17) Kuntres 19 Kislev: The Power of Chassidim

17) Kuntres 19 Kislev: The Power of Chassidim

This maamor, originally spoken on Yud Tes Kislev 5726, is based on the familiar posuk “Podah v’sholom nafshi“, but it provides a completely different perspective than the maamor released a week earlier (for 10-14 Kislev, 5752).  Here, the Rebbe explains according to the words of our Sages that Hashem states: “whoever labors in Torah and in acts of Kindness (Gemilus Chassodim) and davens with the community, I consider it as though he redeemed me and my children from the nations of the world.”

Firstly, the Rebbe groups them as two: Torah and Gemilus Chassodim drawing down from Above, and Tefillah rising from below to Above.  The Rebbe describes the difference between Brocha (drawn down from Above) and Tefillah (from below), based on the verse “Your Chassidim will bless you” חסידיך יברכוך as explained by the Rebbe Rashab: that specifically Chassidim have the power to draw down brocha in a way that the Divine light illuminates Malchus (the lowest level, which “possesses nothing of its own”).

The advantage of a brocha (generally given by Tzaddikim) is that it has the power of a command: that one who is standing above the hashpo’ah can command that it descend to the recipient (despite the fact that there are obstacles preventing it from descending).  Thus, a brocha is a certainty.  The disadvantage is that it only relates to hashpo’ah that is already “in the pipeline”, for which there is already a Divine Will.

The advantage of Tefillah is that is has the power of “Yehi ratzon” — to create a new Divine Will.  Where previously an individual was ill, Tefillah can bring about a new ratzon that the individual will be healthy.  The disadvantage is that it is not guaranteed — sometimes the Tefillah is answered (and drawn down into the world), sometimes not.

The power of Chassidim is that they can draw down the power of both together: the new ratzon brought about through Tefillah with the certainty of a command found in a brocha.  This is because they draw down from the level of submission, hoda’ah, which is above intellect and understanding.  This level of brocha is similar to what is drawn down by Torah.  Torah can bring about a change in the world, something new which wasn’t before, as we find by Rashbi that during a decree of drought he brought down rain by saying Torah (changing Divine Will and nullifying the decree).  All this in a way that the change occurs automatically, without effort from below, with no need for a command.

This is also related to Chesed and Tzedaka (Chassidim and Tzaddikim): Tzedaka means providing a person with what is lacking for him, “but you are not commanded to make him rich”.  Chesed goes beyond that, one can even make a person wealthy.  Similarly, the level of Chosid (one who goes “above and beyond” in his service of Hashem) is able to draw down so much that he can make Malchus “wealthy”, and even beyond wealth, taking even the one who is already wealthy (lacking nothing) to an entirely new level.  This wealth, on a completely new level, is what nullifies the opponent, the menaged (the content of the posuk Podah v’Sholom).  There is a level where there is no war, but there is still a menaged; beyond that is the level of “sholom” (of l’asid lavo) where there isn’t even a menaged (see the previous maamar) — because even the sparks of holiness that “became evil” and lost all feeling for G-dliness will be affected.

These levels reflect differing levels of bittul: in Tefillah the individual feels himself separate from Elokus; higher than this is the Brocha commanded by a Tzaddik, where the individual’s reality is G-dliness, but the world remains a separate reality; the highest level is the level of Torah, where the results are automatic, because it represents a revelation of Atzmus — the reality of Elokus is the only reality and thus there isn’t even a need for a command.  This is also the level drawn down by “Your Chassidim will bless you” חסידיך יברכוך.

Through learning Pnimiyus Hatorah this nullifies the enemy (corresponding to the third level — where there is no reality besides Elokus).  This is connected with Yud Tes Kislev and the release of the Alter Rebbe which is the vindication of spreading the wellsprings outward.  That the maayonos will reach even the “outside”, and not only the waters of the wellsprings but the wellsprings themselves.  This is the spreading of the wellsprings that brings Moshiach, for it draws down the highest levels to the lowest levels (Pnimiyus haKesser to Malchus sh’b’Malchus), and itself is like the three levels that were described above: the one who labors in Torah and in Gemilus Chassodim and davens with the community.  “And through this ‘he redeems me and my children from among the nations’, at which time will take place the promise ‘I will remove the spirit of impurity from the earth’, and Hashem will be King over all the Earth, on that day Hashem will be one and His name will be one.”

19-20 Kislev 5752: “We Are in the Days of Moshiach”

In particular in these days — the days of Moshiach — in which we are found now, we need only to “open up the eyes”, and then we see that we are already found in the true and complete Geuloh in the simple meaning of the words, and all of bnei Yisroel are ready in all the details “to approach and to sit down at the table”, a table set with all the delicacies and all good things, beginning with matters of Geuloh, Levyoson and the Shor haBar and the aged wine, and more and primarily, “to know Hashem”, “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of Hashem as water covers the seas.”


Sefer Hasichos 5752 page 173

Sefer Hasichos, 5752, p. 173

Vayishlach 5752: The Job After the Birurim Are Completed

The sicha of Vayishlach 5752 contains several threads, each of considerable significance.

Firstly, the Rebbe explains the concept of the diminution of the moon — that the full moon on the 15th of the lunar month, when the moon fully receives and reflects the light of the sun, is followed by a decrease in the light until it completely disappears from sight. However, this period of diminution of the light of the moon is really only as far as the revelation of the moon is concerned.  But the fact that we continue to count the days up (16th, 17th, 18th, etc.) hints that in fact the moon is really reaching a higher level, coming closer to the sun (the mashpia) until it ultimately unifies with it and becomes a mashpia itself.  “The complete perfection of the moon is when the it becomes like the sun and no longer needs to receive the light of the sun.

The unification of the sun and the moon, the mashpia and the mekabel, requires the moon to be completely nullified, resulting in “the essence being revealed” (etzem b’hisgalus).  This is a metaphor for the relationship of the Jewish people to Hashem, that when Yisroel is completely nullified to Hashem they become unified and they themselves become like Him, both being equal “one crown for both of them”.  All this takes place after the process of refinement (avodas habirurim) is completed.

This brings us to the next significant thread of this sicha, where the Rebbe states that the refinement of the sparks of Tohu (related to Esav in our parsha) has been completed, and “all the matters of avodah have been finished and completed, also as regards (and in) the world.”  Although this appears in many of the sichos of Dvar Malchus, in our sicha of Vayishlach the Rebbe addresses the question: if everything has been done, what do we do now?  The answer is found in the conduct of Yaakov towards Esav in our parsha.  Returning from living with Lavan in Charan, Yaakov was ready for Moshiach and anticipated that Esav, too, was ready.  Thus, what Yaakov did is what we are doing.  The verses tell us how Yaakov sent excessive gifts to Esav, and bowed down 7 times.  In Torah Ohr, the Alter Rebbe explains  what this means spiritually, which the Rebbe summarizes as follows:

“Yaakov sent messengers before him to Esav his brother” — that Yaakov, whose source is from the world of Tikkun, sent messengers literally “before him“, to the level that is higher than him, to Esav his brother who has his source in the world of Tohu (since, due to his relationship to Yaakov, we are referring to Esav after he was refined and returned to his source, the transcendentlevel of Tohu).  This was “in order to draw down the transcendent level of Tohu to him below in Tikkun, which is the aspect of internalized light, that the transcendent will shine forth internally and they will be unified together.  This is also the meaning of the unification of the moon and the sun (Yaakov and Esav, inner light and transcendent light, memaleh kol almin and sovev kol almin), until the moon no longer receives from the sun (since the the refinement of the sparks of Tohu has already been finished and completed,  which was the reason that the moon was originally diminished to be a receiver, as explained earlier in the sicha), but rather the light of the moon becomes like the light of the sun, that both are equal.

(Footnote 89): We learn out from the avodah of Yaakov after he thought that Esav was already refined, and even after the messengers returned and informed him that Esave was not yet refined — he did not get involved in “avodas habirurim” (to refine Esav), but rather he became involved in “the elevation of the ‘lower waters’ to draw down the ‘masculine waters’ of the transcendent level of Tohu‘ [hala’as Ma”n lehamshich Ma”d d’makif d’Tohu] via his offering.  [More explanation is required, but time does not allow us to do so here and now.  See Torah Ohr on our parsha.]

The Rebbe continues and connects this with the refinement of the nation of France, in loshon kodesh “Tzorfas” which has the numerical value of 770, that this represents the completion of the process of refining the world.  “From this it is understood that literally in our times we need only to open the eyes and to see the reality b’poel mamash.”  (Footnote 112): “That is to say, not only this that the avodah of refinement has been completed and that we need to bring about a revelation of this in the world, but rather more than this, that there is already revealed [such a revelation] in actuality, and we need only to open the eyes, because already you have been given…eyes to see.'”

Vayishlach 5752: The Moon Becomes Like the Sun

Our sages tell us that the Jewish people are likened to the moon and thus we count according to the moon.  The months of the Jewish calendar begin with the birth of the new moon each month.  This means that the 15th of every month is the date of the full moon.  What is a full moon?  It is the time when the moon reaches the state of maximum revelation, reflecting the light of the sun to its utmost.   This is called shleimus halevana, the moon being “full” and “complete”.  This process of the waxing of the moon until it reaches completeness is illustrated by the increasing number of the day of the month: 1, 2, 3, etc., until the 15th.  The ascending number corresponds to the ascending completeness of the moon’s revelation.

The true completeness of the moon, explains the Rebbe, is not truly found on the 15th of the month (the full moon), because then the moon is is only at maximum capacity as a mekabel, a receiver (and reflector) of light from the sun.  The true shleimus, the true completeness of the moon is when the moon becomes similar to the sun — a mashpia — and no longer needs to receive light from the sun.

By examining the astronomical properties of the movement of the moon we will understand this more deeply: the first half of the month, when the revelation of the light of the moon is increasing daily, the moon itself is actually moving further away from the sun.  The further it gets from the sun, the greater its light.  In the second half of the month it moves closer to the sun, and as it gets closer its visible light diminishes.  This is because the closer the mekabel is to the mashpia, the less he is able to “shine forth”, due to the great self-nullification, bitul, it has in order to receive.  What occurs in the second half of the month, the Rebbe explains, is that the moon comes closer to the sun in order to achieve the union of the two of them in the following month.  While the light of the moon diminishes at this time, in truth light is only a glimmer of the essence.  And as the moon approaches the sun, its essence is coming closer to revelation.  When is the essence revealed?

When the mekabel is unified with the mashpia to such a degree that it also becomes a mashpia, and there ceases to be a relationship of giver/recipient between them, that both of them are equal — then the essence is revealed.

So it turns out that as great as the revelation of the full moon may be, it is only as regards the moon as a mekabel from the sun.  But the true shliemus of the moon begins its approach in the second half of the month — as it comes closer to the sun and is transforming into a mashpia itself.  For this reason, we continue to count up (16, 17, 18, etc.) even as the moon wanes and its illumination diminishes — because on a deeper level it is still climbing to higher levels.

It is for this reason that we find that the holidays of the Torah are on the 15th of the month when the moon is full (or, in the case of Shavuos — in the 1st half of the month, when the light of the moon is increasing).  But Yud Tes Kislev, the Matan Torah of Toras haChassidus, falls out on the 19th, in the second half of the month.  This is because the revelation of Chassidus is a beginning and a taste of the Torah of Moshiach (“Torah chadasha m’iti seitzeh“) which is connected with the revelation of the essence (which is what is taking place by the moon in the second half of the month).

This is also connected with the weekly parsha, where Yaakov has finished refining the sparks of holiness that were trapped in the realm of Lovon his father-in-law and is now going to greet Esav.  This parsha is speaking about the time, at the end of golus, when the avodah of birurim will be finished.  Yaakov is ready for the days of Moshiach,to unify with Esav (representing the unification of the neshoma and the body, and also the Holy One, blessed be He and Yisroel).

Thus the difference between Yaakov as he is involved in the service of refinement and Yaakov as he is prepared for the Redemption, parallels the difference between the moon as it receives light from the sun and as it will be in the Era of the Redemption, when it will be equal to the sun.

When Yaakov confronted Eisav, although Yaakov was prepared for the Redemption Eisav was not, and the task of refining Eisav and the material worlds associated with him had to continue for centuries. In the present age, however, to borrow an expression from the Previous Rebbe, “We have already polished the buttons.” The task of refinement which was entrusted to the Jews has been completed.

Thus we are now living in a new era with a new service. Instead of concentrating on the refinement of the world, our efforts must focus on revealing the Redemption. The Era of Redemption, which is described with the analogy of a feast, is a present reality, all that is necessary is for us to open our eyes and see.

So it turns out that this week’s parsha is speaking directly about our times — the end of golus when we have completed avodas habirurim (work of refinement) and are ready to be transformed from mekabel to mashpia by revealing the unity of the Holy One, blessed be He, and Yisroel.  Furthermore:

From this it is understood that the continuation of the avodah that follows (as long as Moshiach Tzidkeinu is delayed for whatever reason (completely unknown and not understood)) is not avodas habirurim (for avodas habirurim has already been completed and finished) but rather, it is a special avodah to bring the revelation in actuality in the world.

[For those who are familiar with the terminology of Chassidus (explained in Torah Ohr on our parsha), the Rebbe notes (footnote 89) that this present avodah is similar to what Yaakov attempted to do when he went to greet Esav — dividing his camp into two camps, sending abundant gifts to Esav, and bowing before him.  “He did not involve himself in avodas habirurim (to refine Esav), but rather he involved himself in ‘hala’as ma”n to elicit ma”d of Tohu’ via his offering” which he sent to Esav.  This itself is worthy of a separate essay.  But , simply put, he made an effort from below-to-Above in way that it will awaken from the supernal source of Esav an outpouring of the lights of Tohu, recalling the Rebbe’s words of Koach Nissan: that we must drawn down the lights of Tohu into vessels of Tikkun.  All of this requires further explanation.]

The Rebbe continues and connects this with the refinement of the nation of France, in loshon kodesh “Tzorfas” which has the numerical value of 770, that this represents the completion of the process of refining the world.

From this it is understood that literally in our times we need only to open the eyes and to see the reality b’poel mamash.”  (Footnote 112): That is to say, not only this that the avodah of refinement has been completed and that we need to bring about a revelation of this in the world, but rather more than this, that there is already revealed [such a revelation] in actuality, and we need only to open the eyes, because already you have been given…eyes to see.’

16) Kuntres Yud/Yud Daled Kislev, 5752: Reveal the Yechida

16) Kuntres Yud/Yud Daled Kislev, 5752: Reveal the Yechida

Famous are the numerous maamorim over the years explaining the posuk “Padoh v’sholom nafshi“, the verse which the Alter Rebbe was reading when he was notified of his release from Russian prison on Yud-Tes Kislev, 5559.  This verse is also relevant to the release of his son, the Mitteler Rebbe, from arrest on Yud Kislev, some  28 years later.  The maamor in this kuntres was said on Yud Kislev 5722 (the 3rd maamor of that farbrengen!) and edited and printed in 5752 in honor of that date (and also in honor of Yud-Daled Kislev, the Rebbe’s wedding anniversary).

The verse states: “He redeemed my soul with peace from the battle that came upon me, because the many were with me.”

The common thread in almost all of the maamorim, beginning with the maamor of the Mitteler Rebbe, focuses on the concept of being redeemed from battle in a way of peace, which is seemingly an oxymoron — if there is peace there is no battle!  The explanation is that in fact there is a battle, a battle between the nefesh Elokis (the G-dly soul) and the nefesh habahamis (the animal soul we possess).  One may attempt to overcome his animal soul using his intellect (the lower levels of his G-dly soul, nefesh, ruach, neshoma), or overpowering it with force of will, ratzon (from the level of Chaya), but in these cases the Animal Soul can fight back with its own intellect and force of will — a battle.  Only when one reveals his yechida, the highest level of his soul, can he nullify the struggle of the Animal Soul and thus win the battle “in peace” —  “Padoh v’sholom”.

In this maamor the Rebbe explains that there are two aspects of “sholom” (בשלום — ב’ שלום): from Above to below, and from below to Above.  When there is a revelation of Ohr from Above which overwhelms and nullifies the Animal Soul, the Animal Soul ceases to oppose the G-dly Soul, but it doesn’t change the Animal Soul itself: it nullifies its reality, but doesn’t change it.  The change occurs through the struggle of the G-dly Soul to overcome and transform the Animal Soul, bringing it to realize on its own terms that it should love Hashem.  But even so, the Animal Soul will still remain a potential adversary.  We should by now be familiar with the Rebbe’s approach: that we need both aspects, from Above to below and from below to Above; and not just independently, but a unification of the two lines of influence.

The Rebbe brings the story of the Chossid of the Tzemach Tzedek, who complained in Yechidus (private audience) that others were “trampling on him” in the Beis Midrash.  The Rebbe points our attention to the fact that this Chossid’s self-importance (yeshus) was not only manifesting itself in the “mikdash me’at” of the Beis Midrash, but even in the private chamber of the Rebbe!  Despite the manifestation of the Shechina in those places, this Chossid’s yeshus remained intact.  This illustrates the necessity for avoidah, the work from below to Above (because despite the great revelations from Above a person can remain unchanged).  As expressed elsewhere (see, for example, the sicha of Vayeira): the lofty revelations from Above only become revealed to one who makes himself into a vessel to receive them.

Nitzutzos and Hisnagdus

In the final two oisios of the maamar, the Rebbe explains the continuation of the posuk: “…because the many were with me“.  The intent behind the descent of the nitzutzos, the Divine sparks, below is in order that they will be refined and return to their source (and even higher).  Because of this:

…It is not possible (אין שייך) that there should be any resistance or opposition (from the nitzutzos) to their refinement.  The fact that it is possible for there to be resistance and opposition is only from the side of the person (who is responsible for the refinement), for he has free choice.  But as far as the nitzutzos are concerned — there is no choice involved (they must be refined).

…And more than this: the nitzutzos want and yearn to be refined.  This is the meaning of “the many were with me”, that the nitzutzos found in the aspect of “the many” (רבים — implying those elements in the world which are opposed to G-dliness) yearn for their refinement… It is only because these nitzutzos are in golus in the aspect of “the many” that this is not revealed.  To such a degree that sometimes it appears that the individual and the worldly matters (not only that they don’t assist, but rather) interfere with his avoidas Hashem.  Because the concealment of the nitzutzos is the ultimate concealment, expressed as “a concealment that is not in existence”.  But via the avoidah of “the many were with me”, the awakening of the Yechida, the essence of the soul (עצם הנפש) which is higher than our reality, this “concealment that is not in existence” of the nitzutos is awakened and is revealed, together with their yearning to be refined, and then it is seen openly that the matters of the world (not only do not interfere, but rather) assist in avoidas Hashem.

This awakening of the Yechida contains within it both of the levels that were mentioned earlier: from Above to below and from below to Above, in a way where each one contains an aspect of the other.  Since the nitzutzos have a desire to be refined (from Above) — this is the admixture of “from below” in the revelation of Ohr from Above.  And similarly the refinement from below is in a way where the opposition is nullified (an aspect of “from Above”), for the same reason: the desire of the nitzutzos to be refined. When we awaken our Yechida, we reveal that in truth there is no opposition from the world (including the nations of the world) to a Jew serving Hashem, even if this truth was completely hidden before.

All of this takes place via the revelation of the Yechida, which we can bring about “by thinking about the inyan of the Yechida [and the resolution that his conduct will be fitting with the aspect of Yechida in his nefesh], the redemption of his G-dly soul from the war with the Animal Soul in a way of peace.”  One could say that “thinking about the inyan of the Yechida” is fulfilled by thinking about Moshiach (who possesses a soul which is the “yechida klolis” of the entire Jewish people), and making the commitment to conduct himself as Moshiach desires.  (Obviously, this can be done more completely when one is aware of Moshiach’s identity and his opinion on how a Jew should conduct himself in various matters.)  The Rebbe hints at this explanation in the closing words of the maamor“then (l’asid lavo) there will be the revelation of the Yechida via Moshiach, who is the aspect of the Yechida Klolis…”, and the work is in our hands!

Vayeitzei 5752: Asleep on the Site of the Beis Hamikdash?!

Yaakov Avinu, fleeing the wrath of his brother Esav, arrived in Beis El as the sun was set ting unexpectedly.  As a result of the sudden sunset, he went to sleep there for the night.  The next morning, when he woke up, he realized where he was — Har Hamoriah, the site where the Beis Hamikdash would later be built.  He declared his shock that he had slept in such a holy spot!

In the Dvar Malchus sicha of Vayeitzei, the Rebbe examines Yaakov’s laying down to sleep “‘in that place’ — the place of the Mikdash (מקום המקדש)…”  

This expression “the place of the mikdash” (“מקום המקדש”) should grab our attention — this is the same expression the Rebbe uses in Kuntres Beis Rabbeinu Sh’b’Bavel (which was published and distributed several weeks prior to this sicha).  In that Kuntres, the Rebbe states that 770 is the “place of the Mikdash” (מקום המקדש).  Does the Rebbe want us to realize that we, too, are “sleeping” in the “place of the Mikdash” (מקום המקדש) and don’t realize it?!

Apparently so.

However, the Rebbe explains in this sicha that the seemingly disgraceful “sleeping in the place of the Mikdash” can also be interpreted in a positive fashion: at the time that one lies down to sleep there is equality between the head and the feet.  The entire body is flat, on one level, no part is higher than any other (unlike when standing, when the head is highest, the feet are lowest, etc.).  Although this position is a tremendous descent from the perspective of revealing the ability of the respective parts of the body, since these abilities (thought, speech, sight, hearing, etc.) are not revealed when one is asleep.  But, at the very same time, there is something lofty about this state: it reflects on the revelation of Atzmus — the Essence and Being of Divinity — which transcends all differences such as head and foot, higher and lower, spiritual and physical.  As much as one can display his abilities while he is awake, this display also shows the distance between the various parts of the body.  When one is asleep, and the differences are not apparent, this represents the complete unification of lower and higher — Atzmus.

If so, then maybe we should keep sleeping and not wake up?  Why shatter this revelation of Atzmus that just learned is so essential and transcendent?  Because after sleeping, this level will be drawn also into the revelations of the various abilities mentioned above:

Even when Yaakov “awakens from his slumber” (a hint to the Rebbe’s expressions in the Dvar Malchus sicha of Toldos), and the head then returns to its lofty level compared to the lowly foot, nonetheless the “equality” generated by the revelation of Atzmus — the Essence — remains.  We create a dwelling place down below: a “dira b’tachtonim

This means that our sleeping on the site of the greatest Divine revelations, the place of the Mikdash (מקום המקדש), is not a disgrace, but is actually connected with the revelation of the Divine Essence and Being itself!  And the Rebbe’s call to “open our eyes” (via learning Chassidus and especially the subjects of Geuloh and Moshiach) is not a call to do away with this dimension of sleep, but rather to draw down this dimension (revelation of the Essence) into the awake, physical world, a world which is ready to be a vessel to receive and internalize these revelations!

Vayetzei 5752: We Need Only to Open the Eyes

In this sicha, which was said on Shabbos Vayeitze, which corresponded in 5752 (and also this year, 5780) to the 9th of Kislev, the birthday and hillula (day of passing) of the Mitteler Rebbe, the 2nd Rebbe of Chabad.

The Alter Rebbe, his father, represented the attribute of Chochma (wisdom), and his son the Mitteler Rebbe represents the attribute of Bina (understanding).  Just as Bina expands and reveals the breadth and depth of Chochma, so, too, the teachings of the Mitteler Rebbe are “wide as a river”, allowing one to drink deeply from the wellsprings of pnimiyus haTorah.  This is significant to bringing the Geuloh, because:

At this time there needs to be…the study of pnimiyus Hatorah as it has been revealed in the teachings of Chassidus, and the fulfillment of the instructions of our Rebbeim.  This includes — learning the subjects of Moshiach and Geuloh, in a way that it opens the heart and the eyes and the ears — so that they will understand, and see and feel the true and complete Geuloh tangibly in the physicality of the world.

Not merely learning as some sort of intellectual exercise, but rather “in a way of seeing, that this [the true and complete Geuloh] is already prepared and ready, and one only needs to open the eyes and then he will see this!

Practically speaking, this means adding in the learning of the Torah of the Mitteler Rebbe, for his teachings are specifically in a way of Bina.  It is through learning in a way of Bina, understanding, where it becomes integrated with a person, that the studies have an effect on the person.  This means an effort to express his “spirituality” and his chassidishkeit in his physical matters, until there will be no divide between his “spiritual” aspect and his physical being.

Furthermore, this can impact the world dramatically, because:

We have completed all the birurim (refinement), including the refinement of “Esav he is Edom”, and how much more so considering that even in the time of Yaakov Avinu he already thought that Esav was refined (and from Yaakov’s level in fact he was).  And all the more so after all of the avodah that has taken place since then (to refine Esav) until we are at the point where Esav is already completely refined, as we see in the conduct in our days (golus Edom) of the nations of the world who are related to “Esav he is Edom”, such as this country, a country of kindness, and such conduct is spreading to other nations, as we see lately.

We find that Yidden are ready, the world is ready, even the nations of Esav are ready.  What remains, then, to be done?

The only thing lacking is — that a Jew should open his eyes properly, and should see how everything is ready for the Geuloh!  There is the “set table” already, and there is already the Leviyoson and the Shor Habor and the aged wine, and Yidden are sitting at the table — “their father’s table”, together with Moshiach Tzidkeinu (as stated in seforim that in every generation there is one of the seed of Dovid who, due to his righteousness, is fitting to be Moshiach), and there is already a “heart to know and eyes to see and ears to hear”.

Let us open up the seforim and open up our eyes and ears and hearts to know the truth of the only one who is fitting to be the redeemer, and in that way we empower him (as the Rebbe said in the sicha of Chayei Sara) to redeem the Jewish nation from golus!

15) Kuntres Rosh Chodesh Kislev, 5752: Great is the Effort From Below

15) Kuntres Rosh Chodesh Kislev, 5752: Great is the Effort From Below

This maamor was said on Shabbos, Erev Rosh Chodesh Kislev, 5745, beginning with the words of the haftorah (“Vayomar lo Yehonoson“) recited on every Shabbos Erev Rosh Chodesh.  The attentive student will recall that a maamor on the very same verse was distributed as Kuntres Erev Rosh Chodesh Iyar, 5751 (seven months earlier), but the content differs significantly.  To recall the verse: “tomorrow is Rosh Chodesh and you will be remembered (nifkadta) because you are missing from your place (ki yipaked moshavecha).”

Erev Rosh Chodesh, when the moon completely disappears from sight, represents the bittul of Yisroel.  Through this bittul they draw down a new revelation that was never in the world before, which manifests as the birth of the new moon on Rosh Chodesh, the level of “nifkadta“.  This “Ohr chodosh” is from a level that is completely above the world, drawn down through the avoidah of bittul, whereas avoidah connected with the existence of the individual  (קשורה עם המציאות שלו) only draws down Ohr on a level that has a connection with the world.

The Rebbe now describes 3 levels of “Awakening from Above” (isarusa della’eila):

  1. The level that is given from Above without any effort from below (because the effort from below (isarusa della’satta) cannot reach it);
  2. The level that comes from Above as a result of the isarusa della’satta;
  3. The level that is given as a gift, meaning that the effort from below can’t teach this level, but it is only given after the lower entities have perfected themselves (made themselves a vessel) and have drawn down the 2nd level.

Having explained the lofty levels that are drawn down from Above in these variety of ways, the Rebbe then states that the revelation of “nifkadta” (the new “Ohr chodosh” of Rosh Chodesh) is greater even than the level that comes from Above as gift.  This demands explanation, because the level that is given as a gift is so lofty that the effort from below can’t reach it, but the level of “nifkadta” (which is higher) can and is drawn down by the bittul of Yisroel?!

To understand this, the Rebbe explains how “nifkadta” is the bestowal (hashpoah) of Z”A* to Malchus, which are represented by Yehonoson and Dovid.  This hashpoah is the inyan of “machar Chodesh”, the new moon.  But since it states “tomorrow (machar) is the new moon”, it must be connected with the previous day, which is Erev Rosh Chodesh, the disappearance of the moon, “you are missing from your place” (yipaked moshavecho).  And based on the sequence of expressions in the posuk, the Rebbe derives that there is a hashpoah (Vayomer lo Yehonoson) which gives the ability for Erev Rosh Chodesh (yipaked moshavecho) which in turn is what generates “nifkadta“.

And further (based on the verse “Yitzchok the son of Avraham, Avraham gave birth to Yitzchok”): the awakening from below (Yitzchok) reaches higher than the place from which the awakening from Above (Avraham) comes from.  Nonetheless, there must first be a bestowal from Above which enables the awakening from below — because the lower entity (the tachton) is unable to elevate itself without this bestowal from Above, which reveals the the power of the tachton to reach even higher than the bestowal from Above.  This really consists of two aspects: giving the power for “yipaked moshavecho“, the bittul and elevation; and for the “nifkadta” (the new Ohr Chodosh) that will come from this.  Both the elevation of the tachton, and the hamshacha that it brings .

Astonishingly, the Rebbe proceeds to state that the elevation of the tachton (erev Rosh Chodesh, bittul) is actually greater than what it draws down (the Ohr Chodosh of Rosh Chodesh, “nifkadta“)! This will only be revealed l’asid lavo (and thus we will say about Yitzchok “you are our father” כי אתה אבינו since the greatest level is the awakening from below itself). This corresponds to Yehonoson and Dovid, Z”A and Malchus, that in the future Malchus will receive directly from Ohr Ein Sof (rather than via Z”A).  This is what is meant by the verse that states that in the ultimate future “the light of the moon will be like the light of the sun: that the moon will illuminate by itself, like the sun (not like the present, when it simply reflects the light it received from the sun).

This elevation of Malchus begins when she nullifies her existence and thus becomes a vessel for even greater elevations, until she becomes a crown אשת חיל עטרת בעלה.  Now, it seems that the bittul of Malchus (erev Rosh Chodesh, yipaked moshavecho) is in order to bring the revelation of the Ohr Chodosh of Rosh Chodesh (nifkadta), as implied in the beginning of the maamor.  But in the future the greatest quality of “yipaked moshavecho” will be that through it is drawn down the revelation of the root of Malchus itself.  All of this also applies on a higher level to Yisroel (Malchus, the moon) and the Holy One, blessed be He (Z”A, the sun):

The bittul of Yisroel brings about that HKBH remembers them, so to speak, and redeems them… And, like the moon which will not need to receive from the sun, through the bittul of Yisroel it becomes revealed that Yisroel and the Holy One are all one ישראל וקודשא בריך הוא כולא חד, and therefore they will not need, so to speak, to receive from the Holy One, blessed be He, for they are truly one.  And more than this, Yisroel are bestowing, so to speak, to the Holy One — the crown of her husband.

All of this comes to explain, in the language of Chassidus, that although we are presently laboring to bring about the revelation of Moshiach in the world (accompanied by the great revelations of the true and complete Geuloh), these revelations (Ohr Chodosh) are not going to be the real chiddush.  The real chiddush and the highest revelation will be the avoidah itself that we are performing now — persisting to labor from below with tremendous bittul for more than 25 years since we last experienced the revealed hashpoah from Above.

Through our efforts to reveal the Rebbe in the world, we are in fact “crowning” the Rebbe with ourselves, with our avoidah, revealing that we are one; and even more: bestowing hashpoah on the Rebbe via our efforts from below.  (See the maamor ואתה תצוה 5752, where the Rebbe explains how Yisroel bring Moshe to a higher level, and other places.)

* “Zeir Anpin”, which refers to the six sefiros from Chesed through Yesod

Toldos 5752: The Essential Existence is Revealed

This week the sicha examines a simple but deep concept: the distinction between “essential existence” (“etzem metzius“) and the revelation of that existence.  This is illustrated by the difference between the birth of a person, the beginning of their essential existence, upon which everything they will do in the future depends, and the actual good deeds that they will do in their life.

Similarly, we find by the moon (this sicha was spoken on the Shabbos following Rosh Chodesh Kislev), that Rosh Chodesh is the “birth” of the new moon. Following its birth, the moon proceeds over the next 15 days to wax greater and greater, increasing the amount of light it shines.  The greatest light that reflects from the moon is on the 15th of the month, representing the fulfillment of its ability to shine (a “full moon”). [There is also a special quality of the 2nd half of the month is explained in the sicha of Parshas Vayishlach].  Yet, even the great light of the full moon derives from the initial revelation of its essential existence on Rosh Chodesh.

In the case of a Yid: the first moment of revelation of his essential existence, etzem metziyuso, is the moment of his birth when the neshoma comes into a physical body.  All of what he will proceed to do afterwards is found in this initial moment of his coming into existence, and this moment is the main thing — “the entire existence of a person over the course of all the days of his life are contained in the moment when he is born and goes out into the air of the world.”  

Everything that proceeds after the birth is simply an expansion and greater revelation of that first moment.  The importance of what follows (his “good deeds”) is that these good deeds bring about the revelation to the world of his essential existence as a G-dly neshoma — and this is the fulfillment of his existence.

Nonetheless, the main thing is that first moment when he comes into existence, birth.  We see this in the birth of a child, which is accompanied by rejoicing and celebration even before the child has done anything.  And more than this, the Rebbe explains:

the main quality of the Jewish people in their essential existence, “Yisroel and the Holy One, blessed be He, are all one”, is intact even without the performance of Torah and Mitzvos, “pleasing ways and good deeds”.  Like the metaphor of a fleshly King who has many sons, that the love he has for his sons is essential love even when they do not possess “pleasing ways and good deeds”.  (And on the contrary: regarding the sons who do possess “pleasing ways and good deeds”, and it is logical to love them, the essential  love is not so evident).

Of course one loves a son who’s ways are pleasing and deeds are good.  But to love a son who lacks pleasing ways and good deeds?  In such a case it is clear that the love derives not from the “nachas” of his behavior, but from his essential existence as the son of this father.

This shows also on the importance of the physical body of a Jew, which has no special quality in and of itself, but nonetheless Hashem chose the Jewish body.  Thus, a Jew’s body expresses Hashem’s essential connection to a Jew even more than the neshoma — because a neshoma has the unique quality of being a “part of G-dliness” (like a son whose ways are pleasing and deeds are good).  By being enclothed in a physical body and doing the work to refine it, the neshoma reveals that it also possess an essential connection to Hashem that is not dependent on its special qualities.

The concept of birth, and of the moon, are directly connected to the Geuloh.  Just as birth, and the birth of the moon, is a moment which contains the entire essential existence of the person, so, too, the moment of the Geuloh is the revelation of etzem haneshoma, the essence of the neshoma, which is higher than any name which we can give it, even higher than the name “Yechida” and “chelek Eloka“.  It is like when a person awakens from sleep, even before he has enough awareness to say “Modeh ani“, thanking Hashem for restoring his soul, he already has awoken to his essential existence.  This is the moment of Geuloh — awakening to our true essential existence.

Not only that, but it is known that every Jew contains within him a spark of Moshiach.  The Geuloh comes when each one reveals the spark of Moshiach within him — the revelation of the essence of the neshoma “etzem haneshoma mamash“.  This is “waking up from sleep”, and this waking up brings about that he will proceed to reveal the essence in actuality, which is the true inyan of the Coming of Moshiach.

So, the question then is: how do we “wake up”?

When the chayus of every single Yid is in the inyan of Moshiach, this brings (automatically) to the state of Yemos Hamoshiach (the Days of Moshiach), that the essence of the Yidden will be revealed in actuality.

This is “breathing the air of Moshiach”, which allows us to feel the “spirit of Melech Hamoshiach” — the essence — which is more fundamental than eating and drinking, and higher than the “light” of Melech Hamoshiach.

The Rebbe concludes the sicha:

…we should have the begining of the true Geuloh, via Moshiach Tzidkeinu — “a king will arise from the house of Dovid, etc.”, until “he will rectify the entire world to serve Hashem together…”  And as hinted at in the end of the haftorah of the previous week…which finishes with the declaration “Yechi Adoni Hamelech Dovid l’Olam” (“Live my master the King Dovid forever”) — the eternality of the Kingship of the house of Dovid…which reaches its perfection via Melech Hamoshiach…the meaning of this declaration is the revelation of the existence of Melech Hamoshiach.  And through this [declaration] comes his revelation before the eyes of all through his activities, etc.”

There is a need to wake up, to declare that there is the existence of Melech Hamoshiach (“Yechi Hamelech”), which is the essence of our own existence.  It is by doing this that we are able to bring about the revelation of Melech Hamoshiach in the world, to bring the Geuloh in actuality.

Chayei Sara: The Message Beyond the Sicha

As we learned in the Dvar Malchus sicha of parshas Chayei Sarah, this parsha contains the first shilchus in Torah and that in our times shlichus has a new element: the acceptance and “kabbalas panim” of Moshiach.  In most years, it comes out to be the time when the International Gathering of the Rebbe’s shluchim is held.  The Rebbe often brings the words of the Shelah that everything is by hasgacha protis, and thus days and events which fall out near the Parsha are connected with that Parsha.  The Rebbe also speaks about the connection between the Torah portion and the daily section of Tanya, Tehillim, and Rambam.

If we look, we see a wonderful and eye-opening hasgacha protis as regards the Kinus Hashluchim.

When the Kinus Hashluchim falls out on parshas Chayei Sarah, thousands of Shluchim find themselves at the Kinus on Shabbos listening not only to the story of Eliezer, the servant of Avraham Avinu (the first shliach in the Torah), but also, of course, to the haftorah.  The haftorah for parshas Chayei Sarah (Melachim I, 1:1-31) describes the attempt by Adoniyahu, son of Dovid Hamelech, to usurp his aged father’s throne and rule in his father’s place instead of his brother Shlomo (Solomon, whom Dovid Hamelech had chosen as his successor).  Dovid is informed what his son is doing:

[Adoniyahu] has gone down this day and has slain oxen and fatlings and sheep in abundance, and he called all the King’s sons, and the officers of the army, and Evyassar the priest, and behold they eat and drink before him, and they said, “Long live King Adoniyahu.” (“Yechi Hamelech Adoniyahu”)

The culmination of his attempt to usurp the throne is the people’s acceptance of his Kingship by declaring “Yechi Hamelech”!  Dovid Hamelech swears that Shlomo shall reign after him, and the haftorah ends with the words  “Let my lord King David live forever.” (“Yechi Adoni Hamelech Dovid L’olam”).

The importance of declaring “Yechi Hamelech” is explained by the Rebbe in the sicha of Beis Nissan, 5748 (1988), where the Rebbe brings the Rambam’s description of the king of the nation as the heart of the nation.  Just as the heart pumps blood, which is life, to all of the limbs of the body, giving life to the body, proper circulation is dependent on the limbs, which must also return the blood to the heart.  This, explains the Rebbe, is the people’s declaration of “Yechi Hamelech” — the limbs (the people) returning life-blood to the heart (the king).

Now see more hashagacha protis:

In the portion of Tanya that was learned on this same Shabbos, the Alter Rebbe writes about the circulation of the blood in spiritual terms:

The cause of illness or health lies in the distribution and flow of the life-force from the heart to all the organs, [this life-force] being vested in the blood of life which flows from the heart to all the organs; and the spirit of life and the blood circulates all around into all the limbs, through the veins that are embedded in them, and returns to the heart.  Now, if the circulation and flow of this spirit of life is always as it should be…then the individual is perfectly healthy.  …But should there be any disorder in any place, restraining, hindering or reducing the circulation and flow of the blood with the spirit of life vested in it, then this bond — which connects all the limbs with the heart by means of this circulation — is severed (which would extinguish life), or diminished, in which case the individual will fall ill and sick (May G‑d protect us!)

To summarize: On the Shabbos day when all the Shluchim of the Rebbe are gathered together to discuss the goals and techniques of their Shlichus, Divine Providence brings about that:

  1. The “latest word” from the Rebbe on this parsha the Rebbe informs us what is the new element in shlichus in our times: that in each generation, there is an individual who is fit to be Moshiach and “when the time comes, G‑d will reveal Himself to him and send him.” The service at present is thus to be prepared to actually accept Moshiach and create a climate in which he can accomplish his mission and redeem Israel from the exile;
  2. The haftorah concludes with the declaration “Yechi Hamelech” (describing how “Yechi Adoni Hamelech Dovid L’olam” negates and prevents the crowning of the “usurper to the throne” as expressed in the undesirable declaration “Yechi Hamelech Adoniahu”); and,
  3. The daily section of Tanya teaches that spiritual health derives from proper circulation, when the limbs return the flow of blood to the heart — the exact metaphor that the Rebbe uses to explain the declaration “Yechi Hamelech”!

For those who need a hint in this matter, Hashgacha Protis has provided it.

We conclude with a brocha that every single one of the Rebbe’s shluchim (and, as the Rebbe says in the sicha, every Jew in our generation has been appointed a shliach of the [Previous] Rebbe) should be healthy in all their limbs and in their heart, both physically and spiritually, and that they should be successful in fulfilling the shlichus of the one who sent them, including and especially the “new element” that has become the “gateway” for the entire shlichus–to greet Moshiach Tzidkeinu in actual reality, through the final words of the haftorah as they apply in our generation, the generation of Moshiach (a descendant of Dovid through his son Shlomo*):

Let our Master our Teacher and our Rebbe, Melech Hamoshiach, live forever!

* Rambam, 13 Principles of Faith, #12 (See the original sicha and also questions and answers by Rabbi Shlomo Majeski)