Tzoraas: The Illness Before Geuloh

In the landmark Sicha of Tazria-Metzora 5751, the Rebbe explains how Tzoraas is a condition that occurs at the end of golus, after avoidas habirurim is finished (which is why it appears in the Torah after parshas Tazria, which refers to the birth of the soul of Moshiach).  As we are now holding at that time and place — the end of golus, after the birurim are finished — the condition of Tzoraas is relevant to us.

In fact, the Rebbe states clearly that each and every Yid today can be said to be on the level of one who has completed his avoidah and is holding in a state of the Metzora — all the bad is coming out, but the inside is completely refined.  (Reminiscent of chazal’s play on words that “Metzora” is from the words “moitzi ra’“, a reference to loshon hora, but according to Chassidus we can understand it literally “to put out the evil” — that all the evil has been purged from within and it’s appearance externally is really the final stage before it’s complete eradication.)

How can we understand this Tzoraas in our lives?

The maamor of the Alter Rebbe in Likkutei Torah and this Sicha of the Rebbe MH”M explain how the oirois Elyonim (“lofty Divine lights”) begin to shine in a Yid’s soul only after the inner refinement is completed.  Lacking bittul and proper vessels to receive these oiros, the lights of G-dly עונג (pleasure) are rearranged to become נגע (lesion).  This manifests itself as anger, judgmental behavior, and “spiritual arrogance”.  The powerful lights of Tohu which demand “Moshiach Now!” and “Yechi Hamelech” may be unable to tolerate those who one perceives to be “holding up the process”.  We could call it intolerance for and arrogance regarding one who appears to be a “misanaged” in these matters.

There is another form of Tzoraas that can affect their person, in the opposite manner, alluded to also in the maamor.  The Alter Rebbe explains that the lesion of Tzoraas which appears on the skin is a white patch of skin because the white color is a sign that the blood flow is interrupted.  In a healthy body the heart pumps blood to the limbs, and the limbs return the blood to the heart (see also Tanya, Igeres Hakodesh ch. 31).  The failure of the limb to return blood to the heart results in the white patch of skin, which is Tzoraas.

With this concept in mind, let us revisit the words of the Rebbe is the Sicha of Beis Nissan, 5748 (3 years and a month before the Sicha of Tazria-Metzora 5751).  There the Rebbe explains how the King is the heart of the nation (as the Rambam writes), and just as the role of the heart in the body is to pump blood, which is life, to the limbs, similarly the King gives life to the people. And just as in a healthy body the limbs must send blood — life — back to the heart, so, too, the people must give life to the King (for there is no King without a people).

The people giving life to the King, says the Rebbe, is expressed by the crowning of the King with the expression “Yechi Hamelech”, which “emphasizes that also the actions of the nation affect the life of the King”.

The crowning of the King by the people through the declaration “Yechi Hamelech” is likened to the limbs returning the blood to the heart. And the failure to return blood to the heart results in the white lesion which is Tzoraas, meaning that the inability (for whatever reason it may be) to declare “Yechi Hamelech” is itself a case of Tzoraas!

The cure for Tzoraas, as explained in our sources, is the bittul that comes from learning Torah–and in our time the Rebbe emphasizes that it must be in the subject of Moshiach and Geuloh, especially as explained in the Rebbe’s own Sichos and Maamorim.  This study provides the the vessels to heal both forms of Tzoraas — both the intolerance and judgmental form, and also the inability of the “limb” to return the blood to the “heart” by crowning the King with the declaration “Yechi Hamelech”.

Surely we will all add in this study, to bring about the realization of “the law of the Metzora on the day of his purification”, which the Rebbe says refers to the revelation of Moshiach.

Yechi Adoneinu Moreinu v’Rabbeinu Melech haMoshiach L’olam Vo’ed!

!יחי אדוננו מורנו ורבינו מלך המשיח לעולם ועד

Achrei-Kedoshim 5751: Using Out Golus to Make Geuloh

Geuloh is made from Golus (Exile)

With the heady excitement that comes when one begins to feel what the Rebbe has been expressing in the recent sichos — that we are truly on the cusp of the coming of Moshiach and the revelations of the true and complete Geuloh — it could be possible to feel the desire to throw off the responsibilities of Golus and charge head-first and full-speed into Geuloh .  For example, abandoning one’s job and devoting 24 hours a day to spreading the news of the redemption and learning the subject of Moshiach and Geuloh .  (After all, the Rebbe said in the previous sicha that this learning is the direct path to bringing the Geuloh , so why delay it by attending to earthly needs such as a job and a house?)  Such “over-the-top”  behavior, explains the Rebbe, is not the way to bring Moshiach.  Or, from the other side, one could be worried that all of one’s efforts in worldly matters will go to waste with the coming of Moshiach, and this fear is also put to rest in this sicha.

As mentioned in the previous sichos, the Geuloh (redemption) is the word exile (GOLA) with the addition of the letter “alef”, representing the revelation of Hashem in exile itself.  This is the concept of the Rambam that with the coming of Moshiach (in the first stage, at least) nothing will change in the conduct of the world — the world will conduct itself naturally — the only difference is that we will not be subjugated to physicality and the laws of nature as before.  However, this itself is no small matter!  What is means is that the miraculous will occur within the parameters of nature.  But reality is now miraculous.  In the words of the Rebbe:

 Redemption does not mean that we abandon all the activities which we carry out in the exile. On the contrary, by definition, the word implies that during the exile certain activities were carried out under subjugation to other forces, and in the Era of the Redemption, we will be freed from this subjugation.

The redemption will involve freeing all the elements of existence that have been subjugated in the exile. Nothing will be lost.  On the contrary, everything will be redeemed. Every single Jew will be redeemed. We will leave “with our youth and with our elders… with our sons and with our daughters.” And “their gold and silver will accompany them.” All the positive activities and achievements of the Jews (and also the non-Jews) in the exile will not be nullified. What will be nullified is the concealment of the world’s true inner being which is brought on by the material substance of the world and the subjugation to the rules of nature that exists at present. But all the positive aspects of the exile will remain, and indeed will be elevated.

The Rebbe continues then to speak about the need for the world–that it is by our effect on the world and the nations of the world that we bring about not only their elevation but also the elevation of our souls, the reason for which our souls were sent into this low world in the first place.  In other words, one might think “Moshiach is about to come, I need to abandon all worldly pursuits.”  Says the Rebbe: No!  On the contrary–continue these pursuits in the manner dictated by Torah and know that in this way you are inserting into them the “Alef” and they are thereby transformed from a state of Golus to a state of Geuloh.  Don’t run and hide from the world, but go out and “conquer” the world.  Don’t make a war against the world, make a war against the aspect of darkness and concealment that is in the world.  How?  By combating the darkness with the light of Torah and Mitzvos, most of which involve physical things.

This is connected with the fact that the Jews are a “Priestly Nation”.  The High Priest required 8 special garments to enter the Holy of Holies, garments which the Torah describes as “honor and splendor”, and if he is lacking any of these garments his service is invalid.  Even though these garments are only external — for “honor and splendor” — nonetheless if they are lacking his service is invalid.  It follows that each Jew, as a member of the Nation of Priests, must be garbed in garments “honor and splendor” in order to show externally his true status.  This corresponds to the previous sicha where the Rebbe speaks about our generation being on the level of Rabbeinu Hakadosh who was internally perfect and only endured suffering due to the unrefined waste on the edge of his garments.  It will be recalled that according to Chassidus, “garments” of the soul refer to our thought, speech, and action.  These must be for “honor and splendor” as we approach the Geuloh.  In the Rebbe’s words:

The priests’ service was performed wearing the priestly garments that were to be donned, “for honor and for beauty.”  This reflects how these two qualities, materialistic elements of our physical environment, are employed for the sake of the service of G‑d.

In a complete sense, this was reflected in the High Priest’s service for he wore eight priestly garments, wearing “the golden garments” in addition to the four garments worn by the common priests. A parallel to this concept is reflected in the idea that a High Priest is required to be wealthier than all the other priests. This is a clear indication of how his additional holiness must be reflected within the material elements of our world.

The nature of the world has begun to assist Jews to fulfill Torah and mitzvos, as evidenced by the changes in Russia.  Furthermore, “We see in fact that the nature of the world encourages such activities and in that context, it is worthy to mention the discovery of jewels in a far removed corner of the world. These jewels will be used for “bride’s ornaments”, to increase the merit of the Jewish people through gifts to tzedakah.”  This comes to show that the Rebbe is speaking very clearly about events in our physical world.

This extends also to the Nations of the World, that there is an imperative to teach the 7 Noahide Laws.  We see already that the Nations of the World have begun to change.  Whereas in the past they engaged in bloody wars of conquest against each other and only the Jewish nation (the smallest of all nations) was quietly busy with acts of kindness, today we see that many nations, lead by the United States, engage in acts of kindness even when there is no apparent benefit.  (The Rebbe mentions here the recent humanitarian aid given by the United States to impoverished citizens of a distant nation, perhaps a reference to protection from Saddam Hussein offered to the Kurds in mid-April, 1991, shortly before this sicha was said; or perhaps a prophecy of the relief efforts that would take place later in the year in Somalia).

We can see the thread running through the sichos: bringing G-dliness into action in this physical world, thereby elevating the world and making it a vessel for even greater revelations (miracles above nature, as in the 2nd period of the Messianic Era, including the resurrection of the dead).

4) Kuntres Beis Iyar, 5751: Why Concealment

[The discourse presented here was edited by the Rebbe and printed for Beis Iyar 5751 (1991), and with retrospect we can see how it is meant to guide us and strengthen us through the present time (even more so than when it was published), as will be explained, בע”ה.

The haftorah that is read when Shabbos falls out in Erev Rosh Chodesh (the day before the new month when the moon is completely concealed) begins with the verse: “Yehonosan said to him: tomorrow is [Rosh] Chodesh and you will be remembered (נפקדת) because your place will be vacant (כי יפקד מושבך).”

The words of this verse demand explanation: why are words from the same root — נפקדת and כי יפקוד — used for completely opposite concepts? “You will be remembered” is seemingly quite the opposite from “your place will be vacant”, which implies that he will be missing?!  To explain this, the Rebbe mentions several concepts which we will touch upon here only superficially (but the wise will investigate and find deeper things…).

Firstly, the Rebbe explains that the entire “drama” in this haftorah involving Shaul Hamelech, his son Yehonosan, and Dovid Hamelech are, on a deeper level, referring to the unification of the 6 higher sefiros and the 7th (in the language of kabbalah Z”A and Malchus (ז”א ומלכות) which are likened to husband and wife) .  Thus the word נפקדת also means the union which can bring forth children, relating to the union of husband and wife.  This unification of the sefiros takes place through the intellectual attribute of Bina, which is from a higher level.  This can be read as a hint to what the Rebbe describes as the “direct way” to bring the Geuloh in actuality: by learning (the power of Bina) the subjects of Moshiach and Geuloh.

Further, the Rebbe explains how the name נתן (last three letters of Yehonosan) refer to Malchus on the level described as sea (ים, which conceals the sefiros), whereas Dovid is Malchus on the level described as dry land (ארץ, where things are revealed).  The verse “Yehonosan said to him [to Dovid]…” refers to transforming the sea to dry land (as occurred at the spitting of the sea).  Interesting to note that the gematria of the words in the verse of crossing the sea — ויבֹאו בני ישראל בתוך הים ביבשה — has the same value as the declaration יחי אדוננו מורנו ורבינו מלך המשיח לעולם ועד.  (Which was declared before the Rebbe for the first time on the Shabbos following the release of this maamor in 5751!)

All of the above is in connection with Erev Rosh Chodesh, when the moon is concealed. This reflects a state of complete self-nullification (bittul) which brings about the birth of the new moon on the following day: the unification of the sun and the moon (mashpia and mekabel).  How can the bittul of Erev Rosh Chodesh accomplish this amazing unification?  Because the bittul of the time when the moon is concealed draws down from the level of Kesser (כתר), the level which is entirely above the chain of worlds (סדר השתלשלות).

Look closely: a period of concealment which appears to be quite a negative phenomenon is actually a time when the highest levels are being drawn down!  This is in order to bring about the Divinely desired unification of mashpia and mekabel (Hashem and Yisroel, Rebbe and Chassidim) through the power of Bina (learning and understanding).  This learning and understanding brings about the internalization of the lofty levels that are drawn down at the time of concealment — an experience which is likened to the splitting of the sea, when the concealment itself is transformed to revelation (and the verse has the same gematria as the declaration of “Yechi Hamelech…”)  (Can we sense that the Rebbe is explaining for us what is happening b’pnimiyus as we live through the “Erev Rosh Chodesh” of the post Gimmel Tammuz era?)

Returning to the maamor, the verse starts with the words “And Yehonosan said” (the drawing down of the lofty lights of Atzilus) and them is followed by “tomorrow is [Rosh] Chodesh”, meaning Erev Rosh Chodesh when the moon is in a state of concealment. First the lofty lights are given, after that the concealment takes place.  (First the lofty lights of the Sichos of 5751-52, as a preparation for the concealment of 27 Adar and 3 Tammuz.)

In fact, the Rebbe explains that in the path from coming out of Mitzrayim (in Nissan) to Matan Torah (in Sivan) Erev Rosh Chodesh occurs twice, for the months of Iyar and Sivan. Erev Rosh Chodesh Sivan is a giving of power (נתינת כוח)  for the union (נפקדת) that occurs via the giving of the Torah. Erev Rosh Chodesh Iyar (when this discourse was originally said) is a נתינת כוח giving of power for ויפקד מושבך — the time of concealment, as described at length above.

Learning the discourse itself will surely help the reader to put all these concepts in their proper place, and understand how the Rebbe (in this discourse and in many of the Sichos of this period) is preparing us for the crucial avoidah that takes place in a situation of concealment — avoidah that brings about a revelation of the unification of the mashpia and the mekabel and an end to that very concealment itself!

Tazria-Metzora 5751: The “Geuloh Illness”

Moshiach in Exile is Called “Metzora

In many years the Torah portions of Tazria and Metzora are read together on the same Shabbos.  Parshas Tazria begins with the words “a woman who gives seed and gives birth to a male” — according to Chassidus, this hints at the birth (revelation) of the soul of Moshiach.  Giving seed refers to our deeds and effort (“avodah”) in the time of exile, followed immediately by the sprouting — the complete Geuloh.

Metzora refers to Moshiach; as our sages say: he bears our sicknesses.  The name of Moshiach in the time of exile is “Metzora” (one suffering from the spiritual skin ailment called Tzoraas).  The opening words of this parsha, “This is the Torah of the metzora on the day of his purification” — the day of his purification, the day that the nega on his skin is healed, meaning when he (Moshiach) is revealed and redeems the children of Israel in the true and complete Geuloh.

What is the connection?  Tazria is birth, meaning the eternal Geuloh; Metzora is one who needs to be brought to purification.  Seemingly, if the eternal Geuloh is “born”, it is not related in any way to the state of a metzora, who is connected with illness and exile.  However, the content of parshas Tazria is all about the various types of lesions of a metzora, which pertains to exile.  And, parshas Metzora actually teaches the laws of the purification of the metzora, the inyan of Geuloh.  Seemingly, it should be reversed?!

Tzora’as — Illness After Completing Everything

It turns out that the order is of the parshiyos and their subjects is exact.  The illness of tzora’as becomes relevant only at the very end of golus.  The verse that begins to describe the illness of tzora’as states “A man [‘Adam’] who has a on the skin of his flesh…”, and the Zohar states that “Adam is a great level, the perfection of everything”.  If so, how could he be subject to illness?!  The answer is: although he has rectified everything in his inner dimensions, nonetheless, on the skin of his flesh the evil is still not refined, there remains waste material “on the ends of his garments”; but this is only an external matter which is not connected at all to the “essence” (etzem, atzmiyus) of the person, not even to his flesh (which changes through eating and drinking); it is only related to the skin which surrounds him externally.  In truth, the nega is only on the skin (from the word “nogea”, meaning to touch — not even the skin itself is really affected).  A completely superficial state of affairs.

It turns out that, according to pnimiyus haTorah, these negoyim (lesions) are actually a result of the lofty state of the “Adam” described above.  In fact, the negoyim themselves they are not tamei (impure and imparting impurity); only when they will be observed by a Kohen who will declare them impure will they become tameiThis is because in their source they derive from lofty spiritual lights (“oirois elyoinim”).  The word “nega” itself is a reversal of the letters of the word “oneg” which is the aspect of supernal pleasure.  As a rule, it is the loftiest things which fall to the lowest levels of impurity.  Their rectification of the negoyim is via the revelation of their true nature as lofty spiritual lights (“oirois elyoinim”), and by revealing this we nullify the external forces (“yenikas hachitzonim”).

Bittul Negates the Evil and Heals the Metzora

The subject of tzara’as and negoyim is connected with the concept of the lights of Tohu, a level beyond being constrained in vessels.  These lights, when revealed, bring about a yearning of the soul to escape limitation (ratzo), abandoning the responsibilities of this world (spiritual and otherwise).  The lofty lights of Tohu do not want to return (shov) to the vessels of holiness, they only seek to rise and escape limitation, which gives nurture to the klipos.  The cure for this is bittul, self-nullification to the point of completely nullifying one’s will “until the person is like a lifeless stone…like a servant before the King.”  It is specifically through our avoidah of bittul that the powerful lights of Tohu can be drawn into many vessels down below, which is how we create Hashem’s dwelling place down below (“dira b’tachtonim”).

This bittul is specifically accomplished through learning Torah.  We see that the verse says “this is the Torah of the metzora” (instead of “the purification” or something similar) — because the rectification of the metzora comes through involvement in Torah, which is the aspect of bittul.

Through Bittul We Transform Exile to Redemption

Exile (“golus”) is darkness and concealment; yet, in its source, it is very lofty.  From these very lofty levels descend the concealment and all the undesirable things of golus.  And even after it descends — having reached the level of impure things — it is only an external manifestation, like a nega which is external even to the skin of the person.  Rectification through our deeds and avodah is not a process of adding something new; rather, it is simply revealing the truth of the golus.  In other words, we are not nullifying golus, we are transforming golus to Geuloh.  This occurs by drawing down the alef and adding the alef to gola (“exile”) to make Geuloh (discussed in Parshas Shemini and Kuntres Chof Av).  (The Rebbe points out that the letters of “alef” אלף spell פלא “peleh” (“wonder”), as in “I will show you wonders” (the acronym for the year 5751).  We can add also this year, 5781, the year of “pla’os arenu.)

Thus we understand that Geuloh is not a matter in and of itself; Geuloh is a revelation of the true nature of golus.

Similarly, Metzora is used in reference to Moshiach — in a positive sense: the metzora is sent out of the camp and “dwells alone”, and, so too, Moshiach “dwells alone” because of his lofty level (“higher than the Patriarchs, higher than Moshe”, Midrash Tanchuma, Toldos 14).   The Rebbe takes note that after the gemora tells us that Moshiach’s name is Metzora, it enumerates how the students of Rabbi Shilo, Rabbi Yanai, etc., found verses indicating that the name of their own teacher was the name of Moshiach.  The Rebbe asserts that “we (Chassidim) follow in their way (as regards Rabboseinu Nessienu, and particularly my father-in-law the Rebbe, the Nossi of our generation) — ‘Yosef Yitzchok’ is the name [of Moshiach]….”

“Direct Path” to Revelation of Moshiach — Torah

The Rebbe quotes from the Alter Rebbe’s Likkutei Torah that “Adam reflects the perfection of everything, one whose actions are proper and he has rectified all matters that pertain to him…only the waste on the ends of his garments isn’t refined…due the state of golus”.  The Rebbe then adds that in our generation, the last generation of golus, which has already finished and completed the matters of avodah that needed to be done during the time of golus, “we can say that all of the Jewish people are on this level”!

The Rebbe then provides the “direct path” for one who has finished all the avodah to bring about the revelation and coming of Moshiach: “learning Torah…which can unify opposing directions and negate the inyan of golus.  Negating golus is itself Geuloh.”  Torah is the “direct path” to the revelation and coming of the Moshiach, as it combines both bittul and unquestioning obedience with internalized understanding.

The Rebbe specifies that the learning should focus on the subjects of Moshiach and Geuloh.  The Rebbe itemizes where to find these subjects: in the prophets, in tractates Sanhedrin and Sotah, in Midrashim, and — especially — in pnimiyus haTorah, beginning with the Zohar and particularly Chassidus, and particularly the Torah (maamarim and Likkutei Sichos) of the Leader of our Generation (Nosi Hador).  (As every Chosid knows, only the Rebbe himself has a series called “Likkutei Sichos”, and from this we find the Rebbe quietly and indirectly referring to himself as the Nosi Hador, whom the Rebbe identifies as the Moshiach of the generation.)

Conclusions

This sicha, when learned in the original, is incredibly rich and ground-breaking.  Nevertheless, we can summarize the main points as follows:

  • After the initial revelation of Moshiach (Tazria) follows the potential for tzora’as and the need for its purification; golus does not contradict that Moshiach and the Geuloh are here;
  • As far from Holiness as Yid in our era may appear, this is only the waste-matter on the most superficial levels; on the inner level his soul is completely rectified and ready for Geuloh;
  • The lesions indicating Tzora’as really derive from a very lofty source, all that is needed is to reveal that source.  Similarly the darkness of golus in truth derives from the loftiest of levels, and all that is needed is to add the “alef” and reveal its source;
  • Chassidim follow the lead of the students of Yanai and Shilo, finding ways to support the claim that the Rebbe is Moshiach;
  • The direct path to bring the Geuloh is to learn (especially in groups of ten) the subjects of Moshiach and Geuloh, particularly in the Torah of Moshiach himself.

(We should note that it was at this farbrengen that the declaration “Yechi Adoneinu Moreinu v’Rabbeinu Melech Hamoshiach L’Olom Vo’ed” was declared before the Rebbe for the first time.  For details from behind-the-scenes, see “The Facts Behind the Psak”

28 Nissan: Do All You Can!

What follows comes from the “famous sicha of Koach (28) Nissan”, which the Rebbe spoke after Maariv prayers to a small crowd in 770. Although the words were –- and remain –- shocking, an attempt to shake Chassidim out of their complacency in golus, they would be followed by nearly a year of sichos containing some of the loftiest revelations, which are the subject of this website: the Dvar Malchus sichos of 5751-52.

The shliach and mashpia R’ Zalman ‘שיחי Liberow is fond of pointing out that although the Rebbe’s words are strong, disturbing, and sound almost as though the Rebbe “doesn’t know what to do with these people” (chas v’sholom), if we take a second look we find that the Rebbe says that he is doing “the only thing left to do”, which should give us tremendous encouragement! It means that literally there is nothing else that needs to be done (by the Rebbe) to bring Moshiach. If the Rebbe gives it over to us, it means that we have the power to do it! “Karov eleicha hadavar me’od.”

(Perhaps it is worth noting that 28 Nissan is the 13th day in counting the Omer, Yesod sh’b’Gevurah. It is the day that the walls of Yericho, the first city conquered by Yehoshua bin Nun and the bnei Yisroel upon entering Eretz Yisroel. It is also the day (in 5714 [1954]) that the Rebbe taught the famous niggun of “Tzema Lecha Nafshi”, a niggun of longing for G-dly revelation.)

A translation of part of the sicha:

Because of the unique stress on the Redemption in this time, an astonishing question arises: How is it possible that despite all these factors, Moshiach has not yet come? This is beyond all possible comprehension.

It is also beyond comprehension that when ten (and many times ten) Jews gather together at a time that is appropriate for the Redemption to come, they do not raise a clamor great enough to cause Moshiach to come immediately. They are, heaven forbid, able to accept the possibility that Moshiach will not arrive tonight, and even that he will not arrive tomorrow, or on the day after tomorrow, heaven forbid.

Even when people cry out “Ad mosai” — Until when will we remain in exile?’ they do so only because they were told to. If they had sincere intent and earnest desire, and cried out in truth, Moshiach would surely have come already.

What more can I do to motivate the entire Jewish people to clamor and cry out, and thus actually bring about the coming of Moshiach. All that has been done until now has been to no avail, for we are still in exile; moreover, we are in an inner exile in regard to our own service of G-d.

All that I can possibly do is to give the matter over to you. Now, do everything you can to bring Moshiach, here and now, immediately.

May it be G-d’s will that ultimately ten Jews will be found who are stubborn enough to resolve to secure G-d’s consent to actually bring about the true and ultimate Redemption, here and now immediately. Their stubborn resolve will surely evoke G-d’s favor, as reflected by the interpretation of the verse, “For they are a stiff necked people; You will pardon our sins and wrongdoings and make us Your possession.”

I have done whatever I can; from now on, you must do whatever you can. May it be G-d’s will that there will be one, two, or three among you who will appreciate what needs to be done and how it needs to be done, and may you actually be successful and bring about the true and complete Redemption. May this take place immediately, in a spirit of happiness and gladness of heart.


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Shemini 5751: Unifying the Limited and the Unlimited

Periodically parshas Shemini (“Eighth”, referring to the 8th day of setting up the Mishkan in the desert) is read 8 times (this occurs outside of Eretz Yisroel in a non-leap year when Pesach falls out on Shabbos).  This gives rise to the expression “Shemini Shmoneh Shmeina”, meaning “[When parshas] Shemini (“Eighth”) [is read] Shmoneh [eight times, then the year will be] Shmeina [fat]” — with material and spiritual abundance.  (And is drawn into all the years until the next time it will be read 8 times.)

The “eighth” that is mentioned in this parsha is the beginning of the indwelling of the Shechina in the Mishkan. The world derives from 7,  which represents G-dly light as it is enclothed in the Creation. The number 8 represents the G-dly light above Creation, and it is specifically on the 8th day that we find the Shechina being revealed in the Mishkan.

Ultimate Purpose of Creation

Hashem’s intent in creating the world is that the G-dly light that is above the world (represented by Shemini, 8th) will not remain separate but rather will be drawn down to be revealed in the world in a way that the world, on its own terms, will be able to receive this revelation.  This means the revelation above limitation being unified with limitation itself. When these two aspects are unified, the recipient beomes a vessel to accept this revelation in an internalized way — the revelation of the Shechina in “the work of your hands”, the Mishkan.

This is exemplified in the words of the Sages that the place of the Aron Kodesh (containing the Luchos) transcended limitation (“eino min hamida”).  The Aron itself had precise measurements, but the place transcended limitation, meaning limitation and unlimited together, that the unlimited can be grasped by within the bounds of the lower (limited) entity.  The Rebbe explains this in another Sicha:

The Talmud states that “the position occupied by the Aron did not take up any space.” That is, the Aron had definite physical dimensions — 2½ cubits length, 1½ cubits width, 1½ cubits height. Logically then, when placed in the Holy of Holies, the Aron should have occupied this amount of space. Yet, the Talmud tells us, it took up no space at all! This is logically impossible — for it is the synthesis of two opposites: the finite and the infinite. Yet in the case of the Aron, it existed… Not only did the Aron transcend the limits of nature (itself a great miracle, since the Aron was made of physical gold), but simultaneously the finite and infinite co-existed together in it: the Aron had definite physical limits, yet took up no space…Its concept is made possible from a level that transcends both of them, allowing the synthesis of these two opposites. (From sicha of 23 Elul, 5742)

We find this as well in the avodah of a Jew — there is his limited and measured avodah, as befits his level, to make himself into a vessel to internalize the revelations.  And additionally there is the avodah of “with all your might” (b’chol me’odecha) — a vessel to receive G-dliness above the limitations of the person.  The ultimate goal is the unification of these 2 forms of avodah.  To summarize: Shemini (8th) is the unlimited, whereas  Shmoneh (the number 8) is the unlimited as it is contained in the qualities of limitation (7): the unification of limited and unlimited, the ultimate intent of Creation.

The revelation of the level of G-dliness that is above the limitation of world is specifically via the avodah from below to above — within the limitations of the world.  As with the 8 which comes specifically from the 7 that precede it.  Thus we find that the limited and measured avodah is connected (in its source) with the highest level (above the source of the unlimited).  Similar to what we find with the Aron — the concept of “eino min hamida” (transcending limitation), comes specifically because the Aron had defined measurements.

Transforming the Exile (“gola”) Into Geuloh

Chesed and Gevurah are the spiritual root of limited and unlimited.  Chesed, is the attribute of “kindness” and giving.  Gevurah, the opposite.  The Alter Rebbe explains that it is  not tzimtzum (contraction and limitation), but rather the attribute of “might” that can overpower other forces (“hisgabrus haChayus”).  Gevurah is not the absence of Chesed, but rather a higher level of might that can conceal the ChesedGevurah brings about exile, but is itself a powerful level of Kedusha, as explained in Chassidus regarding the special quality of “the light that comes from the darkness”.

Geuloh, as explained many times in the Rebbe’s Sichos, is attained by adding to the word “gola” (exile) the letter “alef” (representing the Holy One, blessed be He “Alufo shel olam”).  This adding of the letter “alef” is accomplished via “our deeds and our avodah during the time of exile” upon which the Geuloh is dependent.  Through this, the exile itself (“gola”) becomes Geuloh.

 The main thing is that through “our deeds and our Avodah during the duration of exile” we bring the Geuloh.  It is specifically the concealments and limitations of exile which give the strength to bring Geuloh.

This is similar to statement of our Sages: “everyone who fulfills the Torah amidst poverty will in the end fulfill it amidst wealth.”  Via the poverty of exile, “there is no one who is poor except in knowledge” (“ein oni ela b’da’as”), we receive the true wealth of knowledge and wealth in the simple sense — in the true and complete Geuloh.  This is especially since we have already fulfilled any obligations to endure the limitation of “poverty” (in the previous generations) [meaning — primarily — poverty of knowledge].  Now there is freedom and abundance (“harchava”) in a simple sense from the kingship of the nations.  [For more explanation, see Inyonei Moshiach and Geulah #8.]

Thus, we can learn Torah and fulfill Mitzvos in a relaxed state of mind and body (“menuchas hanefesh and menuchas haguf”) with “wealth” in Torah — via the printing of many seforim, some of which had been hidden until now.  For this reason the Geuloh will have both the positive quality of Geuloh and the positive quality of Golus (the quality of avodah performed via compelling one’s self (“hiskafya”), limitation and constriction, “amidst poverty”…)

Geuloh Hasn’t Come — Proof That it Depends on Us

Since the Geuloh hasn’t yet come, this itself is proof that it is dependent on “our deeds and our avodah” of this generation.  It is specifically through avodah amidst boundaries and limitation and concealment (which derive from Gevuros), because amazing powers are hidden away within them — powers which can bring the Geuloh.

There is a rule that “The Holy One, blessed be He, does not demand of us more than we have the power to accomplish, so therefore we have the power to bring the Geuloh (since that is what is demanded of us).  To be a partner with Hashem in this, not just to help.  A partner implies being involved in all the details in a complete manner.  Since a Jew is a part of G-dliness (chelek Eloka) he possesses the greatest powers to bring about the greatest things — until even the command “be Holy because I am Holy”, upon which our Sages comment “Holy, like Me” — with certainty!

Shemini5751_AddInTorah

All of us have the responsibility to add in avodah to bring Moshiach in actuality.  There is no room to rely on others — each one needs to do the avodah of “to serve my Master” by himself, and he is given the powers to do this.  How so?  By adding in Torah and Mitzvos — the revealed and the Pnimiyus, and fulfilling Mitzvos in an exemplary manner and influencing others to do the same.  Spreading Torah and Yiddishkeit and the wellsprings of Chassidus outward, the latter especially brings about “the Master comes” — this is the King Moshiach.  And all of this amidst anticipation and yearning for the Geuloh.Shemini5751_AddInTorah2

3) Kuntres 18 Nissan: Guarding the Intellectual Soul

What is easier: keeping a powerful beast like a cow or a bull locked up in it’s pen, or a bird?  Which requires “additional guarding”?

Although a bird possesses nothing of the power that the bull has, it has an additional ability that even the most powerful beast lacks — the power of flight. Thus, fences are sufficient to keep a mighty bull locked up, but a tiny bird is not properly guarded unless the walls are capped by a roof.

In Halocho this expresses itself in the laws regarding courtyards — that a large courtyard that is not covered by a roof is considered a carmelis (by Rabbinic decree, even though according to Torah it is a private domain (reshus hayochid)), but if it is covered with a roof then it remains a private domain according to Rabbinic opinion as well.

The maamor printed for 18 Nissan, 5751 (anniversary of the Rebbe’s Bris Mila)  explains this in terms of our Divine service: the animal for which fences are sufficient is our animal soul; the bird that requires a roof is our Intellectual Soul (Nefesh Hasichlis).  The animal soul, while powerful, has four legs on the ground and looks down — it’s only attraction and interest is gashmiyus.  It is enough to build fences to pen it in.  But the Nefesh Hasichlis, while it is a human intellect which relates to worldly things, possesses an inclination to “fly away” to contemplate things which are of a higher nature. Thus it needs a roof as well.

What is this roof?

In our Divine service, the “roof” is the wonderment (הפלאה) we feel when contemplating and realizing that the lofty things we are studying (and through study, grasping) are in fact beyond our grasp because they are G-dliness. G-dliness is without bounds, but whatever we understand with our human intellect (the Nefesh Hasichlis) is limited, and thus or understanding is not the “real thing”.  Keeping this in mind puts a “roof” of self-nullification (bittul) on our intellectual efforts so they don’t get carried away with themselves and “fly off” from the realm of the Oneness of Hashem (reshus hayochid) and enter the realm of self-importance and pride (ישות וגאווה).

How does this relate to our Sichos of 5751-52?

The avodah of Chassidim since the revelation of Chasidus was primarily in the realm of emotional attributes (midos) — battling and striving to transform the animal soul. Learning Chassidus was a major component of this avodah, but the revelations of Chassidus kept to the boundaries of Torah and Mitzvos — Tikkun.

In the Sichos of 5751-52, when the Rebbe will demand “do all that you can to draw down the lights of Tohu (but in a way of vessels of Tikkun)”, the revelations cross the border from the Torah and Mitzvos of the time of golus (limited, but familiar to our human outlook and understanding) to the first stage of the Messianic era (ימות המשיח) and elevate us to a new (and unfamiliar) level of understanding and a new outlook.

The work of transforming the animal soul, the Rebbe informs us, is completed (and if we don’t see this, it is only because we haven’t made the proper effort to reveal it), and we begin the shift to transforming our consciousness, the realm of the Intellectual Soul.

So right from the beginning of this seismic shift in the pnimiyus of our avodah, the Rebbe published this maamar to give us a “heads up” that while keeping the behema (the animal soul) only required fences, the next step of “opening the eyes” of the Intellectual Soul requires a roof as well if we are to keep ourselves within the private realm, the “reshus hayochid“.

Internalizing concepts such as: we can now “fill our mouths with laughter”; we have reached the time for receiving the reward of our Divine service; Yidden and Hashem are really One thing; Mitzvos will be nullified in the future; the created “yesh” is in essence the true “Yesh” of Hashem’s essence; etc., require one to “cover” his intellectual efforts in these concepts with a “roof” of bittul so that his Intellectual Soul will not “fly away” and take these ideas to the wrong place.

(We could further say that through this discourse the Rebbe gave Chassidim the power to do this lechatchila, and to understand the Sichos in the proper way, consistent with Halacha — as we see is the case across Lubavitch!)

2) Kuntres Yud Alef Nissan 5751: Prayer of the Rich Man

This discourse of the Rebbe was edited and printed for distribution for the Rebbe’s birthday, 11 Nissan, 5751.  A lengthy and deep discourse, we mention here only the main points, reflecting the themes of the Dvar Malchus sichos from the same period.

“Tefilla leMoshe” is called by our sages the prayer of a rich man, and “Tefilla leDovid” is the prayer of a poor man.  Since tefilla is defined as our asking for our needs, what is a rich man’s prayer?  What does he need?

We find that according to Torah one must fill the needs of the poor man.  This doesn’t only mean those necessities requires by every person, it means we are obligated also to fill his personal needs.  If he had previously been wealthy and was accustomed to a servant and a horse to run before him, then for him such a thing is lacking and we must provide it for him.  One is obligated to fill what he lacks, but one is not obligated to make him rich.  Thus, it comes out that even having a servant and a horse running before him (i.e. to be not lacking anything) is still not wealthy.

Wealthy, explains the Rebbe, is “superabundance”, which is more than just that nothing is lacking.  Furthermore, it means that this abundance is not received from another source (and thus could be cut off or taken away); rather, it is inherently his — making him rich in essence (עשיר בעצם).   This is why our sages say “there is no one wealthy except in da’as (knowledge)”.  Rich (in knowledge) means that what he has learned has become unified with him and part of him as a result of his own effort (as opposed to remaining on the level of what others taught him).

Back to the question: one who is rich has superabundance — what, then, is his prayer?!  The Rebbe answers: he prays for others.  His tefilla is for the needs of others.  This is Moshe Rabbeinu, who lacked nothing and needed nothing (not in the realm of da’as (as he is the one who gave us the Torah), and surely not materially) — his prayer was for the needs of the Jewish people (which corresponds spiritually for the attribute of Malchus).

But if Moshe Rabbeinu, the rich man, feels the lack of Israel so intensely, then he himself is lacking!  And if he is leaving, then he is not rich!  The truth is, explains the Rebbe, that since he is “rich in essence” it is not possible for him to be lacking anything.  While he does feel for Israel, this is not the same as lacking something.  More than that, from the perspective of “rich in essence” there is nothing lacking whatsoever in Hashem’s world nor by any of His creations. Thus, from Moshe Rabbeinu’s perspective, the Jewish people are also “rich in essence” and not lacking anything.  If so, what was his prayer for?  His prayer was that this fact that Israel are in truth “rich in essence” should be felt in an open and revealed way by them.  No one lacks anything other than the da’as, the knowledge to recognize. When one’s knowledge broadens, he reveals to himself that he is in fact rich in essence.

The discourse concludes by connecting all of this with the inyan of tefilla. It is precisely prayer that draws down these revelations.  As our sages say about Moshe Rabbeinu that he was “ish Elo-kim” — a G-dly man: when he went up the mountain he was a man, when he descended he was Elo-kim.  This is tefilla, prayer, that one “ascends the mountain” to reach Hashem, and draws this “down below” into his daily life so that this shleimus, perfection, is revealed in his behavior — when a Jew does this he causes the same thing in the attribute of Malchus, which brings about the true and complete Geulah.

Moshiach Now!

View the original discourse here

Tzav 5751: Moshe “the G-dly Man” Has Power to Redeem Us

The sicha opens by mentioning that this Shabbos was Shabbos Hagadol, the Shabbos when we commemorate what the Shulchan Aruch calls “the beginning of the Geuloh and the miracles”.  This does not refer to the 10 plagues (9 of which already occurred by this time), but to the armed revolt of the first-born Egyptians who demanded from Pharoah and the elders of Mitzrayim that they let the Bnei Yisroel leave Egypt.  When Pharoah refused, the first-born took up arms and killed 600,000 Mitzriim.  The Rebbe is connecting this with the Gulf War (which ended 2 weeks before Shabbos Parshas Tzav), when the “first-born” (the strongest nations) took up arms against a tyrant who was threatening the Jewish nation.  Recall the words of the Shulchan Aruch: “the beginning of the Geuloh and the miracles”.

But the focus of this sicha is on the redeemer, on Moshe Rabbeinu.  What makes him singularly capable of redeeming the Yidden from golus Mitzrayim?  (And since “the first redeemer is the last redeemer” (Moshiach) — this applies also to the final redemption.)

The Rebbe explains that Moshe is uniquely qualified, and endowed with the ability, to bring the Geuloh.   To understand this, the Rebbe defines for us the meaning of Geuloh: “the revelation of G-dliness down below in the redemption from Egypt is in order that Yidden, as they are found in the world, can see, and recognize, and know the Eybershter.” Seeing the miracles (which began on Shabbos Hagadol) enable Yidden to have a Geuloh, “freeing them from the limitations of world, the enslavement to worldly assumptions and servitude to the various limitations of world.” The miracles Hashem shows us are not an end to themselves, but are motivating and enabling us to march out of our state of golus by ourselves.

All of this comes about through Moshe Ish HaElokim — Moshe the G-dly Man (Tehillim, kapital 90).  By referring to him as a G-dly Man (איש האלקים) the Torah is indicating that Moshe unifies two levels: power above the world (Elokim) and the level of enclothing in the world (man).  Thus Moshe, possessing both these levels (“ish” and “Elokim”), is a connecting intermediary (ממוצה המחבר) who connects G-dliness with the world (being that he is openly connected to G-dliness even as he is also enclothed in the world).

More than that, the Rebbe explains a second “unification” indicated in the expression “Moshe ish haElokim”: the level of “Moshe” and the level of “Ish HaElokim”.  Moshe is the name he received when he was pulled from the waters of the Nile by Basya bas Pharoah: “I drew him from the water” (מן המים משיתיהו).  As explained in Chassidus, this is referring to the lofty level of Moshe’s neshoma, that it derives from the highest, hidden worlds (עלמא דאתכסיא), the world of Tohu which is likened to water.  According to this explanation, the level of “Moshe” is entirely above the world, G-dliness that has no relationship with the world.  “Ish HaElokim” (here we look at it as a single title) refers to the unification of “Ish” and “Elokim”, meaning the unification of world with the level of G-dliness that has a connection to world.  Moshe Ish haElokim unifies all these levels.

Although not mentioned in this sicha, the Rebbe explains in a maamar just how lofty the aspect of “Moshe” really is — not only higher than Elokim, but also higher than YKVK.  And the various levels of YKVK:

                    Sefer Hamaamarim 5718, parshas Shemini

Moshe reaches the Essence, Atzmus (עצמות) mamash.  The verse that states “and Yisroel saw the mighty hand that Hashem had used in Mitzrayim…[and they believed in Hashem] and in Moshe His servant” goes from the lower levels to the higher levels: “That Hashem did…” this is the lower name YKVK; “and the people saw Hashem…” this is the higher name YKVK; “and they believed in Hashem” this is the name YKVK that is in Atzmus.  And after that it says “and in Moshe His servant”, from which it is understood that Moshe is higher even than the aspect of YKVK that is in Atzmus.  And therefore he has the power to unify and to draw down the aspect of YKVK that is in Atzmus [into the world] that it should shine openly.

This loftiness of Moshe generates not only miracles that are enclothed in nature (the name Elokim) but miracles completely above the way of nature.  And all of this is for us: that we will “…see, and recognize, and know the Eybershter…” and thus be freed from “the limitations of world, the enslavement to worldly assumptions and servitude to the various limitations of world”.

All of the above is meant to lead us to perform our service of Hashem in a miraculous manner.  We must reveal the “Tzaddik” within us — not only the “Tzaddi”, but the “Tzaddik” (with the addition of the letter Kuf ק).  This implies using free choice to choose the side of holiness (“Tzadi” — “My side”), which has the power to elevate even those aspects which are “below the line”, just as the letter “kuf” has a leg which reaches “below the line”.  When the Yidden, who have free choice (due to being enclothed in wordly bodies), choose the side of holiness, their choice adds the “kuf” to “Tzadi”, making “Tzaddik”; this gives the power to transform the world and it’s inhabitants, that they should also agree.

Again, the Rebbe is repeating to us that the Geuloh is not a passive fireworks show of miracles, but rather it gives us the “green light” to get to work and reveal the redemption through our own actions.  This is assisted by our recognition of the miraculous state of the world, which occurs through Moshe the G-dly man, the first redeemer and the last redeemer.