1. On1 the Third of Tammuz, 5687, the Previous Rebbe was released from prison in Leningrad on the condition that he spend three years in exile in the city of Kostroma. At the time, it was not known whether this was a positive step, for although exile is preferable to imprisonment, it is also connected with several hardships and dangers.
Afterwards, on Yud-Beis Tammuz, the Previous Rebbe received the news that he would be freed and on Yud-Gimmel Tammuz, he received the official documents testifying to this. And thus it was revealed that the Third of Tammuz was the first stage of the process of redemption. Furthermore, it was revealed that a death sentence had been issued previously, and the sentence of exile had represented a lessening of his judgment leading to his ultimate redemption on Yud-Beis-Yud-Gimmel Tammuz.
One might ask: Since the redemption was a Divine miracle, why did it have to come in stages? Why wasn’t the Previous Rebbe granted a complete redemption immediately? Furthermore, even after Yud-Beis Tammuz when the Previous Rebbe was freed, he did not achieve a complete victory over the opposing forces. Many restrictions remained on the Jews in Russia, until the Previous Rebbe was forced to leave the country. And even after his departure, those restrictions continued. It is not until the present days, more than 60 years after his redemption, that its full ramifications are being realized and Jews are being redeemed from Russia.
Surely this pattern, that redemption comes in stages, is controlled by Divine Providence. And hence, it is necessary to understand the reason for such a pattern. This is all the more relevant because the Previous Rebbe’s redemption relates to the entire Jewish people, as the Previous Rebbe writes in his renown letter:
The Holy One, blessed be He, did not redeem Me alone on Yud-Beis Tammuz, but also all those who hold our holy Torah dear, observe its mitzvos, and all those who are called by the name “Israel.”
Many years previously, another great miracle occurred on the Third of Tammuz. In response to Yehoshua’s request, “The sun stood still over Givon.” Here too, a question arises: On one hand, the stopping of the sun was a great miracle. On the other hand, it also had a limitation. Why did the sun stop? So that Yehoshua could complete the battle against the Canaanites, a battle that was fought through natural means. Seemingly, instead G‑d could have worked a different miracle and caused the Canaanites to be defeated without battle.
There is also a more abstract question involved with this miracle: Did the miracle merely keep the sun’s rays shining to enable Yehoshua to carry on with his battle against the Canaanites? And for this, all that was necessary is for the sun itself to stop. Or was the miracle more inclusive, affecting also the entire physical process — the orbits and spheres — which govern the movement of the sun?
This question revolves around the integration between miracles and the natural order. To what extent did the miracle permeate our ordinary natural frame of reference? Did it merely break the natural order? I.e., the sun stopped. Or did it change the natural order? The entire physical process governing the sun’s movement was affected.2
A similar question is seen in regard to the miracle described in this week’s Torah portion, the blossoming of Aharon’s staff. After Korach’s revolt, Moshe took the staffs of all the Nesi’im and Aharon’s staff, and placed them together in the Sanctuary, placing Aharon’s staff in the center of the others. A miracle occurred and Aharon’s staff sprouted flowers and fruit.
The question arises: Since the entire purpose of the miracle was to show that G‑d had chosen Aharon, why was it necessary for the miracle to take place according to the natural process of the almonds’ growth, that the almond branches would bud, flower, and then give fruit? Seemingly, it would have been sufficient for them to produce the fruit. That would have been a sufficient sign that G‑d chose Aharon.3
To explain: A staff can only sprout flowers and fruit as a result of a Divine miracle. In this instance, however, the miracle permeated the natural order of the world, and therefore, the staff sprouted almonds in a “natural” — within the context of a miracle — manner.4
This relates to a concept of greater depth: Our Sages declared: “Everything which the Holy One, blessed be He, created in His world, He created solely for His honor.” Thus although the nature of the world (עולם in Hebrew which relates to the word העלם, meaning “hiddenness”) is one in which its G‑dly life-force is concealed, nevertheless, each particular entity in the world exists for one purpose alone: to reveal G‑d’s glory.
There is logical support for this concept as well: Since the world and every entity it contains was created by G‑d — and thus G‑d took from His time and effort, as it were, to bring it into being — He surely did so with a purpose, that purpose being that they relate to the Divine life-force which creates them, and thus add to G‑d’s honor, as it were.
This logic is further reinforced by the Baal Shem Tov’s teaching that creation is an ongoing process, happening every moment of existence. Why else would G‑d have created the world in a manner that requires Him to constantly invest Himself within it to bring it into existence. He could have created the world in a manner in which He initially invested enough energy for the world to be maintained for 6000 years.5
G‑d, however, chose to create the world in the manner in which it exists at present so that each creation will feel that it has the potential to increase and enhance the positive nature of the world by revealing G‑d’s glory. Not only does he follow G‑d’s will, he is capable of contributing independently as it were to G‑d’s glory. (This in turn brings a person great joy, because everyone desires to be a contributor more than a recipient.)
It was in order to maintain a constant connection with the creation, that G‑d invested so much of Himself in bringing the world into being. In this manner, He has granted the potential for each particular creation to reveal His glory at every moment.
Were the creation to have received an initial burst of Divine energy that would continue to maintain its existence at all times, the revelation of G‑d’s glory would be in a much more general and far removed manner. In contrast, because G‑d created the world as He did, each moment of existence can serve as means to reveal G‑d’s glory. For example, when a Jew takes a drink of water and recites the blessing “…for everything was created by His word,” this6 reveals the existence of G‑d’s word — i.e., His creative force — within the water. Similarly, every other blessing reveals the uniqueness of G‑d’s creative energy.7
G‑d’s glory is also revealed by miracles. His ultimate intent is that these miracles permeate nature and thus reveal G‑dliness openly within this framework as well. This was reflected in the blossoming of Aharon’s staff in which the miracle was drawn down into the natural manner in which the almond tree gives fruit.
Chassidic thought relates a connection between this concept and the Priestly Blessing. This blessing draws down G‑dly energy from above the natural order,8and yet this blessing also permeates that order, bringing about positive changes within our reality.
A similar concept can be explained in regard to the miracle of the sun standing still for Yehoshua. The intent of the miracle was not to transcend the natural order entirely, but that the miracle should amplify the success of the war which was carried out (primarily) within the limits of the natural order. Therefore, the enemy was not defeated through miraculous means. Instead, the miracle merely allowed the success which was achieved by natural means to be more complete and inclusive.
Therefore, one can conclude that the miracle of the sun standing still did not affect the sun alone, but rather influenced the entire physical process which causes it to move. In this way, the miracle had a greater tie to the natural order.9
Based on the above, we can also understand the gradual nature of the miracle of the Third of Tammuz. Although the Third of Tammuz was a miracle which transcended nature, it also influenced the natural order, the natural order agreeing, as it were, to this miraculous series of events. Simply put, the very same people who arrested the Previous Rebbe were the ones who set him free and, indeed, they were forced to assist him in regard to certain elements of his liberation.
For this reason, so that the opposing forces would — within the context of their nature, and without having lost their power — appreciate the need to free the Previous Rebbe, his redemption had to come in stages. First, his death sentence was commuted to exile and only afterwards, was he set free entirely.
The effects of his redemption did not end there. The Russian government’s opposition to Yiddishkeit continued for many years afterwards until ultimately at present, they are allowing Jews the potential to observe Yiddishkeit and also giving them freedom to emigrate from that country.10
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2. The above concepts can also be connected to the transition between the months of Sivan, the third month, and Tammuz, the fourth month. Our Sages associate the transition from three (gimmel in Hebrew) to four (daled in Hebrew)with the phrase gomail dallim (showing generosity to the poor). This transition takes us from the month in which the Torah was given to a month associated with the Previous Rebbe’s imprisonment and then, brings about the transformation of that month into a month of redemption.
This process is also alluded to in the shape of the letter daled. To explain: Both the letters daled and reish are associated with poverty (for the word dallus means “poverty” and the word reish means “a poor person”). Similarly, the forms of these two letters resemble each other. There is, however, one difference between them. The letter daled has a point at its corner resembling the letter yud, while the reishdoes not.
The point of the daled represents the quality of bittul, which emanates from the essential point of the Jewish soul possessed by every Jew. Even if a Jew is estranged from his roots, he remains a Jew, for this essential point of the soul is above all concealment, connecting the essence of a Jew to G‑d’s essence. Thus, the poverty of the daled is representative of the attitude of bittul which connects a person with the highest levels.11 In contrast, the letter reish is not associated with this quality of bittul and thus reflects poverty which has no connection to holiness.
This reflects the nature of the fourth month, the transformation of poverty and exile to redemption. Even in the lowest levels of distress, one is able to reveal ayud, the essential point of a Jew’s soul, and this establishes a connection with the highest levels of G‑dliness.12
The above has particular ramifications in regard to the service of spreading the wellsprings of Chassidus outward, a service which is particularly related to the Third of Tammuz. From the connection to Parshas Korach and the narrative of the blossoming of Aharon’s staff, we learn that this service must be carried out with zerizus, with energy and vitality.
Similarly, this concept has ramifications regarding all aspects of our service of G‑d. This energy and vitality must permeate every aspect of our service, expressing a fundamental commitment to G‑d as the Rebbe Rashab stated, “Were we commanded to chop trees, [we would do so with joy].”
The above also relates to a Jew’s involvement with worldly affairs and earning a livelihood. Aharon’s staff was placed in the ark together with the measure ofmanna. Thus it also serves as a message to the Jews that their sustenance is dependent on G‑d and not on natural means alone.
It is written “And G‑d will bless you in all that you do,” implying that there is a necessity for man’s activity within the context of the rules of nature. Nevertheless, this activity is merely a medium through which G‑d will grant a Jew his livelihood in a miraculous manner. These miracles will permeate the nature of the world and the world itself and the gentile nations will assist the Jews in earning a livelihood, and indeed, enable them to enjoy prosperity as we have seen in the present generation.
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3. To focus on the service of spreading the wellsprings outward in greater detail. This service must become part of a person’s nature, an essential part of his being. When he wakes up in the morning, he must feel that his entire existence is the spreading of Chassidus. The intent is not that he exists as a separate entity and that he dedicates himself to this goal, but that spreading Chassidus is his being itself.
And in this manner, he will be able to spread the wellsprings, the level of Torah at which even a single drop brings purity,13 outward. This means extending one’s own personal service beyond the essential point of faith to the powers of intellect and emotion; in a deeper sense, extending these wellsprings to others beyond one’s self; and in the most complete sense, reaching the furthest peripheries, the area beyond the scope of holiness.
An example of this can be taken from the well-known story regarding a Chassidwho was stopped on the street by a policeman in Peterburg. In response to the policeman’s question, “Who are you?”, the Chassid answered, “I’m bittul (self-nullification),” i.e., bittul was the totality of his existence. Furthermore, he gave this answer in Russian, reflecting how this awareness had permeated even this dimension of his being.
The question, nevertheless, arises: Even if a single individual carries out his service in a perfect manner, what effect can such activity have on the world at large? On the surface, the world seems to be going on without being affected by a Jew’s service in spreading the wellsprings of Chassidus outward or preparing for Mashiach’s coming.
This, however, represents a very narrow view of what is going on in the world. In truth, the world is ready for Mashiach’s coming and when a Jew carries out his service in the proper manner, the world itself and the gentile nations will assist him. This is particularly true in the present year, a year when “I will show you wonders.”
In practice, from the Third of Tammuz onward, efforts must be made to intensify our service of spreading the wellsprings of Chassidus outward. In particular, these summer months should be used to enroll children in summer camps and for those camps to use each moment of the summer to give the children additional exposure to Yiddishkeit, and to do this with joy and vitality.
Also, the Shabbasos of these months should be used to study Pirkei Avos.(Significantly, the present Shabbos is the tenth Shabbos on which Pirkei Avoshas been studied since Pesach.) Furthermore, as mentioned on previous occasions, it is proper that these teachings be studied, not merely recited. At least one teaching should be studied in depth with its commentaries. At the same time, it is worthy to mention the virtues of the Chassidic custom of reciting maamarim after the Minchah service on Shabbos. And may these activities hasten the coming of the time when, together with “our youth and our elders, our sons and our daughters,” we will proceed to Eretz Yisrael, to Jerusalem, and to the Beis HaMikdash.
2.A parallel to these two types of miracles can be seen in the miracles performed by Moshe as a sign that G‑d had sent him. One of the signs involved changing the water into blood. As soon as that miracle was concluded the water reverted to its natural state. Thus, in regard to the stopping of the sun, this would mean that the sun stopped against its nature and once the miracle ceased, its original nature returned.
Another one of the signs worked by Moshe was his hand becoming leprous. In this instance, the nature of his hand changed and a second miracle was required for it to return to its normal state. In regard to the stopping of the sun, this would mean that the entire physical processes causing the sun to move had been changed and a second miracle was required for them to begin operating again.
3.The extent of the miracle was furthermore emphasized by the fact that Aharon’s staff with its buds, flowers, and fruit, was preserved for all subsequent generations as commanded by the Torah.
4.This indicated that the qualities of priesthood granted to Aharon had changed his nature and had become an intrinsic part of his being.
5.Although in Shaar HaYichud VehaEmunah, there are logical proofs why, since the world was created ex nihilo, the creation must be maintained by G‑d at every moment. These proofs apply, however, only within the context of the world as it exists after creation. G‑d is Omnipotent and could have created the world within an entirely different framework and structure.
6.The term “this” is used because it is not only the person making the blessing that reveals G‑d’s glory, but also the water itself, as it were. For without the water, it would be impossible for this blessing to be recited.
7.In particular, this applies in regard to the blessings “…Who performs the work of creation,” and “…Whose power and might fill up the world” which are recited when witnessing thunder and lightening as we have witnessed recently in this city.
The blessing “…Whose power and might fill up the world” is also recited when witnessing an earthquake and a volcano. This also reveals Divine power in this world. This is also of contemporary relevance because the volcanic eruptions in a distant portion of the world have affected the citizens of this country. Their soldiers are stationed in that land and are involved in granting assistance to those affected by the eruptions.
8.Because the source for this influence is above the natural order, it is drawn down in a manner of zerizus, with speed and energy. Generally, Divine influence passes through the order of spiritual worlds through a step by step downward progression. In regard to the Priestly Blessing, however, this downward progression is hastened, with no obstacles interfering with it.
This is also related to the blossoming of Aharon’s staff for G‑d chose to work this miracle with almonds because they blossom faster than any other fruit. In this instance, they blossomed even faster than usual, in a single night.
(In this context, we can also understand the contrast between the names of this week’s parshah, Korach, קרח and next week’s parshah, Chukas, חקת. The names of both parshiyos contain the letters חק, which refers to a transcendent revelation, above the limits of understanding. Korach, however, adds to that a ר, a letter associated with “poverty,” for it possesses only a single leg. It is missing the third leg which alludes to drawing influence down into our material world.
Chukas, in contrast, possesses a ת, the last of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, and one which possesses three lines. Thus, it alludes to the transmission of G‑dly energy into the lowest levels of our material world.)
9.According to Chassidus, it is explained that Yehoshua caused the sun to cease reciting its praise of G‑d. (This is alluded to by the word dom translated as “stand still” which literally means “be silent.”) When the sun ceased its praise, the gentile nations — who receive their influence from the sun — had no power.
10.Significantly, there is now a debate whether to change the name of the city in which the Previous Rebbe was imprisoned, Leningrad, back to its original name, Peterburg. This can be seen as a continuation of the upheaval in that country and its rejection of Communist values. (Although the Czarist regime which the name Peterburg is associated with also persecuted the Jews, their persecution cannot be compared to that of the Communists). Thus, this development can also be seen as an extension of the effects of Yud-Beis Tammuz.
11.This relates to the interpretation of the verse, “A psalm of the poor man: He will pour out his words before G‑d,” that explains that a Jew’s simple commitment brings him to the highest levels, before G‑d Himself.
12.This relates to the verse, “I am with him in distress,” i.e., whenever a Jew is found in a distressing situation, G‑d is with him.
13.In contrast to a mikveh which requires a large quantity of water to restore ritual purity, even a single drop from a spring can impart such purity.