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Unread 07-23-2003, 02:20 PM   #4
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Join Date: Nov 2001
Posts: 8,345
Rabbi Hillel was born with exceptional gifts, and he strove diligently in Torah study. At thirteen he had mastered Talmud, and at fifteen, the Kabalistic works of Ar'i (Rabbi Isaac Luria). Mastering Talmud by mid-teens was not rare in those days, but attaining proficiency in Kabala besides that was a wonder even in those luminous times. In addition to his eminence in Torah learning he trained himself in self-discipline. He "mobilized" his body to act only as the Torah prescribes, even to conform with Kabala.
Rebbe Hillel of Paritch was a tzadik and great scholar who chose to become a devoted chassid of the first three Chabad Rebbes. It is known that he would not change his custom of dress, even under threat of death. Explaining his steadfastness, Reb Hillel said he possessed a document of Rebbe Pinchas of Koretz on which was written that just as clothing covers and surrounds us, so too they are spiritually connected to the divine attribute of Understanding (bina), that "covers" and is the basis of our emotions which lead to action. The Arizal said that even though the Jews in Egypt had entered the 49 gates of impurity, they had not yet fallen into the 50th. For this reason we were redeemed from Egypt. The 50th gateway of impurity is parallel to its converse: the pure 50th gate of Understanding. By not changing their dress - which is connected to understanding - the Jews had the power to stay out of that 50th gate of impurity! R' Pinchus's document also explained that just before the final redemption, there will be enormous pressure on the Jews to conform to foreign dress codes - to push them into the 50th gate of impurity - and they will succumb, G-d forbid! So on what merit will we be redeemed? On the merit of a few individuals who, against all odds, will not relinquish their customary dress. Rebbe Hillel closed by saying that anyone who had such a document would undoubtedly sacrifice all to fulfill its requirements; the only problem is that no one has it. I do, therefore I must comply!
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