Sfas Emes – Ki Setzei – 5634(2)

Captureהצעקה שהוא בכח ולא נכנס בפועל נשמעת בכל מקום – תפלה

I’m learning this shtickel, and for the life of me I don’t get it: what does it mean that someone is unable to scream?? Perhaps they cannot be heard but they can surely scream? Is the Rebbe referring to someone who’s afraid to wake up the neighbors? Someone during the War, who cannot raise his voice above a whisper for fear of being caught?

If course not, that’s just silly.

Perhaps the שאינו יודע לשאול? How is that a “screaming” deficit? He’s got nothing to scream about as far as he knows!

It is shticklech such as these that show us the difficulty the holy Rebbe had in translating pure light into words. Indeed, the piece is itself more of a צעקה than a דיבור. The whole sefer perhaps is as well, which may explain its universal appeal. Bypassing the external, Sfas Emes reaches the core, where we all are one.

Back on track. Perhaps the Rebbe is referring to all those hidden pains we experience, pains we ourselves don’t understand. We don’t understand where they are coming from and we surely don’t understand what is wanted from us, meaning what we want from ourselves. Have you never had occasion to ask yourself. “What in the world do I want from myself already?” We are often hard on ourselves in ways we would never dream of inflicting on others. That we know the source is some deep root in our very core just makes it all the more excruciating.

How cruel can it feel to have a part of you, vus luzt nisht up, vus get nisht kan menicha, which allows for no respite, but nontheless stubbornly refuses to clarify exactly what it wants! There’s a scream inside of us, louder then the loudest shofar and longer then the longest tekia, but we cannot quiet it, because by it’s very nature we cannot wrap our minds around it. If we could, it would no longer be a scream, but a thought, feeling or perhaps even an “opinion”. It would no longer be crystalline pure, but instead co-opted by the mind, the ego and who knows what else we’ve got cooking inside.

This scream makes us mighty uncomfortable. So we do our best to drown it out. With pleasure, work and even Torah and Mitzvos perhaps.

But God hears this scream, and if we are zoiche, he allows the scream to fulfill it’s purpose, the purpose he put it there in the first place: to move us closer to Him.



2 thoughts on “Sfas Emes – Ki Setzei – 5634(2)

  1. Amshinover

    In his sefer “Halakhic Man” (p. 60-61) the episode of the ba’al toke’a in brisk that was a Chabad chossid who began to cry just as he was prepared to blow shofar. R’ Moshe Soloveitchik turned to the ba’al toke’a and asked him whether he cried when he took his lulav as well. If both are mitzvos of Hashem, shouldn’t we respond the same to both? The Rav goes on to explain that the chossid was responding to the mystical meaning behind the mitzvah of shofar, which, according to the Alter Rebbe, represents a wail of longing to reunite with the Shechina, to transcend the unbridgeable gap between material reality and higher spiritual realms. His father’s attitude, the attitude of halachic man, is that there is no need to cry over that gap, as G-d’s presence can be found in the objective reality of this world as reflected in halacha; there is no need to seek an escape to higher realms. The shofar is the primordial scream the sfas Emes speaks of. the gap between the spirit given to us on the 1st Rosh hashana and the Spirit that gave it to us is the pain that is unknown and unphathomable



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