Sunday, April 13, 2014

What we are talking about when we talk about Hametz

It never ceases to amaze, the all-out war on yeast declared each year by thousands of families. Whether it plays out as a complete eradication of all household dust - spring cleaning under the guise of religious fervor - or simply the purchase of over-priced products marked with KP and inevitably including some amount of coconut – the prohibition on Hametz during Passover remains one of those delicious mysteries of Jewish civilization.
And like any good mystery, it has its share of shot-in-the-dark interpretations, embellishments, re-interpretations and radical departures. As I leave my house with a cardboard box, ready to burn Cheerios in the crisp spring air, here are a few of my favorite interpretations to the idea of destroying unleavened bread.

That Original Levain. We used to believe that for every ritual there is an “original” explanantion, the historical contextualization which would somehow edify our modern practice, and hopefully show how moral and progressive we were “already then”. These days that doesn’t seem to hit the spot as much as it used to. And yet, as we turn to whatever Hametz was in ancient times, the literal Biblical commandment brings us straight into the kitchens of our ancient mothers.

For seven days, matzot are you to eat; from the first day you are to get rid of leaven from your homes, for anyone who eats fermented – from the first day until the seventh day – that person shall be cut off from Israel.  (Shemot 12:15)

 שִׁבְעַת יָמִים, מַצּוֹת תֹּאכֵלוּ אַךְ בַּיּוֹם הָרִאשׁוֹן, תַּשְׁבִּיתוּ שְּׂאֹר מִבָּתֵּיכֶם:  כִּי כָּל-אֹכֵל חָמֵץ, וְנִכְרְתָה הַנֶּפֶשׁ הַהִוא מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל--מִיּוֹם הָרִאשֹׁן, עַד-יוֹם הַשְּׁבִעִי. (שמות יב:טו)

Our good mothers (and occasional father) – like a good San Francisco baker – would keep a constant batch of sourdough in their kitchen from which they would ferment their bread. These starters (aka levain) would often stay for months and years, the best of them improving with time, passed from generation to generation. Each family’s Lactobaccillus culture symbolizes that source of sizzle and growth, of creativity which quietly
sits at the center of every home and serves as the centerpiece of the family’s nourishment. Yet once a year – says the Torah – the levain is to be discontinued. As the new wheat grows in the field, it is time to give that
old fermented pod a rest. A new starter will be created. In the seven days in between, impoverished of the bread we eat each year, we turn inwards to find a deeper source of nourishment, a more crucial family cornerstone: the story of the Exodus, of how we got here – to own land and wheat and kitchens in which our dough and dreams can rise. And to give thanks for it. Then we can begin again…

The evil side of the evil side. Sometimes a two-liner in an obscure book can reveal a brand new theology, a whole new psychology. This is the case with a prayer by the Ben Ish Chai, Rabbi Yosef Hayyim of Baghdad. In his Haggadah, after annulling the Hametz (repeat three times), he includes the following prayer:

…and just as we burned the hametz out of our homes today,
So help us to burn out the bad inclination (yetzer ha-ra) within us.
Please God, remove from us the bad part of the bad inclination
And purify us lovingly, empowering our good inclination.
Let our souls shine and be endowed with Your light,
And be connected to You in the highest holiness, which shall be with us always.
(Orach Hayim Hagggadah pg. 61; 19th century Baghdad)

וכשם שבערנו החמץ מבתינו היום הזה,
כן תזכנו ותסיענו ותעזרנו לבער היצר הרע מקרבנו.
אנא ה', הפרד נא מעלינו צד הרע שביצר הרע,
ותזככנו ותלבבנו בכח היצר הטוב.
ותזכנו לזכך נפשנו ולהאיר בה ולהוסיף בה כח הארה גדולה ולהתקשר מעלה בקדשה עליונה ותמיד תשרה ותחול עלינו קדשה העליונה.

The interpretations which describe Hametz as connected to the Yetzer ha-Ra, that evil inclination within us, abound. The best of them recognize that the “evil inclination” - like leavened good and other carbs - is necessary for human life. The Talmud describes how once the Rabbis sought to destroy the evil inclination, but the next day they could not find a single egg. Without the evil inclination, intercourse became tastless, even for chickens… Hidden within the folds of this “evil” inclination is our source of creativity, of striving and achieving, of experimentation and risk-taking, of progressing, procreating and multiplying. Without it, the
Karl Nicholason, Psychology textbook, early 70s
world would become a monastic kingdom – and promptly wither and die. But WITH it, the world is full of puffed up egos, pernicious predators and insatiable libidos. The evil inclination – can’t live with it, can’t kill it. But for one week, perhaps, we can clean ourselves of our addiction, create space between who we “really are” sans-ego, and how we carry ourselves year-round.
The Ben Ish Chai offers a language and a challenge. The Yetzer haRa is not Ra, not evil, in its own right. It is necessary, even desirous. But like all things, it includes in it a good side and a bad side. The challenge is to peel away the “bad side of the bad inclination”, to recognize the unhealthy part of our ego, the toxic aspect of our internal critic, the fermented part of our worst selves. We search all the rooms of our soul, distinguishing between the various aspects of our internal inclinations. We peel away the bad side of our ego and bask in our “best selves”, our yetzer ha-tov. May its light shine through all year long.

Missed Opportunities. The reinterpretations of Hametz are endless. Search your pockets – not for crumbs but for illegitimate financial gain. Purge your demeanor of all puffiness and swagger in your step. Distill yourself to who you really are, before you were allowed to sit and ferment… Modern Hebrew’s usage of the word Hametz invites a new interpretation: that of missed opportunity. להחמיץ – to miss. Thus burning the Hametz becomes about letting go of all the missed opportunities, the could-have-beens and should-have-dones, the blunders and mistakes, the missed targets. In the age of multi-tasking and “being everywhere”, burning the Hametz is about being OK with being in one place at a time, being one person, flat, unleavened, present. It is the Spring Kol Nidrei – an opportunity to cleanse ourselves of what we did not accomplish – in order to enter the new season unburdened by a winter gone stale. As families get together on Passover, the weight of missed opportunities often eats at the edges, turning into a defensiveness which overwhelms the
ability to simply be together (or maybe that’s just me…). Before entering the Family Seder, before beginning this long-awaited Spring, lets burn those missed opportunities, let go of the times we missed the target, and embrace the joy of simplicity and being.

Pesach Sameach, a Happy Passover!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

God Becomes a Merciful Parent

Rabbi Mishael Zion | Text and the City | Ki Tisa 2014

Three years ago, when Amy Chua’s “Tiger Mom” came out, my friend Dasee Berkowitz and I wrote a counter-piece about “The Spiritual Life of Parents”. It was an aspirational piece, to say the least. This week, as I was trying to recover from a high-strung parenting miscalculation involving a pinched piece of gum, a clenched fist and a busy school parking lot, I saw that Chua has a new book out. I decided to go back and read what we had written and see if I’ve been able to fulfill some of those aspirations, three years and with a third daughter now in the equation.
I mercifully gave myself a passing grade. But I was also reminded that this week’s Torah portion can be read as God confronting his own Parenthood, with a special recipe for maintaining one’s parenting hidden within:
Ki Tisa: The Sin of the Golden Calf. After the great wedding at Sinai, the Israelites have been adulterous (with a cow, no less). God wants to annul the marriage, offering to Moses that He destroy the Jewish people and restart the project with Moses as the new Abraham. Moses heroically confronts God and reframes the covenant: This is not just a Sinai marriage, he reminds God. It is also a covenant you made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – and their offspring. The Jewish project is not an opt-in faith community, but a born-into People, with God as the parent. You can divorce your wife – but you cannot divorce your kids, claims Moses, and God submits. Or as Rabbi Meir puts it in the Talmud: בין כך ובין כך קרויים אתם בנים – “No matter what you do, you are forever called my children” (Kiddushin 36a).
Yet given the tendency of these children to test and anger their parent, given their affinity for rebellion, their ignoring and blocking out their parents pleas, their messiness and their premature desire for autonomy and independence… how will the parent master their emotions, manage love, patience and discipline in the child’s long journey to maturity?
It is here that God reveals to Moses the 13 attributes of Mercy:

And God passed before his face
And called out:
God, God,
Showing-mercy, showing-favor,
Long-suffering in anger,
Abundant in loyalty and faithfulness,
Keeping loyalty to the thousandth generation,
Shouldering iniquity, rebellion and sin,
And clearing - not clearing the guilty –
(rather) calling-to-account the iniquity of the fathers upon the sons and upon sons’ sons, to the third and fourth generation!
וַיַּעֲבֹר ה' עַל פָּנָיו וַיִּקְרָא:
ה' ה'
אֵל רַחוּם וְחַנּוּן
אֶרֶךְ אַפַּיִם
וְרַב חֶסֶד
נֹצֵר חֶסֶד לָאֲלָפִים
נֹשֵׂא עָוֹן וָפֶשַׁע וְחַטָּאָה
וְנַקֵּה לֹא יְנַקֶּה
פֹּקֵד עֲוֹן אָבוֹת עַל בָּנִים וְעַל בְּנֵי בָנִים
עַל שִׁלֵּשִׁים וְעַל רִבֵּעִים.

Reading these passages in recent years, reciting them again and again on Yom Kippur, I’ve come to realize that God is asking Moses – and his descendants – to remind God of who He really is, or who He aspires to be. The Midrash has long since turned this list from a theological plea into an ethical creed: “Just as God is called showing-of-mercy – you too strive to be showing-of-mercy” (see Maimonides Deot 1:6). God’s thirteen attributes are our aspirational list to follow in God’s paths in our encounter with every person (indeed, Moshe Cordovero’s Palm of Deborah goes through each Divine attribute and translates it into a quality in interpersonal relations).
For me, God’s thirteen attributes of mercy are a powerful guide to Parenthood – not just God’s, but my own. I recite them to remind myself to be merciful, compassionate, slow to anger, truthful, abundant in loyalty… The real trick is to figure out which qualities to use at which moment: when “shouldering mistakes and iniquities” is best – and when “not clearing the guilty” is required (in hindsight, the incident with the gum and the clenched fist seems to have been the first). It is an ongoing internal rollercoaster – and it is undoubtedly the most rewarding one at that. And I am at my best when I remember that my struggle to be there for my child in the best way is the same struggle as being in the world in God’s image. I just might sometimes need a Moses to remind me of them.
As Dasee and I wrote in that piece three years ago:
During an average day of parenting we encounter our entire emotional range: from love and compassion to worry, impatience and even anger. Our kids know how to get under our skin - often because they present a mirror of our own behavior.  Viewing our parenting encounters as opportunities for inner growth can turn an emotionally messy day into a source of self-understanding and self-improvement.  This is not just psychologically sound – it is spiritual work in itself. As we use our daily encounters to become better parents, we find ourselves walking in the ways of the Divine.

Shabbat Shalom,

P.S. If the ending of those verses sounds harsh, know that Rabbinic liturgical tradition cut the list short, dropping the stuff about “calling-to-account the iniquity of the fathers upon the sons,” thus leaving only the “13 Attributes of Mercy”. Even more chutzpadik, in prayer to this day we recite the list only until the word “clearing” ונקה, turning the verses’ question mark into an exclamation point: “Keeping loyalty to the thousandth generation, bearing iniquity, rebellion and sin, and clearing!”
Yet – not to end on too optimistic a note – here’s a different interpretation to those verses:
Calling-to-account the iniquity of the fathers upon the sons” – why? Why should one person have to suffer on account of the sins of another? Perhaps the intent here is that God calls-to-account upon the parents the sins which they performed in educating their children. For the children’s sins are because of the iniquities of the parents – and it is the parents who are held responsible. (Iturei Torah pg. 269)

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Thou Shalt Donate to Overhead Costs: The Commandment to Keep the Lights On

Rabbi Mishael Zion | Text and the City | Tetzaveh 2014
A version of this dvar appeared on the Huffington Post’s ON Scripture and on eJewishPhilanthropy
Twenty years ago, my grandfather asked me to mail some charitable donation cheques for him. I noticed the words “earmarked for overhead costs” on one of them and asked him about this. He answered with his typical evasive smile: “Well, we are Levites.”
I was confused. I already knew we came from the Tribe of Levi, and it was a fact I mostly resented. The underappreciated cousins of the Cohens – or Kohanim, that priestly tribe descended from biblical Aaron who star in this week’s Torah portion of Tetzaveh — we Levites were consigned to washing the priests’ hands. If the Temple were ever to be rebuilt, my career prospects hit a glass ceiling as glorified song leader, lyre in hand. Levites are the Art Garfunkel of the Jewish tribes.
In any case, what did this have to do with overhead costs?
When I pushed him, my grandfather said that, as a rabbi, social worker and activist, he had gained insight into the challenges of communal service. And as a Levite, he had a “genetic appreciation” for the gray work of communal professionals. Since he saw how others underappreciated these professionals and the true costs of doing communal work effectively, he felt it was his responsibility to donate specifically to overhead expenses.
I recalled this tale last summer when the usually sleepy nonprofit world was rocked by a campaign to “Debunk the Overhead Myth.” The leaders of the country’s three leading sources of information on nonprofits – GuideStarCharity Navigator, and BBB Wise Giving Alliance rolled out research and analysis proving that, counter to popular belief, “overhead is a poor measure of a charity’s performance.” While 62 percent of Americans believe that a typical charity spends more than it should on overhead, they recommended that “charities should spend more on overhead” in order to be healthy and effective. Instead of ferreting out miniscule overhead percentages, donors should focus on a nonprofit’s “transparency, governance, leadership and results.”
To this formidable campaign I contribute the modest offering of biblical precedent: “The Commandment of Donating to Overhead.” This week’s Torah portion of Tetzaveh, which discusses the role of the priests in the Tabernacle, opens with the following commandment (Exodus 27:20-21):
Command the Children of Israel,
to bring you pure oil of pressed olives
to keep the lamps burning continually…
Aaron and his sons are to keep
the lamps burning before God
from sunset until daybreak.
[This shall be] a law for the ages,
throughout your generations,
on the part of the children of Israel.
וְאַתָּה תְּצַוֶּה אֶת-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל,
וְיִקְחוּ אֵלֶיךָ שֶׁמֶן זַיִת זָךְ כָּתִית לַמָּאוֹר:
לְהַעֲלֹת נֵר תָּמִיד.
בְּאֹהֶל מוֹעֵד מִחוּץ לַפָּרֹכֶת אֲשֶׁר עַל-הָעֵדֻת,
יַעֲרֹךְ אֹתוֹ אַהֲרֹן וּבָנָיו מֵעֶרֶב עַד בֹּקֶר לִפְנֵי ה'.
חֻקַּת עוֹלָם לְדֹרֹתָם, מֵאֵת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל.
(שמות כז:כ-כא)

Depictions of the Temple Lamp in a mosaic
from a 6th Century Synagogue floor in Hamat Gader
The Torah commands the Israelites to “keep the lights on” in the Tabernacle. Of the many donations the people of Israel are asked to make to support the sanctuary, this is the only one that is required on an ongoing basis.
Fittingly, this commandment became an actual “law for the ages,” long after the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 C.E. An ancient rabbinic commentary makes the shift clear:
Even though the Temple has been destroyed and its candles extinguished, there still stand houses of prayer and houses of study, and in them in we must light candles, for those are called “micro-temples” (Midrash Ha’Gadol, Leviticus 6:2).
אע"פ שחרב המקדש ובטלו הנרות,
הרי בתי כנסיות ובתי מדרשות שמדליקין בהן והן נקראים "מקדש מעט",
שנאמר: "ואהי להם למקדש מעט" (יחזקאל יא:טז)

In Jewish communities throughout the ages, the commandment of “keeping the lights on” became one of the most powerful guiding principles. In every community — from 11th-century Spain, through 16th-century Italy, to 19th-century Lithuania — associations were formed whose key mandate was to fundraise for the oil to illuminate the sanctuary and other overhead costs. It comes as no surprise that their names were usually taken directly from the biblical verses quoted above: “Shemen la’Maor” (Oil for Lighting) or “Ner Tamid” (the Constant Candle)
While in the Jewish world the personal touch of candles has been replaced by electricity, visiting the sanctuaries of other religious communities reminds us of how this commandment continues to be played out literally in some churches and temples, where devotees bring candles and light them in the sanctuary. This individual, humble and illuminating act speaks volumes of the individual responsibility to keep our communal institutions running.
Not as directly illuminating as the candles — nor as humble — the plaques at the entrance to our communal institutions also remind us that these institutions depend on our donations. But while the appearance of these plaques might lead us to believe that the responsibility to sustain our institutions lies primarily with the wealthy, the candles remind us that it is up to each of us to contribute to the effort. Indeed, in one synagogue in Jerusalem every lightbulb is donated by a different member of the community!
So how does the commandment to donate oil to the Temple play out today? An individual obligation towards overhead costs for those communal institutions we believe in seems like a good first step. But where else can we make a difference in supporting the work of the modern day priests (and Levites!) who toil in the sanctuaries of our communal institutions – Jewish, urban, civic… to make sure the lights are kept on
from sunset until daybreak…
Shabbat Shalom,


Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Chapter that Doesn’t Exist (and the Secret to Eternal Life)

“When it is time to leave the world, and for the soul to rise up wherever it rises to,
it is not the goal or aspiration that the soul stay only up high.
For the real fulfillment of the soul is that while it is "up there", it should also be down here.
Therefore one most strive to leave offspring and students, so that their da'at [wisdom, attainment, uniqueness] will remain down here, shining a light for the inhabitants of this lowly world. For when a person's da'at remains through children and students, it is considered as if that person itself is still in this world.”
Rabbi Nachman of Breslov | Likkutei Moharan II:8, Hassidic Rabbi, Ukraine 19th C

When we die, what will remain of us in this world?
Reb Nachman outlines his prescription for eternal life. Each person reflects a core “wisdom” – da’at - which epitomizes them; a quintessential learning, an attainment, unique to her. As long as your essential intuition lives in the world – you remain in this world. And it lives on through the creation of children and students who weave that intuition into their own lives.
Suddenly, the act of study becomes an act of reviving the dead – as long as the knowledge is then truly woven into life. By studying and carrying with me the da’at of previous generations – by being their student – I am keeping them alive.
This sounds great, but what is my “essential” da’at? And what if that da’at is distorted, misunderstood? (Milan Kundera’s “Immortality” explores this anxiety with hilarity).
I pondered these thoughts as we marked thirty days since Edgar M. Bronfman’s passing (see more below). In our community of Bronfman Fellows we marked his passing with a community-wide learning initiative, with one track dedicated to studying the Rabbinic tractate ofPirkei Avot.
Putting Reb Nachman’s intuition to the text of Avot, it became clear that this tractate is a project in conserving the “da’at” of those great teachers, attempting to become their students long after they have left this world. Each mishna attempts to “boil down” the quintessential wisdom of a sage into one or two sentences: “He would say”, “he would say”. There is something appalling about this process, reducing a wide ranging and variegated life into a one-liner (preferably with three parts). What a terrifying project, what a moving one. To be sure, the purpose of Pirkei Avot is the wisdom and ethics, not the individual legacy of the teachers. And yet, those two are deeply intertwined – the wisdom and the person who said it.
Yet the deepest lesson from Pirkei Avot might come from the last chapter of Pirkei Avot, chapter six. It does not arise from the text itself, but from the following curious fact: Chapter Six of Pirkei Avot does not actually exist. As late as Maimonides (12th C), Pirkei Avot has only five chapters. Yet open any copy of Pirkei Avot today, and you will discover not give, but six! Scholars have noted that this last chapter is a compilation of external texts, known in the 9th century as the “Chapter of Torah Acquisition”. Its inclusion in Pirkei Avot is due to a fluke of traditional Jewish study. The tradition was to study Pirkei Avot on the Shabbatot between Passover and Shavuot. The only problem was that there are six Shabbatot between these two holidays, and – oy vey - only five chapters to Pirkei Avot. The fitting “Chapter of Torah Acquisition” was called to serve as a filler to the itinerary of study. With time, well-meaning scribes added this chapter to their copies of Pirkei Avot. By the time printing came along, the chapter had been “rechristened” an organic part of Avot. From a scientific “objective” perspective this chapter is an inauthentic imposter. Yet the living traditions of Jewish communities, the circles of learners, have themselves given credence to these chapters. From a narrow historical perspective this chapter might not exist, but from the view of Judaism as it is lived by its children and students, there is nothing more authentic then Chapter Six of Pirkei Avot.
“And the parable is clear, to those who discern” as the Rabbis would say. What is one’s true da’at? Who you originally were, or how you are remembered by children and students? Who has authority over one’s legacy? What is “true Judaism” – or the true meaning of the Constitution – that which can be proven scientifically to be historically true, or that which is engrained in the lives of vibrant communities? To be sure, a healthy back and forth between these two poles is critical. But it is that which lives on in the memories and practices of a community – children and students - which promises eternal life. What one generation might view as inauthentic and secondary, could become the holy cannon of the next generation – as long as there are “children and students” who truly embed it in their lives. May we be so lucky as to merit a few…

Shabbat Shalom,

P.S. One Mishna from Chapter Six of Pirkei Avot:
This week, following a moving and stately tribute celebrating Edgar M. Bronfman the businessman, the statesman, the philanthropist at Lincoln Center, over 100 Bronfmanim came together to celebrate Edgar Bronfman who invited us to study together. We concluded studying the Tractate of Pirkei Avot in a “Siyyum” meal and study session. We studied the following mishna from Chapter Six of Pirkei Avot, which discusses the 48 traits required in order to “acquire Torah”. It is a fascinating list – if anxiety inducing, as someone remarked. Studying it, one is invited to ponder: Which ones here do you agree with and which do you find troubling? What would be on your list? What does this mishna understand the “acquiring of Torah to be”? (one answer – Torah cannot be acquired alone, in a cave. It requires other people around you). Finally, which of these traits does our society, our community, value, and which has it abandoned?


Torah is greater than Priesthood or Kingship,
for Kingship is acquired in thirty privileges, and Priesthood in twenty-four. 
But Torah is acquired in forty-eight aspects:

In learning, a listening ear, aligned lips ,a discerning heart,
awe, reverence, humility, joy, purity,
apprenticeship to Sages, close reading with Friends, challenging Students,
calm deliberation, in Scriptures [Reading], in Mishnah [Repeating]
engaging in a minimum of business, sex [worldly pursuits], pleasures, sleep, chatter and frivolity.
In patience, good heartedness, trusting of Sages, taking suffering in stride. 
By being one who knows his place, rejoices in one's portion, guards one's words, doesn’t claim merit for oneself.
By being loved, loving the Omnipresent, loving Humanity, loving Righteousness, loving Justice, loving Correction.
Doesn’t seek out honors, nor boasts of one's education, doesn’t give [legal] decisions light-heartedly. 
Shares in the burdens of others, gives people the benefit of the doubt, leads them to Truth, leads them to Peace,
Settles his heart in his study, asks probing questions, answers queries honestly, listens and discuses, learns in order to teach, learns in order to practice,
hones one's teacher's wisdom, is precise in stating what he has heard, and one who in repeating learning credits the one who said it originally.
As we have learned, whoever repeats a statement in the name of the one who said it brings deliverance to the world.  As it says, “And Esther told the King about the plot in the name of Mordechai” (Esther 2:22).
משנה קניין תורה | פרקי אבות ו:ו

גְּדוֹלָה תּוֹרָה יוֹתֵר מִן הַכְּהוּנָּה וּמִן הַמַּלְכוּתשֶׁהַמַּלְכוּת נִקְנֵית בִּשְׁלֹשִׁים מַעֲלוֹת, וְהַכְּהֻנָּה בְּעֶשְׂרִים וְאַרְבַּע, וְהַתּוֹרָה נִקְנֵית בְּאַרְבָּעִים וּשְׁמוֹנֶה דְבָרִים, וְאֵלוּ הֵן:
בְּתַלְמוד, בִּשְׁמִיעַת הָאֹזֶן, בַּעֲרִיכַת שְׂפָתָיִם, בְּבִינַת הַלֵּב,
בְּאֵימָה, בְּיִרְאָה, בַּעֲנָוָה, בְּשִׂמְחָה, בְּטָהֳרָה,
בְּשִׁמּוּשׁ חֲכָמִים, בְּדִקְדּוּק חֲבֵרִים, בְּפִלְפּוּל הַתַּלְמִידִים,
בְּיִשּׁוּב, בְּמִקְרָא, בְּמִשְׁנָה,
בְּמִעוּט סְחוֹרָה, בְּמִעוּט דֶּרֶךְ אֶרֶץ, בְּמִעוּט תַּעֲנוּגבְּמִעוּט שֵׁנָה, בְּמִעוּט שִׂיחָה, בְּמִעוּט שְׂחוֹק,
בְּאֶרֶךְ אַפַּיִם, בְּלֵב טוֹב, בֶּאֱמוּנַת חֲכָמִים, בְּקַבָּלַת הַיִּסּוֹרִין,
הַמַּכִּיר אֶת מְקוֹמוֹ, וְהַשָּׂמֵחַ בְּחֶלְקוֹ, וְהָעוֹשֶׂה סְיָג לִדְבָרָיו, וְאֵינוֹ מַחֲזִיק טוֹבָה לְעַצְמוֹ,
אָהוּב, אוֹהֵב אֶת הַמָּקוֹם, אוֹהֵב אֶת הַבְּרִיּוֹת, אוֹהֵב אֶת הַצְּדָקוֹת, אוֹהֵב אֶת הַמֵּישָׁרִים, אוֹהֵב אֶת הַתּוֹכָחוֹת,
וּמִתְרַחֵק מִן הַכָּבוֹד, וְלֹא מֵגִיס לִבּוֹ בְּתַלְמוּדוֹ, וְאֵינוֹ שָׂמֵחַ בְּהוֹרָאָה,
נוֹשֵׂא בְעֹל עִם חֲבֵרוֹ, וּמַכְרִיעוֹ לְכַף זְכוּת, וּמַעֲמִידוֹ עַל הָאֱמֶת, וּמַעֲמִידוֹ עַל הַשָּׁלוֹם, וּמִתְיַשֵּׁב לִבּוֹ בְּתַלְמוּדוֹ,
שׁוֹאֵל וּמֵשִׁיב  שׁוֹמֵעַ וּמוֹסִיף, הַלּוֹמֵד עַל מְנָת לְלַמֵּד וְהַלּוֹמֵד עַל מְנָת לַעֲשׂוֹת, הַמַּחְכִּים אֶת רַבּוֹ, וְהַמְכַוֵּן אֶת שְׁמוּעָתוֹ
וְהָאוֹמֵר דָּבָר בְּשֵׁם אוֹמְרוֹ, הָא לָמַדְתָּ כָּל הָאוֹמֵר דָּבָר בְּשֵׁם אוֹמְרוֹ מֵבִיא גְאֻלָּה לָעוֹלָם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר "וַתֹּאמֶר אֶסְתֵּר לַמֶּלֶךְ בְּשֵׁם מָרְדְּכָי".

ר' נחמן מברסלב, ליקוטי מוהר"ן - מהדורא בתרא סימן ז:ד
וַאֲפִלּוּ כְּשֶׁמַּגִּיעַ זְמַנּוֹ לְהִסְתַּלֵּק, וְהַנְּשָׁמָה עוֹלָה וּמִתְדַּבֶּקֶת בְּמָקוֹם שֶׁעוֹלָה [...], אֵין זֶה תַּכְלִית וּשְׁלֵמוּת, שֶׁתִּהְיֶה הַנְּשָׁמָה רַק דְּבוּקָה לְמַעְלָה. רַק עִקָּר הַשְּׁלֵמוּת שֶׁל הַנְּשָׁמָה הִיא, שֶׁבְּעֵת שֶׁהִיא לְמַעְלָה תִּהְיֶה לְמַטָּה גַּם - כֵּן. עַל - כֵּן צָרִיךְ שֶׁיַּשְׁאִיר אַחֲרָיו בְּרָכָה, בֵּן אוֹ תַּלְמִיד, כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּשָּׁאֵר דַּעְתּוֹ לְמַטָּה גַּם - כֵּן בְּעֵת שֶׁנִּסְתַּלֵּק לְמַעְלָה [...] - כִּי הַתַּלְמִיד מְקַבֵּל דַּעַת הָרַב. [...] וְעַל כֵּן צְרִיכִין לְהַשְׁאִיר אַחֲרָיו בֵּן אוֹ תַּלְמִיד, כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּשָּׁאֵר דַּעְתּוֹ לְמַטָּה, שֶׁיָּאִיר בִּבְנֵי עוֹלָם הַזֶּה הַשָּׁפָל. כִּי כְּשֶׁנִּשְׁאָר דַּעְתּוֹ לְמַטָּה עַל - יְדֵי בֵּן אוֹ תַּלְמִיד, נֶחְשָׁב כְּאִלּוּ הוּא בְּעַצְמוֹ מַמָּשׁ נִשְׁאָר בָּעוֹלָם: