22) Kuntres Purim Koton: The Level Above Mesirus Nefesh

This Maamor was distributed by the Rebbe himself on Purim Koton, 5752, less than two weeks before the dramatic event of 27 Adar I (“Chof Zayin Adar“), making this the “last” Kuntres (so far) that the Rebbe distributed.  Combined with the tremendous chiddushim of the maamor, it has earned a special status as a clear guide for how to proceed in our efforts to bring about the true and complete Geuloh.

The Maamor is based on a maamor that the Previous Rebbe said in Russia (“V’kibel HaYehudim”, 5689), and comes to explain the opening verse of Parshas Tetzaveh:

:וְאַתָּ֞ה תְּצַוֶּ֣ה אֶת־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל וְיִקְח֨וּ אֵלֶ֜יךָ שֶׁ֣מֶן זַ֥יִת זָ֛ךְ כָּתִ֖ית לַמָּא֑וֹר לְהַֽעֲלֹ֥ת נֵ֖ר תָּמִֽיד

And you shall command the children of Yisroel, and they shall take to you pure olive oil, crushed for luminary, to kindle the lamps continually.

The Rebbe asks a series of questions on this verse:

  1. Why does the verse state “You (Moshe) shall command…” when Hashem is the One who commands and Moshe is only the Shliach to carry out the command?
  2. Why does it state that the Bnei Yisroel should bring the pure olive oil (for the lighting of the Menorah) to Moshe when the Menorah is lit by Aharon haCohen and not Moshe?
  3. Why does it state “crushed for the luminary”, when we would expect it to say “for the light”?
  4. Why does it state “to kindle the lights continuously” when in the very next verse it states “from evening until morning”?

In the course of answering these questions, the Rebbe will reveal some astonishing chiddushim that serve as a guidepost for our avoidah in this period.

 

THE ROLE OF MOSHE RABBEINU

The term Mitzvah (command) has a meaning of “binding and connecting” (צוותא וחיבור), which means that Hashem is instructing Moshe “You shall bind and connect the Bnei Yisroel” with the unlimited Ohr Ein Sof.  Because Moshe bestows this on Yisroel, this brings about an addition and increase on the part of Moshe himself.  This is because Moshe and Yisroel are like the head and legs of one body — that all of Yisroel are the legs of Moshe and Moshe is the head of Bnei Yisroel.  Just as the legs take the head to places that it couldn’t reach on its own, similarly Yisroel are capable of adding and increasing in the revelation of ohr by Moshe.

Moshe is referred to as “Raya Mehemna” which translates conventionally as “trusted shepherd”, but also as “shepherd of faith (emunah)”.  That just as a shepherd takes his flocks to graze, enabling them to eat (internalizing the nutrients), so, too, does Moshe Rabbeinu enable the Bnei Yisroel to “internalize” emunah.  They, in turn, add to Moshe’s level.

 

THE ROLE OF GOLUS

The expression in our verse, “crushed for the luminary” is that by being “crushed” (כתית) we reach the “luminary” (מאור).  Not just crushed, but specifically that one feels “broken and crushed” from being in golus.  At first glance, it seems that in the times of Purim the Yidden were “crushed” by the decree of Haman, and from this they reached the “luminary”, the essence of the soul (עצם הנשמה) that enabled them to have complete self-sacrifice (מסרות נפש) at that time.  But there is more than this.

The Rebbe explains that there is a level of emunah which a Yid possesses because his neshoma Above “sees” G-dliness.  This is a lofty level, but it can remain external, not affecting the person so much.  But there is a higher level of emunah which derives from the essence of the neshoma, not dependent on any level of “seeing”, which can be drawn down to affect the Yid in a deeper, pnimiyusdike way.  This is the level that Moshe Rabbeinu “feeds” to Bnei Yisroel, that this lofty level of emunah should be internalized.  How does he accomplish this?  By providing Bnei Yisroel with “G-dly knowledge” (דעת באלקות), through which the emunah becomes internalized.  And this itself is accomplished by Moshe Rabbeinu (including the Moshe Rabbeinu in every generation) who reveals the essential connection of the essence of the soul, Etzem Haneshoma.  This higher level is mainly revealed through mesirus nefesh (self-sacrifice), which was more evident in the generations following Moshe Rabbeinu himself (exemplified by Purim).

Jews have had mesirus nefesh over all the generations, but at Purim the entire nation had mesirus nefesh (during the time of Haman’s decree).  Moshe Rabbeinu himself was primarily involved with providing the Bnei Yisroel with G-dly knowledge, since his generation did not have much call for mesirus nefesh.  Mordechai’s primary effort, however, was to reveal the power of mesirus nefesh in all the members of his generation.  The Previous Rebbe, in his maamer, points out the Midrash that Mordechai was the shepherd of the generation in a revealed way.  The Rebbe derives from this that by stating this about Mordechai, the Previous Rebbe was in fact ruling on himself that he is the shepherd of the generation in a revealed way.  (And Chassidim follow this reasoning and state that the Rebbe, by mentioning this, is ruling on himself as well, that he is the shepherd of the generation in a revealed way!)

 

CRUSHED IN GOLUS

The maamor of the Previous Rebbe (upon which the Rebbe’s maamor is based) starts with the words of the Megillah “v’kibel haYehudim“, which is explained to refer to the revelation of the essence, the aspect of “luminary”, of the Yidden at Purim.  But, points out the Rebbe, that verse appears towards the end of the Megillah, after the miraculous downfall of Haman (and his decree) — Mordechai was elevated to a high rank and the situation of the Jews in Paras and Madai was at its peak!  Even the entire “house of Haman” was given to Esther.  Why would the concept of the luminary (and especially as per our opening  verse: “crushed for the luminary”) appear at that point?

Explains the Rebbe something amazing: there are two levels of being “crushed for the luminary”.  That of the time of Haman’s decree, and that of the period after Mordechai became second to the King.  The higher level is the latter, meaning that the aspect of “crushed for the luminary” that comes after the miracles, after the danger has passed, is greater!  One level of “crushed for the luminary” occurs when Yisroel are found in a state of being crushed (kosis) because of obstacles and dangers to the observance of Torah and Mitzvos.  But a higher level occurs when Yidden are in a situation of abundance  — both materially and spiritually — and nonetheless they are “crushed” just from the very fact of being in golus!  The true desire of every Yid is the revelation of G-dliness in the world, and even the unhindered ability to keep Torah and Mitzvos can be in a state where G-dliness is still concealed, and thus a Yid will feel “crushed” — this is the revelation of the essence of a Jew, revealing the highest level of the aspect of “luminary”, the essence of his neshoma.

 

TWO LEVELS OF “LUMINARY”

The practical difference between these two levels of the “luminary” of the neshoma is as follows: the first level is expressed through mesirus nefesh, which is a lofty matter, but is essentially something “additional” to the personality (כחות הגלוים) of the Yid, something which can come and go and leave no lasting impression on him.  The second level, however, is expressed by the fact that it affects and changes his personality and behavior.

From another angle, the difference between the two levels of “luminary” is in how they come about.  The first level is a direct result of the efforts the Moshe Rabbeinu of the generation to awaken and reveal the power of mesirus nefesh in the Yidden.  Regarding the second level, however, the Rebbe states: …“Crushed for the luminary” includes this that Yisroel are broken and crushed from the fact that they are in golus, that this inyan is via the avoidah of Yisroel…that the avoidah of the Nosi Hador to awaken and reveal in every single Yid the emunah which derives from the essence of the neshoma is in a way that afterwards they will perofrm their avoidah on their own (יעבדו עבודתם בכח עצמם), until they will be a “continual lamp” (נר תמיד) which is not subject to change, even externally.

 

SUMMARY

Based on the Rebbe’s explanation, the verse “v’Atoh Tetzaveh” (“And you shall command the children of Yisroel, and they shall take to you pure olive oil, crushed for luminary, to kindle the lamps continually”) can be understood to be saying:

“And you shall bind and connect the Children of Israel to the Ohr Ein Sof, and they will add ohr to you, which comes from being crushed from the existence of golus (even when everything is in abundance), to the point that the revelation of the essence of the neshoma and its effect on the individual is permanent.”

The maamor contains several wondrous chiddushim, among them:

  • There is a higher level revelation of the essence of the neshoma than mesirus nefesh; whereas mesirus nefesh involves nullifying one’s existence to the revelation of the essence of the neshoma, the higher level involves influencing and changing one’s existence in a permanent way;
  • This higher level is revealed not at a time of harsh decrees, but rather at a time of material and spiritual abundance;
  • When the Previous Rebbe brings a Midrash about Mordechai being the Moshe of his generation, he in fact ruled on himself that he, too, is the Moshe of the generation (and the understanding that follows about what it means that the Rebbe himself mentions this, etc.);
  • There is a higher level of Jewish unity and Ahavas Yisroel that derives from this level of revelation of the essence of the neshoma.  There is already the lofty Chassidic level of Achdus Yisroel and Ahavas Yisroel described in perek 32 of Tanya which comes from making “the nefesh ikkar and the body secondary”.  But here we find a higher level which derives from the essence of the soul; being that the essence of the neshoma is rooted in Hashem’s Essence, which is also in a state of unity with the “body” (כחות הגלויים), thus the unity of Yidden is in all of their matters, including those matters relating to the body.

This is taste of the intellectual revelations contained in the maamor.  Now, the work begins — our avoidah to bring the revelation of the essence of the neshoma also in our revealed dimensions, and thus bring the Geuloh also from below to Above.

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