Shemos 5752: To Bring to the Days of Moshiach

This parsha, following the passing of Yaakov, Yosef, and the brothers, is the beginning of a new era in the history of Bnei Yisroel–the beginning of the Egyptian exile.  “These are the names of Bnei Yisroel who came to Egypt”–the first exile.

The midrash states that the reason for the subsequent redemption from Egypt was “due to the fact that [Bnei Yisroel] did not change their names…they went down as Reuvain and Shimon and they came up as Reuvain and Shimon.”  This is a comment on the name (and initial verse) of our parsha: Shemos (meaning, “names”), which refers to the beginning of the exile in Egypt, as mentioned.

The Rebbe derives from this that the verse “these are the names of Bnei Yisroel who came to Egypt” is also emphasizing the merit for which they were ultimately redeemed from Egypt (“that they didn’t change their names”).  In other words–it is referring both to the beginning of the golus and also to the future Geulah from that golus.

The whole idea of “coming to Egypt” is in truth the “Geulah of Yisroel”.  The descent which occurs in the meantime [until the Geulah comes] is on the superficial level (בחיצוניות), but on a deeper level (בפנימיות), the descent itself is (not only for the sake that through it will come the ascent that occurs through the redemption from Egypt, but more than that–) a part of the ascent and the Geulah itself, until we reach the ascent of the true and complete Geulah…the future Geulah.

In other words, not only is there a “descent for the sake of an ascent”, which makes the descent worthwhile in the end; here the Rebbe is saying something much greater: the descent itself is already part of the ultimate ascent!

At this point, the Rebbe turns to explain the familiar statement:

Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah said: I am like a person seventy years old and yet I did not merit (to understand the source for the obligation) to recall the exodus from Egypt at night until Ben Zoma explained: “It is written, ‘so that you recall the day you left Egypt all the days of your life.’ ‘The days of your life,’ this refers to the actual days. ‘All the days of your life,’ includes the nights as well.” Our Sages say: “ ’The days of your life,’ this refers to the present era. ‘All the days of your life,’ includes the Era of the Redemption.”

There are three levels: Day (when the light of Hashem is shining); Night (the darkness of exile); and the Days of Moshiach (Yemos Hamoshiach, which we will explain).

The Rebbe refers here to Yemos Hamoshiach as a time of “a state of Geulah”, which seemingly is not the same thing as Geulah.  Rather, it is a unification of Geulah (which completely transcends all limitations) and golus, where the unlimited aspect of the Geulah is “drawn down into the limitations of the reality of olam hazeh”.

How can such a thing happen, the unlimited being drawn into the limited?  This is the unique power of the Nosi, the leader of the generation (as was Rabbi Elazar ben Azaria, mentioned above):

The chiddush of the leader of Yisroel (“Nosi b’Yisroel”–the world “Nosi” coming from the word “exalted” התנשאות) is that he connects and unifies “all the days of your life” of every single Jew and of all of Israel — “all the days of your life” the physical days in olam hazeh and particularly in the time of golus (“nights”) — with the Geulah in general and with Yemos Hamoshiach in particular…specifically the Nosi has the power to connect and unify the golus with the Geulah.

For us, this means that “all the days of your life”–as a soul in a body in this physical and material world and in the time of golus, we can go out from the limitations of this world and, more than this: put ourselves in a state of Yemos Hamoshiach!  It is true that the complete Geulah depends on everything being “as it should be” (תוכו כברו).  Nonetheless, even in a personal state of golus (when one is not “as he should be”) he is given special help from the Holy One, blessed be He, and he is given the ability to bring about the true and complete Geulah.  This is why Rabbi Elazar ben Azaria changed the policy and opened up the doors to the study halls to allow students who were not “as they should be”–because he gives them the power to transform things even while in a state of golus!

Thus, even in the “night” of golus, having descending into Egypt, surrounded by 70 nations, he can bring himself to a state of Geulah–“all the days of your life, to bring Yemos Hamoshiach”.

How realistic is this for us?  The Rebbe states:

The instruction from this is understood in simple terms, especially in our generation and our time: as has been said numerous times the words of my father-in-law the leader of our generation (“Nosi Doreinu”), that in addition to the fact that already “all of the end-times have passed”, and Bnei Yisroel have already done tshuva, and finished everything, including polishing the buttons, and all that is needed is that the Holy One, blessed be He, will open up the eyes of Bnei Yisroel so they will see that the true and complete Geulah exists already, and we are already sitting at the set table, at the feast of the Levyoson and the Shor Habar, etc., etc….

This includes transitioning seamlessly from “the days of your life” into “Yemos Hamoshiach”:

and from “the days of your life” at this time and in this place, without any delay in between, chas v’sholom, every single Jew passes immediately with the ultimate perfection in a continuation of “all the days of your life” in Yemos Hamoshiach, and the eternal life that will be then.

What is our job?  Our job is to actually to bring to “Yemos Hamoshiach”, with an emphasis to recognize the one who accomplishes all this:

As regards actual action, the intent is that the avodah of Bnei Yisroel now must be “to bring to Yemos Hamoshiach”, to reveal already in actuality that the state of “coming to Egypt” in golus is in truth a state of “the Geulah of Yisroel”, through this that they prepare themselves and prepare others for the state of “Yemos Hamoshiach”…and since there is already the “king from the house of Dovid who is involved in Torah and busy with Mitzvos like his father Dovid…and he will force all of Israel to go in it and to rectify its breaches and fight the wars of Hashem” — for then “we can assume that he is Moshiach” (בחזקת משיח) — that already immediately he will be “certainly Moshiach” (משיח בודאי), through this that “he did all this and succeeded and built the Beis Hamikdash in his place and gathered in the dispersed of Israel…and rectified the entire world to serve Hashem together, etc.”

Sicha in English

Sicha in Hebrew

Sicha in original Yiddish

Video Shiur: Vayechi 5752

The Meal is Ready, Are You Ready?

Chabadinfo.com Exclusive: In the last Sicha we heard from the Rebbe on Parshas Vayechi, in the year 5752, the Rebbe states that our work has been done, and the Royal Meal of the Livyasan, and Shor Habar is ready ● 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

 

Vayechi 5752: Eternal Life for Every Jew via Yaakov Avinu

Our parsha begins with the words “Vayechi Yaakov” (“Yaakov lived”).  And although in the parsha we read about Yaakov’s passing, nonetheless our sages teach us that “Yaakov Avinu didn’t die–just as his children are alive, so too he is alive”.  Explains the Rebbe:

The life of Yaakov is eternal life through this that it is drawn to to his children and their descendents until the end of all of the generations.  “His children are alive” meaning true life through learning and fulfilling the Torah.  [Although we mention his children], nonetheless the name of the parsha is named after the life of Yaakov (“Vayechi Yaakov”) — since the truth of the life of Yaakov, eternal life, is expressed in the life of his children.

This means that Yaakov himself lives eternally (soul in a body, as explained elsewhere), and since the material eyes see that”they embalmed him and buried him, etc” his eternal life is expressed through the life of his children–they are alive because he is alive (and similarly, he is alive because they are alive–he is the reason they are alive, and they are the revelation that he is alive).

This parsha is in proximity to the fast of the Tenth of Teves, the day when the walls of Yerushalayim were besieged–the first step in the process which led, eventually, to the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash.  In the prophecy of Yechezkiel about the destruction, Hashem instructs him to take a “pan of iron” and to erect a “wall of iron”, symbolizing the seige of Yerushalayim.  Our sages speak of barzel, iron, as the element which actually destroyed the Beis Hamikdash, and for this reason it was not used in its construction.  In the words of the Midrash: “This is the gift…gold, silver, and copper…but iron is not written here, neither by the Mishkan nor by the Mikdash.  Why?  Because Edom is likened to it, and they are the ones who destroyed the Beis Hamikdash.”

Here the Rebbe introduces the concept of “barzel d’kedusha“–iron of the side of holiness.  This refers to being “stiff-necked” for holiness, for Torah and Mitzvos:

This is the inyan of “stiff-necked” in a positive sense, the strength and fortitude (iron) of the etzem haneshoma, the essence of the neshoma.  For it is through this that we nullify the iron of the opposite of holiness which is the “stiff-neck” of the evil inclination.  [Practically, this means] keeping the complete Torah, in a way of strength and fortitude of the “iron” of holiness.

For this reason, the third Beis Hamikdash will be constructed also with iron, because after the iron of the opposite of holiness (which destroyed) is nullified and refined, then the Beis Hamikdash is rebuilt through the iron of holiness (as mentioned above).  I turns out, explains the Rebbe, that the Tenth of Teves, the seige of Yerushalayim, is not only the beginning of the exile and the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash, but it is in fact the beginning of the construction of the 3rd Beis Hamikdash and the future Geulah!  The destruction of the (previous) Beis Hamikdash was for the sake of the construction of the third, eternal Beis Hamikdash–“the beginning of the destruction and the exile is the beginning of the Geulah, similar to sowing seeds in the ground as the first step towards (and which brings about) the beginning of the sprouting.”

Parshas Vayechi is also Shabbos “Chazak” (being the final parsha in Sefer Bereishis we say “Chazak Chazak V’nischazek” (“Be strong, be strong, and may we be strengthened!”) upon completion of the reading of the parsha). This “strengthening” (chizuk) for the whole time of golus is “Vayechi Yaakov”–Yaakov lives.  Yaakov’s inyan is Torah, and Yaakov’s eternal life is revealed through Torah, specifically “the expounding of our sages, that from this we learn that Yaakov Avinu did not die”).  A strengthening (chizuk) to stand with the strength and fortitude of iron for matters of holiness, for in this way we transform the iron of the opposite of holiness, which destroyed the Beis Hamikdash, into the iron of holiness and the building of the Beis Hamikdash of the future.  (And this occurs through Moshiach, who will conquer these klipos.).

Yaakov Avinu is one of the patriarchs who merited to “taste the eternal life of the world to come in their life in this world”.  In the future, this will be experienced by every single Jew (their descendants) together with all the Jews of all the generations who will arise in the resurrection of the dead.

And how much more so all of Bnei Yisroel in our generation ([for we are presently alive] living neshomos in living bodies without any interruption, chas v’sholom, at all in life [of this world and the life of the world to come–a seamless transition], and Nosi Doreinu at our head…for then every single Jew will be alive, living eternally in the simple sense, beginning with the Bnei Yisroel of our generation, souls in bodies, for long and good years…eternal life.

 How do we bring about that our generation and every generation will experience the eternal life in this world which awaits them?

…the resolution alone to increase in “one mitzvah” in a way of sowing (even before one has fulfilled it) should bring the “sprouting” of the Geulah in actuality, and immediately…we should already have the “coming up” from the exile to the Geulah…and Nosi Doreinu — the Yosef of our generation [a reference to the Previous Rebbe] — who “did not die”, like Yaakov Avinu, as is known that “Nosi” (נשיא) stands for “a spark of Yaakov Avinu” (ניצוצו של יעקב אבינו), and it is through the hiskashrus and the bittul to the Nosi Hador that this [that he “did not die”] is drawn into each and every one of the people of this generation.

 Yechi Adoneinu Moreinu v’Rabbeinu Melech Hamoshiach L’olam Vo’ed!

Kuntres Hey Teves, 5752

The Kuntres printed for Hey Teves (ה’ טבת) in the year 5752 is a Chassidic Discourse the Rebbe said on parshas Vayigash, 5732, edited for publication under the supervision of the Rebbe himself.

The discourse explains some deep concepts in Chassidus, which we will not attempt to explain here; rather, we will take one point in the discourse.

The parsha begins with Yehuda approaching Yosef.  As is known, Yosef was dressed as an Egyptian, his brothers had no idea that this was their brother that they had sold into slavery so many years earlier.  This “Egyptian” was demanding that their brother Binyomin remain with him as a slave, because of the “theft”  of his goblet (which Yosef himself orchestrated).  Yehuda fearlessly approaches Yosef and asks — and even demands —  that the “Egyptian” let Binyomin return to his father (of whom he says “his soul is bound up with his soul”) and enslave one of the other brothers in his place.

This act of selflessness on the part of Yehuda represents the rectification of the original sale of Yosef, as is known.  But as explained according to Chassidus, there are even loftier things occurring here.

To summarize these loftier things, without elaboration: Yosef represents the level of Z”A and Yesod, the mashpia who gives spiritual influence; Yehuda represents the level of Malchus, the mekabel who receives from the mashpia.  Yehuda is requesting from Yosef to give over to him the spiritual influence.  And more than that, he is asking to receive this, reflecting the active participation of the mekabel.

Obviously, the mashpia (giver) is higher than the mekabel (receiver).  But in their source, it is reversed: the source of the mekabel (receiver) is on the level of Kesser (the “crown”) which is far above the source of the mashpia (giver).

Chassidus explains that when the mashpia gives over to the mekabel (who actually has a higher source in Kesser) then the mashpia also receives this level of Kesser.  That by giving, the mashpia also receives something even greater from the mekabel.

That said, the Rebbe explains the words of Yehuda “בי אדני” which are usually translated as “please, my lord” or “please, my master”.  But the word בי is unusual, it means “in me”, and there the verse would make perfect sense without it.  So why is it there?  The Rebbe explains as follows:

This that Z”A wants to desires to give over to Malchus (because any bestowal of spiritual influence is only through a desire for such) is because it feels the lofty level of the source of Malchus, which is mainly that by giving over to Malchus the result will be the perfection of that which is drawn down into Z”A.  Thus, Yehuda said to Yosef “in me, my lord” בי אדוני, that the spiritual influence drawn down from Z”A to Malchus should be (not for the perfection of Z”A, but rather) in order that this spiritual influence should be drawn down to Malchus, “in me, my lord”.

In other words: one who is in a position to give/teach to others can do it with the consideration of how this is part of his own rectification and perfection, and he is correct.  “Helping others is good for you”.  But an even higher level is reached when — and this is the Supernal desire — that it should be done without that consideration, but rather only for the sake of and the benefit of the mekabel, the receiver!

After this, Yosef could no longer hold himself back and he revealed himself to his brothers, which is the model for Hashem revealing Himself to us in the true and complete Geuloh!

Video Shiur: Vayigash 5752

Taking a Tough Stand Against the King

Chabadinfo.com Exclusive: In the last Sicha we heard from the Rebbe on Parshas Vayigash, in the year 5752, the Rebbe explains how Yehuda’s tough stance against the unrecognizable Yosef gives us Jews the power for all generations to demand Moshiach ● 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

 

Vayigash 5752: The World’s Limitations Are No Obstacle

In our parsha we read about Yehuda approaching Yosef (whom he did not know was really his brother), despite the fact that he was 2nd in command to Pharoah, fearlessly, but respectfully, demanding that Binyomin be freed.  Although he spoke respectfully, he did not ask permission to approach (as is customary) and was prepared to fight if necessary.  All this in order to free his youngest brother, Binyomin.

Who was mightier–Yosef, or Yehuda?  Yosef was second only to Pharoah, and everyone had to do exactly what he commanded.  Yehuda, on the other hand, was a visitor with no rights, and in previously he had bowed in deference to Yosef.  However, Yehuda “broke protocol” and confronted this Egyptian Viceroy (little did he imagine that it is really his brother who loves him) with mesirus nefesh when the life of Binyomin was at stake.

To understand this, the Rebbe explains two approaches to dealing with the world: a) to be limited by the world and its limitations (of physicality, of customs and “protocol”), to go “in the way of the world”; and b) to be completely above the world and its limitations, not reckoning with it.  The Rebbe then makes an analogy to the feast of Achashverosh (in the times of the Purim story), which was conducted according to “the desire of each and every person”.  The Midrash says “each and every person” means Mordechai and Haman, and asks how can one fulfill their completely opposite desires simultaneously?  The answer: to a flesh and blood king this is impossible, but in the future Hashem will do exactly that.

How so?  Mordechai’s desire, as the name “Mordechai HaYehudi” suggests, is not to bow down to any idolatry, any aspect of worldly life which is not fulfilling the will of Hashem (even if it is permitted according to Torah)–he desires that everything be for the sake of Heaven, lesheim shomayim.  Haman, on the other hand, claims that since one is found in the world, in golus, then one must reckon with its limitations.  These are completely opposite desires!  But, explains the Rebbe, when you are connected with the Eybershter, you are above the conduct of the world and thus you have the ability to unify opposites: to be in the world and in golus, and yet “not to bow down” and to stand entirely higher than it all.

The question, however, remains: how can one (even if he has the “power” to do so, but practically speaking) do two opposite things?  To “not bow down” to golus, and at the same time to in fact conduct himself in accordance with the limitations of golus?

The answer is that now, in our generation–the final generation of golus and the first generation of Geulah–it is possible to do so, because the world is a different world.  In previous generations there were various limitations placed on the Jewish people from the outside: decrees, r”l, which impacted Yiddishkeit and did not leave room for a Yid to stand above golus.  Today, however “in our generation this is entirely dependent on a Jew’s will.

From the above we can understand that the might of Yehuda is in fact greater than that of Yosef.  Because Yosef’s might is connected with and the kingdom of Egypt and its limitations, including the conduct of a state.  Yehuda, on the other hand, “did not ask permission” and represents a higher level of “might”, the level of breaking boundaries.  It is davka Yehuda’s actions that bring to the Jewish people settling in Mitzrayim in a way where they flourish.  When a Jew stands with “forthrightness” (breitkeit), he brings about that even the King of Egypt assists him.

We find that in all the generations there were limitations from the outside, coming from the nations of the world and their decrees against Yidden, r”l, which did not always leave Yidden to conduct themselves with full forthrightness and balabatishkeit.

This is not the case in our generation and in our time, as we see in actuality that we do not have the confusions of the past, and the nations of the world leave Jews to conduct themselves as they please, and the matter is dependent only on the desire of the Yidden to conduct themselves with full forthrightness and balabatishkeit.

Today, the nations of the world not only are not imposing restrictions on Yidden and Yiddishkeit, they even assist, enabling Jews to spread Yiddishkeit and Torah and Mitzvos, and also to that which pertains to the nations of the world themselves, the 7 Noahide laws.  Today a Jew can “go in the way of the world” and still conduct himself as a Jew with full forthrightness and balabatishkeit: fulfilling the desire of both Mordechai (above limitations of the world) and Haman (within the way of the world)!

The Rebbe continues and states that the Frierdicker Rebbe has already informed us that:

all preparations for Geulah have been completed, and now we must draw down the Geulah into actuality in the physicality and materiality of the world (materiality which is transformed into physicality*), in a revealed way in the eyes of all flesh…the entire world demands that every Yid should already be standing in the state of the true and complete Geulah…and the matter is not dependent on anything other than their desire”

Thus, each one of us must conduct himself and herself with forthrightness and balabatishkeit that “the world was created for me” to fulfill Torah and Mitzvos, and there is no need to hide or outsmart the system (kuntzen) because today the world enables a Jew to fulfill Torah and Mitzvos, and to bring Geulah–if he wants, if he stands firm about it.  The Geulah is here, waiting for us to reveal it in our actions–without asking permission!

* Chassidus defines “physicality” as that which conceals G-dliness, whereas “materiality” not only conceals but asserts a contrary reality.

Kuntres Chanukah, 5752

The lofty level of the Chanukah lights, as explained in the teachings of Chassidus, is connected with the self-sacrifice of the Maccabees, and through this they succeeded to impact and “light up” the public domain (reshus harabim).  We see this in the mitzvah of Chanukah candles, which are intended to publicize the miracle specifically in the public domain.  (The reason that the custom is to light inside the home, not in the public domain, is beyond the scope of this post.)

But why is this only by Chanukah, and not by Purim?  The miracle of Purim, also, was brought about by self-sacrifice; and not only by a small group (Mattisyahu and his children), but by the entire Jewish people.  So why don’t the mitzvas of Purim impact the public domain?

In order to explain this, the Rebbe first explains the three levels stated in Chassidus: Tzaddik, Yoshar, and Chossid, each one on a higher level than the previous.  A Tzaddik has the power to “overrule” the Holy One, blessed be He, as our sages say “The Holy One decrees, and the Tzaddik nullifies the decree”, or “the Tzaddik decrees, and the Holy One fulfills it”.  Yet, the level of Chassidim is even higher, as the verse in Tehillim states: “All your handiwork will thank You, and Your Chassidim will bless you” (Tehillim 145:10), meaning that the blessing of Chassidim draws down from a level which the “your handiwork will thank you” cannot reach.

The level of Chassidim is the level of serving Hashem with bittul (self-nullification) which is from the aspect of etzem (the essence), a level higher than ones own existence.  In the words of our sages: “Who is a Chosid? One who performs Chesed (giving) with his owner.”  Explains the Rebbe,

Among the reasons that one whose Divine service is (not for himself, but rather) for the sake of Above is called by the name Chosid (from the word chesed, giving) is that since his avodah is with the ultimate self-nullification (bittul), above his own existence, it follows that what he draws down through this avodah is from the [highest of levels, the] level of “Pnimiyus Atik”.

Correspondingly, this level is also reached through the teachings of Chassidus:

The teachings of Chassidus are the aspect of Pnimiyus Atik.  Thus, through the study of teachings of Chassidus and following the ways of Chassidus, the natural powers of the soul (of the one who is involved in Chassidus) become G-dly powers.  Because via what comes down and is revealed from Pnimiyus Atik, he feels (at least in a concealed way) that the true [Divine] existence is his existence.

This revelation which is higher than the limitations of the world (למעלה מהשתלשלות) therefore transcends the boundaries of the world and is found in every place equally.  This is the concept of the lights of Chanukah illuminating the public domain, because they draw down from “Pnimiyus Atik” which is present in all places.

And from this we can understand why the self-sacrifice of Purim did not reach the public domain but on Chanukah it did:

Because the self-sacrifice of Matisyahu and his sons was that despite that they were weak and few; nevertheless, they battled against the mighty and the numerous.  The fact that they performed actions in the natural way (a war) in order to defeat the Greeks, even though according to the natural order there is no chance for the weak and the few to defeat the might and numerous, is because it was taken for granted by them that even nature (of this lowly world where klipos are powerful) is G-dliness.  This deeply ingrained premise derives from the feeling that His Divine True Existence is the existence of all entities.  And because of this, they drew down from the level of Pnimiyus Atik.

What is the lesson here for us?  To serve Hashem as Chassidim, not for our own benefit (whether it be material or spiritual benefit, including the pleasure of “slaking ones thirst for G-dliness”), but rather in a state of self-nullification to do what is needed of us; in a way where we realize that all of existence is, inherently, G-dliness, and therefore we can accomplish our mission even in the “public domain” because it does not really have any separate existence from G-dliness.  Like the Chanukah lights, we can even reveal G-dliness in the public domain that seemingly has an independent existence, for in fact it does not!

This itself is the state of “the time to come”, the true and complete Geulah!