifty days. Then you must have in mind that you are working your soul like a craftsman cuts and polishes a gemstone from a rough, raw uncut stone into a brilliant jewel, whose lustrous shine is as brilliant as a sapphire!

 

Praises for the Ohr HaChaim HaKodosh

Toil in Torah

Rav Avrohom of Strikov said, “When the Ohr HaChaim explained and expounded the forty-two chiddushim on our pasuk in Bechukosai, he himself was fulfilling Rashi’s comment to our pasuk that walking on the path of the chukos means that ‘you should toil and be ameilim baTorah.’” (Dibros Kodesh Strikov Behar-Bechukosai 5769)

 

The Forty-Two Explanations of Bechukosai Seileichu

There is a well-known tradition regarding the Ohr HaChaim’s exile while in Morocco and of some of the travels and travails that befell him during his golus.

Perhaps the most famous story is the following legendary tale whose tradition was passed down to us by the Mekubol Rav Moshe Yair Weinstock, who heard and received it from Rav Yisrael Yitzchok Reisman of the Eida Chareidis, who in turn received it from the Rosh Mekubolim, the Gaon Rav Chaim Shaul HaKohen Dewike, who heard it from the elders of Aram Tzova and the talmidim of the Ohr Chaim. The story goes like this:

During his exile, the Ohr HaChaim ended up one Erev Shabbos in a field. (The Maamar Mordechai of Slonim and other traditions say that there he met a giant who was a lumberjack and with each stroke of his axe, he said, “Lekovod Shabbos Kodesh!” Other traditions add that he took the Ohr HaChaim over the river Sambatyon.) There he rested by a tree, and as he prepared for Shabbos, he sat and reviewed the Parsha of the week. His tremendous dveikus and erudition helped him toil and he arrived at forty-two explanations for the first pasuk in Parshas Bechukosai!

Seeing that Shabbos would soon arrive, the Ohr HaChaim entered the neighboring village and went to the local shul for davening. No one knew or recognized their illustrious guest; he was received as warmly as any wandering beggar Jew and was invited to one of the locals for the Shabbos meal upon the conclusion of the tefillos.

The Ohr HaChaim followed his host home for the seuda and afterward his host told him that they all met after the meal at the local Rav’s home for a get-together in honor of Shabbos. There they sang and shared Divrei Torah and Oneg Shabbos. The host invited his unknown guest to join and Rav Chaim ben Attar agreed.

At the Rav’s home they all sang zemiros and watched as the local Rav sank deep into thought. He was a holy man, who, the host explained, could delve into deep mysteries and achieve insight. The Rav was meditating and his face betrayed holy dveikus and otherworldly ponderings. When the Rav came back and his soul returned, he began to speak animatedly, telling them that he had just heard great deep Torah insights in the heavenly academies!

He then expounded on and explained the first pasuk of Bechukosai in fourteen different ways and concluded, “And I heard from the heavenly hosts – the pamalya shel maala – that in the Mesivta Derokiya these chiddushim are said in the name of the holy Tzaddik Rabbeinu Chaim ben Attar!”

Everyone sat in stunned silence, marveling at the Torah insights and novel interpretations – everyone except the stranger. The guest in the back got up and broke the silence and made a motion of dismissal and declared, “He is not a Gaon, or a Tzaddik, or a Kodosh – he is not a Rav, just plain Chaim ben Attar!” No one knew that this wandering stranger was none other then Rav Chaim ben Attar himself, who, in his humility, sought to downplay himself and downgrade his honor. All they knew was that he had some chutzpa! The host tried to calm everyone down and the matter was soon forgotten. Until the next day, that is…

After Shacharis and the seuda, the Jews gathered at the Rav’s home for singing and study. There the Rav again ascended on high and when he returned, proceeded to explain and teach an additional fourteen chiddushim and insights on the first pasuk of Bechukosai. Again he concluded by saying, “And I heard from the heavenly hosts – the pamalya shel maala – that in the Mesivta Derokiya these chiddushim are said in the name of the holy Tzaddik Rabbeinu Chaim ben Attar!”

Again the audacity and chutzpa of the stranger was heard as he stood up and corrected the Rav: “He is not a Gaon, or a Tzaddik, or a Kodosh – he is not a Rav, just plain Chaim ben Attar!”

 

This was getting out of hand. The Jews were angry, the Rav was furious and barely could they all be restrained from attacking the insolent, brazen stranger. Just who did he think he was anyway? Little did they guess that he was in fact Rav Chaim ben Attar!

Finally Sholosh Seudos came, and again for a third and final time the scenario played itself out: The Rav ascended and heard chiddushim and then he descended and shared with the rapt audience another fourteen chiddushim and insights on the first pasuk of Bechukosai (a total of forty-two explanations) and again he concluded, saying, “And I heard from the pamalya shel maala that in the Mesivta Derokiya these chiddushim are said in the name of the holy Tzaddik Rabbeinu Chaim ben Attar!”

The chutzpadik stranger stood up and again corrected the Rav. “He is not a Gaon, or a Tzaddik, or a Kodosh – he is not a Rav, just plain Chaim ben Attar!”

At this point the Rav’s righteous anger could not be held back and he resolved to punish the stranger for the sake and honor of the Torah and had him incarcerated.

Shabbos ended and a strange wind picked up. The skies filled with dark, ominous clouds. An unseasonal storm was brewing, the likes of which no one had ever seen. As the gale rose and torrential rains lashed out, the frightened Jews ran to the Rav for help and guidance. The Rav ascended on high and was told, “The heavenly minister in charge of Gehinnom is in a rage! You have locked up Rav Chaim ben Attar in a cell and while he is jailed he cannot make Havdola. All Shabbos long, every week, Gehinnom is closed and sealed. The Sar (angel) wishes now to reopen it as he does every Motzo’ei Shabbos but he cannot because the Ohr HaChaim has not yet made Havdola! This dangerous storm is a manifestation of the Sar of Gehinnom’s great anger and rage!” The Rav quickly had the Ohr HaChaim released and told him that in Heaven it had been revealed that all the insults and injuries the Ohr HaChaim had suffered had atoned for him and his exile was now over and he could go back home.

(When the Maamar Mordechai of Slonim would tell this, he added that they all heard a voice ring out and declare, “Return, O you wicked back to Sheol!” The land shook and all present trembled as they stood at the foot of the opening to Gehinnom!) The Rav begged the Ohr HaChaim’s forgiveness and once granted the Ohr HaChaim returned to Sali. (Shneim Asar Shivtei Yisrael)

The Holy Lights of the Ohr HaChaim HaKodosh – Behar-Bechukosai

Below are just a few examples from among the forty-two explanations of Bechukosai that also connect with Pirkei Avos:

Way #6 The Ohr HaChaim cites Avos chapter 2 that an Am HaAretz (ignoramus) cannot be a Chassid. This means that an Am HaAretz is actually forbidden to act like a Chassid and to try and take on various chumros (stringencies), because he does not understand what is appropriate and might decide to act in way he believes is pious and end up transgressing. The example given is that Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year. There are various things that we must forgo on Yom Kippur, including abstaining from food and drink – five forms of affliction in all. The Am HaAretz might misconstrue this and because he knows Yom Kippur is the holiest day, he might transgress some of the five afflictions, thinking he is acting piously and doing holy things on a holy day, when instead his actions would be a terrible sin! Therefore, Im bechukosai seileichu – if you walk in My laws, says Hashem – and safeguard My mitzvos and do them – you shall safeguard the path by adding fences and boundaries to prevent mistaken transgression.

Way #9 Pirkei Avos chapter 6 teaches that the Torah is acquired in forty-eight ways. The Ohr HaChaim sees this hinted at in our pasuk: Hashem says, “If you walk on the path of My laws and wish to acquire Torah, the condition is – safeguard My mitzvos and fulfill them and do them.” This refers to the forty ways of acquisition; if you fulfill these kinyonim you will acquire Torah. There are many barriers and different hindrances that prevent us from acquiring Torah; engaging in and fulfilling the forty-eight kinyonim helps us to overcome those hurdles and to acquire Torah.

Way# 12 Pirkei Avos chapter 3 says that whoever has wisdom in greater abundance than his deeds and actions, his wisdom endures; whoever has actions in greater number, however, his wisdom will not endure. The Ohr HaChaim sees this hinted at in our pasuk. Hashem says, “If you walk on the path of My laws” – if you toil in Torah and your mitzva observance complements your effort, then your wisdom shall not exceed your deeds. This is why mitzva observance is written in our pasuk immediately following the toil in Torah: “Safeguard My mitzvos and fulfill and do them”.

Way #21 Pirkei Avos chapter 4 teaches,“You are forced to die against your will and forced to live against your will.” The Ohr HaChaim explains that Tzaddikim and Ba’alei Torah are different; unlike the average people to whom our Mishna in Avos applies, Ba’alei Torah can leave this world for the next world of their own free will whenever they wish. They simply decide to leave and even before their time has come and the King has called for them, they can go. He sees this hinted at in our pasuk: Hashem says, “Im bechukosai – then seileichu – If you toil in Torah, you can go, leaving whenever you wish to leave.”

Way #30 Pirkei Avos chapter 3 says,“If there is no flour, then there is no Torah.” The Ohr HaChaim here and in Haazinu explains that if we see that Hashem has stopped the Heavens from giving rain and withheld a bounty of blessings, if there is no flour, the reason is because there is a lack of Torah study and observance on our part.

This is seen in our pasuk: Hashem says, “Im bechukosai – If you wish to have My chok chok means food – if you want food, then – seileichu – walk on the path of mitzva observance and Torah study. The amount of rain and food produced depends on your observance and diligence in Torah study.

Praises for the Ohr HaChaim HaKodosh

Defending the Honor of Torah and Her Scholars

Last week, we told of the Ohr HaChaim’s Golus and how he revealed forty-two peirushim on Bechukosai. This week we will tell what led the Ohr HaChaim into that Golus to begin with:

 

The Ohr HaChaim had a gemach, a charity foundation that provided meat and chicken for the poor and Torah scholars. A great plague had struck, and all the animals were sick and suffering. Many of the animals that had been schechted through kosher slaughter were examined and found to be treif because of lung lesions or other internal blemishes that rendered the meat unfit for kosher consumption. There was a severe shortage of kosher meat and many families had to forgo meat even on Shabbos and Yom Tov.

 

One of the wealthy gevirim, whose desire for meat could not be sated, was at his wits’ end. What was he going to do? He then heard the strangest thing; apparently there was kosher meat available and plenty of it – but only through Rav Chaim ben Attar’s gemach!!!

 

It turned out that by some miracle, all the animals and fowl slaughtered to supply the Ohr HaChaim’s gemach with chicken and meat were kosher lemehadrin! The gevir approached Rav Chaim ben Attar and demanded that he too be given from this meat. The Ohr HaChaim HaKodosh refused and explained that this meat was designated only for the poor and destitute, such as widows and orphans, and for the support of Talmidei Chachomim. The gevir tried to raise his price and buy the meat but the Ohr HaChaim would not be bribed and stood his ground. Just then, a recipient of the gemach’s generous kosher provisions came in to collect his meat for Shabbos. The sight of this poor Talmid Chochom getting what he was denied enraged the rich man, who was so used to getting his way that he poured out his wrath on the Talmid Chochom. The Ohr HaChaim refused the wealthy man’s demands and he left. However, the damage had been done. A heavenly voice proclaimed that as punishment for seeing and hearing the shame and disparagement of this Talmid Chochom and not properly rebuking the wealthy man’s wicked ways the Ohr HaChaim was sentenced to exile to atone for his sins. It was this Golus that found the Ohr HaChaim wandering until he was released after suffering imprisonment when he berated himself in his humility, as we told last week. May his merit shield us!

 

 

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$36 of $30,000 raised

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Tal Moshe Zwecker
May 2018

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Young mother - wife of Chaim Levi Shmaya from NY - expecting her 4th child diagnosed with cancer which spread to her liver. [TAX Deductible]
Campaigns bearing the verified badge have submitted documents testifying legitimacy of their cause. The Chesed Fund has vetted these documents as authentic.

Joseph donated

2 hours ago $180.00
Help Our Dear Friend Smile On His Wedding Day
Campaigns bearing the verified badge have submitted documents testifying legitimacy of their cause. The Chesed Fund has vetted these documents as authentic.
In honor of Simchi

יוני donated

2 hours ago $150.00
HELP Shimmy Heller
In honor of דוד הלר התותח

ISAAC & GOLDIE NEUWIRTH donated

2 hours ago $200.00
New Mikva Tehara

Friend Of Aliza .b donated

2 hours ago $100.00
Help Our Brother
In honor of Aliza
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