Vayishlach 5752: The Moon Becomes Like the Sun

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.’

Vayishlach 5752 in English

Vayishlach 5752 in Loshon Kodesh

Vayeitzei 5752: Asleep on the Site of the Beis Hamikdash?!

Yaakov Avinu, fleeing the wrath of his brother Esav, arrived in Beis El as the sun was set ting unexpectedly.  As a result of the sudden sunset, he went to sleep there for the night.  The next morning, when he woke up, he realized where he was — Har Hamoriah, the site where the Beis Hamikdash would later be built.  He declared his shock that he had slept in such a holy spot!

In the Dvar Malchus sicha of Vayeitzei, the Rebbe examines Yaakov’s laying down to sleep “‘in that place’ — the place of the Mikdash (מקום המקדש)…”  

This expression “the place of the mikdash” (“מקום המקדש”) should grab our attention — this is the same expression the Rebbe uses in Kuntres Beis Rabbeinu Sh’b’Bavel (which was published and distributed several weeks prior to this sicha).  In that Kuntres, the Rebbe states that 770 is the “place of the Mikdash” (מקום המקדש).  Does the Rebbe want us to realize that we, too, are “sleeping” in the “place of the Mikdash” (מקום המקדש) and don’t realize it?!

Apparently so.

However, the Rebbe explains in this sicha that the seemingly disgraceful “sleeping in the place of the Mikdash” can also be interpreted in a positive fashion: at the time that one lies down to sleep there is equality between the head and the feet.  The entire body is flat, on one level, no part is higher than any other (unlike when standing, when the head is highest, the feet are lowest, etc.).  Although this position is a tremendous descent from the perspective of revealing the ability of the respective parts of the body, since these abilities (thought, speech, sight, hearing, etc.) are not revealed when one is asleep.  But, at the very same time, there is something lofty about this state: it reflects on the revelation of Atzmus — the Essence and Being of Divinity — which transcends all differences such as head and foot, higher and lower, spiritual and physical.  As much as one can display his abilities while he is awake, this display also shows the distance between the various parts of the body.  When one is asleep, and the differences are not apparent, this represents the complete unification of lower and higher — Atzmus.

If so, then maybe we should keep sleeping and not wake up?  Why shatter this revelation of Atzmus that just learned is so essential and transcendent?  Because after sleeping, this level will be drawn also into the revelations of the various abilities mentioned above:

Even when Yaakov “awakens from his slumber” (a hint to the Rebbe’s expressions in the Dvar Malchus sicha of Toldos), and the head then returns to its lofty level compared to the lowly foot, nonetheless the “equality” generated by the revelation of Atzmus — the Essence — remains.  We create a dwelling place down below: a “dira b’tachtonim

This means that our sleeping on the site of the greatest Divine revelations, the place of the Mikdash (מקום המקדש), is not a disgrace, but is actually connected with the revelation of the Divine Essence and Being itself!  And the Rebbe’s call to “open our eyes” (via learning Chassidus and especially the subjects of Geuloh and Moshiach) is not a call to do away with this dimension of sleep, but rather to draw down this dimension (revelation of the Essence) into the awake, physical world, a world which is ready to be a vessel to receive and internalize these revelations!

Vayetzei 5752: We Need Only to Open the Eyes

In this sicha, which was said on Shabbos Vayeitze, which corresponded in 5752 (and also this year, 5780) to the 9th of Kislev, the birthday and hillula (day of passing) of the Mitteler Rebbe, the 2nd Rebbe of Chabad.

The Alter Rebbe, his father, represented the attribute of Chochma (wisdom), and his son the Mitteler Rebbe represents the attribute of Bina (understanding).  Just as Bina expands and reveals the breadth and depth of Chochma, so, too, the teachings of the Mitteler Rebbe are “wide as a river”, allowing one to drink deeply from the wellsprings of pnimiyus haTorah.  This is significant to bringing the Geuloh, because:

At this time there needs to be…the study of pnimiyus Hatorah as it has been revealed in the teachings of Chassidus, and the fulfillment of the instructions of our Rebbeim.  This includes — learning the subjects of Moshiach and Geuloh, in a way that it opens the heart and the eyes and the ears — so that they will understand, and see and feel the true and complete Geuloh tangibly in the physicality of the world.

Not merely learning as some sort of intellectual exercise, but rather “in a way of seeing, that this [the true and complete Geuloh] is already prepared and ready, and one only needs to open the eyes and then he will see this!

Practically speaking, this means adding in the learning of the Torah of the Mitteler Rebbe, for his teachings are specifically in a way of Bina.  It is through learning in a way of Bina, understanding, where it becomes integrated with a person, that the studies have an effect on the person.  This means an effort to express his “spirituality” and his chassidishkeit in his physical matters, until there will be no divide between his “spiritual” aspect and his physical being.

Furthermore, this can impact the world dramatically, because:

We have completed all the birurim (refinement), including the refinement of “Esav he is Edom”, and how much more so considering that even in the time of Yaakov Avinu he already thought that Esav was refined (and from Yaakov’s level in fact he was).  And all the more so after all of the avodah that has taken place since then (to refine Esav) until we are at the point where Esav is already completely refined, as we see in the conduct in our days (golus Edom) of the nations of the world who are related to “Esav he is Edom”, such as this country, a country of kindness, and such conduct is spreading to other nations, as we see lately.

We find that Yidden are ready, the world is ready, even the nations of Esav are ready.  What remains, then, to be done?

The only thing lacking is — that a Jew should open his eyes properly, and should see how everything is ready for the Geuloh!  There is the “set table” already, and there is already the Leviyoson and the Shor Habor and the aged wine, and Yidden are sitting at the table — “their father’s table”, together with Moshiach Tzidkeinu (as stated in seforim that in every generation there is one of the seed of Dovid who, due to his righteousness, is fitting to be Moshiach), and there is already a “heart to know and eyes to see and ears to hear”.

Let us open up the seforim and open up our eyes and ears and hearts to know the truth of the only one who is fitting to be the redeemer, and in that way we empower him (as the Rebbe said in the sicha of Chayei Sara) to redeem the Jewish nation from golus!

15) Kuntres Rosh Chodesh Kislev, 5752: Great is the Effort From Below

15) Kuntres Rosh Chodesh Kislev, 5752: Great is the Effort From Below

This maamor was said on Shabbos, Erev Rosh Chodesh Kislev, 5745, beginning with the words of the haftorah (“Vayomar lo Yehonoson“) recited on every Shabbos Erev Rosh Chodesh.  The attentive student will recall that a maamor on the very same verse was distributed as Kuntres Erev Rosh Chodesh Iyar, 5751 (seven months earlier), but the content differs significantly.  To recall the verse: “tomorrow is Rosh Chodesh and you will be remembered (nifkadta) because you are missing from your place (ki yipaked moshavecha).”

Erev Rosh Chodesh, when the moon completely disappears from sight, represents the bittul of Yisroel.  Through this bittul they draw down a new revelation that was never in the world before, which manifests as the birth of the new moon on Rosh Chodesh, the level of “nifkadta“.  This “Ohr chodosh” is from a level that is completely above the world, drawn down through the avoidah of bittul, whereas avoidah connected with the existence of the individual  (קשורה עם המציאות שלו) only draws down Ohr on a level that has a connection with the world.

The Rebbe now describes 3 levels of “Awakening from Above” (isarusa della’eila):

  1. The level that is given from Above without any effort from below (because the effort from below (isarusa della’satta) cannot reach it);
  2. The level that comes from Above as a result of the isarusa della’satta;
  3. The level that is given as a gift, meaning that the effort from below can’t teach this level, but it is only given after the lower entities have perfected themselves (made themselves a vessel) and have drawn down the 2nd level.

Having explained the lofty levels that are drawn down from Above in these variety of ways, the Rebbe then states that the revelation of “nifkadta” (the new “Ohr chodosh” of Rosh Chodesh) is greater even than the level that comes from Above as gift.  This demands explanation, because the level that is given as a gift is so lofty that the effort from below can’t reach it, but the level of “nifkadta” (which is higher) can and is drawn down by the bittul of Yisroel?!

To understand this, the Rebbe explains how “nifkadta” is the bestowal (hashpoah) of Z”A* to Malchus, which are represented by Yehonoson and Dovid.  This hashpoah is the inyan of “machar Chodesh”, the new moon.  But since it states “tomorrow (machar) is the new moon”, it must be connected with the previous day, which is Erev Rosh Chodesh, the disappearance of the moon, “you are missing from your place” (yipaked moshavecho).  And based on the sequence of expressions in the posuk, the Rebbe derives that there is a hashpoah (Vayomer lo Yehonoson) which gives the ability for Erev Rosh Chodesh (yipaked moshavecho) which in turn is what generates “nifkadta“.

And further (based on the verse “Yitzchok the son of Avraham, Avraham gave birth to Yitzchok”): the awakening from below (Yitzchok) reaches higher than the place from which the awakening from Above (Avraham) comes from.  Nonetheless, there must first be a bestowal from Above which enables the awakening from below — because the lower entity (the tachton) is unable to elevate itself without this bestowal from Above, which reveals the the power of the tachton to reach even higher than the bestowal from Above.  This really consists of two aspects: giving the power for “yipaked moshavecho“, the bittul and elevation; and for the “nifkadta” (the new Ohr Chodosh) that will come from this.  Both the elevation of the tachton, and the hamshacha that it brings .

Astonishingly, the Rebbe proceeds to state that the elevation of the tachton (erev Rosh Chodesh, bittul) is actually greater than what it draws down (the Ohr Chodosh of Rosh Chodesh, “nifkadta“)! This will only be revealed l’asid lavo (and thus we will say about Yitzchok “you are our father” כי אתה אבינו since the greatest level is the awakening from below itself). This corresponds to Yehonoson and Dovid, Z”A and Malchus, that in the future Malchus will receive directly from Ohr Ein Sof (rather than via Z”A).  This is what is meant by the verse that states that in the ultimate future “the light of the moon will be like the light of the sun: that the moon will illuminate by itself, like the sun (not like the present, when it simply reflects the light it received from the sun).

This elevation of Malchus begins when she nullifies her existence and thus becomes a vessel for even greater elevations, until she becomes a crown אשת חיל עטרת בעלה.  Now, it seems that the bittul of Malchus (erev Rosh Chodesh, yipaked moshavecho) is in order to bring the revelation of the Ohr Chodosh of Rosh Chodesh (nifkadta), as implied in the beginning of the maamor.  But in the future the greatest quality of “yipaked moshavecho” will be that through it is drawn down the revelation of the root of Malchus itself.  All of this also applies on a higher level to Yisroel (Malchus, the moon) and the Holy One, blessed be He (Z”A, the sun):

The bittul of Yisroel brings about that HKBH remembers them, so to speak, and redeems them… And, like the moon which will not need to receive from the sun, through the bittul of Yisroel it becomes revealed that Yisroel and the Holy One are all one ישראל וקודשא בריך הוא כולא חד, and therefore they will not need, so to speak, to receive from the Holy One, blessed be He, for they are truly one.  And more than this, Yisroel are bestowing, so to speak, to the Holy One — the crown of her husband.

All of this comes to explain, in the language of Chassidus, that although we are presently laboring to bring about the revelation of Moshiach in the world (accompanied by the great revelations of the true and complete Geuloh), these revelations (Ohr Chodosh) are not going to be the real chiddush.  The real chiddush and the highest revelation will be the avoidah itself that we are performing now — persisting to labor from below with tremendous bittul for more than 25 years since we last experienced the revealed hashpoah from Above.

Through our efforts to reveal the Rebbe in the world, we are in fact “crowning” the Rebbe with ourselves, with our avoidah, revealing that we are one; and even more: bestowing hashpoah on the Rebbe via our efforts from below.  (See the maamor ואתה תצוה 5752, where the Rebbe explains how Yisroel bring Moshe to a higher level, and other places.)


* “Zeir Anpin”, which refers to the six sefiros from Chesed through Yesod

Toldos 5752: The Essential Existence is Revealed

This week the sicha examines a simple but deep concept: the distinction between “essential existence” (“etzem metzius“) and the revelation of that existence.  This is illustrated by the difference between the birth of a person, the beginning of their essential existence, upon which everything they will do in the future depends, and the actual good deeds that they will do in their life.

Similarly, we find by the moon (this sicha was spoken on the Shabbos following Rosh Chodesh Kislev), that Rosh Chodesh is the “birth” of the new moon. Following its birth, the moon proceeds over the next 15 days to wax greater and greater, increasing the amount of light it shines.  The greatest light that reflects from the moon is on the 15th of the month, representing the fulfillment of its ability to shine (a “full moon”). [There is also a special quality of the 2nd half of the month is explained in the sicha of Parshas Vayishlach].  Yet, even the great light of the full moon derives from the initial revelation of its essential existence on Rosh Chodesh.

In the case of a Yid: the first moment of revelation of his essential existence, etzem metziyuso, is the moment of his birth when the neshoma comes into a physical body.  All of what he will proceed to do afterwards is found in this initial moment of his coming into existence, and this moment is the main thing — “the entire existence of a person over the course of all the days of his life are contained in the moment when he is born and goes out into the air of the world.”  

Everything that proceeds after the birth is simply an expansion and greater revelation of that first moment.  The importance of what follows (his “good deeds”) is that these good deeds bring about the revelation to the world of his essential existence as a G-dly neshoma — and this is the fulfillment of his existence.

Nonetheless, the main thing is that first moment when he comes into existence, birth.  We see this in the birth of a child, which is accompanied by rejoicing and celebration even before the child has done anything.  And more than this, the Rebbe explains:

the main quality of the Jewish people in their essential existence, “Yisroel and the Holy One, blessed be He, are all one”, is intact even without the performance of Torah and Mitzvos, “pleasing ways and good deeds”.  Like the metaphor of a fleshly King who has many sons, that the love he has for his sons is essential love even when they do not possess “pleasing ways and good deeds”.  (And on the contrary: regarding the sons who do possess “pleasing ways and good deeds”, and it is logical to love them, the essential  love is not so evident).

Of course one loves a son who’s ways are pleasing and deeds are good.  But to love a son who lacks pleasing ways and good deeds?  In such a case it is clear that the love derives not from the “nachas” of his behavior, but from his essential existence as the son of this father.

This shows also on the importance of the physical body of a Jew, which has no special quality in and of itself, but nonetheless Hashem chose the Jewish body.  Thus, a Jew’s body expresses Hashem’s essential connection to a Jew even more than the neshoma — because a neshoma has the unique quality of being a “part of G-dliness” (like a son whose ways are pleasing and deeds are good).  By being enclothed in a physical body and doing the work to refine it, the neshoma reveals that it also possess an essential connection to Hashem that is not dependent on its special qualities.

The concept of birth, and of the moon, are directly connected to the Geuloh.  Just as birth, and the birth of the moon, is a moment which contains the entire essential existence of the person, so, too, the moment of the Geuloh is the revelation of etzem haneshoma, the essence of the neshoma, which is higher than any name which we can give it, even higher than the name “Yechida” and “chelek Eloka“.  It is like when a person awakens from sleep, even before he has enough awareness to say “Modeh ani“, thanking Hashem for restoring his soul, he already has awoken to his essential existence.  This is the moment of Geuloh — awakening to our true essential existence.

Not only that, but it is known that every Jew contains within him a spark of Moshiach.  The Geuloh comes when each one reveals the spark of Moshiach within him — the revelation of the essence of the neshoma “etzem haneshoma mamash“.  This is “waking up from sleep”, and this waking up brings about that he will proceed to reveal the essence in actuality, which is the true inyan of the Coming of Moshiach.

So, the question then is: how do we “wake up”?

When the chayus of every single Yid is in the inyan of Moshiach, this brings (automatically) to the state of Yemos Hamoshiach (the Days of Moshiach), that the essence of the Yidden will be revealed in actuality.

This is “breathing the air of Moshiach”, which allows us to feel the “spirit of Melech Hamoshiach” — the essence — which is more fundamental than eating and drinking, and higher than the “light” of Melech Hamoshiach.

The Rebbe concludes the sicha:

…we should have the begining of the true Geuloh, via Moshiach Tzidkeinu — “a king will arise from the house of Dovid, etc.”, until “he will rectify the entire world to serve Hashem together…”  And as hinted at in the end of the haftorah of the previous week…which finishes with the declaration “Yechi Adoni Hamelech Dovid l’Olam” (“Live my master the King Dovid forever”) — the eternality of the Kingship of the house of Dovid…which reaches its perfection via Melech Hamoshiach…the meaning of this declaration is the revelation of the existence of Melech Hamoshiach.  And through this [declaration] comes his revelation before the eyes of all through his activities, etc.”

There is a need to wake up, to declare that there is the existence of Melech Hamoshiach (“Yechi Hamelech”), which is the essence of our own existence.  It is by doing this that we are able to bring about the revelation of Melech Hamoshiach in the world, to bring the Geuloh in actuality.

Chayei Sara: The Message Beyond the Sicha

As we learned in the Dvar Malchus sicha of parshas Chayei Sarah, this parsha contains the first shilchus in Torah and that in our times shlichus has a new element: the acceptance and “kabbalas panim” of Moshiach.  In most years, it comes out to be the time when the International Gathering of the Rebbe’s shluchim is held.  The Rebbe often brings the words of the Shelah that everything is by hasgacha protis, and thus days and events which fall out near the Parsha are connected with that Parsha.  The Rebbe also speaks about the connection between the Torah portion and the daily section of Tanya, Tehillim, and Rambam.

If we look, we see a wonderful and eye-opening hasgacha protis as regards the Kinus Hashluchim.

When the Kinus Hashluchim falls out on parshas Chayei Sarah, thousands of Shluchim find themselves at the Kinus on Shabbos listening not only to the story of Eliezer, the servant of Avraham Avinu (the first shliach in the Torah), but also, of course, to the haftorah.  The haftorah for parshas Chayei Sarah (Melachim I, 1:1-31) describes the attempt by Adoniyahu, son of Dovid Hamelech, to usurp his aged father’s throne and rule in his father’s place instead of his brother Shlomo (Solomon, whom Dovid Hamelech had chosen as his successor).  Dovid is informed what his son is doing:

[Adoniyahu] has gone down this day and has slain oxen and fatlings and sheep in abundance, and he called all the King’s sons, and the officers of the army, and Evyassar the priest, and behold they eat and drink before him, and they said, “Long live King Adoniyahu.” (“Yechi Hamelech Adoniyahu”)

The culmination of his attempt to usurp the throne is the people’s acceptance of his Kingship by declaring “Yechi Hamelech”!  Dovid Hamelech swears that Shlomo shall reign after him, and the haftorah ends with the words  “Let my lord King David live forever.” (“Yechi Adoni Hamelech Dovid L’olam”).

The importance of declaring “Yechi Hamelech” is explained by the Rebbe in the sicha of Beis Nissan, 5748 (1988), where the Rebbe brings the Rambam’s description of the king of the nation as the heart of the nation.  Just as the heart pumps blood, which is life, to all of the limbs of the body, giving life to the body, proper circulation is dependent on the limbs, which must also return the blood to the heart.  This, explains the Rebbe, is the people’s declaration of “Yechi Hamelech” — the limbs (the people) returning life-blood to the heart (the king).

Now see more hashagacha protis:

In the portion of Tanya that was learned on this same Shabbos, the Alter Rebbe writes about the circulation of the blood in spiritual terms:

The cause of illness or health lies in the distribution and flow of the life-force from the heart to all the organs, [this life-force] being vested in the blood of life which flows from the heart to all the organs; and the spirit of life and the blood circulates all around into all the limbs, through the veins that are embedded in them, and returns to the heart.  Now, if the circulation and flow of this spirit of life is always as it should be…then the individual is perfectly healthy.  …But should there be any disorder in any place, restraining, hindering or reducing the circulation and flow of the blood with the spirit of life vested in it, then this bond — which connects all the limbs with the heart by means of this circulation — is severed (which would extinguish life), or diminished, in which case the individual will fall ill and sick (May G‑d protect us!)

To summarize: On the Shabbos day when all the Shluchim of the Rebbe are gathered together to discuss the goals and techniques of their Shlichus, Divine Providence brings about that:

  1. The “latest word” from the Rebbe on this parsha the Rebbe informs us what is the new element in shlichus in our times: that in each generation, there is an individual who is fit to be Moshiach and “when the time comes, G‑d will reveal Himself to him and send him.” The service at present is thus to be prepared to actually accept Moshiach and create a climate in which he can accomplish his mission and redeem Israel from the exile;
  2. The haftorah concludes with the declaration “Yechi Hamelech” (describing how “Yechi Adoni Hamelech Dovid L’olam” negates and prevents the crowning of the “usurper to the throne” as expressed in the undesirable declaration “Yechi Hamelech Adoniahu”); and,
  3. The daily section of Tanya teaches that spiritual health derives from proper circulation, when the limbs return the flow of blood to the heart — the exact metaphor that the Rebbe uses to explain the declaration “Yechi Hamelech”!

For those who need a hint in this matter, Hashgacha Protis has provided it.

We conclude with a brocha that every single one of the Rebbe’s shluchim (and, as the Rebbe says in the sicha, every Jew in our generation has been appointed a shliach of the [Previous] Rebbe) should be healthy in all their limbs and in their heart, both physically and spiritually, and that they should be successful in fulfilling the shlichus of the one who sent them, including and especially the “new element” that has become the “gateway” for the entire shlichus–to greet Moshiach Tzidkeinu in actual reality, through the final words of the haftorah as they apply in our generation, the generation of Moshiach (a descendant of Dovid through his son Shlomo*):

Let our Master our Teacher and our Rebbe, Melech Hamoshiach, live forever!

* Rambam, 13 Principles of Faith, #12 (See the original sicha and also questions and answers by Rabbi Shlomo Majeski)

The Beis Hamikdosh Here in the Time and Place of Golus

The Rebbe mentions, in the printed sicha of Vayera 5752 (last week), a midrash* which states that the month of Marcheshvan (when the construction of the first Beis Hamikdash was completed, but it wasn’t opened until the following Tishrei) “lost out” and in the time to come the Holy One, blessed be He, will pay her back with the inauguration (chanukas) of the 3rd Beis Hamikdash which will take place in the month of Marcheshvan.

What significance does this have to the events of Marcheshvan 5752, when the sicha was spoken and printed?  Several days after the sicha was spoken, and a day or two before the sicha appeared, in that very month of Marcheshvan, there was a revelation of the Beis Hamikdash.

This revelation was (and is) contained in a small booklet, the Kuntres Beis Rabbeinu sh’b’Bavel, edited by the Rebbe and published in honor of 20 Marcheshvan (birthday of the Rebbe Rashab).  In this Kuntres, the Rebbe explains the words of the Gemara that the following the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash, the revelation of the Shechina which was revealed in the Beis Hamikdash “traveled” from Yerushalayim together with the Jews as they went into golus.  Where did it settle?  In the study hall and synagogue of the leader of the respective generations.  In our generation, explains the Rebbe, this is 770 Eastern Parkway, the study hall and synagogue of the Rebbe, the leader of the generation (of course, the Rebbe makes the reference to his father-in-law, the Previous Rebbe).

Not only is every shul a “mikdash me’at“, a “miniature sanctuary”, but the shul of the leader of the generation is in fact a counterpart to the Beis Hamikdash that stood in Yerushalayim, and the revelation of the Shechina which is present there is the same revelation that was in Yerushalayim.  (If one will ask why we don’t see this, learn the Dvar Malchus of parshas Vayera, wherein the Rebbe explains the difference between something being revealed from Above, and the concurrent need for the recipient to be a fitting vessel for that revelation in order to experience it.)

In other words, 770 Eastern Parkway is the place in golus where the revelation of the Shechina is presently situated as long as the Jews are in golus.  And it will be the first place where the Third Beis Hamikdash will be revealed, after which it will return to Yerushalayim.  In the Rebbe’s words:

Now we can appreciate the unique greatness of Beis Rabbeinu: As the main Small Temple of the final exile, Beis Rabbeinu is the very place of the future Beis Hamikdash, and moreover, the place where the future Beis Hamikdash will first be revealed, and the place from which it will return to Yerushalayim.

The implications are startling: this Kuntres reveals to us, based on the Rebbe’s explanation of a posuk in Yechezkiel and a sugya in the gemora, that the Beis Hamikdash is located at 770 Eastern Parkway, and this is the “very place itself”** (מקום המקדש גופיה דלעתיד) where the 3rd Beis Hamikdash will descend from Heaven, and from this place it will travel to Yerushalayim!

In other words, the Beis Hamikdash (as well as the place of the 3rd Beis Hamikdash) has been revealed in the realm of the intellect!  In the month of Marcheshvan.  And as the Rebbe explains, in last week’s sicha, in order to experience the revelation we have to desire it and then labor to make ourselves a fitting vessel (like Avraham Avinu did and thus he merited that Hashem was revealed to him), otherwise it will remain in the intellectual realm, unseen by physical eyes.

Please, do not suffice with these few words in this meager essay, but take the opportunity to read through (and even better–learn properly and in depth) the Kuntres Beis Rabbeinu sh’b’Bavel (available for viewing and printing here).  After all, the Rebbe emphasizes numerous times that it is through learning the inyonim of Moshiach and Geulah that we speed up the actual true and complete Geulah.  As the Rebbe says–all elements of the Geulah are here, we simply need to agree and desire and open our eyes.  Learning these inyonim is the “fast way” to open our eyes.

It’s up to us!

* Yalkut Shimoni, Melachim I, remez 184.  Footnote #108 in the sicha.

** See the maamor “Gadol Habayis Hazeh”, section IV and forward, for the significance of the place of the Beis Hamikdash as opposed to the structure itself.

14) Kuntres Chof Marcheshvan, 5752

14) Kuntres Chof Marcheshvan, 5752

This maamor was edited and printed in honor of the birthday of the Rebbe Rashab, and it was handed out personally by the Rebbe in 770.*. It discusses deep inyonim of Chassidus, and demands attentive learning.  But here, we will focus only on one point from the maamor, which is overtly relevant to the concepts of Moshiach and Geuloh found in Dvar Malchus.

The Rebbe discusses here the concept of the Divine Light (Ohr) that preceded the tzimtzum (Tzimtzum being  the contraction of light by which it becomes possible to create limited, finite worlds).  This Ohr that existed prior to the tzimtzum possessed two dimensions: unlimited and limited.  These dimensions became the source for the two kinds of Divine revelation that exist now: Sovev (surrounding light, which cannot be grasped and thus is not revealed in the world), and Memaleh (filling light, which is limited and can this be grasped by the lower creatures).

Additionally: through the mitzvos we perform now, there will be the revelation of a new light in the time to come,  an Ohr Chodosh.  This Ohr Chodosh will bring about a new heavens and a new Earth (as stated by the novi Yeshaya).

The Rebbe clarifies: if we are referring to the revelation of the unlimited light that illumined before the tzimtzum (which is presently not revealed in the worlds), this is not truly new (אין זה חידוש אמיתי) — this Ohr was already revealed before the Tzimtzum, and afterwards was concealed from the world.   Thus, when this Ohr will return and be revealed again, it will not truly be something new.  The truly new Ohr Chodosh, which will generate a new heavens and a new Earth, is Ohr that is drawn down by our fulfilling Torah and Mitzvos now, an Ohr that didn’t exist even before the Tzimtzum!

In these words the Rebbe is giving us a small glimpse at the great significantly of the avoidah of a Yid in performing Torah and Mitzvos — it is a complete chiddush, and draws down an Ohr Chodosh that never existed previously!  Here, in the oisios of Chassidus, the Rebbe is explaining the famous words of 28 Nissan (“I’ve done all that I can do, now you must do all that you can do to bring the Geuloh…”) — because it is the avoidah of a Yid, davka, to make this lowest world a “dira b’tachtonim” that draws down the Ohr Chodosh, which is the revelation of the Geuloh.

(Note that  in the kuntres published for Rosh Chodesh Kislev of this year, the Rebbe will elaborate further on this subject, bringing out the point that the avoidah of the Yid is even greater than the Ohr Chodosh that comes from his avoidah!)

* Some want to suggest that perhaps the personal distribution of this maamor was  (in addition to the lofty inyonim discussed in the maamor) to serve as a “distraction”, so to speak, from the amazing revelations found in the Sicha “Beis Rabbeinu sh’b’Bovel”, which was printed the same week.  Well known is the principle that the first luchos were given with a big “shturem”, but had to be shattered.  The final luchos, to the contrary, were brought down without lightning, thunder, and the sound of the Shofar — but they endured.  In our case, Chassidim were so excited to learn a maamor that the Rebbe had handed to them personally, from his holy hand, that they didn’t have time to look closely at the other kuntres (“Beis Rabbeinu…”) that was unceremoniously dropped  off in 770.  (But what can a goat understand from gazing at the moon…?)

 

Chayei Sara 5752: Shlichus is Finished, Now We Must Greet Moshiach

This sicha was said on Shabbos during the annual Kinus Hashluchim gathering in 5752 (1991), and primarily addresses the task of shlichus.

Standing by the beginning and opening of the Kinus Hashluchim — emissaries of my father-in-law the Rebbe, Nosi Doreinu, in all corners of the globe — we must mention, first of all, the foundation [of the Shlichus] and to verbalize the task of the shluchim in our generation in general, and especially — the new element which has been added especially in the most recent time to the work of shlichus: to greet Moshiach Tzidkeinu in the true and complete Geuloh. [Emphasis in the original]

The Rebbe proceeds to explain that periodically there a new element (“chiddush”) is added to the Shlichus, which becomes the gate through which all the other elements ascend, and in our generation and in this time “the special shlichus of our time: to greet Moshiach Tzidkeinu.”  [it should be noted that in the original the expression is “lekabel pnei Moshiach Tzidkeinu”, which can be translated as “to greet”, but literally the words convey the meaning “to accept the face of Moshiach”.]

Then the Rebbe explains at length what a Shliach is, according to halacha, and how in fact every Jew is a shliach of the Holy One, blessed be He, to transform the world into a dwelling place for Him through Torah and Mitzvos, which is the avodah of unifying the spiritual and the physical.  The concept of a shliach receives emphasis on parshas Chayei Sara where the Torah goes on at great length about the first Shliach, Eliezer the servant of Avraham, to make the shidduch of Rivka and Yitzchok, which itself is the basis for the unification of the spiritual and the physical, the soul and the body, self-nullification (“bitul”) and individual being (“yesh”).  (This can be addressed in another post, with Hashem’s help.)  The Rebbe then returns to the subject of greeting Moshiach:

From this it is understood, that the only thing which now remains in the avodah of the shlichus is: to greet Moshiach Tzidkeinu in actuality, so that he [Moshiach] will be able to fulfill his shlichus in actuality and to take all of Israel out of the golus!

In other words: in order for Moshiach to be able to fulfill his task of taking us out of exile, we need to “greet” him, to “accept his face”, meaning to recognize him and acknowledge that he is the one we follow to get out of golus!

In the name of the Rebbe Rayatz, we are already “standing ready” to greet Moshiach, tshuva has already been done, all the avodah is finished, but yet the Geulah has not yet come.  Thus, there must be something else that we must do.

What is in fact required of us? Our Sages explain that in each generation, there is an individual who is fit to be Moshiach and “when the time comes, G‑d will reveal Himself to him and send him.” The service at present is thus to be prepared to actually accept Moshiach and create a climate in which he can accomplish his mission and redeem Israel from the exile.

And this is the task of the International Conference of Shluchim: First and foremost, to make a public statement that this is the task confronting us — to prepare ourselves to accept Moshiach. Every aspect of our service and every dimension of our activity must be directed to this goal.

Every shliach should realize that he is responsible to explain the above concepts to all the individuals in his city. He must convey to them, in a manner which they can understand and relate to, the imminence of Moshiach’s coming and the need to study about Moshiach and the Era of the Redemption.

This sicha makes clear that not only are we dependent on Moshiach, but that — Moshiach is dependent on us!  He cannot lead us out of exile unless we recognize him and accept his leadership.  [And, as the Rebbe mentions in other sichos, the attribute of Kingship (“Malchus”) is only awakened to accept the Crown (“Kesser”) due to the expressed desire of the people, and the implications are easily understood.]

How do we fulfill this shlichus?  By conveying theses concepts in a manner which the other person can understand.  While the concepts like “Malchus“, “Kesser” and “pnimiyus Atik” may not understood by someone who hasn’t studied pnimiyus haTorah, but the concepts of a nation appointing and accepting a King are surely understood by all.  And the examples are many.

The key to it all: learning and teaching.  As the Rebbe expresses numerous times in the Dvar Malchus sichos, that the direct way to bring the Geulah is by learning about the subject.  And in this particular sicha the Rebbe adds that this is speeded up by making a resolution to learn the entire Torah Ohr and Likkutei Torah of the Alter Rebbe.  Understanding Moshiach and Geuloh enables one to recognize the Moshiach.

Nothing else remains to be done.

Vayera 5752: To Really Want Divine Revelation

This sicha begins with the story of the Rebbe Rashab as a young boy.  On his 4th or 5th birthday he was brought to his grandfather, the Tzemach Tzedek, to receive a blessing.  When he entered his grandfather’s room he burst out in tears and said “In cheder, we learned that G-d revealed Himself to Avraham.  Why does He not reveal Himself to me?”  The Tzemach Tzedek responded:

When a Jew [alternatively, ‘When a tzaddik’] who is ninety-nine years old recognizes that he must undergo [the spiritual service of] circumcision, he is worthy of having G-d reveal Himself to him.”

Both the question and the answer contain clues to the process of redemption.

The mitzvah of circumcision is a unique covenant with the Creator which is brought about by removing the foreskin, the “orlah“, an impure manifestation that obscures.  Although none of us is on the level of Avraham Avinu’s Divine service, we learn from him that even if a person has reached the 99th level of perfecting himself (corresponding to his 99 years at the time), he must take the next step to realize that there is a greater level of Divine revelation which can only be revealed by circumcising himself — removing the orlah which obscures that revelation (even if it may be very subtle and barely noticeable to him).  The goal is not “self-perfection” but rather G-dly revelation.  The orlah blocks this G-dly revelation from being complete, and must be removed even at the age of 99 years (and how much more so before then).

In order to accomplish this, we must tap into the same yearning, the same sense  that something critical is lacking, which caused the young Rebbe Rashab to burst into tears that G-d had not revealed Himself to him.  The goal of all of our effort and service of Hashem is to bring about this Divine revelation.  No matter what we have accomplished, no matter how far we have come (whether as individuals or the Jewish people as a whole), until we bring about this revelation of G-dliness we have not accomplished the goal.  Even if we have finished the Divine service of golus, we still need to bring about the revelation of G-dliness in the world, to bring into actuality the true and complete Geulah.  To do this we need to feel a yearning for Hashem’s Divine revelation.

This is particularly evident in the mitzvah of milah (circumcision) which is “sealed in our flesh”, connecting the Divine command with the material body of each Jew.  Similarly, the Divine revelation of which we speak cannot remain spiritual, it must come down to the world, to the soul as it is enclothed in a material body.

The Rebbe explains that all of this is connected with the revelation of the spark of Moshiach which is contained in every Jew — that each one of us must reveal this spark of Moshiach which is within us.  Revealing it means bringing it out in our consciousness, in our actions, and in our influence on the world.  A person revealing his spark of Moshiach is a “personal redemption” and all of the “personal redemptions” come together to become the true and complete Geulah.  How do we speed this up?  By acting as a shliach, meaning an “agent”, utilizing all 10 powers of soul (3 of intellect, 3 of emotion, 4 of action) to bring about G-d’s revelation in the world, primarily by learning and spreading the teachings of Chassidus in way where they are understood and internalized.  This is a preparation for the inner bond with Hashem that will be revealed.

Furthermore, we are at a stage where there are no more obstacles to this revelation.  The Rebbe Rashab, when he founded the Yeshiva Tomchei Temimim, spoke about the two stages before the redemption which are hinted at in Psalm 89: those who are the “enemies of Hashem”, enemies of G-d and His Torah (the maskilim and reformers of his generation); and those who “scorn the footsteps of Your anointed one (Moshiach)”, meaning Torah-observant Jews who have little faith in Moshiach (complete sicha of the Rebbe Rashab).  The Rebbe Rashab noted then that the students of Tomchei Temimim are the “soldiers of the House of David” who fight these wars.  In our sicha of Parshas Vayera, the Rebbe says that even this has been completed, indicating that there are no longer any real “enemies of Hashem” among the Jewish people (only those who are like a “captured child” (תינוק שנשבה) raised by gentiles, not responsible for how he was raised), and similarly (and a greater chiddush)  — there is no longer any real opposition to Moshiach.  Rather, we have entered the stage of Psalm 90 (the Rebbe’s kapital for the year 5751-52) which concludes with the verse “May the pleasantness of G-d our L-rd be upon us, establish for us the work of our hands,” referring to the Holy Temple.

Since we have reached the completion of our Divine service, all that remains is to awaken a yearning for Divine revelation like the young Rebbe Rashab and to act like Avraham Avinu and “circumcise ourselves” — meaning to remove from ourselves anything which obscures the Divine revelation, no matter how subtle it might be.  This, together with learning and teaching Chassidus and fulfilling our shlichus with all powers of our soul, speeds up and brings about the true and complete redemption which can take place immediately!