Netzach Of Hod: Yahrzeit Of The Degel Machaneh Ephraim
Today is the 17th of Iyar and the 32nd day of the Omer*. It is also the yahrzeit of the Degel Machaneh Ephraim.
The 32nd day of the Omer corresponds to the sefira of Netzach of Hod. Rabbi Lazer Brody explained that Netzach of Hod is the eternal quality of Hashem's splendor and can be experienced as a sudden, inexplicable awe such as one derives when standing on a mountain peak for the first time. Rabbi Brody also noted that it "is a very appropriate day for a tzaddik's yahrzeit, since the tzaddikim of every generation, via the radiance of their magnificent neshomas, help us feel the 'netzach of hod'".
Understanding the importance of this day, I spent the past few weeks leading up to this day trying to figure out how to observe the yahrzeit of the Degel Machaneh Ephraim in a manner that increases my hiskashrus to him. Recently, I found the answer to this question in his sefer.
Citing Pirkei D'Rabbi Eliezer 25, the Degel Machaneh Ephraim stated that a person who goes into a perfume shop and does not buy anything cannot help but leave with the fragrance of the perfume on his clothing. Similarly, the Degel explained that it is impossible for a person to visit a tzaddik without walking away with some of the tzaddik's kedusha.
In Parshas Bereishis, the Degel quoted a teaching from Rabbi Nachman Horodenker that notes that the words "shem" (name) and "sefer" (book) share the same gematria . Since a person's name is tied to the root of his neshoma, the Degel notes there is also a connection between a person's neshoma and a sefer that the person authors. For this reason, when one wants to attach himself to a tzaddik who is no longer living he can do so by learning the tzaddik's sefer.
The sefer Degel Machaneh Ephraim is arranged according to parsha. While I learn this sefer every day without fail, I learn it by starting on the first page and making my way to the end without consideration to the relevant parsha of the week. Starting today, I have decided to supplement my daily learning of this sefer with the Degel's teachings on the parsha of the week and thereby increase the amount of time I spend learning this tzaddik's holy teachings.
G-d willing, one day I will be able to appreciate the true brilliance, depth, and "netzach of hod" of the Degel Machaneh Ephraim; understanding his teachings on more than just a superficial level.
* During the period of Sefira it is customary to learn the forty-eight ways by which the Torah is acquired (found in Pirkei Avos 6:6). The yahrzeit of the Degel Machaneh Ephraim falls out on the 32nd day of the Omer, a day that corresponds to attribute of "ohev es habrios" (loving His creations).
As noted above, the 32nd day of the Omer also corresponds to the sefira of Netzach of Hod; a sefira represented by the figure of Aharon. Interestingly, Pirkei Avos 1:12 notes that Aharon was known for "ohev es habrios" and uses the exact terminology as the attribute for this day.
This attribute of "ohev es habrios" is quite an appropriate description of the Degel Machaneh Ephraim since he was known to smile and say good morning to all the residents of Sudilkov, whether Jew or gentile. To him they truly were all Hashem's children.
UPDATE: Be sure to read my friend Yitz's latest posting on the Degel's yahrzeit here.