Tag Archives: Avraham

The Sixties Radical- Azriel Gam zu l’tovah

Let’s take a look at where the expression “Gam zu l’tovah” comes from. This article was written by Nissan Mindel.

“ Nahum Ish Gamzu and Rabbi Akiba were both men of endless faith in the Almighty. They were certain that anything that happened to them was good. How did they know it? Simply enough. They knew that nothing happens by accident or chance; that nothing happens without G‑d knowing it. Now G‑d is good, therefore, how can anything bad happen?

Of course, unpleasant things sometimes do happen, but that does not mean that they are bad. For example, medicine may be quite unpleasant to swallow; but who would say that medicine is bad because it is unpleasant?

Strangely enough, however, each one of them expressed his faith in a different way. Nahum used to say, “Gam zu l’tovah,” which in Hebrew means: “This is also for good.” In fact, it is believed that because he often repeated this saying, he was called “Gamzu.”

Rabbi Akiba on the other hand used to say, “Kol man d’avid Rachmana l’tav avid,” which in Aramaic (the language most widely spoken by the Jewish people at that time, for Hebrew was spoken by the scholars) meant: “All that the Merciful One does, He does for good.”

Let me tell you what happened to them, as related in the Talmud.

Rabbi Nahum was once sent to Rome to try to persuade the Roman Emperor to be more kindly to the Jews. He was carrying a precious box, filled with gold and diamonds, a gift for the Emperor. On the way he stopped at an inn, where he stayed for the night. On the following morning he continued his journey, not knowing that the innkeeper had stolen the precious things from the box and filled it with sand and soil.

When Rabbi Nahum finally reached Rome and presented himself to the Emperor, he handed the box to the Emperor. On opening the box, it was found to contain nothing but sand and soil. The Emperor was filled with anger, thinking that the Jews wanted to mock him. Nahum was thrown into prison and certain death awaited him. However, Nahum was not dismayed and said, as Usual, “Gam zu l’tovah” – “this is also for good.”

At his trial, one of the Emperor’s advisers said that the Jews would certainly not have dared to mock the Emperor. He suggested, therefore, that perhaps this was no ordinary sand and soil. He had heard, the adviser said, that when Abraham, the first Jew, went to battle against Chedarlaomer and his confederate kings, he threw sand and soil at them, which G‑d turned into arrows and deadly weapons and in this way Abraham won the battle against the mighty kings. Maybe this sand and soil were of the same kind!

Now the Emperor had been at war for some time, but could not defeat his enemy. So he ordered this sand and soil to be used. Indeed, the miracle happened, and the enemy was defeated!

Nahum was immediately freed from prison and given many gifts and the petition of the Jews was granted.

So much for Nahum’s wonderful story. Now about Rabbi Akiba.

Rabbi Akiba also had a narrow escape from death, but in a different way. He was on his way to a city when the sun set and he. had to take shelter in the woods. It was a dark night. He lit the only candle he had. He also had a cock with him to wake him early in the morning, and a donkey on which he rode.

Now a strong wind blew out his candle and he remained in darkness.- The next moment the cock was snatched by an animal of prey and a similar fate befell his donkey. Each time Rabbi Akiba said,

“All that the Merciful One does is for good.”

In the morning when Rabbi Akiba arrived in the city he learned that a band of vicious robbers had passed through the forest and attacked the city. Had they known of Rabbi Akiba’s presence he would have suffered violence at their hands! So it was good that the candle’s light was blown out, that the cock was not there to crow, nor the donkey to bray!

Now the question arises, why did Rabbi Akiba use a different expression from that used by Rabbi Nahum? This is all the more surprising because Rabbi Akiba was Rabbi Nahum’s disciple, and you would expect the disciple to repeat his master’s saying in his master’s words. Then there is another question: Why did Rabbi Nahum express his words in Hebrew whereas Rabbi Akiba used the Aramaic dialect?

Before we give you the answer to these questions, let us for a moment consider the question of “good” and “evil.”

G‑d is good. He is not the source of evil. Everything that happens in this world should therefore be good, and, indeed, originally, as it comes from G‑d, it is good. However, by the time it actually takes place, it may, for some reason, result in a bad thing. For example: A loving father gives his son a toy to play with. That’s certainly a good thing. But then the son gets hurt by the improper use of it. That’s bad, but it’s not the father’s fault. The father wanted his son to enjoy the toy.

Then there is, as we mentioned earlier the case of the unpleasant medicine. The little boy who doesn’t know how good it is for him, yells and screams, and does not want to take it. But when he takes it, willingly or not, it is unpleasant for a moment but drives pain away for a long time.

So it is in life. There are two kinds of “evil”: a) A temporary setback which soon proves to be a blessing in disguise (like medicine). b) A more serious “evil,” such as sickness or even death, which seems to have no good at all in it but which, nevertheless, we believe to be for a good purpose known only to G‑d.

We who believe in One G‑d, the One Creator, who created both heaven and earth, light and darkness, heat and cold, and everything that exists, believe that the Creator of the whole world is purely good, and no evil can come from Him.

When one’s faith in this is as strong as that of Rabbi Nahum, and one’s piety as great too, one may be given the power to influence events in this world so that the good that originates from G‑d be seen and felt down here below, as it was intended Above. Thus Rabbi Nahum was able, in his great and boundless faith, to convert the very sand and soil into good, even to something better than the gold and precious things that had been stolen and replaced by the seemingly worthless sand and soil.

Rabbi Akiba lived in the next generation after Rabbi Nahum. The world was not the same in Rabbi Akiba’s time, as in the time of his master. The people were not up to the same standard of holiness and piety and were not worthy of the same revelation of G‑d’s light and of the same miracles. So, although Rabbi Akiba’s faith was as strong as that of Rabbi Nahum, the miracles that his faith called forth were more veiled, more hidden. The event itself did not show the good but it merely proved to be an indirect cause of it. At the same time, the “harm” suffered was very small compared to the good that came from it. This was the case with Rabbi Akiba that night when he was in the woods.

This will explain the difference in the expressions used by Rabbi Nahum and Rabbi Akiba. Rabbi Nahum said, “This is also for good,” meaning that the event itself is good. Whereas Rabbi Akiba said, “All that G‑d does He does for good,” meaning that while the experience itself is unpleasant, it surely leads to good.

This will also explain the difference in the language used by the two Sages. For, as already mentioned, Hebrew was the language of the scholars in those days, whilst most people spoke the Aramaic dialect.

Now, Rabbi Nahum’s way of life was, obviously, of a very high order, and very few people enjoyed such powers to convert the very evil into good. That is why his way of life is expressed in Hebrew, the language which was not used commonly but rather by way of exception. Rabbi Akiba’s way of life, on the other hand, could be followed by wider sections of the people. Therefore, he expressed it in Aramaic, so that every­body should understand him and try to follow his way.


The Sixties Radical- Azriel A True Tzaddik

The following is taken from the lesson in the Tanya taught by Rabbi Joseph Gordon. This is mixture of my words and direct quotes from the Rabbi and the Tanya with footnotes.

“Tzaddik” is a person who has eradicated his evil inclination. He doesn’t function out of lust or ego or self-serving. Very people have achieved this…

These rare people do the right thing for this is what HaShem wants us to do.

“David extirpated his evil nature through fasting; other ways too are possible.

We thus see from the Gemara that the definition of tzaddik in its true sense applies to the person who has rid himself of his evil nature.

But whoever has not attained this degree of ridding himself of his evil nature, even though his virtues outnumber his sins, is not at all at the level and rank of tzaddik”. 2.Tehillim 109:22. See ch. 13 for the comment of the Rebbe on the interpretation of this verse

“Thus, in each generation there must be a tzaddik who serves as the “foundation of the world.”

“This paucity of tzaddikim (“The righteous were few”) can be explained only if a tzaddik is he who has totally rid himself of his evil nature. Were the term tzaddik to mean one whose good deeds outweigh the evil, why then do our Sages say that “the righteous were few,” when the overwhelming majority of Jews have more good deeds than evil!” 1. See Rambam, Hilchot Teshuvah 3:1; Rashi on Rosh HaShanah 16b.

David sinned and then repented so hard that he removed the negative in heart so he became one with G-d. David killed the evil within him by constant fasting and prayer.  David sought G-d and created a vacuum in his heart.

My prayer is become like David and get rid of all of the evil with me so I just serve with G-d with no hidden motives.

“As for the well-known saying1 that one [whose deeds and misdeeds are] equally balanced is called a Beinoni, while [he who has] a majority of virtues outweighing his sins is called a tzaddik.” 1. See Rambam, Hilchot Teshuvah 3:1; Rashi on Rosh HaShanah 16b.

I am a Beinoni.  I pray to HaShem to make me clean and get rid of my self-centeredness so I can serve HaShem with pure motives.

The Sixties Radical- Azriel G-d’s Greatest Mitzvah

The greatest Mitzvah is Tzedakah Charity.

“G‑d’s kindness” is drawn down through man’s “arousal initiated from below.” It is thus the coin that one gives a pauper that grants the giver the gift of “beholding G‑d’s face” — the internal aspect of G‑dliness — during prayer. In this way, man’s kindness and tzedakah elicit G‑d’s kindness and tzedakah.

However, the following must be understood: Since the Divine illumination must inevitably result from G‑d’s attribute of kindness and His tzedakah, why is man’s service necessary at all?

The Alter Rebbe answers this question by explaining that parallel to the above attribute, there also exists a Divine attribute of severity and contraction, that seeks to limit and screen the diffusion of the G‑dly light. It is man’s practice of kindness and tzedakah that ensures that the attribute of severity and Gevurah will not hinder the flow of Divine radiance that is to be revealed to him during prayer. Cf. Tikkunei Zohar 69:105a. Zohar II, 175b

The Sixties Radical- Azriel Chesed of G-d

This is taken from the Tanya.

“Abraham epitomizes Chesed, the attribute of kindness; Isaac epitomizes Gevurah, the attribute of severity; the predominant attribute of Jacob is Tiferet, or Rachamim, compassion. The inward aspect of the soul’s divine service when motivated by Chesed is — the love of G‑d; the inward aspect of the soul’s divine service when motivated by Gevurah is — the awe of G‑d; so, too, divine service when motivated by compassion has its distinctive inward aspect “Love is internal and kindness is external. So, too, with regard to fear and severity [— the former is internal; the latter, external], as explained in Iggeret HaKodesh, Epistle 15, p. 123a.” (— Note of the Rebbe.)

This means G-d is kindness.

G-d’s love is expressed through HIS kindness.

The Sixties Radical- Azriel Not Is

How could it be?

How could a human ego know it is nothing but a figment of a greater mind—and yet remain a human being?

How could a physical eye see infinite light—and yet remain an eye?

How could a stone scream out that there is nothing else but G‑d—and yet remain a stone?

It must be that the true reality of all things is not to be, but to know.

There is nothing else but knowing that there is nothing else but G‑d.

Hemshech 5672, part 2, p. 1003; Maamar Asher Bara 5739


The Sixties Radical- Azriel Heart of G-d

Frank Seamster set off fireworks Sunday July 1st. These lessons are more than the rockets’ red glare. The lessons Frank Seamster taught us today get to the heart of G-d.

This is basis Chassidic teaching 101.

G-d is speaking to us through Pastor Frank.

These words shook both heaven and earth.

“G-d comes to challenge the direction of our love life.”

“Get your love life in order.”

“Declare to HIM you will have no other g-ds before G-d.”

Then I saw where I fall short.

How can I love G-d when I treat my wife, my family, my friends and even my enemies badly?

The way I show G-d how much I love HIM is when I take care of my wife and family.

I show how much I love G-d when I bust my tail at work to do the best job every day.

I show how much I love G-d when I do Tzedakah (Charity). I give to G-d’s house.

I show how much I love G-d when I do forgiveness to everyone.

I show how much I love G-d when I bring the “Hey” out of exile back into the name of G-d. This is done when I become a follower of Yeshua and I turn back to G-d to live a G-dly life.

Yeshua is the Jewish Messiah- Moshiach- the anointed one.

I show how much I love G-d when I stop worshiping the idol of anger or resentment.

I show how much I love G-d when I study Torah and Tanya on a daily basis and then do the lessons I have learned.

HaShem help me get my love life in the right order.

Thank you, Frank Seamster, for love you have shown me with these needed corrections to get my love life in order.

The Sixties Radical- Azriel Nothing Else

Deep in meditation, the mind’s eye catches a glimmer of light.

A glimmer of light from G‑d. But for one who seeks G‑d Himself, the light is not G‑d.

Secluded from the business of humankind and earthly pleasures, immersed in knowledge of the higher realms, there comes a day the prophet hears with his ears the voice that brings all into being, sees with his eyes the splendor of that light.

A splendorous light from G‑d. But the light is not G‑d.

In a time to come, every small child will see more than the greatest prophet could ever imagine, the physical eye will perceive more than any soul has ever known, there will be a world, and its entire being will be a means to know its Creator—so much so that the very stones of the earth will scream out, “There is nothing else but He!”

That is G‑d.

Maamar V’nachah Alav 5725