14) Kuntres Chof Marcheshvan, 5752: The Ohr Chodosh

14) Kuntres Chof Marcheshvan, 5752: The Ohr Chodosh

This maamor was edited and printed in honor of the birthday of the Rebbe Rashab, and it was handed out personally by the Rebbe in 770.*. It discusses deep inyonim of Chassidus, and demands attentive learning.  But here, we will focus only on one point from the maamor, which is overtly relevant to the concepts of Moshiach and Geuloh found in Dvar Malchus.

The Rebbe discusses here the concept of the Divine Light (Ohr) that preceded the tzimtzum (Tzimtzum being  the contraction of light by which it becomes possible to create limited, finite worlds).  This Ohr that existed prior to the tzimtzum possessed two dimensions: unlimited and limited.  These dimensions became the source for the two kinds of Divine revelation that exist now: Sovev (surrounding light, which cannot be grasped and thus is not revealed in the world), and Memaleh (filling light, which is limited and can this be grasped by the lower creatures).

Additionally: through the mitzvos we perform now, there will be the revelation of a new light in the time to come,  an Ohr Chodosh.  This Ohr Chodosh will bring about a new heavens and a new Earth (as stated by the novi Yeshaya).

The Rebbe clarifies: if we are referring to the revelation of the unlimited light that illumined before the tzimtzum (which is presently not revealed in the worlds), this is not truly new (אין זה חידוש אמיתי) — this Ohr was already revealed before the Tzimtzum, and afterwards was concealed from the world.   Thus, when this Ohr will return and be revealed again, it will not truly be something new.  The truly new Ohr Chodosh, which will generate a new heavens and a new Earth, is Ohr that is drawn down by our fulfilling Torah and Mitzvos now, an Ohr that didn’t exist even before the Tzimtzum!

In these words the Rebbe is giving us a small glimpse at the great significantly of the avoidah of a Yid in performing Torah and Mitzvos — it is a complete chiddush, and draws down an Ohr Chodosh that never existed previously!  Here, in the oisios of Chassidus, the Rebbe is explaining the famous words of 28 Nissan (“I’ve done all that I can do, now you must do all that you can do to bring the Geuloh…”) — because it is the avoidah of a Yid, davka, to make this lowest world a “dira b’tachtonim” that draws down the Ohr Chodosh, which is the revelation of the Geuloh.

(Note that  in the kuntres published for Rosh Chodesh Kislev of this year, the Rebbe will elaborate further on this subject, bringing out the point that the avoidah of the Yid is even greater than the Ohr Chodosh that comes from his avoidah!)

* Some want to suggest that perhaps the personal distribution of this maamor was  (in addition to the lofty inyonim discussed in the maamor) to serve as a “distraction”, so to speak, from the amazing revelations found in the Sicha “Beis Rabbeinu sh’b’Bovel”, which was printed the same week.  Well known is the principle that the first luchos were given with a big “shturem”, but had to be shattered.  The final luchos, to the contrary, were brought down without lightning, thunder, and the sound of the Shofar — but they endured.  In our case, Chassidim were so excited to learn a maamor that the Rebbe had handed to them personally, from his holy hand, that they didn’t have time to look closely at the other kuntres (“Beis Rabbeinu…”) that was unceremoniously dropped  off in 770.  (But what can a goat understand from gazing at the moon…?)

 

Chayei Sara: The Message Beyond the Sicha

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)

Chayei Sara 5752: Shlichus is Finished, Now We Must Greet Moshiach

This sicha was said on Shabbos during the annual Kinus Hashluchim gathering in 5752 (1991), and primarily addresses the task of shlichus.

Standing by the beginning and opening of the Kinus Hashluchim — emissaries of my father-in-law the Rebbe, Nosi Doreinu, in all corners of the globe — we must mention, first of all, the foundation [of the Shlichus] and to verbalize the task of the shluchim in our generation in general, and especially — the new element which has been added especially in the most recent time to the work of shlichus: to greet Moshiach Tzidkeinu in the true and complete Geuloh. [Emphasis in the original]

The Rebbe proceeds to explain that periodically there a new element (“chiddush”) is added to the Shlichus, which becomes the gate through which all the other elements ascend, and in our generation and in this time “the special shlichus of our time: to greet Moshiach Tzidkeinu.”  [it should be noted that in the original the expression is “lekabel pnei Moshiach Tzidkeinu”, which can be translated as “to greet”, but literally the words convey the meaning “to accept the face of Moshiach”.]

Then the Rebbe explains at length what a Shliach is, according to halacha, and how in fact every Jew is a shliach of the Holy One, blessed be He, to transform the world into a dwelling place for Him through Torah and Mitzvos, which is the avodah of unifying the spiritual and the physical.  The concept of a shliach receives emphasis on parshas Chayei Sara where the Torah goes on at great length about the first Shliach, Eliezer the servant of Avraham, to make the shidduch of Rivka and Yitzchok, which itself is the basis for the unification of the spiritual and the physical, the soul and the body, self-nullification (“bitul”) and individual being (“yesh”).  (This can be addressed in another post, with Hashem’s help.)  The Rebbe then returns to the subject of greeting Moshiach:

From this it is understood, that the only thing which now remains in the avodah of the shlichus is: to greet Moshiach Tzidkeinu in actuality, so that he [Moshiach] will be able to fulfill his shlichus in actuality and to take all of Israel out of the golus!

In other words: in order for Moshiach to be able to fulfill his task of taking us out of exile, we need to “greet” him, to “accept his face”, meaning to recognize him and acknowledge that he is the one we follow to get out of golus!

In the name of the Rebbe Rayatz, we are already “standing ready” to greet Moshiach, tshuva has already been done, all the avodah is finished, but yet the Geulah has not yet come.  Thus, there must be something else that we must do.

What is in fact required of us? Our Sages explain 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.

And this is the task of the International Conference of Shluchim: First and foremost, to make a public statement that this is the task confronting us — to prepare ourselves to accept Moshiach. Every aspect of our service and every dimension of our activity must be directed to this goal.

Every shliach should realize that he is responsible to explain the above concepts to all the individuals in his city. He must convey to them, in a manner which they can understand and relate to, the imminence of Moshiach’s coming and the need to study about Moshiach and the Era of the Redemption.

This sicha makes clear that not only are we dependent on Moshiach, but that — Moshiach is dependent on us!  He cannot lead us out of exile unless we recognize him and accept his leadership.  [And, as the Rebbe mentions in other sichos, the attribute of Kingship (“Malchus”) is only awakened to accept the Crown (“Kesser”) due to the expressed desire of the people, and the implications are easily understood.]

How do we fulfill this shlichus?  By conveying theses concepts in a manner which the other person can understand.  While the concepts like “Malchus“, “Kesser” and “pnimiyus Atik” may not understood by someone who hasn’t studied pnimiyus haTorah, but the concepts of a nation appointing and accepting a King are surely understood by all.  And the examples are many.

The key to it all: learning and teaching.  As the Rebbe expresses numerous times in the Dvar Malchus sichos, that the direct way to bring the Geulah is by learning about the subject.  And in this particular sicha the Rebbe adds that this is speeded up by making a resolution to learn the entire Torah Ohr and Likkutei Torah of the Alter Rebbe.  Understanding Moshiach and Geuloh enables one to recognize the Moshiach.

Nothing else remains to be done.

Vayera 5752: To Truly Desire Divine Revelation

This sicha begins with the story of the Rebbe Rashab as a young boy.  On his 4th or 5th birthday he was brought to his grandfather, the Tzemach Tzedek, to receive a blessing.  When he entered his grandfather’s room he burst out in tears and said “In cheder, we learned that G-d revealed Himself to Avraham.  Why does He not reveal Himself to me?”

The Tzemach Tzedek responded:When a Jew [alternatively, ‘When a tzaddik’] who is ninety-nine years old recognizes that he must undergo [the spiritual service of] circumcision, he is worthy of having G-d reveal Himself to him.”

Both the question and the answer contain clues to the process of redemption.

The mitzvah of circumcision is a unique covenant with the Creator which is brought about by removing the foreskin, the “orlah“, an impure manifestation that obscures.  Although none of us is on the level of Avraham Avinu’s Divine service, we learn from him that even if a person has reached the 99th level of perfecting himself (corresponding to his 99 years at the time), he must take the next step to realize that there is a greater level of Divine revelation which can only be revealed by circumcising himself — removing the orlah which obscures that revelation (even if it may be very subtle and barely noticeable to him).  The goal is not “self-perfection” but rather G-dly revelation.  The orlah blocks this G-dly revelation from being complete, and must be removed even at the age of 99 years (and how much more so before then).

In order to accomplish this, we must tap into the same yearning, the same sense  that something critical is lacking, which caused the young Rebbe Rashab to burst into tears that G-d had not revealed Himself to him.  The goal of all of our effort and service of Hashem is to bring about this Divine revelation.  No matter what we have accomplished, no matter how far we have come (whether as individuals or the Jewish people as a whole), until we bring about this revelation of G-dliness we have not accomplished the goal.  Even if we have finished the Divine service of golus, we still need to bring about the revelation of G-dliness in the world, to bring into actuality the true and complete Geuloh.  To do this we need to feel a yearning for Hashem’s Divine revelation.

This is particularly evident in the mitzvah of milah (circumcision) which is “sealed in our flesh”, connecting the Divine command with the material body of each Jew.  Similarly, the Divine revelation of which we speak cannot remain spiritual, it must come down to the world, to the soul as it is enclothed in a material body.

The Rebbe explains that all of this is connected with the revelation of the spark of Moshiach which is contained in every Jew — that each one of us must reveal this spark of Moshiach which is within us.  Revealing it means bringing it out in our consciousness, in our actions, and in our influence on the world.  A person revealing his spark of Moshiach is a “personal redemption” and all of the “personal redemptions” come together to become the true and complete Geuloh.  How do we speed this up?  By acting as a shliach, meaning an “agent”, utilizing all 10 powers of soul (3 of intellect, 3 of emotion, 4 of action) to bring about G-d’s revelation in the world, primarily by learning and spreading the teachings of Chassidus in way where they are understood and internalized.  This is a preparation for the inner bond with Hashem that will be revealed.

Furthermore, we are at a stage where there are no more obstacles to this revelation.  The Rebbe Rashab, when he founded the Yeshiva Tomchei Temimim, spoke about the two stages before the redemption which are hinted at in Psalm 89: those who are the “enemies of Hashem”, enemies of G-d and His Torah (the maskilim and reformers of his generation); and those who “scorn the footsteps of Your anointed one (Moshiach)”, meaning Torah-observant Jews who have little faith in Moshiach (complete sicha of the Rebbe Rashab).  The Rebbe Rashab noted then that the students of Tomchei Temimim are the “soldiers of the House of David” who fight these wars.

In our sicha of Parshas Vayera, the Rebbe says that even this has been completed, indicating that there are no longer any real “enemies of Hashem” among the Jewish people (only those who are like a “captured child” (תינוק שנשבה) raised by gentiles, not responsible for how he was raised), and similarly (and a greater chiddush)  — there is no longer any real opposition to Moshiach.  Rather, we have entered the stage of Psalm 90 (the Rebbe’s kapital for the year 5751-52) which concludes with the verse “May the pleasantness of G-d our L-rd be upon us, establish for us the work of our hands,” referring to the Holy Temple.

Since we have reached the completion of our Divine service, all that remains is to awaken a yearning for Divine revelation like the young Rebbe Rashab and to act like Avraham Avinu and “circumcise ourselves” — meaning to remove from ourselves anything which obscures the Divine revelation, no matter how subtle it might be.  This, together with learning and teaching Chassidus and fulfilling our shlichus with all powers of our soul, speeds up and brings about the true and complete redemption which can take place immediately!

Lech Lecha 5752: Pick up and Leave

Lech Lecha 5752: Pick up and Leave

Hashem’s instruction to Avraham Avinu “Lech Lecha” 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 Lecha” — 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 Lecha” 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).

Noach “Saw a New World”

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.

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!

Bereishis 5752: No Servitude to the Nations

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.