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Find Out What He Does And Do The Opposite
By Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Ginsberg

The mashpia, Reb Mendel Futerfas, a’h, would relate the following:

This story took place when the gaon and Chassid R’ Peretz Chein was growing old in years. In his youth, R’ Peretz had been considered one of the great gaonim, and many rabbanim corresponded with him on halachic matters.

R’ Peretz excelled in charifus and svara yeshara (sharpness and straight thinking). In the approbation the Tzemach Tzedek gave him, it says that he could pasken from Shas and Poskim, and present his own logical reasoning. R’ Peretz himself, however, did not consider his fluency and memory of exact quotes to be among his strong points. Although he was exceptionally fluent in Shas and Poskim, he might forget certain details of a Tosafos or the like, especially in his older years.

He admitted his weakness and did not rely on his memory; thus, he always looked up the relevant passages in the sifrei poskim. In his final years, he could no longer see, so he was unable to reference the sfarim as he would have wished. His grandson, however, who was a great lamdan in his own right, would sit and learn with him, reading aloud the questions his grandfather received and looking up the relevant sfarim according to R’ Peretz’s instructions. Then he would record the answers as R’ Peretz’s dictated.

R’ Peretz was once sent a particularly complicated question involving an aguna. The question had been sent to two of the greatest gaonim of that time, one in Mala, Russia and one in Lithuania. The Lithuanian gaon, a Misnaged, knew of R’ Peretz’s genius and wanted his opinion on the matter. The rav related his opinion, supplying proofs and svaros (reasoning), and asked R’ Peretz to comment on the matter.

The grandson read the letter to his grandfather, who began to rip the logic to shreds. He explained how every svara was incorrect. He easily explained how, from each quoted source, one could, in fact, prove the opposite.

The foundation of the gaon’s opinion was a paragraph of the Kesef Mishna on the Rambam in Hilchos Ishus. It fit  exactly with what the gaon said. Hearing this proof, R’ Peretz exclaimed, “It can’t be! There is no such Kesef Mishna! The Kesef Mishna didn’t write that!”

The grandson was taken aback, for he knew that his grandfather did not rely on his own proficiency in texts. He usually checked the sources inside. Why, all of a sudden, was his grandfather so sure that no such Kesef Mishna existed?

The grandson looked up the source and found it exactly as the rav had quoted it. He told his grandfather, who exclaimed, “It can’t be! Look in the Kesef Mishna in Hilchos Treifos, and perhaps you will find something pertinent.”

Amazed, for his grandfather was not usually stubborn, the grandson opened the Kesef Mishna to Hilchos Treifos, and lo and behold, he found the relevant information. The Kesef Mishna in Hilchos Treifos explains that what he said in Hilchos Ishus was applicable only in a certain way and under specific circumstances. Thus, R’ Peretz was indeed correct that the gaon had been mistaken!

The grandson was greatly impressed by his grandfather, but he couldn’t refrain from asking: “I don’t understand, Grandfather. I have always heard you say that you do not rely on yourself for proficiency in texts and that you always have to check the source. So why is it that in this case, when the source was ostensibly contrary to your opinion, you were 100% certain that you were right? How could you have been so sure?”

R’ Peretz explained, “My certainty stemmed not from remembering exactly what was written, but because I was sure that the Kesef Mishna knew how to learn, whereas the rav, the Misnaged, does not know how to learn. He is indeed a great gaon, but his svaros are generally the opposite of what they should be. That is why I was sure that his svara could not possibly be the opinion of the Kesef Mishna.

* * *

On Chai Elul 5711, the Rebbe MH”M shlita said (Toras Menachem, p. 201, Sichos Kodesh, new edition, p. 156):

During the war, there was a group of Anash who did not know what to do about traveling. Should they travel or not? They decided to follow the rule of asking an olam’sher [i.e., a Misnaged] and doing the opposite. In this way, they succeeded in saving their lives. Indeed, they are here today.

This approach is most surprising. Why should one do the opposite of what an olam’sher says? We are not speaking of someone who has a twisted way of thinking or a heretic, ch’v. We are speaking about a solid, well-grounded individual who simply knows the ways of the world. Why is it a rule that if he thinks one way, one should do the opposite?

The following quote from the S’ma (the gaon Rabbi Yehoshua Falk of Lvov, niftar 5374-1614, called the S’ma after his seifer, Seifer Me’iros Einayim) on Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat, siman 3, se’if 113, in the name of HaMahariv (the gaon Rabbi Yaakov Vayil, niftar 5216-1556), is mentioned many times by the Rebbe:

In the responsa of Mahariv, Siman 147, he wrote the following to the Maharash, z’l: If you listen to my advice, you will not sit with the public in any judgment, for you know that the piskei ha’baalei batim [halachic decisions of those involved in worldly affairs] and the piskei ha’lomdim [halachic decisions of the scholars] are two opposites.”

The Rebbe stresses that this is not referring to baalei batim who do not know how to learn; there is no need for the S’ma to warn someone not to sit with people like that in judgment, because that is obvious. In numerous places in the works of the Poskim, they rule that one may not sit in judgment with someone who does not know how to learn and how to pasken. This statement refers, rather, to those who do know how to learn and have the ability to pasken, but are baalei batim. Because they are baalei batim, one should not sit with them in judgment, for “the opinion of baalei batim is the opposite of daas Torah.”

Why is this so? Because baalei batim consider themselves a metzius, and they are not battul to daas Torah. The hanachos ha’olam (worldly assumptions) hold sway with them — olam meaning hidden. A baal ha’bayis is a yeish and a metzius and is ignorant of the fact that all of reality is nothing but G-dliness, ignorant of the fact that “I was not created except to serve my Maker.” He imagines and perceives that he is a metzius, that he is worth something, and, therefore, he does not have absolute bittul to daas Torah, the bittul necessary for a correct psak. When your premises are worldly ones, the results will be commensurably worldly, which is the opposite of daas Torah. In order to know exactly what the Torah says, one must first nullify himself, to set aside “I think,” and “I believe,” and “I feel,” and be prepared to accept what the Torah says – what Hashem says – without arguing.

How does the Rambam begin the work we recently started to relearn for the 18th time? “Yesod ha’yesodos v’amud ha’chochmos,” the foundation upon which rests the entire Torah; not only a foundation which precedes the structure, but the foundation upon which the entire edifice always rests. At every moment, in all matters, we must remember and build everything upon that foundation and pillar, the knowledge that “yeish shom matzui rishon” (there is a first existence). Hashem is the first matzui (existence). “V’chol ha’nimtzaim...lo nimtze’u ela mei’amitas hi’matz’oh” (everything exists in virtue of His existence). There is no independent existence other than Hashem Himself.

That is the true foundation, the foundation that leads us to conclude that the purpose of everything, as the Rambam concludes his work, is the true and complete Redemption, which comes about through a flesh and blood human being, namely, Melech HaMoshiach. This bittul can exist within our metzius here in a physical body in virtue of our absolute devotion and nullification to Moshe Rabbeinu, the nasi ha’dor, who is the Moshiach of the generation, and “the first redeemer is the final redeemer.”

The bottom line is that it is not enough to just have bittul and hiskashrus to Hashem, because then everything remains “Above,” divested of physical man, who lives in this lowly world. Only Moshe Rabbeinu, as a soul in a body within this physical world, can, as a part of this world, instill utter bittul within the metzius of the world on its own terms.

Therefore, “there must be a ‘Moshe’ in every single generation in whom Moshe’s soul is invested...and whose spiritual life remains eternal in this physical world by means of being invested within the body of the nasi ha’dor of every single generation.” (Likkutei Sichos, Vol. 26, p. 7)

As the Rebbe says in the sicha of Chai Elul 5711, mentioned earlier:

In order to be saved from the “go’eil ha’dam” — “the Satan, the yetzer ha’ra, the Angel of Death” — it is not enough to resolve to act according to Torah. For the yetzer ha’ra, who is called “the clever one,” can pervert a man’s mind (through the will that is below intellect) to the extent that he believes he is behaving according to Torah. The Ramban writes that man can be a naval b’reshus ha’Torah [a glutton within the parameters of that which is permissible by Torah law].

The advice for this is “and this is the Torah that Moshe placed…” That is, behavior according to Torah must be specifically according to Moshe’s instructions, and the extension of Moshe in every generation, the Moshe of our generation. One must act in accordance with the instructions of Moshe in all matters...and by fulfilling Moshe’s instructions, one succeeds in traversing the desert and is saved from the “snake, serpent, and scorpion.”

Melech HaMoshiach is a human being, a soul in a body. Moshiach must exist in the physical world in order to instill the world with the absolute oneness of G-d. In this way, everyone will be utterly nullified to G-dliness. The Rambam concludes, “And the earth will be full of knowledge of G-d as waters cover the sea.” Just as water completely covers everything in the sea, so too Moshiach, since he is a physical being in a physical world, will usher in a world entirely filled and “covered” with G-dliness, until it will be apparent that that is all of existence, matzui rishon.

* * *

We have begun the sixty days of the Adar months, whose mazal is strong. We increase in joy, which has the power to “nullify in sixty” all undesirable things, as the Rebbe said repeatedly in 5752.

The highlight of Adar is Purim and the victory over Haman HaRasha and everything he represents. This victory came about solely because of Mordechai HaYehudi and what he represents. For vanquishing Haman is impossible without hiskashrus and utter bittul to the Mordechai and Moshe Rabbeinu of the generation, who is present in a body in this physical world. Moshe’s eternal quality is drawn down and invested within the body of the nasi ha’dor. As we quoted earlier, the Rebbe says “it must be” in every generation in a physical body in this world.

Haman is a descendent of Amalek, the one “who knows his master yet intentionally rebels against Him.” Indeed, the more “he knows his master,” the more “he intentionally rebels against him.” More knowledge and awareness of Hashem does not help him, because the more he knows, the more of a metzius yeish he becomes, and the greater the rebellion.

There is only one way of vanquishing this “Amalek.” That is through staunch hiskashrus and complete bittul to Mordechai, the nasi ha’dor. Chazal tell us that Haman fell because he didn’t know that Moshe Rabbeinu was also born in the month of Adar. Haman only knew of Moshe’s death in this month, and he convinced himself that, as great as the concept of histalkus is, it still signifies a decrease in the physical presence of the deceased in this world, for then the neshama leaves the body.

What Haman, and all Hamans don’t know, is that a birthday can nullify the effects of the day of death. Thus, Moshe Rabbeinu remains alive eternally in this physical world, invested in the body of the nasi ha’dor in each generation.

If one remains doubtful about this (for Amalek is numerically equivalent to “doubt”), let him ask an olam’sher for his opinion. He will know that the opposite of whatever the olam’sher says is correct, and he will no longer have any doubts!


The foundation of the gaon’s opinion was a paragraph of the Kesef Mishna. Hearing this, R’ Peretz exclaimed, “It can’t be! There is no such Kesef Mishna! 




“There must be a ‘Moshe’ in every generation in whom Moshe’s soul is invested... whose spiritual life remains eternal within the nasi ha’dor of every generation.”




If one remains doubtful, let him ask an olam’sher for his opinion. He will know that the opposite of whatever the olam’sher says is correct, and he will no longer have any doubts!


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