Gathering the Wood for the Mizbe'ach

by GYE (See all authors)

So many people seem to be struggling recently against a seemingly invincible enemy. Many of our greatest warriors experienced falls, and others were posting how they've never felt so close the edge of the abyss. I received a lot of e-mails with calls for help, people were claiming they felt as if their very "Bechira" was being removed from them.

Rabboisai, I think I have a theory for why this may be happening now. Let me share with you my thoughts, because I believe it can shed some "light" on this period of the year and on our struggle with the forces of "darkness" in general. But to understand what I am going to say, I will need to give a first a Hakdama (introduction).

The Zohar (in Chelek Beis, pg 78b) writes that Yakov Avinu took the months of Nissan and Iyar for himself (hence Yetziyas Mitzrayim, Kabbalas Hatorah), and Eisav took the months of Tamuz and Av for himself (and hence, the 17th of Tamuz and Tisha Be'av), but only the first 9 days of Av belong to him.

It says in the Mishna that they stopped gathering wood for the Mizbe'ach from the 15th of Av and on, because the strength of the sun finally breaks at that point, and the wood for the Mizbe'ach must be gathered only while the sun is at its strongest. Once the sun is no longer as strong, the wood can be slightly damp inside and it won't burn as well.

The Jewish people are compared to the moon, which renews itself each month. When Moshiach comes, the moon will be as bright as the sun. Esav chose this world over the next world, and the ruler of the heavens in this world is the sun. When the sun is the strongest, the koach of Esav is the strongest. But only until Moshiach comes...

The Beis Ahron of Karlin at the end of Parshas Pinchas brings a Medrash that says that the months of Tamuz, Av and Elul have no Regalim in them. That is why Hashem gave us three Regalim in the month of Tishrei, as if to "pay us back". The Beis Ahron writes that the 3 weeks are a very high time. These 3 weeks symbolize the 3 upper worlds (Ga"r or Gimmle Rishonos; Keser, chachma and Bina), and according to Kabbala, these three worlds are above time and space. That is why, says the Beis Ahron, the 3 weeks are a time when Hashem is so "hidden". Not because it is a "dark" time, but rather because the world cannot be "Sovel" (tolerate) the great light of this period of the year. But when Moshiach comes, he writes, these three weeks will be revealed and they will become great Yomim Tovim. And the Beis Ahron ends by saying that that is why we usually read Parshas Pinchas during the 3 weeks, because Pinchas has in it all the Regalim...

Now that we have the "Hakdama", I want to explain my theory as to why the struggle is so hard davka now. The Koach of Esav is at its height during the three weeks. From Rosh Chodesh Tamuz until the 9th of Av is approx 40 days. We are now smack in middle of those 40 days. At the end of these 40 days, the sun's strength starts to wane. That means that in middle of the 40 days, the sun is at its peak. Now is the most hidden time. The world cannot be "sovel" the great light, and when the keilim are not able to hold the light, they break. That is why the walls of Yerushalayim were breached and the Beis Hamikdash was destroyed. The "Keilim" of the yidden were not worthy of maintaining the great light, so when the light became the strongest, it broke the vessels. And that is perhaps why so many of us are struggling now more than any other time of the year.

The Yartzeit of Rav Shlomo Karliner is tonight, on the 22cd Tamuz. He was killed al Kiddush Hashem by a Russian Cossack, and Tzadikim said he was the bechina of Moshiach Ben Yosef. Yosef was born and died on Rosh Chodesh Tamuz. This is because the Koach of yosef will one day over power Esav as the Pasuk says "and the house of Yosef will be a flame and the house of Eisav will be like straw". Yosef's flame of Kedusha will devour and eradicate the power of Eisav from the world. But before Moshiach comes, Esav's Koach seems to overpower Yosef in the middle of the three weeks, and Yosef needs to "die" (be mistalek) in order to combat Esav. We all know that the death of Moshiach Ben Yosef is an integral part of the Ge'ulah. Only after Moshiach ben Yosef dies can Moshiach Ben David reveal himself.

The website was launched on the 22cd of Tamuz - exactly two years ago. Our community is part of the light of Yosef that shines forth after the holy bechina of Yosef seems to have been "killed" - kaviyachol - by Esav and all his impurities. Our network is perhaps a harbringer of the Ge'ulah, the fulfillment of what the holy Ohr Hachayim Hakadosh writes (Shemos 3:8), that before Moshiach comes the Yidden will be subjected to the 50th level of impurity (i.e. the death of Yosef - Kaviyachol), yet they will find the strength to enter into the mouth of the Satan and remove that which he had swallowed from his very mouth. ("Le'hotzi Bo'loi Mi'piv", i.e. using the power of the internet, the Satan's very tool, to bring out the sparks of Kedusha that had fallen prey to the 50th level of Tumah).

Rabboisai. The wood for the Holy Mizbe'ach can only be gathered NOW when the sun is at its PEAK. The greatest sacrifices for Hashem are done in the most hidden times. So many people fell now, so many great warriors are struggling, but davka now - after the bechina of Yosef seems to have been trampled and "killed", the light of the Ge'ulah begins to shine forth.

Tonight is the Yartzeit of Rav Shlomo Karliner and it is also the day that the Guardureyes network was launched. Tzadikim say, that although the 3 weeks is generally a bad time to start anything new, the day of Rav Shlomo's Yartzeit is a day when it is davka Mesugal to start something new, and to make a personal RENEWAL. And just like this network was launched on this day, I ask all of you in our community of Hashem's "front-line soldiers", to take this power of renewal, and to renew the light of Yosef by gathering the wood for the Mizbe'ach of our hearts, davka now when Hashem is Hidden from us the most.

We have it in our hands to bring the Ge'ulah! Through our personal sacrifices - by offering the desires of our hearts to Hashem, we will be the ones Be"h to reveal the blinding light of Hashem that is hidden in these three weeks.

We received an outpouring of feedback on the above. I would like to share with you some of the replies we received, because they are both informative and inspiring!


"Determined" wrote:

Hi. I can't begin to tell you what a chizuk this email was today. I fell yesterday after a year or so of being clean, and I was beginning to feel that hutera haretzua (the rope was released), but this is a clear siman min hashomayim (sign from heaven) to get back on the horse and forget about yesterday.

Thank you so much.


"Chl" wrote:

Guard, thanks, this was absolutely meaningful! I too had one of the hardest weeks I could remember last week... Thanks for your beautiful words.

BTW. for more insight and chizuk during the 3 weeks, I recommend R' Tsvi Meir Zilberberg's sefer on parshas Dvarim. It's eye-opening. (See the Shiur from Shabbos Nachamu, Parshas Re'eh, 5759, page 137, for some major yesodos in this struggle).


Another anonymous writer writes:

WOW guard, this email was timed perfectly. After more than a half a year clean, I could feel myself slipping the last couple days. I didn't fall "all the way", but I got caught reading some erotic stuff, and I felt the same cycle of depression setting in. The only difference was, that somehow I was able to refrain from continuing on to the p**n and the mast**n. But knowing that it's not only me who is struggling in this period of time gives me a lot of strength to continue. Looking back, I am amazed at the fact that I didn't fall all the way down. You can be sure I will be back on the forum, if only to give myself the strength that I need during this tough time. Thanks for the great email!


"Pintale Yid" wrote:

Rav Wolfson, at this week's Shalosh Suedos drasha, talked about the idea of how Hashem sometimes makes Tzaddikim fall to be Mesaken others who did the same sin. He used an example of a Tzaddik who had to eat Treif for purposes of Refua.

I think the same is going on here. We have a group of Tzaddikim that are constantly fighting, and in this tough period of the year they don't always win. You can add me to this list of the fallen (although I am not in the category of a Tzaddik).

Last night for the first time in a very long time, I looked at someone with the intention of gazing at their beauty. I ended up asking Hashem for forgiveness several times today for it, but the missed opportunity to rectify the other times that I had gazed is gone. Boruch Hashem, the seforim I am learning from Rav Shalom Arush make me believe that Hashem caused me to sin yesterday, so I am not depressed about it - but I almost wish I have another opportunity, so I can do real T'shuva.

Hopefully my T'shuva, and the T'shuva of others on this site that are working our way back up the ladder, will be a tikun for klal yisroel in the area of Kedusha.

Ben, who is clean for over half a year, posted on the forum:

I was prompted to post because of today's chizuk email and the news that many were struggling in the past couple of days. I wonder at things like this, and the dynamics that lie beyond mere rational though and the input of the physical senses. Yesterday afternoon, I was faced with a temptation from a very unexpected quarter. I had to refocus myself a number of times through the course of the remaining day to keep the test out of my thoughts. Once again, the very basic advice to call out to Hashem and proclaim one's powerlessness in the face of the struggle has proven to be the best advice for me.


"Battleworn" posted a very inspiring addition to the theme of how the wood for the Mizbe'ach is gathered davka now, when the sun's strength is at its peak.

Rabeinu Guard, I think you hit the nail right on the head!

I want to suggest that the wood of the Mizbe'ach symbolizes the weaknesses and failings that we have. There is a very big yesod from the Sfas Emes (and others) based on the words of Chazal on the posuk "Aish Tamid Tukad Al Hamizbe'ach- a constant fire shall burn on the Mizbe'ach". Chazal say that "a constant fire" is referring to the light of the Menorah, and the posuk is telling us that the light of the Menorah needs to be taken from the Mizbe'ach.

Says the Sfas Emes, the fire of the Menorah is the fire of light and warmth. It signifies the light of Torah and Mitzvos and closeness to Hashem. On the other hand, the fire of the Mizbe'ach is the fire of consumption that burns up the beheimos/behamius (animalistic nature), and of-course it signifies our struggle with the Yetzer Hara. CHAZAL ARE TELLING US, THAT THE SOURCE OF THE LIGHT OF CLOSENESS TO HASHEM NEEDS TO BE TAKEN FROM THE FIRE OF OUR STRUGGLE WITH THE YETZER HARA.

Just as we know in the physical world, every light/warmth needs fuel to burn, so too in the spiritual world, we need fuel to burn. The fuel/wood for our "spiritual light" is our weaknesses and failings. And the more fuel to burn, the more light and energy we get. For every weakness that we have, we must thank Hashem for the wood that he so generously gave us. And when the sun is the strongest, the wood is the highest quality.


Yakov Shwartz wrote:

Reading today's chizuk email, my heart went out to all those who are struggling now. But thanks for your explanation on this difficult situation. I see that you encouraged everyone to renew themselves. I hope all the yidden get renewed strength and conviction and start over again as they learn to become like a new born baby. Rav Nachman writes the key to doing teshuvah and breaking the averiros that we are addicted to, is believing in change, rejuvenation and renewal. We must believe that the ME from yesterday does not have to be the ME of today. We can always renew ourselves.

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