Lag B’Omer 5751

1. Today is a day of rejoicing and festivity, since Rabbi Shimon bar Yochaiproclaimed that Lag BaOmer is his day of celebration. The power of this celebration is reflected in the renown story of one of the sages during the era of the AriZal who was so strongly affected by sorrow over the destruction of theBeis HaMikdash that he would recite the prayer Nachaim every day — even on Shabbos and festivals. When, however, he recited this prayer on Lag BaOmer, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai protested “How is it possible that one could say Nachaim on this day of celebration?” and for this reason, the sage was punished.

On the surface, this is most unusual. In general, it is undesirable that a righteous person be punished and furthermore, that the narrative of his being punished become publicized within our Torah tradition. Indeed, we find that the Torah avoids making undesirable statements even in regard to animals. Surely, this principle should be applied when speaking about a person, and indeed a Torah scholar. Nevertheless, to emphasize the magnitude of the celebration of Lag BaOmer, this story is publicized.

Moreover, the celebration of Lag BaOmer has an affect on the entire world, even non-Jews as reflected in Rabbi Shimon’s statement, “I can free the entire world from judgment…”; “the entire world” also includes non-Jews.

Rabbi Shimon was on a level above that of the world at large; he alone was on the rung of Toraso Umanaso, “his Torah was his occupation.” Nevertheless, theZohar speaks of him in connection with “his company,” chevraya in Aramaic. The term chevraya relates to the word chibur, meaning “bond;” i.e., he established a bond of oneness with his students.

Here we see a connection to the Counting of the Omer. The mourning customs associated with this period were instituted because of the death of the students of Rabbi Akiva who died because they did not show honor to each other. It follows that in this period, there must be an emphasis on showing honor to one another and following the guidelines of Rabbi Akiva who taught, “ ’Love your neighbor as yourself’ is a basic principle of the Torah.”

This should be reflected in our declaration before beginning to pray “I accept upon myself the fulfillment of the positive commandment, ‘Love your fellowman as yourself.’ ” It is insufficient to merely think about the matter and make a resolution to that effect, one must make an actual statement. Similarly, the statement itself is insufficient and from this statement, the resolution must be drawn down in actual deed.

The first of the deeds of this nature is gifts to tzedakah, for “tzedakah brings the redemption near.” The redemption also relates to Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai for his “freeing the entire world from judgment” also implies freeing them from exile. Thus, Rav Hillel Paritcher would explain that Rav Shimon bar Yochai was above the entire concept of exile.

This is alluded to in the manner in which Rabbi Shimon’s name is written in theZohar. Although the Talmud generally writes the name Yochai without an Alef(יוחי), in the Zohar that name is usually written with an Alef (יוחאי).Alef stands forEchad, “one,” which points to the unique level possessed by Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai as reflected in the statement, “I have seen men of ascendancy and they are few…. If there is one, it is I.”

The Alef also has the potential to transform exile (גולה) into redemption (גאולה). When one adds an Alef (which stands for G‑d, Alufo shel olam), the exile ceases.

2. The unique quality expressed by Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai was elaborated upon by the Rebbe Maharash who explained that Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai was able to fuse the teachings of Pnimiyus HaTorah (Torah’s mystic dimensions) with the teachings of Nigleh (the revealed dimensions of Torah law). He would study Pnimiyus HaTorah with the clarity with which Nigleh is studied. Conversely, his study of Nigleh was infused with the vitality and energy which stems from Pnimiyus HaTorah.1

There is an intrinsic connection between these two sages, for there is a connection between the Sefirah of Tiferes sheb’Tiferes with which the RebbeMaharash is associated and the Sefirah Hod sheb’Hod which is associated with Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. Generally the Counting of the Omer is associated with the Sefiros in the order beginning Chessed sheb’Chesed (which emphasizes revelation from above). There are times, however, when an emphasis is placed on the reverse order (which emphasizes the service of elevation from below). In the latter pattern, the counting begins from Malchussheb’Malchus. In the latter order, the 2nd of Iyar, the day usually associated with Tiferes sheb’Tiferes is associated with Hod sheb’Hod. And conversely, Lag BaOmer which is usually associated with Hod sheb’Hod is associated withTiferes sheb’Tiferes.

The above must be expressed in deed; firstly an emphasis on study, Toraso Umanaso, and particularly, the study of Pnimiyus HaTorah. This study must lead to an increase in ahavas Yisrael and thus, should be expressed in an increase in tzedakah. In this connection, coins will be distributed with the intent that its value be given to tzedakah, together with an additional amount by each recipient.2

May this lead to the redemption.3 And may we proceed together with the entire Jewish people “on the clouds of heaven,” to Eretz Yisrael, to Jerusalem, and to the Beis HaMikdash,4 “the Sanctuary of the L‑rd established by Your hands.”

(After the conclusion of the sichah, the Rebbe Shlita distributed a special coin minted for this occasion.)

Translation: Sichos In English

15 Iyar, 5751

Today is the fifteenth of the month, the day on which the moon is full, i.e., the day on which all the aspects of the month shine in a perfect manner. The Hebrew name of the month of Iyar is Ziv which means “ray.” Thus, the complete shining forth of this month reflects a perfect revelation.

This perfect revelation in turn will permeate all aspects of the month, even the mundane matters associated with it. And thus when describing anything which occurred in this month, we will say that it took place in the month of Ziv, a month of revelation.

This revelation will enable every Jew to fulfill the purpose for his creation, the service of G‑d as it is written, “I was created to serve My Creator” — and this will fulfill the purpose of the creation of the world at large. Furthermore, this will be fulfilled in a manner reflected by the statements of the Zohar, “And the wise1 shall shine forth as the brilliance of the heavens.”

The latter is associated with the Future Redemption for it is the spreading forth of the wellsprings of Pnimiyus HaTorah which will lead to the redemption.

The complete shining of the month of Iyar affects the entire month, and surely it has an effect on the previous day, the fourteenth of Iyar, Pesach Sheni (theSecond Pesach). The observance of Pesach Sheni has its roots in the heartfelt cry of several Jews who saw the entire Jewish people preparing for the Pesach sacrifice and protested, “Why should we be denied?” Although there was a genuine reason for them to have been prevented from offering the Pesach sacrifice — they were ritually impure — their heartfelt cry brought about the institution of Pesach Sheni and the lesson which it teaches that, “Nothing is ever lost.”

This narrative provides a lesson for us at present. Although the entire Jewish people are impure, we have the right to cry out, “Why should we be denied?”

There is more emphasis on the above in the present year, the year of the ultimate redemption, the year when “I will show you wonders,” and particularly at present, when we are in the midst of a three day continuum of unique days. The thirteenth of Iyar was Shabbos, and also as will be explained the yahrzeit ofRav Yisrael Aryeh Leib. The fourteenth of Iyar is Pesach Sheni, and the fifteenth, the day when the moon shines in its fullness.

This continuum of three2 relates to the three Batei HaMikdashos and teaches how the principle “Nothing is ever lost” can be applied in this context, teaching that we have the right to demand the revelation of how “Nothing is ever lost” concerning these Batei HaMikdashos.

Surely, this demand applies in regard to the first twoBatei HaMikdashos which were destroyed. In an extended sense, it also applies to the Third Beis HaMikdash, which although it has not yet descended from the heavens, nevertheless, possesses a dimension that relates to past history.

To explain: In the song sang by the Jews after the splitting of the Red Sea, they mention “the Sanctuary of the L‑rd established by Your hands” which refers to the Beis HaMikdash to be built in the Era of Redemption. Thus, a foretaste of that era was already experienced at the splitting of the sea.

At that time, there were great revelations of G‑dliness which reflect in microcosm the revelations to be experienced in the Era of Redemption when “Your eyes will behold your Master.” Thus our Sages declared that “At the [Red] Sea,3 a maidservant saw what the prophets did not see.” The term maidservant refers to a Canaanite maidservant, i.e., the lowest level within the Jewish people, and yet such a person witnessed revelations which were greater than those appreciated by the prophets.4

Although G‑d established a condition with the sea that it split at the very beginning of its creation, it was the mesirus nefesh of Nachshon ben Aminadav which caused the sea to actually split and which brought about the great revelation of G‑dliness mentioned above. The revelations in the Era of the Redemption are associated with the splitting of a body of water, the splitting of the river. And this revelation also has its source in Nachshon’s actions, the mesirus nefeshof a Nasi of the Jewish people, who led the entire people into the sea after him.

Thus, since there is a dimension of the Third Beis HaMikdash associated with past history, our demand “Why should we be left denied?” is also applicable to the Third Beis HaMikdash. Furthermore, our demand can be presented with far more force than the demand presented to Moshe. Those individuals were being denied the opportunity to offer a single sacrifice5 and we are being denied the opportunity to offer all the sacrifices.

Surely, despite the fact that it has been almost 2000 years in which we are in exile, and have not offered sacrifices, “Nothing is ever lost.” G‑d will surely give the Jews the opportunity to compensate for this. This does not mean only that “the utterances of our lips will take the place of bulls,” but rather the Jews themselves will be considered as the sacrifice.

The intent behind all sacrifices is that the person bringing the offering should make a commitment ofmesirus nefesh to G‑d. What greater mesirus nefeshcould there possibly be than for a Jew to remain in exile and not raise a clamor that would disturb the entire spiritual order of worlds, protesting how the Jewish people, each one of which is considered as G‑d’s only son, could remain in exile for 2000 years! This applies even in the present era when we are living in a generous country which offers support to the Jewish people and allows them to study the Torahand observe its mitzvos in prosperity.

Surely, G‑d will make this up to this Jewish people in the Future Redemption whose coming will be hastened by our gifts to tzedakah which like allmitzvos establishes a bond of oneness with G‑d. Similarly, the coming of the redemption will be hastened by the distribution of a booklet of Chassidicteachings concerning the Redemption. This, “the spreading of the wellsprings,” will lead to Mashiach is coming.

The above will also be enhanced by the influence of Rav Yisrael Aryeh Leib. His name is associated with the Hebrew words meaning “There are 600,000 letters in the Torah.” Similarly, it reflects the fierceness of a lion which should be possessed by every Jew. As mentioned on Shabbos, the name Leib (ליב) also resembles the word Lev (ck) meaning “heart” and thus reflects the heartfelt desire of every Jew which is to fulfill G‑d’s will. This is a Jew’s only true desire.

The above also relates to the week of the Omer we are counting, the week that relates to the attribute of Hod(“glory”) which is associated with the yahrzeit of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai on Lag BaOmer (Hod shebeHod).Rabbi Shimon fused together the teachings of Nigleh(the revealed dimensions of Torah law) with Pnimiyus HaTorah (the Torah mystic dimensions).

May we witness the coming of the Redemption even before Lag BaOmer and thus we will be able to celebrate Lag BaOmer in our Holy Land. The Jewish people have already decided Ad Mosei, that we have spent long enough in exile. “All the appointed times for Moshiach’s coming have passed.” “We will not be denied.” We — the last generation of the exile and the first generation of the redemption — will proceed to the true and ultimate redemption in its most literal sense. Now, Mamash, Mamash, Mamash.


Translation: Sichos in English

Video Shiur: Emor 5751

Three Levels of Geulah Exclusive: In the Sicha of Parshas Emor 5751, the Rebbe explains three levels of Geulah and how we prepare for and bring about all of them ● Learn this week’s Sicha with’s Weekly Shiur of the “Dvar Malchus” Sicha in English, presented by Rabbi Menachem Mendel Lipskier, Mashpia of Mesivta of Melbourne, Australia ● Watch Video


Emor 5751: Turning Gola into Geulah (explained further)

In this sicha we see how important this concept is–that we are not fighting the exile (Gola) but rather transforming it as it is in its essence by inserting and revealing the Alef–the recognition of G-d’s presence.  In other words, the Rebbe is explaining that the Geulah, which is ready to occur at any moment, is dependent upon our active recognition that everything  is from Hashem.

If so, what is the chiddush here?  In the times of the Mishna, Nochum ish Gamzu would respond to every undesirable event by saying “this too (“gam zu”) is for the good”, and the 11th letter in the Holy Tanya’s Igeres Hakodesh states that we must believe that everything is for the good, only that somethings are beyond our conception and thus are imagined by us to be “bad”.

The chiddush could be said to be that previously this was something that was beyond our conception, we could only believe in it as one believes in something that cannot be perceived.  However, in our generation, on the brink of (and prepared for) the revelations of the Final Redemption, we are able through this avodah of emunah to actually bring it into our understanding and perceive it, and thus see it transpire in actuality.

These are the three levels (three different ways of explaining the “alef”) which the Rebbe speaks about here: Alufo shel Olam–G-dliness as it is found in the world; a’alfa chochma (to be imbued with wisdom)–referring to the Torah, which is higher than the world but somewhat related to the world; and the letters alef, lamed, pay (which spell “alef”, and can be re-arranged to spell “peleh“, meaning “wonder”)–the level of G-dliness which completely transcends the world.  In the Rebbe’s words:

This represents the progression of G-dly revelation leading to the days of Moshiach: 1) G-dliness within the world, 2) G-dliness higher than, but still connected with the world, and 3) the revelation of G-d’s essence. Our service of G-d in golus (which consists of bringing the Alef into golah to bring the geulah) must correspond to these three levels. And through this we bring about these kinds of G-dly revelation alluded to by the letter Alef.

This means that we must reveal the presence of G-dliness within the world by using all physical objects for a holy purpose — “for the sake of Heaven” (to correspond to the level of G-dliness within the world). Furthermore, we must bring down and reveal the second level through learning Torah, and reveal the third level of peleh by learning Pnimiyus HaTorah, Chassidus, which corresponds to the level of peleh in Torah.

We can extend this idea further: in addition to the revelation of the level of peleh through the study of Chassidus, it is revealed through the very exile itself. The prophet Yeshayahu said (12:1), “On that day [(of redemption] you will say, ‘I thank you G-d for having been angry with me.’ ” This verse seems somewhat puzzling. Granted that we will be thankful for G-d’s nullification of exile — but this expression of appreciation would not really be wholehearted. One would praise G-d even more completely if there had been no exile to begin with!

In light of the above this can be easily understood. Redemption comes about from and is composed of the very exile itself. We are therefore thanking Him deeply for the exile since we realize that it has brought the highest revelations, including that corresponding to the level of peleh.

This level of peleh that the Rebbe is speaking of is not only wonders taking place in our physical world (such as the Gulf War), but the Rebbe specifies that this is also (and even moreso) to be found in Torah itself–to perceive the wonders of Torah.  And beyond that within our very selves, that we have the ability to “wondrously” transform ourselves to the level of a complete Tzaddik!  This is a tremendous Chiddush, as the Rebbe explains, because in the Holy Tanya it is explained that many souls descend to the world only to struggle and never to achieve the goal of “be a tzaddik“.  Now, asserts the Rebbe, all we need to do is to “do our part” to fulfill the oath to which the soul is sworn (“be a tzaddik“) and every one of us can in fact become a tzaddik!

This will be hastened through the study of Torah, and of Chassidus in particular. This also includes looking into the face of your Rebbe, which helps one’s understanding, as the Gemara (Eruvin 13b) quotes R. Yehuda HaNasi as saying, “This that my sharpness exceeds that of my colleagues is because I saw R. Meir from the back; and if I would have seen him from the front, I would be even sharper.”

All this will help further purify the world and reveal G-dliness within it. It must be accompanied by the additional G-dly service of each particular Jew, by keeping away from evil and, furthermore, doing the utmost to fulfill the oath administered to his soul before birth, “You shall be a tzaddik.” One might object and point out that in Tanya itself it is written that not every individual can necessarily become a tzaddik, and that one doesn’t have complete free choice in this area. However, since the Jew has the essence of G-d within him, ultimately even this is within his reach. Furthermore, after all the purification, etc. of the Jewish people over the course of time, now every Jew is able to reach the level of tzaddik — similar to the way things will be in the Messianic Age.

All this contains straightforward guidance in what all Jews should be doing to further hasten the redemption — in all three levels alluded to by the letter alef. This means first of all revealing G-d’s presence in the world through using all worldly objects for a holy purpose, etc. In addition, there must be a special increase in Torah study — and particularly the study of Chassidus — in a way that it should be clearly understood in Chochmah, Binah, and Da’as. Included in this is also influencing others to follow suit.

It follows that we simply have to make a true effort to “be a tzaddik” and we will be amazed at the results–our personal Geulah, leading to the true and complete Geulah of the entire nation and the entire world!

Emor 5751: You Can Now Be a Tzaddik

Briefly, we have a major novelty (chiddush) in this sicha, indicating that our reality is no longer limited in the way earlier generations were limited (we will see similar insights in parshas Vayigash, be”H).

Before we get to this, it is very noteworthy the Rebbe’s statement about the importance of looking at the face of the Rebbe as being included as part of learning Torah, which speeds the Geulah:

[The Geulah and building of the 3rd Beis Hamikdash] will be hastened through the study of Torah, and of Chassidus in particular. This also includes looking into the face of your Rebbe, which helps one’s understanding, as the Gemara (Eruvin 13b) quotes R. Yehudah HaNasi as saying, “This that my sharpness exceeds that of my colleagues is because I saw R. Meir from the back; and if I would have seen him from the front, I would be even sharper.”

As regards the novelty(chiddush), all students of Tanya know two things: Firstly, every single Jew must endeavor to fulfill the oath that his soul swore before coming down to the world (“Be a Tzaddik”); and secondly, as stated in Tanya, that try as one might, one may never reach this level because it is not dependent on ones merits.  Some souls are born to struggle but not to achieve the goal of being a true Tzaddik (one who has overcome and transformed his evil inclination).  Here the Rebbe informs us that there is now nothing standing in our way of achieving the objective! You and I, every Jew, if we will truly make the effort we can succeed to be victorious over our evil inclinations:

All this will help further purify the world and reveal G‑dliness within it. It must be accompanied by the additional G‑dly service of each particular Jew, by keeping away from evil and, furthermore, doing the utmost to fulfill the oath administered to his soul before birth, “You shall be a Tzaddik.” One might object and point out that in Tanya itself it is written that not every individual can necessarily become a Tzaddik, and that one doesn’t have complete free choice in this area. However, since the Jew has the essence of G‑d within him, ultimately even this is within his reach. Furthermore, after all the purification, etc. of the Jewish people over the course of time, now every Jew is able to reach the level of Tzaddik — similar to the way things will be in the Messianic Age.

The excuse that being a Tzaddik is “beyond my reach” and “halevai beinoni” (“if only I could reach the intermediate level”) is no longer valid! Today we are truly in a period of “I tried and I found” (“yagaati u-matzosi“).

Full sicha in English
Full sicha in Laha”k

Achrei Mos-Kedoshim 5751: No Reason to Fear Geulah

At present, we are at the conclusion of the exile and at any moment Moshiach will come. First of all, a response is necessary for all those who are worried when they hear a clamor that everyone is required to do what they can do to bring Moshiach: They are concerned that the entire time they spent building up business and social relationships in exile will be forfeited when the Redemption comes.

These worries can be assuaged on the basis of the concepts explained above: The redemption will not nullify the natural order as it exists at present. On the contrary, all the positive achievements of the exile will remain and indeed, will be elevated with the coming of the Redemption. Within them, will be revealed the Alef, G‑d’s Presence. This will put the focus on what the true intent of these activities is, the revelation of G‑d’s honor throughout the world.

Therefore, a person need not worry about what will become of his business activities when Moshiach comes. On the contrary, he can rest assured that all the activities that he carried out according to the Torah’s guidelines — even those that are not directly associated with the Torah and its mitzvos — are of value. However, this also points to the importance of a person keeping the fundamental purpose of his business activity in mind, and making sure that his efforts are directed to revealing G‑d’s honor.

This also leads to another concept. A person should not think that the Redemption will be totally a spiritual matter without any connection to our activities within this world. This is not the case. On the contrary, it is through our activities in exile, that we will merit the coming of the Redemption. Within those activities must also be a fundamental stress on “Reflecting on three things,” as explained above; i.e., focusing one’s energies one elevating the world at large. In particular, this should be expressed in increasing one’s donations to tzedakah, giving of one’s physical effort and wealth to provide another person with his material needs.

We see in fact that the nature of the world encourages such activities and in that context, it is worthy to mention the discovery of jewels in a far removed corner of the world. These jewels will be used for “a bride’s ornaments,” to increase the merit of the Jewish people through gifts to tzedakah.

* * *

In connection with the redemption, we find the prophecy, “And Kingship will be the L‑rd’s.” This includes kingship, not only over the Jews, but also over the gentile nations as well. Hence, as a preparation for Moshiach’s coming, it is also important to spread the observance of the Seven universal Laws commanded to the descendants of Noach.

In this context, it is worthy to mention how the activities of the world and that of the gentile nations appear to be assisting the coming of the Redemption. In previous generations, the Jews suffered oppression from the gentile nations in which they lived and in the present generation, the opposite is true. Most Jews live in countries whose governments are generous and assist them in the observance of the Torah and mitzvos, allowing them to carry out the inner service that will bring about a personal redemption which, in turn, will hasten the coming of the redemption as a whole. Surely, this is true of the country in which we are living. Furthermore, these countries are also granting assistance to Jews in the world at large, helping Jews immigrate to Eretz Yisrael.

In the last few years, we have seen this tendency spread to other nations throughout the world, even to Russia. Instead of suppressing the observance of the Torah and its mitzvos as in previous generation, they have granted religious freedom and are also allowing Jews the opportunity to emigrate to Eretz Yisrael. Furthermore, they are even assisting them in this objective. This helps prepare the way for the ultimate ingathering of the exiles in the Era of the Redemption.

Similarly, we see how the United States, the most powerful nation in the world, has dedicated its resources for the purpose of charity and education, two of the most fundamental activities necessary to create a stable environment in the world.

For this purpose, the United States has sent hundreds of its soldiers to help hungry and starving people in a far off corner of the world. Instead of using its airplanes for war, it employed them to reach those people who require such assistance. And instead of using its wealth for the benefit of its own people alone, it gave of that wealth to save the lives of unfortunate people and children. Although the people of this country had little contact with these unfortunate people previously, as soon as they heard of their suffering, they volunteered their assistance.

Similarly, in these days, the President of this country has issued Proclamations calling for an increase in education. At the very beginning of his Presidency he stated his desire to be known as “The Education President,” and at present, efforts are being made to strengthen education throughout the country.

An interrelationship exists between the fact that these steps are being taken by the United States and that the United States has been established as the most powerful nation in the world. Because the United States has dedicated itself to these goals, G‑d has granted it such power. This reveals how there is an inner process of causation operating within the world, pushing it to reveal its true G‑dly nature.

Translation: Sichos in English

Video Shiur: Achrei Mos-Kedoshim 5751

“Geulah” – What Does That Mean? Exclusive: In the Sicha of Parshas Acharei Mos-Kedoshim 5751, the Rebbe explains the specialty of the word “Geulah” ● Learn this week’s Sicha with’s Weekly Shiur of the “Dvar Malchus” Sicha in English, presented by Rabbi Menachem Mendel Lipskier, Mashpia of Mesivta of Melbourne, Australia ● Watch Video