Inspiring stories and practical
insights into Shemos
by Rabbi Daniel Leeman
Edited by: Sidney and Irene Leeman and Avril Links
Once the deadline of the first volume of Revealing the Secret had been met, the intense period of pressure and excitement that had been experienced for the last month or so did not end. Instead it continued throughout the next few weeks, partially because of the book
It was only until quite a few weeks later, after a busy, prolonged trip overseas, that I finally returned to the study hall where I was to resume my daily class and begin to reintegrate back into my normal schedule.
“Shalom Aleichem!” I was greeted.
“Aleichem Shalom!” After all the excitement of the previous few weeks, I was looking forward to putting the pressures of the last few weeks behind me.
“How was your holiday?” I was asked, “And when is the next volume of Revealing the Secret coming out?”
Once again, it was time to get back to work.
“So what secret are you revealing then?” I have been asked many times.
“You’ll have to read the book,” has been my standard reply (in my best possible sales pitch).
On one occasion after overhearing such a dialogue, an outsider responded “I have!” It was my brother-in-law who had read the entire book in a day!
Perhaps now is the time to reveal the secret behind Revealing the Secret.
We have a principle that reward is bestowed according to the efforts put in to attain a goal. Some sections of the Torah are shorter and easier to understand than others. Does this mean then that these sections carry with them less reward than others?
When I went to the late Rav Moshe Halbershtam, of blessed memory, for my first Rabbinical ordinance, my clanking knees were shaking the entire bench and my chattering teeth could be heard outside.
I had spent every waking moment of the last few months reviewing the necessary material, but now would be the real test not only as to whether I knew the material, but also whether or not I was able to apply it practically.
“What would be,” began the Rav, “in such-and-such situation?”
“Ideally it would be prohibited, but after the fact it would be permitted,” I blurted out nervously.
“Where did that answer come from? Have I failed?” I wondered to myself. Why was I so quick to answer?
Immediately I had a flashback of a meeting I had with the Rav many years earlier, where he advised me to pursue a certain spiritual matter. At the end, wanting to be certain that I would succeed he said to me in perfect English, “s-l-o-w-l-y, s-l-o-w-l-y!”
And now here I was rushing off the answer before the Rav had barely even finished his question, and what’s more I had hardly even heard the question!
When the examination was finally over, I checked out my first answer and thankfully I had answered correctly.
In addition to the actual accumulation of Torah wisdom, there is another aspect of spiritual growth: internalising and living the wisdom, applying it to our lives and making it ‘second nature’.
Perhaps the idea is that sometimes in the case of the seemingly ’easier’ parts of the Torah, the toil lies not in the actual learning and accumulating of knowledge. Instead it is in internalising the teaching and putting it into practice.
Of course the Torah itself reveals to us the deeper secret of life and spirituality. But the greater effort we expend, and invest in absorbing and internalising its messages, the closer we will become to revealing the secret.
So what secret am I revealing? I am revealing the secret of revealing the secret. What secret am I revealing? I am not; you are! You’ll have to read, or, more accurately, internalise the book!
REVEALING THE SECRET is in your hands.
Eretz Yisroel, 5771 (2011)
When my grandfather, Shimon Zelig (‘Zelik’) Leeman, of blessed memory, was a young boy, he moved from his parent’s home in Birzh, Lithuania, to Vabolnik to stay with his mother’s parents. There he would be able to study Torah in the ‘cheder’ which would ultimately prepare him for being one of the few students in Birzh to be selected to study in the prestigious Slabodka yeshiva.
On his first day, the old Rebbe took him to a table where they opened some holy books in preparation for the learning. As they sat down and began to learn, suddenly some coins ‘fell’ onto the open books. Both the Rebbe and my great grandfather told my grandfather that the money was thrown down by the angels in heaven for him and no doubt they would send more if he was a good boy.
Of course we need incentives in life, but I always wondered if giving off the impression that coins ‘fell down from the Heavens’ was completely honest, when clearly it was the Rabbi was the one who was responsible for these coins ‘falling down’. The truth is however is that it is even more honest to describe them as ‘falling down from the Heavens’. Everythingthat happens to us, however else it might seem, is ultimately from the Heavens.
Therefore first and foremost, I must thank and praise God for all the Heavenly good He has sent me and in particular for enabling me to complete this second volume of Revealing the Secret. All the thanks are truly to Him, including all the help He has sent in the form of the various messengers.
Many, many years ago, my grandfather, of blessed memory came to stay. As small children we particularly looked forward to the stories he would tell us about King Solomon and the generous gifts that he would bestow upon us. But this time he gave me a small piece of paper instead. In tears I pleaded, “I don’t want this piece of paper. Give me my fifty pence coin!” which had become the customary gift. I would simply not hear of anything else and to my great relief he finally relented.
It was only many years later that I began to appreciate that the small piece of paper – which was a one pound note – is actually of course worth more than a fifty pence coin.
It seems that it is proper to express our gratitude to a greater level than simply repaying back acts of kindness. At first glance this seems strange and even unjust, because if someone does me a favour by lending me some money for example, if I return the favour and lend him the same amount of money in his time of need, surely we are now ‘evens’? However upon closer examination there are plenty of additional factors that could change this perception. Perhaps even the same amount of money has different potential for different people under different circumstances: for one it might have been used to make a bad investment and another to win the lottery. Or perhaps, for example, it is harder for one person to part with his money than another. Either way, a simple repayment might not suffice qualitatively.
Perhaps another reason why we must express our gratitude to a greater level than a simple repayment could be because sometimes as recipients we might not even recognise the intention or level of kindness of our benefactors. They might be talking pounds whilst we are talking pence! And it is with this introduction that I attempt to begin my acknowledgments and first and foremost my beloved parents.
My parents, and in many respects my role-models, Sidney and Irene Leeman have always advised, encouraged and supported me. They have instilled in me, both actively and passively, many of the invaluable essential values and ‘tools’ of life. I will be forever grateful for everything they have done and continue to do for me, always in their ‘trademark’ unassuming manner.
A special mention must also be made of their vital contribution to this publication, literally throughout each and every step, and in particular for their advice, editing and proofreading. It would simply not have been possible without them. Additionally they sponsored the publication in memory of their beloved parents, of blessed memory, may their souls be elevated.
A special mention must also be made of my parents-in-law, Alan (‘Daddio’) and Avril (‘Mummio’) Links, who welcomed me into their family. It is truly a privilege to be a part of such a special family. They are already well known for their integrity, good heartedness, hospitality and generosity (sorry, all of their children are already married!). Indeed this publication follows the first volume of Revealing the Secret which they generously sponsored in memory of their beloved parents. Additionally my mother-in-law once again gave active and invaluable advice and assistance, often under pressure and with great self-sacrifice, bringing professionalism and quality throughout the different stages of the book, and in particular the editing and proofreading. It was a major commitment and it has been a pleasure to work together.
A special mention must be made of HaRav Yehuda Samet shlit”a, and with a more direct reference to this publication: HaRav Zev Leff shlit”a, HaRav Mendel Weinbach shlit”a and HaRav Binyomin Goodman shlit”a for taking the time and effort to read the manuscript and provide valuable feedback.
Much thanks are also due once again to my Rabbis, mentors, relatives, friends and also my readers and listeners. In particular a special thanks to everyone involved in researching for this production, including those mentioned in the stories for providing permission and the necessary details.
Thanks also to my sister Aviva Leeman for all of her advice and assistance, and in particular for designing the front cover in the midst of her busy schedule.
Last but by no means least, a special thanks to my wife and Eishes Chayil, a truly ‘holy woman’, who has wholeheartedly dedicated herself towards our spiritual goals including Revealing the Secret, as well as being actively involved with its publication. Whatever we have achieved is only due to her constant encouragement, prayers and selfless support.