1. 1 There are many points of connection between this Shabbos and the giving of the Torah. Firstly, Shabbos elevates and adds a dimension of completion to the days of the previous week; in this instance, contributing such a quality to the holiday of Shavuos.
Also, today is the final day of the days of tashlumim for this holiday. Tashlumim which means “compensation” is also related to the concept of perfection, i.e., these days — and particularly, the final day, “for everything follows the conclusion” — can add perfection to the experience of the season of the giving of the Torah. Surely, this is true when this final day falls on Shabbos.
A point of connection can also be found in the name of this week’s Torah portion, Naso, which literally means “lift up.” The portion begins with the command,2 “lift up the heads.” This reflects the potential Torah study has to elevate our intellectual faculties and, through the medium of the intellect, to elevate every aspect of our being, even our feet. Thus even our service which is involved in worldly things — the fulfillment of mitzvos and activity in the spirit of “All your deeds shall be for the sake of Heaven” and “Know Him in all your ways” — can be lifted up through Torah study.3
A connection to the giving of the Torah is also evident from the chapter of Pirkei Avos studied this week. On this Shabbos, we begin again the study of Pirkei Avos. Although Pirkei Avos was studied as a preparation for the giving of the Torah, after — and as a result of — the giving of the Torah, we begin again, stating how, “Moshe received the Torah from Sinai and conveyed it….” Furthermore, the chapter also emphasizes the influence of the Torah on the world at large as the second Mishnah of that chapter states: “The world stands on three things: on Torah, on Divine service, and on deeds of kindness.”
Thus, at present, in continuation of the service of the giving of the Torah, we — every member of the Jewish people — can renew our approach to the Torah. In particular, this is expressed through the three4 mediums of Torah, Divine service, and deeds of kindness which allow the world to stand. Our renewal of our approach to the Torah must be reflected in these three services which in turn will bring about renewal in the world at large.5
To explain: On the verse: “In the third month, on this day, the children of Israelcame to Mount Sinai,” Rashi comments, “Rather than ‘on this day,’ it should have said, ‘On that day.’ This choice of wording teaches us that we should regard the words of Torah as new, as though they were given today.”
This is, indeed, the truth; each day, G‑d gives the Torah anew as reflected in our description of Him as “the Giver of the Torah,” in the morning blessings using the present tense. Just as the creation of the world at large is renewed each day, so too the giving of the Torah is renewed each day.6
In a general sense, the renewal of the Torah for the entire year comes at the time of the giving of the Torah, and this generates the potential for the particular renewal of the Torah each day.7 The renewal of the Torah allows one’s study to be endowed with pleasure and vitality; to quote our Sages’ expression, “it will be like a new tabloid which everyone rushes to read.”
In this context, we can appreciate the renewal of our connection to the Torah on the Shabbos that follows the giving of the Torah as reflected in the fact that we read Parshas Naso (which speaks of “lifting up the heads” of the Jewish people) and we begin again the study of Pirkei Avos, stating how “Moshe received the Torah from Sinai.”
Nevertheless, the question can be asked: What is the uniqueness of contribution made by the present Shabbos to the renewal of the giving of the Torah?
The resolution of this question requires the explanation of another concept. At the giving of the Torah, the entire Torah was given; not only the Ten Commandments, but the entire Written Law and the entire Oral Law, including every concept to be developed by an experienced Torah scholar in subsequent generations. The manner in which the entire Torah was communicated, however, was one of gradual revelation. On Mount Sinai, the general principle was stated, and it was necessary for the “experienced Torah scholars” of the subsequent generations to reveal all the particular laws that were implied.8
Indeed, even the Torah concepts that will be revealed in the Era of the Redemption, those which Mashiach will teach the people, were given at Mount Sinai. At that time, however, they were not revealed and, therefore, in the Era of the Redemption, they will be perceived as “a new [dimension of the] Torah which will emerge from Me.”9
This indicates that the renewal of our connection to the Torah is expressed, not only in the reinforcement of the existing bond, but also in bringing out a new development, a new dimension that had not been revealed previously.
To explain in greater detail: Our Sages declare, “Whoever quotes a teaching in the name of its author (i.e., giving him credit for his achievement in revealing the concept), brings redemption to the world.” One of the explanations of this statement is that revealing Torah concepts which were previously hidden is comparable to redeeming them from exile. This redemption of Torah ideas leads to redemption within the world at large.
Nevertheless, the redemption which is brought about does not change the nature of the world entirely, on the contrary, the exile continues, and there is merely a foretaste of the ultimate redemption11 within the darkness of exile.12
Why is this so? Since the renewal (redemption) within Torah is not complete, the effect within the world at large is also imperfect. Even after a Torah scholar develops a new Torah concept, there are unfortunately, many other concepts lingering in exile. The ultimate state will be when “the new [dimension of the] Torah” will be revealed by G‑d.
Since G‑d will be the One bringing about the revelation, it will be complete, and therefore, it will bring about a complete state of revelation in the world at large, bringing into open manifestation the Divine life-energy which is latent within the world. At present, the essential Divine life-force which brings the world into being is distant and separate from the world itself, and is not revealed. In contrast, in the era of the Redemption, it will be openly manifest that I, G‑d’s essence, is the force that brings into being the heavens and the earth.13 In this manner, it will be revealed how this world is a dwelling for G‑d’s essence, the place where that essence will be openly revealed. Thus, in the Era of the Redemption, “Your master will not conceal Himself from you”; G‑d will reveal Himself14 without any veils or coverings.15
The renewal of the world at large that will take place in the Era of the Redemption parallels the renewal that will reflect the nature of “the new [dimension of the] Torah that will emerge from Me.” To explain: At the time of the giving of the Torah, the dimension of the Torah to be revealed in the Era of the Redemption was hidden.
Therefore, in regard to the G‑dliness revealed in the world at large, a significant dimension, the essential G‑dly life-force which brings the world into being, remained hidden. Although at the time of the giving of the Torah, the decree separating the spiritual realms from the physical was nullified, the very categories: spiritual realms and physical existence, were not nullified. Although there was a potential for one to influence the other, since G‑d’s essence was not revealed, the two remained fundamentally different entities.
In the Era of the Redemption, there will be a revelation of the essential qualities of these two entities which had remained hidden, bringing about a totally new aspect of revelation in the world at large. “The glory of G‑d will be revealed and all flesh will see together that the mouth of G‑d has spoken.” It will be revealed how the true being of “all flesh” is G‑d’s essence, the power which brings it into existence ex nihilo. At this point, there will be no difference between the spiritual realms and the material; on the contrary, the same essential G‑dliness will permeate them both.
In this context, we can appreciate the unique dimension of the renewal of our connection to Torah on the present Shabbos, and how that surpasses the renewal of our connection to the Torah associated with the giving of the Torah.
Shavuos reflects a renewal of our connection to the Torah as it was given. As such, just as when the Torah was given, much of the Torah remained hidden, so too, this connection reflects our connection to the Torah as many of the dimensions of the Torah are not openly revealed. In contrast, the Shabbos after the giving of the Torah reflects the potential to reveal these dimensions of the Torah, by human beings — the new concepts revealed by an experienced sage — and by G‑d, “the new [dimension of the] Torah” that will be revealed in the Era of the Redemption.
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2. There is a connection to the above concepts in this week’s Torah reading, Parshas Naso which as mentioned above speaks of “lifting up the heads.” “The heads” refers to the study of the Torah; “lifting up the heads” to the elevation of the study of the Torah that comes about through the quality of ta’anug (pleasure). Ta’anug surpasses our intellectual faculties and thus has the power to add a new dimension to Torah study; indeed, to bring about a renewal of our connection to the Torah. Furthermore, this renewal relates to the ultimate renewal of the Torah in the Era of the Redemption, for then the reasons for the Torah commandments (ta’amei Torah) which are connected with pleasure will be revealed.
In particular, it is significant that the “lifting up of the heads” mentioned in Parshas Naso is associated with the census of the tribe of Levi. The Rambamwrites that the spiritual service — and thus the all-inclusive bond with G‑d established thereby — of the tribe of Levi are not exclusive to that tribe:
Not only the tribe of Levi, but each and every person… whose generosity of spirit and knowing intellect brought him to separate himself and stand before G‑d to serve Him… and to know G‑d…. He becomes sanctified as “holy of holies.”
In the Era of the Redemption, the entire Jewish people will be on such a level, for as the Rambam writes, “In that Era… the occupation of the entire world (and surely, that of the Jewish people16 ) will be solely to know G‑d.”
A point of connection to the above concepts can also be found in relation to another subject mentioned in Parshas Naso, the laws of a nazir. Here, there is a direct reference to the imminence of Mashiach’s coming,17 for the law is that a person who states, “I will become a nazir on the day the son of David will come, must observe the nazir rites forever.” For every day might well be the day when, “the son of David comes.” This implies that the revelation of “the new [dimension of the] Torah which will emerge from Me,” should not be considered as an event of the future, but rather as a present and immediate matter.
The renewal that will be brought about in the world at large in the Era of the Redemption is also alluded to in Parshas Naso. This parshah describes the journeys of the Sanctuary in the desert, and also the construction of the Sanctuary. Significantly, the Sanctuary was constructed in a desert, a place unfit for human habitation. Thus constructing the Sanctuary in such a place alludes to the transformation of the lowest aspects of this world into a dwelling for Him.
In an ultimate sense, this will be revealed in the Era of the Redemption, when the entire world, not only the Beis HaMikdash, will be revealed as a dwelling for G‑d. For “on that day, G‑d will be One and His Name One.”
Parshas Naso also contains an allusion to the service that will lead to the revelation of “the new [dimension of the] Torah” in the Era of the Redemption. This revelation has its source in the spiritual potential possessed by each Jew. To explain: The verse “And a star shall shoot forth from Yaakov,” is interpreted as a reference to Mashiach, and also as a reference to each individual Jew. The Maor Ainayim reconciles these two interpretations, explaining that every Jew possesses a spark of Mashiach in his soul, his yechidah. Mashiach represents the yechidah of the world at large. Therefore, a Jew’s revelation of the yechidah of his individual soul leads to the revelation of the yechidah in the world at large, i.e., the coming of Mashiach.
This is alluded to in the census of the tribe of Levi — whose positive qualities are, as explained above, relevant to each and every Jew. In a census, there is no difference between individuals. Each person, whether great or small, is counted the same. This commonality results from the yechidah, the essence of the soul which every Jew possesses.18
This essential oneness is also reflected in the offerings of the Nesi’im which are described in the conclusion of the Torah reading. The Midrash explains that the desire of the Nesi’im to offer sacrifices was favorably received and G‑d considered it as if they all brought their sacrifices on the same day. The potential for this oneness stems from the level of yechidah.
A similar idea can be seen in Parshas Behaaloscha which we begin reading this afternoon. The Menorah in the Sanctuary is a symbol of the entire Jewish people. It has seven branches which reflect the seven categories of the Jewish people. Nevertheless, it was made of a single piece of gold, pointing to the fundamental unity which pervades the Jewish people as a whole.
This essential unity stemming from the level of yechidah is also associated with the giving of the Torah, for it was the unity of the Jewish people who camped before Mount Sinai, “as one man, with one heart,” that served as a necessary preparation for the Torah to have been given.
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3. There is also a connection between the above concepts and the first chapter of Pirkei Avos which we begin studying this Shabbos. This chapter begins explaining the chain of our Torah heritage, how “Moshe received the Torah from Sinai and transmitted it,” and how subsequently, it was transmitted to the Jewish people in later generations. In this chain of transmission, each individual brought out a new dimension of the Torah that had not been revealed previously. This process of revelation points out a connection to the revelation of “the new [dimension of the] Torah which will emerge from Me.”
Among the other points of connection to the Era of the Redemption is the teaching studied before each chapter, “Every Jew has a portion in the World to Come,” which refers to the Era of the Resurrection of the Dead. Furthermore, the reference to “every Jew” also relates to the essential unity which will pervade the Jews at that time.
Similarly, there is a connection between the Redemption and the teaching studied after each chapter which concludes with the quote, “The L‑rd desired, for the sake of [Israel’s] righteousness, to make the Torah great and glorious.”19Our Sages explain that the study associated with “making the Torah great and glorious” is of a different nature than study for the sake of learning how to observe the commandments. This relates to “the new [dimensions of the] Torah” which Mashiach will reveal.
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4. There is a connection with the renewal of the heavens and the earth that will come about in the Era of the Redemption and the Shabbos. The Shabbos was granted to the Jewish people to “establish within our hearts the faith in the renewal of the world.” On Shabbos, we cease our involvement in worldly matters, and devote ourselves to spiritual concerns, in particular, to the study of the Torah.20 This brings about a renewal of the creation in the following week, following the pattern of G‑d, who “looked into the Torah and created the world.”
Shabbos is also connected with the Era of the Redemption which is described as “the day which is all Shabbos and rest for eternity.” In particular, this is true in regard to the time of Shabbos afternoon which is described as raava d’raavin, revealing “the inner dimension of G‑d’s will and His pleasure.” This level is associated with the Third Beis HaMikdash.
In particular, this is relevant on the Shabbos which follows the giving of the Torah. Since the experience of the giving of the Torah already brought about a renewal of the Torah and of the world at large, the further renewal brought about by the present Shabbos is indicative of the ultimate renewal that will take place in the Era of the Redemption.
Shabbos also relates to the concept of the unity of the Jewish people as reflected in the custom of gathering together to study Torah on Shabbos. In particular, this applies in this unique time of raava d’raavin.
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5. In particular, there is a connection to the above concepts in the present time. Ours is the last generation of the exile and the first generation of the redemption. The Previous Rebbe declared, “Immediately to teshuvah, immediately to redemption”; and in his era, we already completed this service. All that was necessary was to “polish the buttons” and “stand together, prepared” to greet Mashiach. Surely, our great efforts to spread Yiddishkeit and spread the wellsprings of Chassidus have also accomplished this and — particularly after the passage of forty years when we have received “eyes to see and ears to hear” — we are ready to greet Mashiach.
This is especially true in the present year תשנ”א which contains the letters of the word tab,, “rise up” as in the verse “his kingdom (that of David and Shlomo, the progenitors of the Mashiach) will be raised up.” And it is a year when “I will show you wonders,” and we have seen the fulfillment of the prophecies of the wonders foretold in the Yalkut Shimoni concerning the crisis in the Persian Gulf. From the month of Nissan onward, the Mashiach is — to quote the passage cited previously — telling the Jews, “Humble ones, the time for your redemption has come.”
This is particularly relevant after the holiday of Shavuos for Shavuos is an appropriate time to ask for the coming of the redemption. In particular, on the Shabbos after Shavuos, it is appropriate to expect the ultimate renewal of the Torah, “the new [dimensions of the] Torah that will emerge from Me.”
To emphasize this connection to the redemption, a farbrengen was held at an unusual time, the time of raava d’raavin. This connection will be further enhanced by the recitation of Grace on a cup of wine, for here there is a connection to King David, the progenitor of Mashiach.
To conclude with directives for our conduct. It is proper to take on resolutions to increase our study of the Torah and also, our efforts to “raise up many students.” In particular, this should include the study, not only the recitation, of Pirkei Avos throughout the summer. Each Shabbos, everyone should study at least one Mishnah from Pirkei Avos in depth, availing oneself of the commentaries on the Mishnah. Similarly, we should increase our study of Chassidus, and this will lead to the revelation of “the new [dimension of the] Torah which will emerge from Me.”
1. Translator’s Note: On this Shabbos, there were two farbrengens: one, held Shabbos afternoon as is customary; and one, held shortly before nightfall. The latter farbrengen was initiated by the Rebbe without prior notice. This farbrengen was associated with the conclusion of the days of Tashlumim for the holiday of Shavuos. After the farbrengen, the Rebbe Shlita distributed kos shel berachah to all those present.
2. The idiomatic meaning of the Hebrew words naso es rosh is “take the count.” The actual literal meaning of the term is as stated above.
3. The extension of the elevated state of Torah to one’s mundane activities is alluded to in the verse, “lift up the heads of the sons of Gershon also.” Rashi interprets the word also to mean “in the same manner as I commanded you in regard to the sons of Kehos.”
The sons of Kehos carried the ark which is associated with the Torah. Hence, the essential concept of “lifting up the heads” is relevant to them. In contrast, the sons of Gershon carried the curtains, a service alluding to worldly involvement. Nevertheless, through the service of the sons of Kehos, the sons of Gershon could also be elevated.
4. There is a connection between the Torah and the concept of the three as evident from the fact that the Torah was given in the third month.
5. The giving of the Torah endowed the world with a quality of stability and permanence. In our Sages’ terms, before the giving of the Torah, the world was “fearful,” and the giving of the Torah caused it to become “tranquil.” Similarly, each year, the renewal of the experience of the giving of the Torah, brings about renewal in the world at large.
6. In essence, the order of causation is the opposite. G‑d “looked into the Torah and created the world.” Therefore, the renewal of the Torah is the source for the renewal of creation.
7. Here too, a parallel can be drawn to the renewal of the creation. In a general sense, the creation is renewed on Rosh HaShanah, and, in a particular sense, it is renewed again each day.
8. Since these concepts are revealed by these Torah scholars, they are given personal credit for them, and it is proper that the concept be stated in their names.
9. The teachings of the Mashiach will be incomparably higher than the teachings of the Torah revealed at present, as our Sages said, “The Torah of the present era is like wind compared to the teachings of the Mashiach.”
10. Just as the “new [dimension of the] Torah” will “emerge from Me,” so too,“I will make the new heavens and the new earth.”
11. This foretaste, however, hastens the coming of the ultimate redemption.
12. This is evident from the prooftext brought by our Sages’ in connection with this concept, “And Esther said to the king in the name of Mordechai.” Even after the redemption on Purim, the Jews remained in exile.
13. As the Alter Rebbe writes in Tanya, it is G‑d’s essence alone which possesses the potential to bring about the creation ex nihilo, to bring our material world into existence from absolute non-being.
14. Here we also have a connection to the giving of the Torah, for the revelation of Mount Sinai served, in microcosm, as a foretaste for the revelations of the Era of the Redemption.
15. Although this revelation will be primarily directed to the Jewish people, the gentiles will also benefit from this light and appreciate the revelation of G‑d’s essence.
16. The contrast between the Jewish people and the entire world is borne out by the Rambam’s following sentence, “Therefore Israel will be great sages and know hidden matters.”
17. The connection between the nazir rites and Mashiach is reflected by the fact that King David, the progenitor of the Mashiach, was anointed by the prophet Shmuel, a nazir.
18. The census also reveals G‑d’s essential love for the Jews as Rashi writes, “Because of their dearness to Him, He counts them at all times.”
19. This prooftext also is significant in regard to the oneness of the Jewish people. On one level, the verse is used as a reference to the highest level of Torah study. Nevertheless, the very same prooftext is used in regard to the permission granted to allow competition among teachers of young children; i.e., it refers to an essential level of Torah study that can therefore, relate to both extremes of the spectrum of the Jewish people.
20. The Torah shares an intrinsic connection to Shabbos as reflected in our Sages’ statement, “Everyone agrees that the Torah was given on Shabbos.”