“Putting the Alef into ‘gola’ to make ‘Geulah’–Unifying the Limited and the Unlimited”
Shemini (“Eighth”)—Higher Than 7 and 8
Periodically parshas Shemini (“Eighth”, referring to the 8th day of setting up the Mishkan in the desert) is read 8 times (this occurs outside of Eretz Yisroel in a year when the Yom Tov of Pesach falls out on Shabbos, as it does this year — 5778). This gives rise to the expression “Shemini Shmoneh Shmeina”, meaning “[When parshat] Shemini (“Eighth”) [is read] Shmoneh [eight times, then the year is] Shmeina [fat]”—with material and spiritual abundance. All the more so in the year this sicha was originally said, when it coincided with beginning to learn Pirkei Avos, and also Sefiras Ha’Omer started and ended on Shabbos. This special quality is not only present in a year when this occurs, but is drawn into all the years until the next time that it comes to be read 8 times.
The “eighth” that is mentioned in this parsha is the beginning of the indwelling of the Shechina in the Mishkan. What is the significance of 8? The world derives from 7—this is the number of days of Creation, days of the week, the 7 midos (emotional attributes as described in Chassidus). The number 7 represents G-dly light as it is enclothed in the Creation, the “Seder Hishtalshelus”. The number 8 represents the G-dly light above Hishtalshelus, and it is specifically on the 8th day that we find the Shechina (revelation of G-dliness Above the Creation) being revealed in the Mishkan.
Ultimate Purpose of Creation
Hashem’s intent in creating the world is that the G-dly light that is above Hishtalshelus (represented by Shemini, 8th) will not remain separate but rather will be drawn down to be revealed in the world in a way that the world, on its own terms, will be able to receive this revelation.
This is a unification of 2 things: 1) Revelation above limitation and 2) Limitation. These two aspects when unified allow for the recipient to be a vessel to accept this revelation in an internalized way. The order of this avodah is from below to above. This is connected with the revelation of the Shechina in “the work of your hands”, the Mishkan.
This is exemplified in the words of the Sages that the place of the Aron Kodesh (containing the Luchos) transcended limitation (“eino min hamida”). The Aron itself had precise measurements, but the place transcended limitation, meaning limitation and unlimited together, that the unlimited can be grasped by within the bounds of the lower (limited) entity.
[We find that the Aron (the ark which housed the tablets) possessed just such a quality [of opposites co-existing]. The Talmud states that “the position occupied by the Aron did not take up any space.” That is, the Aron had definite physical dimensions — 2½ cubits length, 1½ cubits width, 1½ cubits height. Logically then, when placed in the Holy of Holies, the Aron should have occupied this amount of space. Yet, the Talmud tells us, it took up no space at all! This is logically impossible — for it is the synthesis of two opposites: the finite and the infinite. Yet in the case of the Aron, it existed. The Rashba cites this as proof of the existence of the phenomenon of the logically impossible. Not only did the Aron transcend the limits of nature (itself a great miracle, since the Aron was made of physical gold), but simultaneously the finite and infinite co-existed together in it: the Aron had definite physical limits, yet took up no space…Its concept is made possible from a level that transcends both of them, allowing the synthesis of these two opposites. (From sicha of 23 Elul, 5742)]
We find this as well in the avodah of a Jew—there is his limited and measured avodah, as befits his level, to make himself into a vessel to internalize the revelations. In addition to this, there is the avodah of “with all your might” (b’chol me’odecha)—a vessel to receive G-dliness above the limitations of the person. And the ultimate goal: the unification of these 2 forms of avodah. To summarize: Shemini (8th,name of the parasha) is the unlimited, above Hishtalshelus. Shmoneh (8, number of times the parsha is read in certain years) is the unlimited as it is contained in the qualities of limitation (7), within Hishtalshelus, the unification of limited and unlimited—the ultimate intent of Creation.
Interestingly, the Rebbe, taking a hint from the “shmeina” (related to the concept of oil) asserts that the mention of oil in the Shulchan Aruch (Y.D. 105:5) hints at Pnimiyus Hatorah (within the laws themselves). Through properly keeping the laws of the Shluchan Aruch there is a drawing down and revelation of this “oil” of Torah also in the world (since the halachos relate to conduct in the world, including earthly financial matters) and “through this comes about the Geulah of all Yisroel”. [Note that the Rebbe here is asserting that as a result of keeping Shulchan Aruch properly the world is impacted and through this Yisroel is redeemed.]
Revelation From Above—Via Avodah From Below
The revelation of the level of G-dliness that is abovethe limitation of world is specifically via the avodah from below to above—within the limitations of the world. As with the 8 which comes specifically from the 7 that precede it. Thus we find that the limited and measured avodah is connected (in its source) with the highest level (above the source of the unlimited). Similar to what we find with the Aron—the concept of “eino min hamida” (transcending limitation), comes specifically because the Aron had defined measurements.
The power to draw this down is specifically the power of Moshe Rabbeinu [as mentioned in last week’s sicha—ed.], for he is the 7th generation [from Avraham Avinu] and the lofty revelation of the 8th comes about specifically via theeffort of the 7th. Moshe is the “connecting intermediary” (“memutza hamechaber”) “between Hashem and you” (see Maamarim Ranat, p.190). As we see in very first Mishnah of Pirkei Avos, which states “Moshe received Torah from Sinai and passed it on to…” Meaning that Moshe receives the Torah from Hashem himself, and via Moshe every Jew receives Torah, and like the Aron (containing the Luchos), every Jew can draw down G-dliness into the world, including the level of G-dliness that is above Creation.
The Mishnah states that Moshe received from “Sinai” (rather than from the Holy One, blessed be He) because Sinai is the smallest mountain, the idea of self-nullification (“bittul”), indicating that Moshe was in the ultimate state of bittul. And through him the power is drawn down to every Jew to be the aspect of “Moshe received Torah from Sinai”, to unify with the Torah and with the giver of the Torah (via self-nullification, bittul)—“Yisroel, Torah, and the Holy One, blessed be He are completely one” (Zohar). All this in a way of “your eyes will see your teacher” (a small measure of which took place at Matan Torah). As expressed by the Rebbe Rashab—“when one sits in his room and opens Likutei Torah, he feels the Infinite Essence (“Atzmus Ein Sof”).”
Transforming the Exile (“gola”) Into Geulah
The 14th day of the Omer, as it was the day this sicha was said, completes the avodah of refining Chesed (first 7 days of the Omer) and Gevurah (second 7 days), which are the spiritual root of limited and unlimited. Chesed, as is known, is the attribute of “kindness” and giving. Gevurah, as explained by the Alter Rebbe [Torah Ohr, Noach 9c] is not tzimtzum (contraction and limitation), but rather the attribute of “might” which can overpower other forces (“hisgabrus haChayus”). Thus we say “revive the dead” in the second tefillah of Shmoneh Esreh (“You are Mighty” (“Ata Gibor”)), corresponding to the second sefira of Gevurah). The 14th day is Malchus (Geulah) which is in Gevurah—the revelation of the Ketz haGeulah (the “end” associated with Geulah), something which is not revealed [during golus] as it is above revelation. [Thus, Gevurah is not darkness of a lack of Chesed, but rather a higher level of might that can conceal the Chesed. Gevurah brings about exile, but is itself a powerful level of Kedusha. As explained in Chassidus regarding the special quality of “the light that comes from the darkness”.]
Geulah, as explained many times in the Rebbe’s Sichos, is attained by adding to the word “gola” (exile) the letter “alef” (representing the Holy One, blessed be He “Alufo shel olam”). This adding of the letter “alef” is accomplished via “our deeds and our avodah during the time of exile” (Tanya) upon which the Geulah is dependent. Through this, the exile itself (“gola”) becomes Geulah. (Note that this sicha was said on the Shabbos following the now-famous sicha of 28 Nissan, where the Rebbe said “I have done all that I can do, the rest I give over to you…do all that you can do to bring the Geulah in actuality…”. Here the Rebbe is reiterating what it is that we actually need to do.)
Concealment Brings About “Remembrance” and Geulah
This sicha was spoken on Erev Rosh Chodesh Iyar, and the Haftorah speaks of Dovid being absent from Shaul Hamelech’s feast of the New Month, as the verse states “you will be remembered [by Shaul Hamelech] because you will be missing from your place” (“v’nifkadta ki yifkod moshavecha”). Dovid is the level of Malchus, which is the source of the moon, and from Erev Rosh Chodesh (when the moon is completely missing) comes the birth of a new moon. That is to say that from the concealment of Gevurah comes the remembrance and revelation of Malchus (the House of Dovid), until the ultimate perfection of this—Dovid Malka Mashicha in the Geulah. (The concept of remembrance (“nifkadta”) is associated with Geulah, for this was the “code-word” of Moshe Rabbeinu when he came to redeem the bnei Yisroel from Mitzrayim.)
The true and complete Geulah needs to come immediately already, the year of “I will show you wonders”, at the end of Chodesh Nissan. Because a Yid is not found in his place—at the table of his Father in Heaven, in Yerushalayim, in the Beis Hamikdash), Hashem gives Himself over to “remember” them and redeems them via Moshiach Tzidkeinu. The main thing is that through “our deeds and our Avodah during the duration of exile” we bring the Geulah. It is specifically the concealments and limitations of exile which give the strength to bring Geulah (the level of Malchus sh’b’Gevurah).
This is similar to statement of our Sages: “everyone who fulfills the Torah amidst poverty will in the end fulfill it amidst wealth.” Via the poverty of exile, “there is no one who is poor except in knowledge” (“ein oni ela b’da’as”), we receive the true wealth of knowledge and wealth in the simple sense—in the true and complete Geulah. This is especially since we have already fulfilled any obligations to endure the limitation of “poverty” (in the previous generations) [meaning—primarily—poverty of knowledge]. Now there is freedom and abundance (“harchava”) in a simple sense from the kingship of the nations. [The Rebbe is making a thinly veiled reference to the Messianic Era (Yemos Hamoshiach) of which the sages say “there is no difference between this world and the Messianic Era besides servitude to the nations”. This refers to the first epoch of the Messianic Era, followed by a second epoch of even greater G-dly revelations. For more explanation, see Inyonei Moshiach and Geulah #8.]
Thus, we can learn Torah and fulfill Mitzvos in a relaxed state of mind and body (“menuchas hanefesh and menuchas haguf”) [and additionally in recent generations also “wealth” in Torah—via the printing of many seforim that (some) were hidden until now]. For this reason the Geulah will have both the positive quality of Geulah and the positive quality of Golus (the quality of avodah performed via compelling one’s self (“hiskafya”), limitation and constriction, “amidst poverty”…)
Geulah Didn’t Come—Proof That it Depends on Us
Since the Geulah didn’t yet come, this itself is proof that it is dependent on “our deeds and our avodah” of this generation [implying that the deeds and avodah of previous generation were not sufficient to bring the Geulah—ed.] It is specifically through avodah amidst boundaries and limitation and concealment (which derive from Gevuros), because amazing powers are hidden away within them—powers which can bring the Geulah. This recalls the legal ruling of the Rambam that via one mitzvah, a single Jew can tilt the scales and bring Geulah for the entire Jewish people.
There is a rule that “The Holy One, blessed be He, does not demand of us more than we have the power to accomplish, so therefore we have the power to bring the Geulah (since that is what is demanded of us). To be a partner with Hashem in this, not just to help. A partner implies being involved in all the details in a complete manner. Since a Jew is a part of G-dliness (chelek Eloka) he possesses the greatest powers to bring about the greatest things—until even the command “be Holy because I am Holy”, upon which our Sages comment “Holy, like Me”—with certainty!
The year “I will show you wonders” is a year where everything is revealed, meaning both the simple miracles and also miraculous conduct—revealed and wondrous miracles and also wonders hidden within the conduct of nature. This includes the “power of the Creator [Hashem’s speech] that is within the created beings” (koach hapo’al b’nifal), a revelation of the Creation of something from nothing (yesh mi’ayin) and wonders within the concealment of exile—it is specifically through them that nifkadta (remembered, redeemed).
We have already started to see such miracles and wonders in the year of “I will show you wonders” (even though we are still in exile), especially in the month of Adar [seemingly a reference to the end of the first Gulf War], and more in Nissan, and a continuation into Iyar. Adar is the miracle of Purim, enclothed in nature; a month whose “mazal is healthy”, health being a physical blessing. Nissan is revealed miracles that are above nature. And Iyar, whose initial letters can stand for “Avraham, Yitzchok, Yaakov, Rachel”, who are the 4 legs of Hashem’s “chariot”, is the revelation of G-dliness that is above world. Alternatively, Iyar stands for “I am Hashem your healer” (“Ani Hashem Rofecha”)—blessing that reaches the world but is above limitation, containing both levels of hidden wonders within nature, and also miracles.
The day of this sicha was the 14th day of the Omer is Malchus sh’b’Gevurah, the revelation of King Moshiach amidst the Gevuros (limitations and concealments) of exile. And also parshas Shemini, hinting at the harp of 8 strings of the Messianic era, meaning a revelation of G-dliness above the world as it is drawn into the world [as explained at length above]—a revelation which brings immediately the levels of 9 and 10 (“alei asur”), the harp of 10 strings. It is also the Shabbos which blesses the week containing the day of Beis Nissan, the birthday of the Rebbe Maharash, the 6th generation (double chazakah) from the Baal Shem Tov, followed by the 7th generation and the 8th until our generation the 9th (3 times 3=chazakah of chazakah), a preparation—without any interruption—to the 10th, the 10th will be Holy, in the true and complete Geulah.
By Adding in Torah and Mitzvos Moshiach Comes
Everyone receives additional powers from the extension of Moshe in our generation, the Previous Rebbe, especially once we read parshas Shemini is his shul (a three-fold house: good deeds, Torah, and primarily—prayer). “Ingather the dispersed of Israel”—from “that nation” (the Soviet Union) without limitations, unlike it was previously. And they are arriving in Eretz Hakodesh also without the limitations that previously existed. These are among the revelations above limitation that come even before the end of the time of exile.
All of us have the responsibility to add in avodah to bring Moshiach in actuality. There is no room to rely on others—each one needs to do the avodah of “to serve my Master” by himself, and he is given the powers to do this. How so? By adding in Torah and Mitzvos—the revealed and the Pnimiyus, and fulfilling Mitzvos in an exemplary manner. This includes learning Pirkei Avos and influencing others to do the same. Spreading Torah and Yiddishkeit and the wellsprings of Chassidus outward, the latter especially brings about “the Master comes”—this is the King Moshiach. And all of this amidst anticipation and yearning for the Geulah. May it be Hashem’s will that via good resolutions to add in avodah and in actual fulfillment, that this will bring the true and complete Geulah via Moshiach Tzidkeinu immediately.
Points of the Sicha:
- Purpose of Creation—not simply to reach a level above limitation, but to unify that level within the world that is itself limited. The level of 8, which represents the unlimited as it is within (and not beyond) the world. This is dependent upon our effort from below. The power to accomplish this comes through Moshe Rabbeinu, as he himself unifies these levels.
- Keeping the Shulchan Aruch properly brings Geulah to worldly matters, which brings Geulah to the Jewish people.
- To reveal the Geulah is to insert the “alef” of Hashem, through our deeds and Avodah, into the exile (“gola”). It is specifically within the darkness of the exile that the powers needed to bring the Geulah are hidden.
- A Jew no longer needs to be poor (lacking in Torah knowledge, in a desire to fulfill Torah, as well materially), we have begun experience a new level of freedom and abundance with which to fulfill Torah and Mitzvos.
- Our generation has the ability and the responsibility to bring the Geulah in actuality, does not stop at miracles enclothed in nature, but even seeing the Divine speech within every created entity (“koach hapo’al b’nifal”).
- The ability to accomplish all of this comes from the Moshe Rabbeinu of the Generation, whom the Rebbe identifies as the Previous Rebbe (who is the source from whom the Rebbe receives, as the Rebbe is the one who fills his place. Self-understood that we receive from the Rebbe).
- By adding in all areas of serving Hashem—adding in learning Torah (both nigleh and Chassidus), Mitzvos b’Hiddur, and spreading Torah and Mitzvos and Chassidus outward—we bring the revelation of Moshiach. Even merely the good resolution to do so can cause the coming of Moshiach.