Video Shiur: Ekev, 5751

Moshiach: What Do We Have to Do?

Chabadinfo.com Exclusive: In the Sicha of Parshas Ekev, the Rebbe explains that the cheshbon tzedek of Elul is that Moshiach must come already ● Learn this week’s Sicha with ChabadInfo.com’s Weekly Shiur of the “Dvar Malchus” Sicha in English, presented by Rabbi Menachem Mendel Lipskier, Mashpia of Mesivta of Melbourne, Australia ● Watch Video

 

Sicha of 20 Menachem Av, 5751

1. Tonight is the night following the fourth day of Parshas Eikev. In accordance with the concept that each of the seven aliyos of the weekly Torah reading are associated with the seven days of the week, today is associated with the fourth aliyah.1 More particularly, since this is the conclusion of the fourth day of the week, the present time is associated with the conclusion of that reading.

Herein we see a connection to the present day, the yahrzeit of a tzaddik [Trans. Note: the Rebbe Shlita’s father, Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Schneerson] who sacrificed his life for the spreading of the Torah and its mitzvos who merited (for not all tzaddikim merit this) to be given the most extreme punishment in this world.

This Torah reading describes the uniqueness of the tribe of Levi. As theRambam writes, this uniqueness is not reserved only for those whose lineage is from that tribe but includes, “each and every person… who the openness of his heart dictates” to rise above the material concerns of this world and make “G‑dhis portion and his inheritance,”2 i.e., to dedicate himself to the study of the Torah and the performance of the mitzvos.

This approach was see through the life of my father. Although the Russian government at that time pressured other Rabbis to issue proclamations declaring their support for the government and their willingness to accept its authority, my father conducted himself as a Rav3 did in previous generations, “teaching Your law to Yaakov, and Your Torah to Yisrael.”4

Furthermore, he did this with mesirus nefesh, challenging the Russian government. In particular, this is reflected in his journey to the Russian capital to receive permission to bake matzos in a kosher manner.5 This journey was successful and they agreed to accept his rulings regarding the kashrus of these matzos. Although this caused financial loss to the government — and that was considered a very serious matter at that time — my father refused to authorize the use of any flour that was not supervised by his mashgichim, mashgichim who would not bend despite the pressure they were subjected to. The matzos which were baked under his supervision were then spread throughout Russia, the country in which most of the Jews of that generation resided.

The punishment which he suffered, exile, is considered equivalent to death and in some respects, more severe than death. Nevertheless, although he knew of the possibility of such punishment, he continued his efforts to spread Yiddishkeit, and furthermore, did so while in exile itself. Moreover, he was recognized for his wisdom by non-Jews, and when they asked him for advice, he also endeavored to influence them to fulfill their seven mitzvos. And to the extent possible at that time, he achieved this.

In this context, we can understand the relevance of verse from the Torah passage connected with the present day, “G‑d designated the tribe of Levi to stand before Him and serve Him… until this present day.” For the relevance of this verse in our contemporary situation, can only be understood within the context of the extended identity of the tribe of Levi as mentioned earlier in the name of the Rambam. For in the Diaspora, the uniqueness of the tribe of Levi is not expressed on the present day. It is expressed on the festivals when theLevites wash the hands of the Priests before they recite the Priestly Blessing. In the Diaspora, however, where most of the Jews are found and where the grave of the Previous Rebbe, the leader of our generation is located, the Priestly Blessing is recited only on festivals. So that it is only through the expanded meaning, that we can see the service of the Levites on “this present day.”

And this is the lesson we should derive: To involve ourselves in the service of spreading Yiddishkeit and the observance of the Torah and its mitzvos withmesirus nefesh. For it was with mesirus nefesh that the Levites served in the Sanctuary and then in the Beis HaMikdash. And so will they serve in the ThirdBeis HaMikdash.6

This was my father’s desire: To spread Yiddishkeit in his own community and throughout the entire Jewish people and to do so with mesirus nefesh. Thus seeing that his yahrzeit and the description of his efforts will motivate others — men, women, and children — to make a similar commitment, will surely bring him satisfaction.

Herein we also see a connection to the tribe of Levi, for in the census of the tribe of Levi were also included infants. From the time that it was clear that they would survive, the children of the tribe of Levi were included in the census.

This relates to Jewish education. A parent must educate his children from their earliest ages. He must be conscious of “the part of G‑d from Above” present within his children’s souls, and therefore dedicate himself to their education withmesirus nefesh. This includes making his children aware that their mission in the world is to be a living example of how one lives in preparation for the construction of the Third Beis HaMikdash, by performing certain activities — e.g., giving tzedakah — which will hasten the construction of that Beis HaMikdash. And by being a living example and speaking to other children with heartfelt words, they will influence them to emulate their conduct.

This process of education must begin “from the time it is clear that the child will survive,” and even before then. This is particularly relevant in the present generation, for in the very near future, we will proceed to greet Mashiach. This will be hastened by the distribution of money to be given to tzedakah, fortzedakah brings the redemption near.

FOOTNOTES
1. The significance of this aliyah is reflected in that there are three aliyos which precede it and three aliyos which follow it. Thus, it is the middle aliyah and relates to the middle vector whichKabbalah explains to be the most important vector. For this reason, we see that when two parshiyos are combined, it is the fourth aliyah which combines them, containing portions of both parshiyos. Herein is also a connection to the Future Redemption which will be the fourth redemption.
2. This verse continues “G‑d is my portion and my cup; You support my lot.” The concept of lots is associated with the service of mesirus nefesh and thus reflects a further connection to my father who displayed great mesirus nefesh in the face of the Russian persecution.
3. In this context, it is said “Who are our kings? Our Rabbis.” This is surely true in regard to a tzaddik, who was held in awe like an actual king.

4. Significantly, this blessing was given to the tribe of Levi. However, since at the conclusion of the blessings which Moshe gave, he included all the tribes together, the potential was granted for the blessings given one tribe to be shared with another.

The blessings which Moshe gave are also connected with the blessings given by Yaakov to his children in Egypt. And it was in Egypt that Yaakov expressed his true qualities, as reflected in the verse, “And Yaakov lived in the land of Egypt.” This was expressed in his self-sacrifice in ensuring that the Egyptians did not make a false deity of him. Although the nations of the world had accepted the belief in G‑d, the Egyptians were “more perverted than all the nations of the world” and would possibly commit such a transgression.For this reason, Yaakov took all the precautions necessary to make sure that the Egyptians did not make him a false deity, even if this meant troubling Pharaoh in regard to helping insure for his burial in Eretz Yisrael. Although Pharaoh was a king — and we are obligated to honor kings — Yaakov troubled him to help in this mission.

5. And the kashrus of the matzos influence a person to eat kosher food throughout the entire year.
6. This refers to the first period of the Era of the Redemption. In the second period of the Era of the Redemption, there are opinions that the service in the Beis HaMikdash will change and the firstborn will become Priests and the Priests will serve as Levites (as theAriZal comments on the phrase “the Priests, the Levites”). There is reason to support this opinion, for then all sins — including the sin of the Golden Calf, for which the service in the Sanctuary was taken from the firstborn — will have been rectified. At present, however, we are still a moment before the redemption, and thus well before this change takes place if in fact it does.
Translation: Sichos In English

Shabbos Nachamu, 5751: Why Golus is So Long

The name of this first Shabbos after the fast of Tisha b’Av is called “Shabbos Nachamu”, named after the haftora in which we read the words “Nachamu, nachamu ami” (“nachmu” meaning “be comforted”).  It is the comforting that follows the  mourning period over the destruction of the first and second Beis Hamikdash.  The true comfort,  says the Rebbe, is the rebuilding of the Third, eternal, Beis Hamikdash.

The reason the haftora says “nachamu” twice is to emphasize that this comforting, meaning the Geulah, is coming in two directions: from Above to below and from below to Above, each of which corresponds to the destruction of one of the Beis HaMikdash.  The first Beis Hamikdash was characterized by great, miraculous revelations from Above, but it was not eternal because these great revelations were not internalized in the world; the second Beis Hamikdash showed the emphasis on the effort from below, and thus it stood longer, but lacking the lofty miracles and G-dly revelation of the first, it, too, was unable to endure.  The third Beis Hamikdash is eternal because it fuses both of these directions into one.  Not only both of them, but a unification of the two into one reality.

An example of this, the Rebbe writes, is the unification of the “new Torah that will come forth from Me” (תורה חדשה מאתי תיצא), the Torah of Moshiach, the highest (unlimited) level of Hashem’s Torah, will be completely integrated with and grasped by human understanding, to the point that the two aspects will be unified.  Unlike today, when our sages say that Hashem says the Torah and when we learn we are repeating after Him, or, conversely “anyone who reads and reviews [Torah], the Holy One reads and reviews after him”, in the future they will be as one.

The Geulah is a revelation of the unlimited, and thus it will occur an in instant.  But that is the revelation from Above.  The other side of the coin, the integration into the world, takes time, just as entering Eretz Yisroel under the leadership of Yehoshua took 14 years to conquer, divide, and settle.  The world must be refined in order to make it into Eretz Yisroel (see the sicha of Parshas Pinchas), and this refinement takes place in golus and thus golus takes a long time.  However,  when the refinement and the golus are finished, and the world integrates the lofty revelations of the Geulah, then the Geulah comes instantly: we enter Eretz Yisroel in its most perfect form, consisting of the land of Ten Nations (for more on this, see Kuntres Between Golus to Geulah) in a complete and instantaneous way, as we see in Parshas Ki Savo that there is no break between “When you will come into the land” and (immediately) “and you will inherit and settle it”, until even the bringing of Bikkurim (first fruits) is immediate, since there will be the fulfillment of the Prophetic promise that “the plowman shall meet the reaper and the treader of the grapes, etc.” (Amos 9:13)

All of this is the idea of the instantaneous revelation of that which is already complete, including the work “from below to above”.  The Rebbe offers an example from the Fifteenth of Av, which was Erev Shabbos in the year the Sicha was said (and also this year, 5776): the Gemara says that there were never such Festivals for the Jewish people as the Fifteenth of Av and Yom Hakippurim.  What happened on the 15th of Av?

It is explained that as a result of the sin of the Meraglim (on Tisha B’Av) and the refusal of the Jewish People to enter the Land of Israel, Hashem decreed that all those between the ages of 20-60 would die in the desert over the course of 40 years.  Each year on Tisha B’Av those who reached the age of 60 would dig graves for themselves, lay down in the graves, and pass away overnight.  In the 40th year the youngest of those who were included in the decree (having reached age 60) did the same.  However, Hashem had nullified the decree, so in the morning they awoke and found themselves alive.Not realizing they had been redeemed, they concluded that they had erred in the date, that it wasn’t yet Tisha B’Av, so the next night they also lay down in their graves, only to wake up the following morning, also.  This repeated itself night after night until the night of the 15th when the moon is full and they realized that they did not make a mistake with the date but rather the decree had been nullified.  Their joy at this realization makes the 15th of Av into a Yom Tov.

The Rebbe asks: We understand that the first year they celebrated on the 15th of Av because only then did they become aware that the decree had been nullified.  But in fact the decree had been nullified six days before on Tisha B’Av, so why do we continue to celebrate every year on the 15th?  The answer is that the joy is due not to the nullification of the decree, but rather to when it became revealed to them, and this revelation occurred on the 15th. (sources)

…the birth of Moshiach is specifically in the moment following the destruction…and not only that, but after he becomes big…the destruction and the golus continue for some time, until even the longest time — as the purpose in this is that there should be the complete perfection of the Geulah both from the side of the “Above” and from the side of “below”, and from both of them together.

The Rebbe points out that our sages say that Moshiach is born on Tisha B’Av, the “nullification of the decree of death” took place on Tisha B’Av, but the Geulah is at that point when Moshiach is revealed to the people, when they themselves grasp what has already happened.  And when they do, there is no need to wait for anything to develop–it is all fully developed.  Thus the day that represents this is the 15th of Av, when the moon is at full revelation (for more on this concept, see the sicha of Parshas Vayishlach, 5752)

From this we understand why the golus continues even after all the revelations from Above have been drawn down: because there must still be “the perfection of the Geulah from the side of ‘below’ and from both [‘Above’ and ‘below’] together”.

If so, what is the way to speed up this process?  What is the “practical directive” from all of this?

The Rebbe says clearly (and not for the first time) that:

There is a special emphasis on adding in the learning of Torah on the subject of the Geulah — both in the revealed aspect of Torah, and especially in the sefer of the Rambam…and also in Pnimiyus Hatorah.  In addition to the fact that in general the study of Pnimiyus Hatorah brings closer the Geulah…there is a special quality in studying those parts of Pnimiyus Hatorah that explain matters of the Geulah.

Through the learning and contemplation of these subjects, we should merit immediately to see the third Geulah and the third Beis Hamikdash in actuality, and really immediately!

Video Shiur: V’Eschanon, 5751

‘Nachamu Nachamu’

Chabadinfo.com Exclusive: In the Sicha of Parshas V’Eschanon, the Rebbe explains the significance of the haftorah ‘Nachamu Nachamu’ ● Learn this week’s Sicha with ChabadInfo.com’s Weekly Shiur of the “Dvar Malchus” Sicha in English, presented by Rabbi Menachem Mendel Lipskier, Mashpia of Mesivta of Melbourne, Australia ● Watch Video

 

End of 11 Menachem Av, 5751

1. A Jew should endeavor to connect everything which occurs in his life with the Torah. In this context, we can find a direct connection between the previous day, the eleventh of Av, and the beginning of last week’s Torah portion (Devarim) which mentions “eleven days journey from Choreb.”

This passage deals with the preparations of the Jews to enter Eretz Yisrael.  Thus, the eleventh of each month reminds us of this. The connection is particularly apparent this month, for the name of the month contains the word Menachem (“comforter”) which relates to the full and complete Redemption. In that era, the Jews will experience true comfort and enter Eretz Yisrael in the ultimate sense.

Similarly, the name “Choreb” reflects a connection to the Torah for Choreb is another name for Mount Sinai, the mountain on which the Torah was given.1 InChassidus, it is explained that eleven refers to a level above the limits of nature which are associated with a set of ten. Thus, for a Jew to relate to the Torah, he must travel an “eleven days journey,” i.e., he must go beyond his natural limits. This is, however, possible for a Jew’s essential nature is above all limits, even the limits of Torah. For as explained in Tana D’bei Eliyahu,2 the Jews’ existence precedes that of all other entities, even the Torah itself.

A further connection to the Torah comes from the fact that today is Tuesday and is thus related to our Sages’ statement, “Good to the heavens and good for the created beings.” This redoubled positive influence is associated with the Torah for all matters that are kiflayim (double) are associated with kiflayim l’toshiah, “double salvation.” And herein is the connection with Torah which is called Toshiah.

Similarly, there is a connection to the redemption in this week’s Torah portion which begins with a description of Moshe’s prayers to enter Eretz Yisrael.Indeed, the very name Vaeschanan (ואתחנן) is numerically equivalent to 515, i.e., Moshe recited 515 prayers entreating G‑d to allow him to enter Eretz Yisrael.3

Although Moshe knew that his place would be taken by Yehoshua who would be the individual who would actually lead the Jews into Eretz Yisrael, Moshe continued to pray until G‑d had to issue an explicit command telling him to cease.

Furthermore, it is highly unlikely that, even after this command, that Moshe actually ceased praying to enter Eretz Yisrael. His desire — and indeed, this is the true desire of every Jew — toenter the land had no limitations and therefore he pursued it with self-sacrifice. Even when G‑d told him to cease praying, his self-sacrifice motivated him to continue.4 One can assume that even as he was standing on Mount Nebo and looking at Eretz Yisrael before his death, he was still praying to enter the land.

There is another related issue which reflects the extent of Moshe’s self-sacrifice. Seemingly, the reason he was not allowed into Eretz Yisrael depended on the people at large and not on his own personal self. Nevertheless, rather than leave his flock in the desert and seek his own personal fulfillment, he remained in the desert together with them.5

There is no need to dwell on the subject longer for Mashiach will surely come at the very next moment,6 and there will be one less moment of exile and one more moment of redemption. And then, we will all enter Eretz Yisrael.

This will be accomplished by the services alluded to in the concluding verse of the Shabbos Haftorah “Zion will be redeemed by judgment and those who return to her, by tzedakah.” Through increasing our study of the Torah and performance of its mitzvos, which as a whole can be described as tzedakah, we will hasten the redemption. G‑d will nullify all the factors which have, for certain unexplicable reasons, enabled the exile to exist until now.

And we will see how the present day, the third day of Parshas Vaeschanan, is connected with the Third Beis HaMikdash, which is waiting in the spiritual realms to descend to this world. At that time, the gates of the Beis HaMikdash which “sunk into the ground” during Jerusalem’s fall will arise. And Moshiach will attach the gates to the building which will descend from heaven.7

This is particularly true because of the influence of Shabbos Chazon, when eachJew saw the Beis HaMikdash. Furthermore, the Berditchever Rebbe uses the analogy of a garment to describe the Third Beis HaMikdash. Not only have we seen the garment, we have put it on, as it were. For this can be figuratively associated with the Previous Rebbe’s custom of wearing his tallis on Tishah B’Av morning8 — although he would remove it before participating in communal prayer. And from “wearing the garment,” we will proceed to the actual Beis HaMikdash. May this take place in the immediate future.

FOOTNOTES
1. This is particularly true since, each day, a Jew should appreciate the giving of the Torah as a present day occurrence and not a matter of past history.
2. Herein there is also a connection to the positive aspects of Menachem Av, for Eliyahu is the prophet of redemption who will announce Moshiach’s coming.
3. Alternatively, 515 could be taken as a reference to the limits of this world. There are seven heavens above our physical earth and seven spaces, the first between the earth and the first of these heavens and then one between each of the heavens themselves. The earth, each of these heavens and each of these spaces are described as being “a five hundred year journey” long. Thus 515 could be interpreted as referring to this entire set of 15 five hundred year journeys. Moshe’s prayer broke through all these limits.
4. Moshe’s objective in prayer was two-fold: not only that he would enter Eretz Yisrael, but that Yehoshua — who shared a close connection with him, “never leaving his tent” — should not suffer any loss. Despite the fact that this was no small objective, he continued to pray without respite.
5. We see a related concept in Torah law. When a teacher is obligated to go into exile, his entire yeshivah is sent into exile together with him. Similarly, when students are exiled, the teacher should accompany them.
6. This is the intent of the phrase “I will await his coming every day,” not only that each day one will await the ultimate coming of Moshiach, but that one will expect that he come on that very day itself.
7. In this manner, we can resolve the seeming contradiction between different sources, some of which say that Moshiachwill build the Beis HaMikdash, while others say that theBeis HaMikdash will descend from heaven. According to the above, both are true. For although the Beis HaMikdash will descend from heaven, by attaching the gates, Moshiachwill perform an activity which the Halachah considers equivalent to building the entire structure.
8. A tallis covers one’s head and the majority of his body, this reflects how he and all his possessions are enclothed in mitzvos.
Translation:  Sichos In English

Devarim 5751: Aquiring the Geulah in the Closed Chest

Several times in these talks of 5751-52 the Rebbe states that the “direct way” to bringing Moshiach is through learning the subjects of Moshiach and Geulah.

Parshas Devarim contains the instruction “do not disturb Moav” (אל תצר את מואב, Devarim 2:9), which is the nation living in one of the three lands “beyond the Yarden river” which were promised to Avraham Avinu and will be inherited in the future.  These lands are called the lands of the Keni, Kenizi,  and Kadmoni (lands of Ammon,  Moav, and Edom (Seir)–see Rashi on Devarim 2:5).

The inheritance of these lands is explained at length in Chassidus as referring to the intellectual faculties (Chochma, Bina) and the super-intellectual level of Kesser (see Lech Lecha 5752, for example), which are part of our spiritual makeup, but we have not “acquired” them yet.  In fact, the names Keni, Kenizi and Kadmoni all contain  the letters of “kinyan” (the letters ק – נ – י), acquisition, hinting that these lofty levels must ultimately be “acquired”–internalized in a way where we have control over them.

With that in mind, note the interesting expression the Rebbe uses in the sicha for parshas Devarim, that all matters of the Geulah have been completed and are “as if in a closed chest”:

…all the matters have been completed, and the Beis Hamikdash stands ready Above, and similarly all the matters–“everything is ready for the feast”, everything is ready as if in a closed chest and they have given the chest and its key to every single Jew.

What makes this noteworthy is the following halacha of the Rambam in chapter 21 of the laws of Mechira (“Selling”, which this year we are learning at the time of parshas Devarim):

RambamMechira21_3

(The “meshichah” mentioned here is the action of lifting an item through which one halachically acquires it)

The Rambam rules that one cannot acquire something if he does not know what he is acquiring!  We cannot acquire the “closed chest” which contains the Geulah until we know what is in it!  Until we know what Moshiach and Geulah are all about, even if “the closed chest” that contains them has been handed to us along with the keys, we need to learn about it in order to “acquire” it, to internalize it as our own.

And if you will ask: but we have the keys, why not just open the chest and we’ll know exactly what’s in it and that satisfies all requirements for kinyan (acquisition)?

Yes, this is true. But the fact is that the chest and the keys have been given over to every Jew, and yet no one has yet seen fit to open the chest and reveal the Geulah; thus, it seems that in order to arouse a Jew to do that he has to be motivated to do so by excitement over what is inside the chest that has been given to him.  How will he be motivated to open the chest?  Through fulfilling the Rebbe’s instruction to learn the subjects of Moshiach and Geulah, to know what is in the chest, and then certainly each one of us will realize the great treasure we have been given and we will rush to open it up — and the sooner the better!

 

Devarim 5751: One More Request for Moshiach

This year, Tisha B’Av falls out on Shabbos.  The fast, together with all other aspects of mourning the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash, are pushed off until the 10th (Sunday).  But the positive aspects of Tisha B’Av remain, which include it being an “auspicious time” (like every fast day) and also the birth of Moshiach.  Therefore, on Shabbos Tisha B’Av we are eating a feast!  Halacha permits one to sit and enjoy a repast as rich as Shlomo Hamelech’s even to the last moment before shkia (sunset) [unlike regular years, when we eat a mourner’s meal before the fast].

This itself is a taste of the Messianic Age, when all the fast days will be transformed to days of rejoicing, and as such our Shabbos meals on Tisha B’Av assume a Moshiach-like dimension of the feast of the Levyoson and Shor Habar (the Leviathan and Wild Bull).  On a deeper level: every year we re-experience the churban, the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash, and the mourning, and then in the afternoon, at Mincha-time, comes the comforting–the birth of Moshiach.  This year we have the birth of Moshiach (who builds the 3rd Beis Hamikdash which will never be destroyed) without the churban!  This hints that b’pnimiyus the destruction of the 1st and 2nd Beis Hamikdash were really only for the sake of the building of the 3rd, eternal Beis Hamikdash.

All of this was in fact present at the time of the churban, but it was concealed.  The inner positive aspects of Tisha B’Av, the birth of Moshiach, does not become revealed until the 15th of Av, which is when the moon is full, the moon being the aspect of Dovid Malka Mashicha. (This also hints at the Jewish people, when they reach full potential to receive the light (as the moon receives and reflects from the sun), reveal that Moshiach was actually born on Tisha B’Av.

The three weeks leading up to Tisha B’Av hint at the “three moichin” (3 aspects of Supernal Intellect) which themselves correspond to the lands of the three nations–Keni, Kenizi, Kadmoni–which were promised to Avraham Avinu (along with the land of 7 nations conquered by Yehoshua).  The Torah forbids us to have anything to do with these lands during the time of until Moshiach comes, but the fact that part of these lands were conquered by other nations (Sichon and Og) and then conquered and settled by the tribes of Gad, Reuven, and Menashe, is itself a hint that these three dimensions of the Supernal Intellect come together with the land of 7 nations, which refers to the seven midos.

Sefer Devarim is Moshe Rabbeinu addressing the Jewish nation before they will enter the land of Israel.  Moshe knew that Hashem had decreed upon him not to enter the land, but still he did not cease to beseech Hashem in prayer asking Him to allow him to enter the land, reaching 515 prayers (the numerical value of “Va’eschanon”, the parsha we read at Mincha).

From here there is also something for all generations to learn from…that without looking at all the prayers and requests that were until now, we need again and again to daven and request from the Eybershter “Ad Mosai”–“until when”.

…and as was said,  immediately mamash, today mamash, since all the matters have been completed, and the Beis Hamikdash stands ready Above, and similarly all the matters–“everything is ready for the feast”, everything is ready as if in a closed chest and they have given the chest and its key to every single Jew.  The only thing that we are waiting for–that a Jew will shout another shout, with another request and demand and another reminder: “Ad Mosai“?!…