Sicha, B’haaloscha, 5751

1. Parshas Behaaloscha contains an aspect that does not exist in regard to all the other parshiyos of the Torah. The two verses beginning “And it came to pass when the ark would set out…” are set aside by upside down nunnim. Our Sages explain that these verses can be considered as a separate book of the Torah. According to this reckoning, there are seven books of the Torah, i.e., the Book of Bamidbar which is divided into three books, and the other four books. Thus, this week’s Torah portion includes portions of three of the Torah’s seven books.

Several difficulties are raised by this matter: a) According to this division, the sixth book of the Torah begins, “And it came to pass that the people complained.” This unfavorable occurrence is hardly an appropriate beginning for one of the books of the Torah.1 b) Similarly, we do not find a name for this sixth book in the works of our Sages. c) There are extensive explanations regarding the significance of the division of the Torah into five books. What is the significance of the seven books? d) What is the reason that this division is made in Parshas Behaaloscha?

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Sicha, Tuesday of B’haaloscha (15 Sivan), 5751

1. Today is the third day of the week Parshas Behaaloscha, and is thus connected with the two verses beginning, “Whenever the ark set out..” According to several commentaries, these two verses are considered as a separate book of the Torah. Thus, the Book of Bamidbar is divided into three books, and the entire Torah into seven.

The number seven also features in the beginning of this week’s Torah portion which mentions the seven branches of the Menorah. Although the Menorah had many different component parts, it was fashioned from a single block of metal.

The Menorah can be interpreted as a symbol for the Torah. Thus, its oneness can be interpreted as an allusion to the unity which pervades the Torah as a whole; the entire Torah, from the Ten Commandments to a seemingly inconsequential point as “Lotan’s sister was Timna,” possesses one unique level of holiness.

Three dollars will be given to each person to distribute to tzedakah. May this draw down the three-fold [priestly] blessing mentioned in last week’s Torah reading. This relates to Parshas Behaaloscha for it is the third parshah in the Book of Bamidbar. May this lead to the lifting up of the heads (Naso) of the Jewish people, until the flame of each Jew’s soul rises up on its own accord (see Rashi at the beginning of Parshas Behaaloscha).

And may attaining these qualities lead to the true and complete redemption, led by Mashiach.

Tranlsation: Sichos In English

Kuntres 15 Sivan: True Hiskashrus

The Rebbe brings in the name of the Rebbe Maharash a Midrash which states: “The Holy One said to man, ‘my candle is in your hand, and the candle is in my hand; My candle in your hand is Torah… Your candle in My hand is the soul… If you guarded My candle, I guard your candle; but if you extinguished My candle, I extinguish your candle.'”. Although it may sound like a case of reward and punishment, the maamor explains it in a much deeper way:

The soul is likened to a candle because of its inherent nature to desire to rise up and be nullified in its source. This is accomplished by Aharon, who has the job to light the menorah until “the flame ascends of its own accord.”. Thus, the verse says “like good oil on the head descends on the beard the beard of Aharon…”. The beard of Aharon is the inyan of the halachos of Torah. This explains our midrash: that guarding the candle of Torah guards the soul that is desire to ascend should be revealed. This is accomplished via Torah.

As Chassidim we can understand that it refers to our hiskashrus to the Rebbe: that by guarding (learning and fulfilling) the Rebbe’s Torah we insure that our desire to be mekushar to the Rebbe remains revealed and is not extinguished, chas v’sholom. (Especially applicable in the period of concealment since Gimmel Tammuz.)

The emphasis here is on “keeping” the Torah, meaning fulfilling the Mitzvos (of course Talmud Torah itself being one of the Mitzvos). Because through Mitzvos one achieves bittul, and only when there is bittul can there be the resting of the Shechina on the body (the analogy of a candle brought in Tanya). And the ultimate level of bittul is acheived through fulfilling Mitzvos. This is why Parshas B’ha’aloshcha (“lightning the candles”) follows the festival of Shavuos, because the level of bittul that became possible after Matan Torah is far greater than what was before.

Even though the natural love of the soul for Hashem — to always be connected and never be separated even to the point is self-sacrifice — existed before Matan Torah, this love is an inheritance from the Avos, who possessed a level of Bittul called מרכבה a chariot. The chariot (the horses who pull it) fulfill the will of the rider not because they want that they should have a connection to the rider (like the natural love of the soul, mentioned above), but rather because they are bottel to the rider.

This level of Bittul of a מרכבה chariot is included (hidden) in the natural love the soul possesses. It is a level of bittul where he does not want anything for himself, only that there should be a revelation of G-dliness in the world, fulfilling Hashem’s desire for a Dwelling Place down below.

But, explains the Rebbe, even this is not the ultimate state of bittul. Because as long as he wants something — even just to fulfill the Divine desire — he remains a metzius. The “true inyan of bittul” is the avoidah of Kabbolas ‘ol, that “he is like a slave who has no desires, all that he does is due to the yoke that was placed on him, which forces him to fulfill the will of the Master.”

This all has a direct relevance to Moshiach and Geulah, alluded to in the final sections of the maamor. When Yisroel said נעשה ונשמע “we will do and [only then] we will understand” — before Matan Torah — they were accepting the yoke of Kingship. By accepting the yoke of Kingship it had the effect of making the King into an actual King. (“There is no King without a people”.). But the bittul after Matan Torah is the ultimate bittul — because the mitzvos are now the decree of Hashem and they force the person to act accordingly.

The levels of Bittul explained here are:

  1. A natural desire to be attached and not be separated from G-dliness;
  2. The chariot which has no desire of it’s own, only the desire to fulfill the desire of the rider;
  3. The bittul of kabbolas ‘ol, like a slave, who has no desire of his own (but nonetheless there is still the metzius of the slave (or the people who have made the King into a King));
  4. The bittul of Mitzvos after Matan Torah — the ultimate state of bittul, when “it is impossible for there to be a metzius in the works that is opposite the command of the Holy One.”

This seemingly would completely eliminate the metzius of the person. But, says the Rebbe, since “Yisroel and the Holy One, blessed be He, are all One” then this level of bittul does not nullify his metzius, but to the contrary this is his metzius. Thus the Midrash says that by keeping Torah and Mitzvos (the ultimate level of bittul) this guards and preserves our soul (our unique metzius).

It comes out that the Rebbe is revealing to us that although all that remains to be done is accepting the Kingship of Melech haMoshiach (as the Rebbe states in other Sichos) , this itself is not the ultimate level of bittul (the level which reveals how we are one with Hashem). Once the Kingship is accepted it must become clear that it is impossible for us to do anything opposite his will, because of our complete state of bittul.  (But this bittul, explains the Rebbe, is accompanied by joy — the simcha shel mitzvah.)

Parshas Naso, 5751: The Year (in which?) Moshiach is Revealed

In the sicha of Parshas Naso, the Rebbe states as follows:

There is a special quality in the Shabbos after Shavuos in this year

To preface, it has been said numerous times that according to all the signs in the words of our sages about the end of days (in addition to the general announcement in the times of the gemara that “all the end-times have passed”), this generation is the last generation of the exile and the first generation of the Geulah.  This was testified to by my father-in-law the Previous Rebbe  — in connection with his well-known proclamation of “immediately to tshuva, immediately to Geulah” — that in his days (decades ago) all the matters of avodah had been finished, and all we need is only to “polish the buttons” and to stand ready to receive Moshiach Tzidkeinu.  How much more so after all the work of spreading the wellsprings outward from then until now, especially upon the completion of 40 years (since his histalkus) it is absolutely certain that we have also finished “polishing the buttons”, and we are standing ready to receive Moshiach Tzidkeinu.

This is especially emphasized in this year — the year 5751 (1991) — [the Hebrew letters of this year, תנש”א] hinting at the verse “his kingship shall be exalted” (תנשא מלכותו) in the entire world, and it also stands for “I will show wonders”– beginning with the wonders that we already saw in actuality, revealed in the eyes of the whole world, in this year [referring to the miracles of the Gulf War].  That through [these events] the words of the Yalkut Shimoni midrash were fulfilled: “In the year that Melech Hamoshiach is revealed all the kings of the world will quarrel, the king of Persia [Iran/Iraq], the king of Arabia, and the Holy One, blessed be He, says to the Jewish people, “my children, do not be afraid, all that I have done I only did for you…the time of your Redemption has arrived.”  Since that time, we are already standing at [the closing section of the Yalkut Shimoni midrash] “in the hour that Melech Hamoshiach comes, he announces to the Jewish people and says humble ones, the time of your redemption has arrived.”

Throughout the Gulf War, the Rebbe made references to this Yalkut Shimoni midrash, but here the Rebbe says unequivocally that “it has been fulfilled”, specifically quoting the words “in the year Melech Hamoshiach is revealed”.  In other words: in 1991 Melech Hamoshiach was revealed.  But despite this, as the Rebbe points out in other sichos, the Jewish people are still fearful and require Moshiach to tell them not to be afraid and to inform them that the Geulah has arrived.  But the “breakthrough” has happened: the year Melech Hamoshiach is revealed.

To add further insight:

“The year in which Melech Hamoshiach is revealed…” (“שנה שמלך המשיח נגלה בו”). The word “year” in Hebrew is feminine, and grammatically we would expect this Midrash to read “נגלה בה“, meaning “in her [the year, feminine]”.  So we need to explain why it says “בו” instead of “בה”: “the year Melech Hamoshiach is revealed in him“[masculine].

Regarding this logical question, it will help to take a look at the Ohr Hachama, the commentary of R’ Avraham Azulai, z”l, on the Zohar:

[…]so to it will be with the Moshiach after he merits to that neshoma and recognizes himself that he is Moshiach, as it states [in the Zohar] Moshiach will be revealed but he still won’t be recognized by the rest of the people[…] (Shemos 7b, quoting R’ Chayim Vital, z”l)

This describes how the initial “revelation” of Moshiach is when the neshoma of Moshiach is revealed to the individual who has been chosen by Hashem to be Moshiach. At the time that this individual receives the neshoma of Moshiach it is a private revelation, “but the rest of humanity will not recognize him”; only later will he be revealed to the people as Moshiach—what we refer to as the “coming of Moshiach”.

We could say that the Yalkut Shimoni’s use of the word “בו” transforms the literal meaning to “the year that Melech Hamoshiach is revealed in him”, a hint to “the year that [the neshoma of] Melech Hamoshiach is revealed in him [the one who will be Moshiach].”  In 5751 there was a revelation of the “yechida of the yechida”  (the lofty soul of Moshiach) in Moshiach himself.  The delay is the recognition of this by the world.

The reason for this “delay” is found in the Ohr Hachama on Shemos 9a, where it state:

“Moshiach can’t redeem Israel from below…only from Above…there needs to be an awakening from below in order to awaken the rachamim from Above, even if the physical Moshiach wants to redeem [them].”

This describes a situation where there already exists the “physical Moshiach” (i.e., the individual to whom has been bestowed the lofty neshoma of Moshiach) who himself knows that he is Moshiach, but the revelation to all of Israel has not yet occurred. We can see this in the language of the Yalkut Shimoni itself: the Midrash begins with “the year in which the King Moshiach is revealed”, and the Midrash concludes with “the hour in which the King Moshiach comes”.

The year in which Moshiach is revealed refers to the initial revelation, when there is still a need to explain the events of the world to the Jewish people, “don’t be afraid”, etc. The hour when Moshiach comes refers to that transcendent moment when the Jews themselves are able to actually see and recognize the light of Moshiach (as stated in the continuation of the Yalkut Shimoni, brought in different sichos).

In other words, the revelation of Moshiach precedes and is distinct from the coming of Moshiach. (And it is self-understood that when there is such a situation—a situation where the tzaddik who himself is Moshiach is the only one to whom this has been revealed– then only this tzaddik himself is able to know and to inform others that “the year in which the King Moshiach is revealed” has been fulfilled, etc.) .

See 5751–The Year Moshiach Is Revealed for more insights into the relevance of this Yalkut Shimoni to the Gulf War and the present world situation.

 Yechi Adoneinu Moreinu v’Rabbeinu, Melech Hamoshiach l’Olam Vo’ed!

Kuntres Shavuos 5751: Below Creates Above

As explained in Chassidus, Sefiras Ha’Omer precedes Matan Torah because we must refine the 49 aspects of our Nefesh Behamis (animal soul) before we can receive the Torah. But the Torah itself was given to us to refine our animal soul (as Moshe argued to the Malochim who wanted Torah kept in the Heavens that Mitzvos like “Do Not Steal” only apply to one who has to combat an evil inclination). This raises the question: is refining the animal soul for the sake of receiving the Torah, or is receiving the Torah for the same of refining the animal soul?!

To answer this, the Rebbe points out the language pertaining to Sefiras ha’Omer: to count seven complete weeks (שבע שבתות תמימות). The Midrash asks when are the weeks “complete” תמימות? “When Yisroel are doing the will of the Omnipresent.”  This “doing the will of…” is accomplished through the love of “all your might” בכל מאודך (as we say in Shema). When we acheive this level — which is beyond our limitations — Hashem responds to us in a similar fashion, “as water reflects a face” כמים הפנים לפנים.  Meaning that what one sees in another person is the reflection of how one looks at them. This also applies Above.

The concepts here are explained at length and in much greater depth in the maamor, but the general idea is a familiar one — that our service of Hashem is what generates the “face” that is shown to us from Above.

The process by which the “face” is generated is:

  1. Hashem desires that our actions can have an effect;
  2. We generate a desire from our side, reflected in our efforts (העלאת מ”ן);
  3. From this is generated the “hidden” sefiros (עשר ספירות הגנוזות);
  4. These hidden sefiros are the source of the “revealed” sefiros (עשר ספירות הגלויות) which filter down to create the reality in our world.

To explain it more deeply, the Rebbe offers three levels of concealment: a) something which exists but it’s hidden העלם שישנו במציאות; b) something which only exists in potential נעלם שאינו במציאות; and c) a third level which doesn’t exist at all, only that there is a possibility for it (less of an existence than even “potential”, as explained in the maamor).  There is a moshol for each of these levels: the fire concealed in a coal; the (potential for) fire concealed in a flint stone; and the third level is likened to a name: without a name there is not even the possibility of calling the person, when he has a name there is a possibility that one could call him.

Regarding names, the Rebbe explains that it also refers to titles, such as “wise” and “kind” (חכם, חסיד) — that when one calls a person “wise” one awakens and reveals the latent wisdom the person possesses.

(The Rebbe is here teaching is something critical to our times: that in order to reveal the latent power of Moshiach, we need to address him with that title!  Meaning that there is practical significance to referring to the Rebbe as Melech haMoshiach.)

There are two key points to understand here.  Continue reading

Bamidbar/Shavuos 5751: Publish Your Chiddushim

…as mentioned, each individual should endeavor to develop new Torah concepts, and also, to publish them. To explain, every Jew has the potential — and according to the Zohar, it is an obligation — to develop new Torah concepts.

In the previous generations, people were very reticent to write, let alone, publish such Torah concepts, lest they not have appreciate the true intent of the law or concept with which they were concerned.

At present, however, there must be efforts in the opposite direction. It is necessary to take precautions that people do not write directives of Torah law when they are incapable of doing so. Nevertheless, simultaneously, it is necessary to do whatever is necessary to encourage people to increase their efforts in Torah study. [The widespread publication of Torah texts will, to a certain extent also insure that the ideas developed are accurate. No one will publish a Torah concept which he thinks might be in error. Thus, at the very least, for his own self-respect, he will recheck and review the Torah ideas he publishes.]

And for that reason, it is worthy to encourage all those who are trained in the proper approach to Torah study — even if they are not totally sure that the new concepts are 100% accurate — to publish and disseminate the Torah ideas that they develop. (Needless to say, however, it is proper to add that these texts should contain a statement saying that they should not be considered as works from which halachic directives for actual practice should be derived.)

We see the success of such an approach. When people compose Torah texts like these, they are inspired to dedicate more effort to Torah study. Similarly, “the envy of the scribes increases knowledge” and their efforts spur other colleagues to like endeavors.

May these activities spread the rest and tranquility associated with the giving of the Torah throughout the world and hasten the coming of “the era which is all rest and Shabbos for eternity.” Until the coming of that era, we are in a state of distress, as our Sages said, “Woe to the children who have been exiled from their Father’s table.” The exile has caused us travail in regard to our material welfare, and similarly, has prevented us from reaching our true potential in the service of G‑d. Indeed, it is impossible for us to appreciate how much the exile has hindered us, for we are all children of the exile. We have grown up in exile and it dominates our thought processes.

This, however, will be brought to an end in the near future. Through the service of teshuvah, each person will establish a connection with the essence of his soul. And this will lift us and the entire world above the limitations of the exile, into “the era which is all rest and Shabbos for eternity.”

(Translation from Sichos in English)