Translation by Sichos in English
1. In regard to every new concept, one must “open with blessing.” Indeed, in Pnimiyus HaTorah, the word “opening” refers to the development of a totally new concept. This represents one of the differences between the manner in which Sages are quoted in the Talmud and the manner in which they are quoted in Pnimiyus HaTorah. In Pnimiyus HaTorah, when a Sages makes a statement, the expression used is “Rabbi — opened,” i.e., he opened up a new means of Torah expression. In a larger sense, this applies in all realms of Torah study, for every Torah concept should constantly be regarded as “new,” as our Sages said, “Each day the words of Torah should be new in your eyes.” Nevertheless, this newness is particularly evident in regard to Pnimiyus HaTorah.
The above is particularly relevant at the present time, the conclusion of the 25th of Elul, the anniversary of the creation of the world. The Baal Shem Tov relates that the world is recreated at every moment1 from absolute nothingness. Although the existence of the world appears to be maintained in a continuous manner, in truth every entity is brought into being from absolute nothingness. This concept receives even greater emphasis on the anniversary of the world’s creation.2
2. There is a famous analogy used by the Alter Rebbe to explain the importance of spreading the wellsprings of Chassidus outward to Rabbi Pinchas of Koritz,3 which describes the crushing of the center jewel of a king’s crown to form an elixir that served as a remedy for the king’s son who had fainted and was critically ill.
This analogy refers to the Jews as they exist in exile. Any exile represents the very opposite of a Jew’s nature, which is to live in connection with G‑d, to be as a son at his father’s table, as it were.
In particular, the concept of exile is more acute, because every Jew can be likened to an only son of G‑d, King of Kings. Therefore, when he lives in exile, it is much more severe than an exile which a common person must suffer. For him, the exile is a drastic descent of the most serious order.
(In this context, we can understand the expression “the true and ultimate redemption.” The redemption is referred to as true, because it represents a revelation of a Jew’s true nature.)
There is a connection to the above and the portion of this week’s Torah reading connected with the present day, which describes the ingathering of the exiles. As it states, “And G‑d your L‑rd will return your captivity and He will again gather you in from all the nations.” Kibbutz, the Hebrew for “gathering in,” has the connotation, not only of collecting different entities, but of establishing unity among them.
Kibbutz (קבץ) is also numerically equivalent to the expressions of blessing used for each of the Patriarchs בכל מכל כל. In regard to Avraham, it is written, “And G‑d blessed Avraham with everything” (בכל; Genesis 24:1). In regard to Yitzchak, it is written, “I have eaten of all” (מכל; ibid., 27:33). And regarding Yaakov it is written, “I have everything” (כל; ibid., 33:11).” Since these are the Patriarchs of the Jewish people, it is understood that these qualities are communicated to each of their descendants and every Jew will have this threefold quality of blessing in the fullest possible manner. We can be certain that every Jew has turned to G‑d in teshuvah4 and gathered in his thought, speech, and deed which were “in exile,” and thus become worthy of these blessings.
To focus on the verse “And G‑d your L‑rd will return your captivity”: This implies that there is an exile, “captivity,” and there is “G‑d.” Furthermore, G‑d becomes “your L‑rd,” i.e., E‑lokecha(translated as “your L‑rd”) can also be interpreted to mean “your strength and your nature.” And when a Jew makes G‑d his strength and his nature — and this is accomplished for Torah study, for Torah, Israel, and G‑d are one — he steps beyond the exile and experiences redemption.
This relates to the concept that it is in the Era of the Redemption when the wedding bond between G‑d and the Jewish people will be consummated.5 (This is particularly relevant in the month of Elul for in this month, the love relationship between G‑d and the Jews is stressed as reflected in the connection with the verse, “I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine.”)
To explain: The concept of union is reflected in the Rambam’s conclusion of his description of the Era of the Redemption, “And the earth will be filled with the knowledge of G‑d as the waters cover up the ocean bed.”6 The ocean is unique in that it covers up all the living beings that inhabit it to the extent that all one sees is the ocean. Similarly, through Torah study, a Jew enters into an all-encompassing bond of unity with G‑d to the extent that he loses his self-concern entirely. He is totally at one with G‑d and this oneness encompasses every aspect of his being.
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3. The Torah reading of the previous week mentions the concept of bringing bikkurim, the first fruits offered in the Beis HaMikdash. The most choice fruits from the seven species of fruit for which Eretz Yisrael was blessed were brought. (Among these seven species is also a pomegranate. This relates to the first day of Rosh HaShanah when it is customary to eat pomegranates as a sign of blessing.7 ) Each Jew has the potential to make every entity in this world bikkurim. And these bikkurim must include every aspect of our experience to the extent that everything which a Jew does can be seen as a thanksgiving offering brought to G‑d in the Beis HaMikdash.
And this will lead to the fulfillment, in a simple and literal way, of the verse “And G‑d will return your captivity.” “A verse never departs from its simple meaning.” And the meaning of this verse is clear, that G‑d will gather in the Jews from all four corners of the world to Eretz Yisrael and there they will be able to bring bikkurim, the offerings of the first fruit, in Jerusalem with joyous song and a proud declaration of thanks.
And this will lead to an extended meaning of the verse, “And this is the blessing with which Moshe blessed them,” that every Jew will receive a blessing from Moshe who will arise in the Resurrection.8 And the Jews will stand in regal garments as the Megillah relates in regard to Mordechai9 and — to continue the reference to Mordechai — “will seek peace for all his people.”
And when the Jews gather together their thought, speech, and action and direct it toward G‑d, it will evoke a response from Him.10 And “G‑d your L‑rd will return your captivity,” bringing the Jews to Eretz Yisrael from the four corners of the world. May this take place in the immediate future.
1. And indeed, the entire concept of time is also brought into being anew for, time itself is also a creation.
2. There is another point of connection to the beginning of the creation at this time, for the first day of Selichos is always a Sunday, the day on which the creation began.
It is seemingly difficult to understand why the Alter Rebbe communicated the concept in the form of an analogy. Both he and Rabbi Pinchas of Koritz could have grasped the concept equally well had he explained the idea itself.
This is reflected in our Sages’ statement that if one sees a Torah scholar commit a transgression, one should not look askance at him, for he has surely repented. Although our Sages made this statement about a Torah scholar, there is a point of relevance to all Jews, because “all your children shall be students of G‑d.”
(Our Sages comment on that verse, a Torah scholar “increases peace in the world,” for the word baneich, “your children,” should be read as boneich, “your builders.” This does not, however, change the relevance of the verse’s simple meaning. Whenever our Sages offer an alternative expanded reading for a verse, the intent is not the simple meaning is not applicable, but rather, that both the simple meaning and the expanded meaning of the verse are applicable.
The wedding relationship between G‑d and the Jews also relates to Shabbos as reflected in the phrase, “Come my beloved to greet the bride. Let us welcome the Shabbos.” And the Shabbos is associated with the Era of the Redemption, the “era which is all Shabbos and rest for eternity.”
This relates to the very beginning of the creation, for on the verse “And the spirit of G‑d hovered over the waters,” Rashi comments, “This refers to the spirit of Mashiach.”
The pomegranates are eaten at the beginning of the meal. As the Previous Rebbe explained in regard to the apple dipped in honey, since the Alter Rebbe states that it should be eaten at the beginning of the meal, this means after eating of the HaMotzi. In this manner, there is no question regarding reciting a blessing after these fruits, for they are included in the Grace after Meals.
This blessing will be of a higher quality than those which Moshe gave previously, for this blessing will be given after Moshe has gained the level of perfection associated with the service of “And to earth, you shall return.”
The words the Megillah uses as a preface to the mention of Mordechai’s regal garments, “And Mordechai went out before the king,” also relates to every Jew. Each Jew “goes out” to perform the service of G‑d, the King of the world, to transform this world into a dwelling for Him.
We see this in our Sages’ statement that when a Jew studies, “the Holy One, blessed be He studies opposite him.” Furthermore, when the Jews make a decision in Torah law, e.g., choosing to follow the School of Hillel or the School of Shamai, the halachah is decided accordingly in the heavenly realms.