Our sages tell us that the Jewish people are likened to the moon and thus we count according to the moon. The months of the Jewish calendar begin with the birth of the new moon each month. This means that the 15th of every month is the date of the full moon. What is a full moon? It is the time when the moon reaches the state of maximum revelation, reflecting the light of the sun to its utmost. This is called shleimus halevana, the moon being “full” and “complete”. This process of the waxing of the moon until it reaches completeness is illustrated by the increasing number of the day of the month: 1, 2, 3, etc., until the 15th. The ascending number corresponds to the ascending completeness of the moon’s revelation.
The true completeness of the moon, explains the Rebbe, is not truly found on the 15th of the month (the full moon), because then the moon is is only at maximum capacity as a mekabel, a receiver (and reflector) of light from the sun. The true shleimus, the true completeness of the moon is when the moon becomes similar to the sun — a mashpia — and no longer needs to receive light from the sun.
By examining the astronomical properties of the movement of the moon we will understand this more deeply: the first half of the month, when the revelation of the light of the moon is increasing daily, the moon itself is actually moving further away from the sun. The further it gets from the sun, the greater its light. In the second half of the month it moves closer to the sun, and as it gets closer its visible light diminishes. This is because the closer the mekabel is to the mashpia, the less he is able to “shine forth”, due to the great self-nullification, bitul, it has in order to receive. What occurs in the second half of the month, the Rebbe explains, is that the moon comes closer to the sun in order to achieve the union of the two of them in the following month. While the light of the moon diminishes at this time, in truth light is only a glimmer of the essence. And as the moon approaches the sun, its essence is coming closer to revelation. When is the essence revealed?
When the mekabel is unified with the mashpia to such a degree that it also becomes a mashpia, and there ceases to be a relationship of giver/recipient between them, that both of them are equal — then the essence is revealed.
So it turns out that as great as the revelation of the full moon may be, it is only as regards the moon as a mekabel from the sun. But the true shliemus of the moon begins its approach in the second half of the month — as it comes closer to the sun and is transforming into a mashpia itself. For this reason, we continue to count up (16, 17, 18, etc.) even as the moon wanes and its illumination diminishes — because on a deeper level it is still climbing to higher levels.
It is for this reason that we find that the holidays of the Torah are on the 15th of the month when the moon is full (or, in the case of Shavuos — in the 1st half of the month, when the light of the moon is increasing). But Yud Tes Kislev, the Matan Torah of Toras haChassidus, falls out on the 19th, in the second half of the month. This is because the revelation of Chassidus is a beginning and a taste of the Torah of Moshiach (“Torah chadasha m’iti seitzeh“) which is connected with the revelation of the essence (which is what is taking place by the moon in the second half of the month).
This is also connected with the weekly parsha, where Yaakov has finished refining the sparks of holiness that were trapped in the realm of Lovon his father-in-law and is now going to greet Esav. This parsha is speaking about the time, at the end of golus, when the avodah of birurim will be finished. Yaakov is ready for the days of Moshiach,to unify with Esav (representing the unification of the neshoma and the body, and also the Holy One, blessed be He and Yisroel).
Thus the difference between Yaakov as he is involved in the service of refinement and Yaakov as he is prepared for the Redemption, parallels the difference between the moon as it receives light from the sun and as it will be in the Era of the Redemption, when it will be equal to the sun.
When Yaakov confronted Eisav, although Yaakov was prepared for the Redemption Eisav was not, and the task of refining Eisav and the material worlds associated with him had to continue for centuries. In the present age, however, to borrow an expression from the Previous Rebbe, “We have already polished the buttons.” The task of refinement which was entrusted to the Jews has been completed.
Thus we are now living in a new era with a new service. Instead of concentrating on the refinement of the world, our efforts must focus on revealing the Redemption. The Era of Redemption, which is described with the analogy of a feast, is a present reality, all that is necessary is for us to open our eyes and see.
So it turns out that this week’s parsha is speaking directly about our times — the end of golus when we have completed avodas habirurim (work of refinement) and are ready to be transformed from mekabel to mashpia by revealing the unity of the Holy One, blessed be He, and Yisroel. Furthermore:
From this it is understood that the continuation of the avodah that follows (as long as Moshiach Tzidkeinu is delayed for whatever reason (completely unknown and not understood)) is not avodas habirurim (for avodas habirurim has already been completed and finished) but rather, it is a special avodah to bring the revelation in actuality in the world.
[For those who are familiar with the terminology of Chassidus (explained in Torah Ohr on our parsha), the Rebbe notes (footnote 89) that this present avodah is similar to what Yaakov attempted to do when he went to greet Esav — dividing his camp into two camps, sending abundant gifts to Esav, and bowing before him. “He did not involve himself in avodas habirurim (to refine Esav), but rather he involved himself in ‘hala’as ma”n to elicit ma”d of Tohu’ via his offering” which he sent to Esav. This itself is worthy of a separate essay. But , simply put, he made an effort from below-to-Above in way that it will awaken from the supernal source of Esav an outpouring of the lights of Tohu, recalling the Rebbe’s words of Koach Nissan: that we must drawn down the lights of Tohu into vessels of Tikkun. All of this requires further explanation.]
The Rebbe continues and connects this with the refinement of the nation of France, in loshon kodesh “Tzorfas” which has the numerical value of 770, that this represents the completion of the process of refining the world.
From this it is understood that literally in our times we need only to open the eyes and to see the reality b’poel mamash.” (Footnote 112): That is to say, not only this that the avodah of refinement has been completed and that we need to bring about a revelation of this in the world, but rather more than this, that there is already revealed [such a revelation] in actuality, and we need only to open the eyes, because already ‘you have been given…eyes to see.’