Lech Lecho 5752: Pick up and Leave

Hashem’s instruction to Avraham Avinu “Lech Lecho” is a leaving (from “your land, your birth place, your father’s house”) for the sake of arriving: arriving to “the land I will show you”, Eretz Yisroel.

According to Chassidus, each of these expressions of leaving has a spiritual counterpart in the avodah of a Jew:

  • Your land (artzecha) refers to one’s will (ratzon), that one has to leave his concepts of “I want”;
  • Your birth place refers to the traits one was born with, to leave the concept of “that’s the way I am”;
  • Your father’s house refers to the education and training that one has become accustomed to.

First one must completely leave these three limiting self-conceptions (even if they are in the realm of Holiness), and having left them he can now proceed towards “the land I will show you”, the Land of Israel.  Back in parshas Pinchas the Rebbe explained that a Jew must “make here Eretz Yisroel”, make it “a place where G‑dliness, holiness, and Yiddishkeit are openly revealed”, and further: to conduct ourselves in the spirit of the Geulah.  Here the Rebbe says that we are far beyond the beginning of the process of conquering the land outside of  Israel and making it Eretz Yisroel, and thus the instruction to “go out from your land” in our case refers also to the land that has already been made into Eretz Yisrael. To not only “go out” from negative things, but to “go out” from the current, limited level we have obtained even in holy things.

This includes not only the land of the 7 nations, which correspond to the 7 midos (the 7 emotional attributes of chesed, gevurah, etc.), but the land of all 10 nations that was promised to Avraham, including the 3 nations of Keni, Kenizi and Kadmoni, which correspond to the 3 moichin (the 3 intellectual attributes of the soul: Kesser, Chochma, and Bina).  And the acquisition of this land will take place peacefully, without the war that was required to conquer the 7 lands, meaning the 7 midos.

This process of “Lech Lecho” — leaving what one is accustomed to, even good and holy things — takes place by revealing powers that one did not even know he had.  This includes adding in learning Torah and making chiddushim (novel insights), gathering people on Shabbos to teach them Torah.  This process of “Lech Lecho” is the preparation needed to reach the “Torah of Moshiach”, which is connected with the acquisition of the 3 lands, the 3 moichin, which is the “sha’ar haNun“, the 50th gate which Moshe Rabbeinu was only able to reach at the end of his life.  And through this we will reach the complete revelation of the Torah that was given at Har Sinai: the level of “a new Torah will go forth from Me” (Vayikra Rabba 13:3 on Yeshayahu 51:4).

We can observe that during the decades of the Rebbe’s leadership, the Rebbe numerous times demanded a new “lech lecho” from the Chassidim*:

  1. In the “Yud’s” (the 1950s) the Rebbe demanded that Chassidim go out from what are called worldly assumptions (“hanachos ha’olam”), to leave the “balabatish” behavior and attitudes that were common at the time, even among Chassidim (the Rebbe in those years would make fun of those who were concerned that their tie was straight and that the color matched their shoes);
  2. In the “Chof’s” (the 1960s) the Rebbe began pushing for Chassidim in general to go out from the confines of the Chassidic community to go on Shlichus (“Ufaratzta“);
  3. In the “Lameds” (the 1970s) the Rebbe pushed Chassidim to become “activists” both locally (in Crown Heights) and internationally (influencing the Israeli government regarding “Who is a Jew“);
  4. In the “Mem’s” (the 1980s) the Rebbe launched into a greater emphasis on Moshiach — “We Want Moshiach Now” — and introduced the spreading of the 7 Noachide Laws to Gentiles. 

Each of these steps demanded that the Chassidim “go out” from the things they had become accustomed to, time after time another “lech lecho”.  We can observe that in the “Nun’s” (the 1990s) the Rebbe ratcheted up the push for Moshiach and introduced identifying and publicizing Moshiach, and the need to accept Moshiach’s Kingship (as mentioned in Parshas Noach, among other places).  This also demanded (and still demands) a “lech lecho” from Chassidim who had become accustomed to the previous standards that the Rebbe established.

Here in our sicha, the Rebbe reminds us that in order to bring the revelation of Moshiach and the true and complete Geuloh we cannot stand still (even if we are standing in the best of places) — we must “go out” to the land where the Rebbe is guiding us, exemplified by the Rebbe’s enthusiastic encouragement of the singing of “Yechi Adoneinu Moreinu v’Rabbeinu, Melech Hamoshiach l’Olom Vo’ed!”  Pack the bags and Lech Lecho!

 

*) Here we are speaking about the Rebbe’s demands of Chassidim, but it also recalls the following episode about the Rebbe himself as told by the Rebbe’s secretary Leibel Groner’ ע”ה:

When R’ Moshe Leib Rodstein, my wife’s uncle, lived in Poland before World War II, he served as the secretary of the Rebbe Rayatz. His job was to type the letters the Rebbe wrote and to send them to the addressees. After the war, when he arrived in the United States, he continued working for the Rebbe Rayatz. After the passing of the Rebbe Rayatz, the Rebbe asked him to stay on in his job, which he did until he passed away.

R’ Moshe Leib once told me, “It is hard to understand. When an apprentice trains under an electrician, carpenter or the like, after a while he learns the trade and opens his own business. I thought that after working for the Rebbeim for many years that I’d learn the profession of Admurus and would be able to open my own Admurus and be a Rebbe.”

I asked him why this hadn’t happened. He said, “I saw a new Rebbe every day! The Rebbe of today is not the Rebbe of yesterday.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Every day, I saw new giluyim and new conduct on the part of the Rebbe. Each day, there were things I had never seen before. So I could never learn the trade and I did not become a Rebbe.”

 

 

Noach 5752: Geuloh is Dependent Only on Moshiach Himself

The chosid R’ Zushya Willemovsky, “The Partisan”, was told by the Rebbe in a private audience in the 1960s that there remained 20 or 21 things that needed to be accomplished in order for Moshiach to come.  From this we learn the significance of the sichos of Dvar Malchus in general, and parshas Noach in particular — that everything has been accomplished and nothing is preventing the Geuoh.

In this sicha, the Rebbe speaks about the importance of periodically making a proper spiritual accounting (cheshbon tzedek) to search out a recognize the areas in ourselves which need improvement, even things that are very slight imperfections (such as causing someone to feel bad because we didn’t return their greeting(!)).  This should be done with joy, with recognition that it is easier than ever to rectify these matters because the Jewish people, who are like one body, “are found in a state of an individual who is healthy in all of his limbs and organs, both spiritually and physically, and thus anything that is lacking is likened to a weakness or a minor illness in one limb which can be healed quickly and easily”.

Furthermore, when a person takes stock of himself and recognizes that he has flaws and failings which need to be rectified, “this is not a contradiction, G-d forbid, to the testimony of the Leader of the Generation that the work has already been completed and we are standing ready to receive Moshiach Tzidkeinu.”  Yes, we need to search these things out, and upon identifying them to rectify them, but these things do not delay Moshiach’s coming.

Dependent Only on Moshiach Himself

“With absolute certainty all the ‘end times’ have passed, and [the Jewish people] have already done tshuva, and now the matter is not dependent upon anything other than Moshiach Tzidkeinu himself!  (Italics in the original.)  Towards the end of the sicha the Rebbe repeats: “…when we do a proper accounting at  the end of the first week of the year 5752, “it will be a year with wonders in it”, we come to the conclusion that the matter is not dependent upon anything other than Moshiach Tzidkeinu himself (as stated above)…”

It might seem that the implication of these words is that we have done all that we can do, now all that remains would be to wait for Moshiach to decide when to reveal himself.  However, this sicha was preceded a half a year earlier by the famous sicha of Chof-Ches Nissan, 5751, where the Rebbe told the Chassidim that he had done everything he could do, all that remains is to give it over to us to bring Moshiach.  (Several days later a woman passed by the Rebbe for dollars, crying that we were counting on the Rebbe to bring Moshiach, to which the Rebbe answers “it must be done by Klal Yisroel, you included, and this person included, and that person included…”)

This means that we need a different way to understand the expression “the matter is not dependent upon anything other than Moshiach Tzidkeinu himself” — since the Rebbe clearly has put in the hands of the Jewish people to “do all that you can” to bring Moshiach in actuality.  Meaning that it is clearly not the Rebbe’s intention that we stage around crying out to Moshiach: “reveal yourself!”  If so, if it is not enough to wait patiently (or, even impatiently) — then what is implied by the matter being dependent upon Moshiach himself?

We can better understand this expression in light of the words of the Rebbe in the sicha of Chayeh Sara (three weeks after this parshas Noach) in which the Rebbe describes the chiddush, the change in the shlichus which becomes the new gateway for the rest of the efforts of shlichus, namely: to accept Moshiach Tzidkeinu in the true and complete Geuloh.”  (Italics in original.)

 This sheds light on the expression in our sicha, “that the matter is not dependent upon anything other than Moshiach Tzidkeinu himself ” — it is not that we are waiting for Moshiach to do something, since we already know that we are the ones who have to do (“do all that you can“).  Rather, the statement comes to tell us what it is that we need to do, that our efforts to bring Moshiach pertain to Moshiach himself: to accept this individual as Moshiach, to make him (personally my, and collectively our) King.  Everything else has been done, the road has been paved to Moshiach.  Now, all that remains is the acceptance of his Kingship by the people, and this is what “flicks the switch” to the true and complete Geuloh!

Noach “Saw a New World”

The opening verse in Parshas Noach says that “נֹ֗חַ אִ֥ישׁ צַדִּ֛יק תָּמִ֥ים הָיָ֖ה בְּדֹֽרֹתָ֑יו” “Noach was a righteous man, he was perfect in his generations”.  The Midrash on this posuk (Midrash Rabba Noach, 30:8) says in the name of R’ Levi: “Whoever it is said about them ‘he was’ saw a new world.”  The Midrash then enumerates five individuals, the first being Noach, citing that when he and his family exited the ark, they saw a new world.

In what sense did Noach see a new world?  Obviously, it was the same Earth, although following the waters of the flood surely the surface of the Earth looked different than it did previously.  And of course, the evildoers who populated the Earth previously were no longer around.  But can we really say that this is what it means to see a “new world”?

The Rebbe, in the sicha of Noach 5752, clues us in to what is being implied here according to pnimiyus haTorah:

In the creation of the world, the Torah refers to Hashem using two names: YKVK and Elokim.  YKVK is G-dliness that is above the world.  Elokim is the name which indicates concealment, allowing independent-feeling worlds to come into existence.  In the words of Tehillim: “The Sun and a shield [these are the names] YKVK [and] Elokim”.  The name YKVK is the emanation of worlds, the infinite “light” of the worlds, and Elokim is the “shield” or “filter” that conceals the light in order that finite worlds can come into existence.

“That in the reality of the world as it is created via the name Elokim is revealed the name YKVK, until it is recognizable in a revealed way that “YKVK is Elokim” (הוי’ הוא האלקים), that in truth the contraction and concealment (Elokim)  are really the name YKVK. הצמצום וההסתר (אלקים) הוא לאמיתתו שם הוי-ה

(Sicha Parshas Noach, 5752)

Meaning that the world is still the same world that was created via the name Elokim, only that it becomes revealed that really even this name Elokim is just a reduction of the light of YKVK, but not something independent or separate.

So the “new world” that Noach saw was not a new form of creation, but a new perception: he could now perceive how the world of Elokim is really a world of YKVK.  It was recognizable and revealed to him.  He saw the same world but in an entirely new way, thus he saw a “new world”.

We can use this to understand many things the Rebbe is trying to tell us in these Dvar Malchus sichos, giving us the tools to “open our eyes”, including the subject of last week’s sicha regarding “servitude to the nations”.  Over there the Rebbe explains how there is servitude to the nations in the time of Golus, but that this servitude does not extend to our neshomas, nor to our bodies as regards matters of Torah and mitzvos.  And even those things where we must follow the law of the land because “dina d’malchusa dina” (the law of the land is the law) is not because we are in servitude to the nations of the world, but because this is how Hashem wants it to be in the time of Golus.

In those short paragraphs, the Rebbe has opened our eyes to a “new world”: a world where there is no servitude to the nations, which is the definition of (the first period of) the Days of Moshiach!  In other words, if one is in a personal Golus and in fact believes that the Jewish people is in servitude to the nations, then in fact he is in such a state, r”l.  But when one internalizes what the Rebbe says there, he discovers that not only our neshomas and our bodies (as regards performing Torah and Mitzvos) are not in servitude to the nations, even those areas where we do go according to their decisions (monetary matters and the like) — this is not due to any form of “servitude” but rather it is Hashem’s will!  So by following civil monetary law, we are in fact fulfilling Hashem’s will no less than in other halachic matters!  Externally, it is the same Golus, but the Rebbe has given us the tools to “see through” the darkness of Golus and realize that the concealment of the name Elokim (Golus) is really coming from YKVK — a new world!

This is one example of many to be found in Chassidus in general, the Rebbe’s teachings in particular, and the Dvar Malchus sichos most especially.  By making these changes in our perception and understanding of the world, we place ourselves in a state of Geulah even while the world “continues in its natural way”.  This is the beginning of Yemos Hamoshiach, each one coming to the realization based on his own efforts to internalize these concepts.

Bereishis 5752: No Servitude to the Nations

The Rambam, in his “Laws of Kings and Their Wars and Melech HaMoshiach”, declares that the coming of Moshiach and the process of redemption are not dependent upon the miraculous.  “Do not expect that in the Days of Moshiach the  pattern of conduct of the world will change, but rather the word will conduct itself in a normal manner…”  “Our sages have taught that there is no difference between this world and the world to come is servitude to the nations.” (Chapter 12)  This means to say that even in the Messianic Era (the first stage), the world continues to go in a natural way, however the Jewish people are no longer in a state of “servitude” to the nations as they were during golus.

In this sicha, the Rebbe explains how the Jewish nation was chosen by Hashem and thus the entire Creation exists for the sake of the Jewish people and thus the truth is that the nations of the world do not truly hold sway over us (“servitude”).

Even though the Jewish people in exile are found in a state of “servitude to the nations”, and there is a command in the Torah “the law of the land is the law” (dina d’malchusa dina)…the reason is not due to fear of the nations of the world (at the time of exile) G-d-forbid, but quite the contrary: Jews are the primary thing (reishis) and the nations of the world were created for their sake….  Rather, the reason is that this is the way the Holy One, blessed be He, ordered things, that this is how things need to be in the time of exile.

Although in certain matters (monetary cases, taxes, and the like) “the law of the land is the law”, yet this does not infringe upon matters of Torah and Mitzvos, the soul, and also does infringe on the bodies and the physicality (and materiality) of a Jew, for he always remains primary (reishis) and above the nations of the world.  The command that “the law of the land is the law” is not because he is in a state of servitude to the nations of the world, but because this is what Hashem decreed to be the state of affairs in exile (“because of our sins [we were exiled from our land]”).

In other words, the Rebbe is quite clearly stating that we are not now in a state of servitude to the nations in any respect.  This is explained as having always been the case, however it is clear that the Rebbe is indicating that a new threshold has been reached: while the Jewish people have always been in essence above servitude to the nations, this was not something that was perceptible in the world (a world of persecution and suffering for the Jewish people, both materially and spiritually).  But now it is possible to recognize that although we and the world still operate in the natural way, the Jewish people are not in a state of servitude to the nations of the worlds.

This is evident in a simple sense (freedom to fulfill Torah and Mitzvos in every country where Jews live), as the Rebbe points out in the sicha.  It is also referring to something deeper (and not explained explicitly in the sicha).  According to Chassidus, the “nations of the world” (which are numbered as 70 according to Torah) refer to our midos, our natural responses to what we understand according to our human intellect which is informed by the physical world we inhabit.  Servitude to the nations of the world, according to Chassidus, means that a person cannot escape the feelings and emotions generated by his worldly outlook.  To be free of servitude to the nations means: although one still perceives the world as operating in the natural manner (according to “nature” rather than Torah) one is not bound to this perception, and in fact one is free to understand things according to Torah and to have feelings and emotions generated by Torah rather than the “way of nature”.

As an example: a person has a lack of income, the “nations of the world” tell him that he must cut down on the amount he gives to tzedaka, and work more hours, including on Shabbos, in order to generate more income.  The Torah says that he should increase the amount he gives to tzedaka and to be careful not to work on Shabbos.  Servitude to the nations of the world means that even though he knows what Torah says, nonetheless he feels forced to cut back on tzedaka and to work on Shabbos–he is enslaved to the outlook of the natural world.  To be freed from this servitude means that not only does he not feel “forced” to do these things, but on the contrary he can actually feel the need to give additional tzedaka. He has been liberated from the natural perspective, even though he continues to perceive the world as operating in a natural manner.

We still see a natural world, but we are now free to relate to that world in the way that Torah instructs — without feeling compulsion from the nations of the world (from without or from within).  This is the first stage of the Messianic Era.

13) Kuntres Rosh Hashono, 5752

13) Kuntres Rosh Hashono, 5752

Released a few days in advance of Rosh Hashono, the discourse begins with the verse from the prophet Yeshaya: “On that day a great shofar will be sounded, and the ones who are lost in the land of Ashur and the ones who are pushed away in the land of Mitzrayim, will come and prostrate themselves to Hashem on the Holy Mountain in Yerushalayim.”

The Rebbe asks a few questions on this verse: What is special about a “great shofar”? Why does it say that the shofar “will be sounded” without specifying who will be sounding it — it seems as though it will be sounded on its own?

The shofar here is explained in spiritual terms: the cry of the innermost point in the heart which is above intellect. This cry draws down the corresponding level from Above, meaning the Supernal Will which transcends the level of Chochma (usually translated as “wisdom”).

There is a different verse that describes the shofar as being sounded by Hashem, but that verse refers only to a “shofar” and not a “great shofar”.  But the “great shofar” of the future is sounded from a level higher than any of Hashem’s names!

Also at Matan Torah there was the sound of a shofar, but not a “great shofar” — the shofar of the future will be even greater.  The reason, given in the name of the Mitteler Rebbe, is that at the time of Matan Torah the entire Jewish people were in a state of closeness with G-dliness קירוב לאלקות and therefore a “regular” shofar was sufficient to awaken their hearts.  But the shofar of the future, of the true and complete Geulah, has to reach the “lost” and the “pushed away”, who are far from G-dliness, and therefore in order to reach them requires the “great shofar”. This also explains why it send that it will be sounded “by itself” — because in order to awaken those who are so far from any interest or recognition of G-dliness will require a cry from Above, by itself, without any awakening from below at all. Now, on every Rosh Hashono, we sound a regular shofar, meaning that through our effort we awaken and draw down from Above.  But the great shofar of the future is drawn down by itself without any effort from below.

However, there is a question: we find that the great shift of the future is likened to our sounding of the shofar on Rosh Hashono through our own effort — they couldn’t be more different! The Rebbe explains it by connecting it to the original Rosh Hashono, at the Creation of the world, which preceded any effort from below (since “below” did not yet exist), and what this teaches us in our avoidah:

The shofar is narrow at one end and wide at the other. This reflects our cry from the narrow side, the limitations we find ourselves in.  Just like the way that a poor man’s prayer is more potent and heartfelt and more readily accepted, so, too, the cry that comes from the “narrow” limitations that challenge us.  And there is nothing more “narrow” and limiting than to be lost in Ashur or pushed away in Mitzrayim, so the “great shofar” of the future that is sounded “by itself” in order to awaken those distant individuals is indeed similar to our shofar.

But beyond that, it turns out that this itself — the very lowly and distant state of the lost and pushed away — is the cause of such a lofty revelation as the “great shofar”! And this is in fact the reason that Hashem created such places, and caused a Jew to be exiled there.  When these places cause an awakening of the “great shofar”, not only are the Yidden in those places elevated to a higher level, but these places themselves (the lowliest places of exile) are also elevated.

How does this explanation guide us in our avoidas Hashem (since the lost and pushed away are not consciously serving Hashem)?  Says the Rebbe: even one whose avoidah is complete בשלימות can learn from this: if he contemplates the loftiness of the Ohr Ein Sof then even his “true avoidah” is lacking and considered a sin; therefore, he feels himself to be “lost” and “pushed away”, and through this the revelation of the “great shofar” is awakened and drawn down.  Since he recognizes and feels that the Revelations are drawn down not by his own avoidah, but rather by Hashem’s chesed — it is like the shofar that is sounded by itself with no awakening from below at all.

The Rebbe then adds, in the name of his father-in-law the Previous Rebbe, that this “great shofar” awakens the “innermost point” of every Yid, and every single one (including the lost and pushed away) will want to go out of golus and go to Yerushalayim and prostrate themselves to Hashem, because this is the true desire of every Yid.  Meaning, that unlike Yetzias Mitzrayim when the desire to leave came from Above, in the future Geulah it will be the desire of Yisroel to come to Yerushalayim — the awakening from Above of the “great shofar” is only the means by which the true desire of Yisroel is revealed. Thus, the avoidah will in fact be their own, only that for the truly “lost” and “pushed away” the avoidah will come after the great shofar which will awaken their true desire (which was drawn down from Above by itself).

The instruction for us is:

“… At the end of the time of golus when only a few moments remain before that day when the great shofar will be sounded [and more than this, as regards several inyonim the inyan of “the great shofar will be sounded” has already begun, as understood from the words of my father-in-law, and particularly that since the time he wrote that until now many years have passed, and how much moreso in the recent times when we saw that there are a number of individuals who were at first in a situation of lost and pushed away, r”l, had an awakening of tshuva through the sounding of the “great shofar”*] there needs to be the avoidah of Bittul. This is the awareness and feeling that everything that is accomplished through his avoidah, both as regards himself and as regards others, is not due to his own virtues, but rather it had been given from Above.  Such a feeding will not cause a weakening in his avoidah, but to the contrary, this getting will cause his avoidah to be stronger.  Because when his avoidah drives grin his own existence, it is limited — his “maximum” בכל מאודך is his own limited maximum.  But when he feels that his avoidah is not through his own power but rather from G-dliness, then he goes out from his own limited existence and his avoidah is above measurement and limitation.”

The Rebbe concludes that this has to be drawn into physicality גשמיות, and it is understood that whatever was done until now is insufficient (after all — we just learned that we can access the unlimited in our avoidah!). The awakening of the “great shofar” has to be in a way that every Yid, including the lost and pushed away, will come to prostrate himself to Hashem on the Holy Mountain in Yerushalayim, in the simple sense, through Moshiach Tzidkeinu.  Meaning: we don’t rest until every Yid is part of the Geulah, until every Yid recognizes Moshiach, until every Yid reveals and acts upon his true desire to leave golus and go to Yerushalayim!

*This maamor was originally said after the awakening that followed the Six Day War.

Parshas Nitzavim, 5751: The Intrinsic Connection

The Rebbe brings out from a year where Rosh Hashana falls out on Monday and Tuesday an emphasis on the special value of the avodah of Yidden.  The world was created perfect, but it was a limited level of perfection, and it is only through the avodah of Yidden — an infinite neshoma enclothed in a limited physical body — that the world can transcend itself and achieve a higher level of perfection.  This is the idea, discussed in other sichos, of 10 and 11, where 10 is perfection and 11 transcends that original perfection.

The Rebbe also returns to the concept mentioned in last weeks sicha, that a Jew’s connection to Hashem is intrinsic and not dependent on his performance of Torah and Mitzvos.  Torah and Mitzvos simply serve to reveal  his intrinsic connection.  The Rebbe says that by emphasizing a Jew’s essential connection to Hashem this serves to in turn bring out a greater commitment to Torah and Mitzvos–because in truth a Jew really only does Torah and Mitzvos because this is an expression of his true nature.  In other words, we remove all aspects of fear of punishment and we find that he will do mitzvos even more enthusiastically!

And, as the Alter Rebbe said, that Moshiach’s arrival would be publicized in the newspapers, the Rebbe states:

May the Redemption come immediately, indeed, may it be that it has already come. For the newspapers have already written about Moshiach’s coming — may they continue to write more and may these articles be in the past tense for Moshiach’s coming will already be a reality.

[Ki] Savo 5751: Yisroel, “First Fruits” of the World

The midrash says that there are two “firsts”, Yisroel and the Torah, and we don’t know which came first.  Until we see that in the Torah it states “command bnei Yisroel”, “say to Bnei Yisroel” , now we know that Yisroel came first.  This is the concept of Bikkurim.

The Torah commands us that upon entering and settling Eretz Yisroel, we are to offer Bikkurim, the “first fruits” of the 7 species of which Eretz Yisroel is praised.  These first fruits, the initial blossoming of the seven species, are brought to the Beis Hamikdash in Yerushalayim, placed in a basket, presented to the Cohen and given to Hashem.

It turns out, then, that these first fruits achieve the highest purpose that is attainable — to be offered to Hashem in the Beis Hamikdash.  The purpose of having fruits in the world, of the world itself, is represented by the these fruits being offered to Hashem.  Eating them, enjoying them — all this is secondary.  That a Yid gives of his finest to Hashem — this is the real purpose.

The Yidden, the Torah tells us, are the Bikkurim of the world.  They are the purpose and ultimate reason for the world’s existence.  Not only did Hashem consult with the souls of the Yidden before creating the world, but the world was (and is) created for the Yidden.  The world is created by Hashem through the Torah, but for the sake of the Yidden.  The connection of Yidden to Hashem is direct, with actually no need for the Torah at all (because the Yid is also one with the Torah).  Then why is the Torah so critical?

The role of the Torah is that through keeping the Torah a Jew reveals that he is connected with Hashem in his very essence.  The Torah does not exist without Yidden to keep it, but a Yid exists even before he encounters the Torah.  And even if he is not keeping the Torah, chas v’sholom, he is still connected in his very essence with Hashem Himself.

The Rebbe elaborates at length in this sicha on the importance of each and every Yid, that a Jew’s true reality is that he is one with the Holy One, blessed be He, which is concealed until it is revealed by his becoming Bikkurim.  And the Torah says that the Bikkurim need to be in a container — this is the body which contains the neshoma.  One who has sufficient finacial means brings a container made of precious materials.  But one who does not have the means brings a simple container and this simple container is kept by the Cohen.  This shows that even the lowly material of which his container is made is elevated to be “before Hashem”.

The container [טנא] hints at the letters of Torah (טעמים, נקודות, אותיות), meaning that the neshoma’s “container” — the body — is really the letters of Torah which become the thought, speech and action of a Jew.  Even if this relates to “lowly things” (he only understands Torah in a physical way), this body is still a container for his Bikkurim and is elevated to be “before Hashem”.  Thus, every thought, every word of speech, and every action of a Yid is important and is in fact the very purpose of the existence of the world!  As regards this importance, the Rebbe says:

The preciousness of every Jew before the Holy One, blessed be He is unconditional, he does not need to be a Torah scholar, one who learns Torah or one who fulfills the Mitzvos or the like, but rather “anyone who wants [can approach the King when he is in the field (Elul)]” is able to greet the King, who “greets everyone with a pleasant countenance”.

This closeness to Hashem should cause one, especially in Elul, to take an accounting of his thought, speech, and action, because:

…even one thought, speech, or action which seems of little importance compared to the rest of his thoughts, speech, or actions–but even this thought, speech, or action is a part of his Bikkurim which are brought to the Beis Hamikdash, before Hashem your G-d — and the Cohen who will be in those days  is careful with his every movement — certainly [the Jew] will make every effort that even the smallest things, every detail of his conduct, will be done with the complete attention and carefulness.

In conjunction with this: being that we are in essence one with Hashem, when we have an awakening from below, we cause an awakening from Above–and in this way we are able to bring the Geulah!  In the Rebbe’s words:

Since a Jew is “one” with the Holy One, blessed be He…he has no private will, but rather in the words of the Mishnah (Pirkei Avos) — “make your will like His will in order that He will make His will like your will” — the will of the Holy One, blessed be He is the will of a Yid and the will of a Yid is the will of the Holy One, blessed be He.  Thus, it is in the power of every Jew to (influence the Holy One, blessed be He and to) nullify the golus and to bring the Geulah immediately!

If we want Hashem to bring an end to this Golus, who brings it about? Yidden, since we are one with Him!  And if we will have a true will to end Golus רצון אמיתי — then at that same moment Hashem will automatically bring an end to the Golus!

 

Ki Seitze Insight: Mouths Filled with Laughter — the Future is Now!

Near the end of the sicha (ois 15) the Rebbe makes an astonishing statement that demands our attention.  The verse in Tehillim (126b) states “then our mouths will be filled with laughter” (אז ימלא שחוק פינו), upon which the gemara (Brochos 31a) comments:

Rabbi Yoḥanan said in the name of Rabbi Shimon ben Yoḥai: One is forbidden to fill his mouth with mirth in this world, [as long as we are in exile (ge’onim)], as it is stated: “then will our mouths fill with laughter and our lips with song” (Psalms 126:2). When will that joyous era arrive? When “they will say among nations, the Lord has done great things with these” (Psalms 126:2).

The emphasis is that “then” is referring to the time of the future Geuloh (and thus it is explained throughout Torah, including Toras HaChassidus of all of the Rebbeim, including the Rebbe).  The time to “fill our mouths with laughter” is at the time of the Geuloh.  Now comes the amazing chiddush of the Rebbe:

“Then (in the time to come, l’asid lavo) we will fill our mouths with laughter.”, which, in our generation, the Nossi of the generation, my father-in-law the Rebbe, whose second name is Yitzchok, from the root meaning laughter and joy, and he is the 8th Nossi from the Baal Shem Tov (8 being the gematria of “then” in our posuk אז), the inyan of “we will fill our mouths with laughter” is done (not in the future tense, “then”, but rather) in the present tense.

A verse that is universally explained to be referring to the time of the Geuloh, some time in the future, is now explained by the Rebbe to be something that is occurring (or can occur) now!  To understand better what this means (in addition to the clear implication that this aspect of Geuloh is no longer something reserved for the future) let us take the Rebbe’s own description of what it means to “fill our mouths with laughter”.

If we look at the maamor “Ani L’Dodi” printed as a Kuntres in Elul, 5750 (one year before our sicha), we will find that the Rebbe offers us the following definition of our posuk:

A smiling countenance [referring to the moshol of the King in the field] — this is the essential pleasure תענוג עצמי (which the Holy One, blessed be He, takes in Yidden), the inyan of the circus קניגיא [which Hashem will make in the times of Geuloh for the pleasure of the Tzaddikim] when we will see in a revealed way that all the war of good and evil (in this world) is only for laughter and pleasure, “then we will fill our mouths with laughter”.

This means that during Golus we are unable to properly realize that our struggle with evil is really a staged battle from which Hashem takes great pleasure and from which we ourselves will take great pleasure, and therefore we cannot “fill our mouths with laughter” because our battle against evil seems very real, the existence of the evil is an ever-present danger.  But the time of Geuloh brings with it a new revelation: that this is all part of the Divine plan for Divine pleasure, and realizing this properly allows us to “fill our mouths with laughter” despite our struggles with the evil inclination.  Evil is no longer real, but simply part of the “game” of this world (as the Rebbe explains earlier in this sicha regarding “when you go out to war ‘on’ your enemies” — higher than and above your enemies (to the point that they don’t have a real existence)).  Thus, when the Rebbe says that we can already fill our mouths with laughter, it means that we are capable of properly grasping and internalizing the true nature of our struggle with our “enemies”.  When one realizes this, he will not have any fear but rather renewed motivation to overcome these “enemies”, since he can fully recognize that this is all a Divinely ordained “circus” and not a real battle at all.

“Then” is “now”, and we can truly live Geuloh!

Ki Seitze, 5751: Tasting the Reward Now

Two parshas are read this Shabbos: Ki Seitze (“when you go out to war on your enemy”) in the morning, and in the afternoon the first section of “Ki Savo” (“when you will enter the land to inherit it and to settle it…”).  Thus, on one single Shabbos, we have two seemingly opposite lessons from the Torah: going to war against an enemy (the avodah of golus), and settling the land (the reward of the Messianic Era).

Since everything is guided by Divine Providence, we have to learn from this combination: that we can be a situation of doing the avodah of making a war on the enemy in the time of golus and yet at the same time be in a completely “settled” state, which is the reward for this avodah.

How can we accomplish this?

Through the knowledge that in essence a Jew is completely above the existence of any opposition — Hashem “consulted” with the souls of the Jewish people before creating the world, showing that we are in fact one with Hashem and above the world.  If so, then why would we agree to the creation of a world that contains “enemies” whom we will have to overcome in war? Because Hashem did not want to give us “bread of shame” (unearned reward), and therefore He created a world for us to earn the reward.  And our neshomos agreed.  In order to realize Hashem’s desire for a dwelling place in the lower realms, there must be lower realms where there is the possibility of war.  But the truth of the matter is: a Jew in his source, and even as he is enclothed in a physical body in this world — remains higher than the concept of any opposition.

When a Jew is aware that this is the true reality, then even his “going out to war against the enemy” is infused with the aspect of “settling the land”.  “Settling the land” implies Eretz Yisroel, a land which “desired (רצתה) to do perform the will of her Creator” — where there is no longer a “war” to fulfill Torah and Mitzvos, but rather one overcomes his evil inclination with ease.

The Rebbe adds that:

“the main thing –that the avodah is amidst ease and comfort in the simple sense, ease of the soul and ease of the body, which is achieved through the Holy One, blessed be He, giving to every single Jew all that he needs materially and spiritually, and with abundance.”

This includes all that a Jew needs in order to do the avodah itself, and after that as a reward for the avodah that he performs.  And this material (and spiritual) reward is a sampling of the physical reward that will be in the Messianic Era.  Not only that, but the Rebbe makes a revolutionary statement, that the verse “then their mouths will be filled with laughter” (explained by Chazal and Chassidic discourses as referring to the Time to Come) is applicable now!  “Then” is “now” in the present tense.  The rewards of the Time to Come, the Messianic Age, are available to us now.  Although they are “locked in a box”, every Jew can open the box whenever he wants.  How?  By performing one more mitzvah.  As the saying goes “the future is now” — but by the Rebbe this is not merely a slogan, it is the reality!

All this receives greater emphasis since the year the sicha was said was 5751 (תנש”א), the letters of which spell out the command “you will be exalted”, referring to Moshiach.  This is “both as regards the revelation and coming of Moshiach” (the distinction between these to concepts will be explained separately, G-d willing) “and as regards the wedding of Knesses Yisroel and the Holy One, blessed be He in the Messianic Era, and in the words of the [midrash] Yalkut Shimoni: ‘the year Melech HaMoshiach is revealed in him…he stands on the roof of the Beis Hamikdash …and says humble ones, the time of your redemption has arrived’.”  The Rebbe adds in the footnote the continuation of this Midrash: “And if you don’t believe, see via my light…at the same time the Holy One, blessed be He, shines the light of Melech Hamoshiach and of Yisroel and they all go to the light of Melech Hamoshiach and of Yisroel, and they [the nations of the world] come and lick the dust from beneath the feet of Melech Hamoshiach…”

We will make a divergence from the main body of the sicha in order to understand this.  It is important to note what the Midrash is telling us: that there will come a time following the initial revelation of Moshiach (“Moshiach is revealed in him” means the revelation of the soul of Moshiach in the one who has been anointed by Hashem to be Moshiach, explained in our post on Parshas Naso) when nonetheless the Jewish people will not be prepared to believe him when he says that indeed the time of their redemption has arrived.  How do they get out of their own lack of confidence in themselves and in the words of Moshiach?  The Midrash says “see via my light” (ראו באורי שזרח עליכם), that through Moshiach’s light, meaning wisdom — the Torah that Moshiach teaches — they will be able to see the reality that Moshiach is describing to them.

Through our effort to learn and understand the Torah that Moshiach is revealing to us, we will merit to see the reality that he is describing to us: the reality that “the time of your redemption has arrived”!

Ki Seitze: Adding “the” Mitzvah

The statement of the Rambam is well-known: every individual should consider that the fate of the world is in his hands. By performing a single mitzvah, one person can tilt the scales of judgement and bring salvation to the entire world.

In the Sicha of Ki Seitze 5751, the Rebbe describes how the reward for Mitzvos is, metaphorically, locked in a chest. This chest is in the possession of all Jews.*

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“Not only that, but he has the ability and the permission to open the chest (and to reveal the reward) any time he wants — by adding “one mitzvah” more, that through this [mitzvah] ‘he will tilt the scales…'”

Those who learn the Sichos are already familiar with this Rambam (the Rebbe showed an enthusiasm for this Rambam over the years). But, in general, the Rebbe adds a new dimension in his use of sources, and especially regarding the Sichos of Nun-Alef/Nun-Beis we should be on the lookout for new dimensions of understanding.

We offer the following insight:

The Rebbe here separates the words “one mitzvah” מצוה אחת from the rest of the quote from the Rambam, and the Rebbe adds the words “by adding one more mitzvah” (עי”ז שמוסיף עוד מצוה אחת).

To say “adding one more mitzvah” (עי”ז שמוסיף עוד מצוה אחת) implies something quite different than the Rambam’s wording of “performing one mitzvah” (עשה מצוה אחת).  Adding one more (עוד) implies a mitzvah that was not already fulfilled, that there is “one more mitzvah” that we can “add” which will bring the revelations of the true and complete Geulah.

In truth, there are many Mitzvos we haven’t fulfilled in actuality, since we lack the ability to bring korbonos. But there is one mitzvah that has not been fulfilled — and is possible to fulfill today — and it is a mitzvah fulfilled by the Jewish people as a whole.*

This is the mitzvah mentioned in last week’s parsha, Parshas Shoftim: the mitzvah to appoint a King שום תשים עליך מלך. Although it was fulfilled in earlier generations, our generation has not properly fulfilled it. More than that, the shleimos of this mitzvah was not reached through the appointing of Shaul Hamelech or Dovid Hamelech; rather its shleimos is the appointing of Melech haMoshiach — which is the responsibility of our generation, specifically!

This interpretation fits perfectly with what the Rebbe says here: because the opening of the “chest” that contains the reward of our Mitzvos (the revelation of Ohr Ein Sof in the world, as explained in the Sicha) is related to Yemos haMoshiach, and it is self-understood that in order for it to be Yemos haMoshiach there must be a Moshiach, whom the Jewish nation has a mitzvah to appoint over themselves, accepting his kingship.

So look at this portion of the Sicha again, and see how the Rebbe is saying that the “one mitzvah” which we can add, which will bring the lofty revelations we are longing for, is the mitzvah of appointing a King מינוי מלך!

Of course, this is a Mitzvah that falls on the shoulders of the entire Jewish nation as a whole, so it’s not enough that you and I and the bochurim in 770 accept the Rebbe as King, Melech haMoshiach, but requires the acceptance of his kingship by the Jewish nation. This is, lechoira, also the meaning of the Rebbe’s words in Noach 5752: the Geulah doesn’t depend on anything besides Moshiach himself.

אין הדבר תלוי אלא במשיח צדקינו עצמו

All that remains is to appoint the King!


*) It is possible, though not necessary, to say that the Rebbe means here the collective body2018-08-22 20.33.38 of all Yidden rather than each individual: “The reward that until now is “closed in a chest” is already found in the possession of the “worker” (each and every Jew).”