Ki Sisa, 5752: Lift Up the Head of Bnei Yisroel

The sicha of parshas Ki Sisa, 5752 is the last fully-edited sicha we received from the Rebbe until now.  The Rebbe also farbrenged on Shabbos Veyakhel, the following week, but due to the stroke that sicha was not edited by the Rebbe (although the Rebbe did read and, uncharacteristically, comment on the “rashei dvorim” (overview) that was written up Motzie Shabbos).*

In this sicha the Rebbe perhaps hints at the events of 27 Adar I, and later Gimmel Tammuz by speaking of the descent for the sake of ascent and mentioning the verse “for a fleeting moment I abandoned you”:

Since this descent is merely a means to lead to a greater ascent, it is brief — to borrow a phrase “for a fleeting moment I abandoned you.” The ascent which follows it, by contrast, is eternal. This pattern will be expressed in the ultimate Redemption. It has been preceded by an awesome descent, this present exile, but it will lead to a great and eternal ascent, “a redemption never to be followed by exile.”

The sicha, as the Parsha, speaks of the sin of the Golden Calf, and although the Rebbe doesn’t mention this we know that the sin came about because Moshe Rabbeinu failed to come back down from the mountain at the time the Bnei Yisroel thought he had said.  Because they lost faith in Moshe they sinned with the Golden Calf.  As mentioned in various sources, the period when Moshiach is concealed is, among other things, an opportunity to rectify this failure–by waiting for Moshiach and not losing faith.

There is also a reference to the bodily refinement that Moshe underwent on the mountain, and that once there is no need for further refining of the world (“avodas habirurim is finished”), then Moshe can “drop the mask” which he wore and reveal his true essence.  A strong hint, perhaps, to how we relate to the Rebbe in this period of, apparent, concealment:

…this revelation [of the 2nd tablets which Moshe himself carved] reflects a fusion of materiality and spirituality which brought about an elevation within the physical person of Moshe himself causing his face to shine.  Indeed, this revelation was so great that it was necessary for Moshe to place a veil over his face. This veil was necessary, however, only when Moshe and the Jewish people were involved with worldly matters, the refinement of the world at large. When Moshe communicated G‑d’s word to the people, he would remove this veil.

Moreover, even in regard to the world at large, this concealment is not a permanent factor. Ultimately, through the Jews’ service in refining and elevating the world, they make it possible for there to be a revelation of G‑dliness within the context of our worldly environment. This process will be consummated in the Era of the Redemption when “Your Master will no longer conceal Himself and your eyes will behold your Master,” “the glory of G‑d will be revealed and all flesh will see.”

Furthermore, the verse reads “Ki Sisa es rosh bnei Yisroel”, which is translated as a command to “elevate the heads of bnei Yisroel”.  But “rosh bnei Yisroel” (as the Rebbe states elsewhere, but not in this sicha) is an acronym for “Rebbe”, meaning that the verse can be read “elevate the Rebbe…“!

The sicha also refers several times to the final verse of the Torah (“in the eyes of all of Israel”).  The simple reason is because Rashi on that verse mentions the breaking of the first tablets, which occurs in our parsha.  But, on a deeper level, we see two hints:

  1. A hint to this being the “final sicha” of the Dvar Malchus cycle, which is itself a taste of the “new Torah of Moshiach”, as discussed in this post, that the “first sicha” of the cycle begins with a discussion of Bereishis.
  2. A hint to the idea that all of the revelations of the Geulah, which the Rebbe says have already come into the world, are not in a state of completion until they are visible and revealed “in the eyes of all of Israel”.  The Torah as a whole, and this “Torah of Moshiach” of Dvar Malchus, concludes when the Jewish people, with their own effort, bring about that the Geulah, which is already here, becomes revealed to their eyes.  In other words: “all that remains is to open up the eyes”.

 

Yechi Adoneinu, Moreinu, v’Rabbeinu, Melech Hamoshiach l’olam vo’ed!

* Interesting to note that there were two times the Rebbe was concealed from Chassidim.  The first occurred in 5738 due to the heart attack, the second on 27 Adar I, 5752 due to a stroke.  A fourteen year difference (gematria “Chabad”), and (in simple, physical terms as they appear to us) a progression from a “heart-related” issue (cardiac arrest) to a “brain-related” issue (stroke).

Tetzave 5752: The Day the Essence is Revealed

There are two edited Sichos for Parshas Tetzave 5752.  The first combines several talks given on the days leading up to (and including) Shabbos, whereas the second was said entirely on Shabbos.  They are very different in subject and style, but bound together by a common theme: the Essence of the soul and it’s connection to Hashem’s Essence.

The first Sicha opens with the famous fact that Moshe Rabbeinu’s name does not appear even once in our parsha.  Among the answers given by commentators are that a) it always falls it close to 7 Adar, the day Moshe passed away; and, b) it is in some way a fulfillment of Moshe’s bold statement to Hashem “erase me from Your book” (מחני נא מספרך) if He will not forgive Bnei Yisroel.  More on this later.

The Rebbe then addresses 7 Adar, which is not only the day Moshe passed away; it is also his birthday.  As the Sages tell us: when Haman’s lottery fell out in Adar he was very happy, since this was the month when the Rebbe of the Jews passed away, but he didn’t know that on 7 Adar he [Moshe] died, and on 7 Adar he was born — and the day of his birth is sufficient to rectify the day of his death (כדאי הלידה שתכפר על המיתה).  The Rebbe questions, then, using the proximity of Moshe’s passing as a reason for his name not appearing in our parsha: why should the parsha near 7 Adar contain a hint to Moshe’s passing? Why not his birth (which rectifies his death)?  The other reason (“erase me from Your book”) is also questioned: it is recorded in another parsha altogether!  But, reasons the Rebbe, since they are both given as a reason for the same event, they must be connected. And the Rebbe patiently reveals to us how.

The birth of Moshe in the month of Adar causes the cancellation of Haman’s decree.  Haman was happy with this month for an additional reason: every other month has a special merit (Nissan has Pesach, for example) or a powerful mazal.  But Adar has neither merit not mazal (אדר אין לו זכות ואין לו מזל).  The Rebbe explains that Adar doesn’t have merit or mazal because it doesn’t need them — on Moshe’s birthday his mazal is powerful (מזלו גובר), and since “Moshe is Yisroel and Yisroel is Moshe” the mazal of all of Yisroel is powerful in this month.

What is the mazal of Yisroel? “Mazal” refers to the root of the neshoma Above.  So when we learn that “there is no mazal for Yisroel” (unlike the other nations who have a particular astrological force as their mazal), it means that the Jewish people is higher than these constellations.  The word “ein” אין means “is not” but can also be read as “ayin” — nothingness, a level above the grasp of human intellect.  The Mazal of Yisroel is “ayin”, above the mazalos of the Nations, above the grasp of the intellect, the level of “Above name” (the level where Hashem does not need a name, since nothing else exists there).

The birth of Moshe Rabbeinu (7 Adar) hints at the revelation of the essence of the neshoma, which takes place at birth (when the child does not yet have a name).  It is the revelation of the essence of his existence, and also of Yisroel, which reaches above Hashem’s name (or need for a name): where they are one with His essence (עצמותו יתברך).

So the absence of Moshe’s name in our parsha is connected with it’s proximity to his birth — meaning the revelation of the Essence of his being which is higher than and beyond his need for a name (thus, it doesn’t appear).

And what about the other reason given for Moshe’s name not appearing: his bold declaration of “erase me from Your book”?  Explains the Rebbe, this, too, is connected with the same nekuda.  The day Moshe was born refers to the revelation of his essence (התגלות העצם), which is connected with the essence of Yisroel, and it is the reason for his mesirus nefesh (“erase my name…”) on behalf of the Yidden.  Thus, his birth on 7 Adar — the revelation of his essence and the essence of Yisroel — is what brought him to say “erase my name…”, and thus it is the most fitting time for its symbolic fulfillment: his name not appearing in the parsha.  When? Close to the same revelation of the essence that caused it!

All of this connects to the second Sicha through the same nekudah: the essence of the soul.  The Rebbe examines the Ketores, the 11 spices that were burnt on the golden altar inside the Beis haMikdosh.  The offering of the Ketores is “the main intent of the Mishkan”, and until this avoidah was performed the Shechina did not dwell in the Mishkan.

“Ketores” is from the root meaning “connection”, which the Rebbe explains as the connection of the essence of the soul (עצם הנשמה) with Hashem.

When are the Ketores offered? According to the Rambam, the Seder is that after the sprinkling of the blood of the Tamid sacrifice: 5 of the 7 lamps of the menorah are kindled*, then the Ketores is offered, then the last 2 lamps of the menorah are lit.  The lighting of the lamps of the menorah, explains the Rebbe, refers to neshomos Yisroel in keeping Torah and Mitzvos.

We are left with a question: why is there a need for a “break” in the middle of kindlng the lamps of the Menorah for the offering of Ketores?  Why is there a break for the connection of the essence of the soul (Ketores) in the midst of lighting up Jewish souls through Torah and Mitzvos?  Says the Rebbe: this “break” is to accomplish the main purpose of the Mishkan, which is the indwelling of the Shechina in the world, reflecting complete hiskashrus with Hashem (Ketores) being revealed in the world (the lamps, Torah and Mitzvos).

We might also find a hint here for the situation that would begin two weeks later in Adar 5752, continuing through Gimmel Tammuz, and into our present moment: the “break” that occurs in the middle of lighting up the world (the lamps), at which time the Kohen “disappears” from sight to perform the avoidah of “hiskashrus of the Essence” (ketores, which is performed alone — no one is allowed to see him [“there will not be any man in the Tent of Meeting”]).  Then, while the Kohen who is bringing the Ketores is still out of sight, the last two lamps are kindled (assisted, the Rebbe says, by the avoidah of the Ketores). This could be hinting at our avodah of “hiskashrus of the essence of the neshoma” during the time the Rebbe is out of sight, and our job to imbue this into our lighting up the world through Torah and Mitzvos. And then, “after the completion of kindling the lamps the two of them go out together…that through the lamps will also be drawn down and revealed the level of hiskashrus and connection which occurs via the Ketores.”

(For greater elaboration on the reason for Moshiach bring concealed, see the kuntres “Between Golus and Geuloh”)

* The Rambam holds that הטבת הנרות includes lighting them, see footnote 11 in the Sicha.

Terumah 5752: Every Jew Is — And Needs To Be — Wealthy

Upon leaving Mitzrayim, the Jewish people became wealthy. First, they asked for the valuables of the Egyptians (who, as we know, were happy to give them away as long as the Bnei Yisroel would leave and the plagues would end), and afterwards the wealth of the Egyptians who were drowned at the sea was gathered. The result: “there wasn’t a single member of Yisroel that didn’t have with him 90 Libyan donkeys laden with the silver and gold of Mitzrayim”.1

When we arrive to our parsha, the contributions to the building of the Mishkan, we find that the Torah tells us that Yisroel gave “gold, silver, and copper”. The question the Rebbe asks is: why begin with gold? More copper and silver were given, so why not go in order of quantity of donations? If in order of rarity, then precious stones should come first, but in fact they follow after the precious metals. Why start with gold, then proceed to lesser materials — silver and copper — and then list materials that are even more rare (which not every member of Bnei Yisroel possessed).

The Rebbe proceeds to answer that gold, silver and copper appear first because everyone had these materials to contribute and gold, being the most precious of these, appears first. More than that, we find a lesson that every Jew possesses the “gold-standard” of serving Hashem. A Jew is supposed to serve Hashem for His own sake (lishma), not for personal benefit. Nonetheless, our sages say that even if one is not holding on the level of lishma he should at least serve Hashem lo lishma (“not for His own sake” — for reward, or to avoid punishment) because this will lead him to eventually reach the level of lishma.

…the Rambam explains “therefore when one is teaching children and women and those lacking spiritual refinement (כלל עמי הארץ) one teaches them to serve out of fear, etc., until their knowledge will increase and they will become wiser…until they will grasp [the proper way] and [begin to] serve Hashem from love.” The reason is that from within “lo lishma“, meaning what is inside the (service of Hashem in a way of) “lo lishma” is “lishma“.

The level of serving Hashem “lishma“, the level of gold, is really found by every Jew.  Some of us have it revealed, while in others it is still concealed.  But every Jew is “wealthy in his essence”, meaning it is inherently his, not received from another source2.  Furthermore, one’s material wealth comes from the spiritual wealth a Jew inherently possesses.  Why is this so?  Because “even on the lowest levels, in the world that in its external aspect appears as a concealment on G-dliness, he is connected to the Holy One, blessed be He.”  This inherent connection is what makes every Jew rich, both spiritually and materially.  The implications for us are that:

Every single member of Yisroel needs to be in a state of wealth, both spiritually and materially — wealth in the simple sense!  More than that: not only that he needs this — but every single member of Yisroel has wealth in actuality.  Even if it is not found in a revealed state in physicality–this is not because it doesn’t exist, G-d forbid, but rather because the Jew needs to reveal it through his own effort…  It is certain that the Holy One, blessed be He, blesses every single member of Yisroel with wealth of gold materially and spiritually…

From this we immediately see an instruction–that a Jew needs to make an effort to be wealthy in actuality in all of his matters, beginning with spiritual wealth, “there is no rich person except in knowledge”, to be wealthy in Torah and Mitzvos, until even material wealth, so that he can fulfill Torah and Mitzvos with peace of mind and comfortably, and so that he can give abundant tzedaka and fulfill Mitzvos in the most preferred manner (b’hiddur), to take advantage of this wealth in order to make his private home a dwelling place and mikdash for Hashem.

terumah5752

Since every Jew is in essence spiritually wealthy, and since material wealth derives from spiritual wealth, then if he will reveal his spiritual wealth through Torah and Mitzvos, it will follow that he will become materially wealthy as well!3


1) Bechoros 5b.

2) See Kuntres Yud-Alef Nissan 5751, Tefilla L’Moshe, ois 3.

3) See Likutei Sichos volume I, p. 289: “The miraculous event [performed by Rashbi] of ‘valley, valley, fill with golden dinars’ is that it occurred for Rashbi’s students who were still on a level of golus.  The proof–they were troubled by material matters (a colleague who went abroad and returned wealthy).  Whereas in the future it will be completely irrelevant to be troubled by such things, as the Rambam states that the longing of the sages for the days of Moshiach is not because of material abundance, since at that time they will be satisfied with a little.”