It is known that the Rebbe, in the early years of his leadership, spoke of the importance of learning the most recent sichos in a very exacting way (“If only Anash, and particularly the Tmimim, would be exacting in my father-in-law the Rebbe’s words, especially his sichos of 5710 and the year before.”). Let us do just that with two easily overlooked matters in the sicha of parshas Shoftim.
WHO IS THE NOVI? WHO ARE THE STUDENTS?
In this sicha the Rebbe states clearly that the Rebbeim are the prophets (Novi) of our generation, including the Rebbe himself. The phrasing, however, demands a closer look. In section 11 the Rebbe states:
A Novi about whom another Novi testifies about him that he is a prophet — as this relates to the Leader of our generation, and which is continued in the generation after him via his students etc. — he is presumed to be a prophet and this second one does not require investigation [as to whether he really is a Novi or not]…
The Rebbe mentions here a Novi (who benefits from testimony about his prophetic abilities) and another Novi (an established Novi who provides the testimony). This relates to “the Leader of our generation”, and continued in the generation after him via his students. We could suggest the following interpretation: “a Novi (the Rebbe Rayatz) about whom another Novi (the Rebbe Rashab) testifies about him that he is a prophet…and is continued in the generation after him via his students (the Rebbe himself)….” This seemingly fits with the Rebbe’s generally expressed view that the Rebbe Rayatz is the Leader of our generation, and the Rebbe is a continuation of the Rebbe Rayatz.
However, from our perspective the Rebbe Rayatz was the leader of the previous generation whereas the leader of our generation is the Rebbe himself. According to this perspective, we could suggest an alternative interpretation: “a Novi (the Rebbe himself) about whom another Novi (the Rebbe Rayatz) testifies about him that he is a prophet…and is continued in the generation after him via his students (the Chassidim)….” The first part fits well, as well as the plural “students” fitting “Chassidim” better than just the Rebbe alone. But we can surely challenge as to how the Chassidim are to be considered continuing the prophecy — who among us Chassidim holds of himself that he is a prophet?!
To this we can answer that it is stated in Chassidus that in the ultimate future all of Israel will possess prophecy, and although it may presently be concealed from most (or all) of us, we are destined for it (as the first generation of Geuloh). Furthermore, there might be a hint in section 12, where the Rebbe mentions the Geuloh and interjects the words “the end of the deed was first in thought” (סוף מעשה במחשבה תחילה). These words might bring the diligent student to recall the Kuntres which the Rebbe distributed earlier this year, on Beis Nissan 5751. In that Kuntres, the Rebbe brings a moshol of giving tzedoko to a poor man: “the end of the deed” which was “first in thought” is not the actual giving of the tzedoko, but rather that the poor man should accept the gift and use it beneficially and happily. We might suggest that this supports our second interpretation, hinting that we have been giving tremendous spiritual gifts, including even prophecy! But it is not enough that this is given to us — we must accept it. And until we properly accept it, it remains concealed.
[As to the expression “the generation after him”, this is not problematic since more than once the Rebbe expressed himself that there is a 7th Nosi (counting from the Alter Rebbe, or, alternatively, the 9th Nosi counting from the Baal Shem Tov) and the 8th Nosi (or the 10th from the Baal Shem Tov) will be Moshiach.]
THE FOUNDATION STONE CANNOT BE HIDDEN AWAY
In section 12 the Rebbe addresses the eternity of prophets and the Leaders of the generation by likening them to the eternality of the “Foundation stone” (the “even ha’shesiya“) upon which the entire world stands and which is not subject to change:
“…I will provide for you a Novi, etc., like you”, the Leader of the Generation who “is everything” “Tzaddik, foundation of the world”, along the lines of the even hashesiya (Foundation Stone) — which is found in a specific place in this physical world, and exists eternally without change (not even the change of being hidden away (“geniza“), as occurred with the Aron which was hidden away, or anything similar to that), in the way that a judge and a Novi exists (eternally) in every generation….
There are those who like to see this passage as expressing the concept that the Rebbe remains alive (“chai v’kayam”) even after what appeared to happen on Gimmel Tammuz, 5754. This would seemingly preclude being “hidden away” (even in a state of “chai v’kayam“) in a gravesite, or the like. [There are other, even more clear, sources from the Rebbe which explain why it is necessary for the Nosi Hador to be physically alive, and the concept is not built from this passage in our sicha].
However, as we proceed to section 13, we find something that seems to challenge our initial understanding:
…the Beis Hamikdash itself (which is built and prepared Above) will descend from Above to below, together with the Kodesh Hakodashim and the Foundation Stone that is in it, from which the entire world is supported.
First the Rebbe tells us that the Foundation Stone is found in a specific place in this physical world, and is so eternal that it can’t even be hidden away. Then the Rebbe presents us with a challenge: how would this not be a contradiction to the fact that this very Foundation Stone (which is in this physical world) is located in the Kodesh Hakodeshim Above and we need it to descend from Above to below?! And all the more so we are challenged to understand this “contradiction” in light of the fact that this was given as an example of the eternality of the Novi, the Leader of the generation!
At this point we will not attempt to offer an explanation, only to render a conclusion that seems to be a necessary outcome of the Rebbe’s words. The conclusion is that there is no contradiction to being “in this physical world” and being “Above”. If the way we understand those concepts presents a contradiction, then apparently our understanding is flawed. Because to the Rebbe there is no contradiction, and he can even express this in a single sicha!
For a possible way of “expanding our vessels” and redefining these terms to fit the Rebbe’s usage, we suggest a look at the booklet “Eternal Life of a Soul in a Body” at our sister site MoshiachInDepth.wordpress.com. The idea is that “this physical world” has various levels, including a dimension which cannot (presently) be discerned. When we will sufficiently refine our physical bodies and the body’s senses, we will be able to discern these higher and more refined levels of physicality — as we labor to draw down the lofty concepts of Pnimiyus Hatorah into our human intellect through diligent study, this brings about that these higher levels will “descend” into our awareness. We will perceive that there are aspects of “this physical world” which are “Above” other aspects, which cannot presently be perceived even though nothing is concealing them.