Chof Zayin Adar: Nothing Was Lost

The day 27 Adar (כ”ז אדר ראשון) is not just a date in Lubavitch — it has become a title for the dramatic day that was the beginning of a new reality for Chassidim.  This is the day that the Rebbe had what the doctors call a stroke, and since then we have not heard from the Rebbe.  Gimmel Tammuz is another step, but the “silence” began on this day, Chof Zayin Adar.

The number 27 in Loshon Hakodesh is also the word “זך”, which means refined and purified.  In fact, the Rebbe connects this with the 27th day of the month, in a sicha of Parshas Pekudei 5750 (2 years to the day before the stroke).  Here the Rebbe explains that the 27th of the month possesses the special quality of:

…scouring and clarification and purification, as is written about the time of the Geuloh “many will be clarified and whitened and purified” (Daniel 12:10).  The ultimate scouring and purification is by revealing the intent in the Tzimtzum [contraction of G-dly revelation] and concealment of the Divine name Elokim itself.

This will be understood in light of what the Rebbe explained in the earlier parts of this sicha.  To summarize:

According to Torah, there are 7 names of Hashem that one is forbidden to erase due to their Holiness.  Of them, we primarily relate to two names: YKVK and Elokim, which represent the revelation of G-dliness (the name YKVK) and the concealment of that revelation (the name Elokim).  The name Elokim is the contraction and concealment of G-dly light — in other words: darkness.  We find a verse in Tehillim “the sun and its shield, YKVK Elokim”, explained to mean that Elokim (concealment) is like a shield or a filter that reduces the G-dly revelation of the name YKVK so that the worlds are not nullified out of existence.  According to this, the name Elokim, the contraction and concealment of G-dly light (the darkness), is for the sake of being able to reveal G-dliness within the limited ability of the worlds to receive.  Like smoked glass diminishes the light of the sun but this itself allows a person to be able to gaze at the sun without being blinded.  A concealment which has the intent of actually revealing that which is being concealed.

But, explains the Rebbe, there is another dimension: the quality of Tzimtzum (contraction) in and of itself — that contraction and concealment show the completeness of the unlimited Holy One, blessed be He, that He is truly unlimited: He is so “unlimited” that he can also limit Himself!  He possesses not only the power of unlimited revelation, but also the power of concealment and limitation.  Explains the Rebbe, this derives from the level of Hashem’s Essence עצמותו where the power of infinite revelation can co-exist with His power of limitation and concealment (regardless of the fact that they are opposites).  (See the maamor השם נפשנו בחיים printed for Gimmel Tammuz 5749, where it states that the inyan of Tzimtzum for its own sake will only be revealed in the Time to Come.)  Thus, Geuloh is:

…not only the nullification of the withdrawal and concealment (העלם והסתר) and of the world by revealing that the intent of the contraction and concealment is for the sake of revelation.  Rather, more than this: that we reveal the intent of the withdrawal and concealment itself…not only do we nullify the inyan of golus by revealing that the concealment [of the name Elokim] is for the sake of revelation, but more than this: that the golus itself is clarified and is transformed to Geuloh, since we reveal the intent of the Tzimtzum itself, the power of concealment (which is above revelation).

These are very deep concepts, we are not attempting to do them justice in this brief article.  But we will try to bring them down to simpler words, which will help us relate to the event of Chof Zayin Adar over 27 years ago (and its continuation to the present time): This second aspect of the Divine name Elokim (the name of darkness and concealment) is it’s inherent value, not as it brings about or leads to something else.  It is not only that the darkness as a vehicle for revealing the light, and in such a case we must nullify the darkness in order to reach a greater light.  Rather, it is the lofty intent within the darkness itself — the power of Hashem’s Essence to be limited.  What does that mean?  That we identify and recognize Hashem in the darkness just as we do through His revelations!  The darkness remains darkness, but it ceases to darken because we recognize that the darkness itself is part of Hashem no less than light and revelation.  “The darkness is as light” (כחשיכה כאורה).  This is even higher than crying out over the darkness (as the Rebbe explains in the maamor (בלילה ההוא, מלוקט ד) that was edited and released for publication on Purim, 5750, two weeks earlier than this sicha).

In practical terms, we could say as follows:

Following the stroke that occurred Chof Zayin Adar, 5752, the Chassidim were worried, davening and saying Tehilim for the Rebbe’s health.  There was a great and sudden darkness over Lubavitch.  No farbrengens with the Rebbe, no Sunday dollars.  Gimmel Tammuz was another step into darkness and concealment.  Yet, in the years since then, when the concealment is seemingly greater than before, there has been revealed an even deeper connection to the Rebbe.  Previously, the connection expressed itself through the way the Rebbe revealed himself.  Then there was a concealment, and there was a response of crying out over the concealment.  But since then, the hiskashrus has evolved and come to approach the second level the Rebbe mentions: where the concealment itself does not conceal.

What does this mean in practical terms?

That the fact that we do not see or hear the Rebbe for so many years (and so we cry out to Hashem “ad mosai?!”) nonetheless does not obscure our ability to recognize the Rebbe’s presence and influence.  This comes from Atzmus, meaning our hiskashrus today is coming from Etzem Hanefesh, where the concealment and the darkness themselves are converted to Geuloh — that the present situation comes to show the power of concealment, which by the Rebbe means that we come to recognize that he is just as effective in his role of Nosi Hador and Moshiach Tzidkeinu when we don’t see as when we do see, when we don’t hear as when we do hear.  So many years have passed and yet not only is the hiskashrus of Chassidim still strong, but each year there are more and more mekushorim, many of whom were not even born before Chof-Zayin Adar!  “The darkness is as light” (כחשיכה כאורה), the power of concealment which is above revelation.

Nothing was lost on Chof-Zayin Adar.  On the contrary: we set out on a path of establishing a greater level of connection with the Rebbe, a path upon which we proceed to this very day.  We do not need to cry out over the darkness, but rather we must “remind” Hashem that just as the power of concealment has an intent of its own, so does the power of revelation!  We can now, after Chof Zayin Adar, appreciate the power of concealment (which doesn’t actually conceal, but reveals a deeper level), and therefore we beseech Hashem that we should also have complete revelation: the true and complete Geuloh with the Rebbe Melech Hamoshiach, and we will gaze upon the beauty of our King!


Yechi Adoneinu Moreinu v’Rabbeinu Melech HaMoshiach L’olam Vo’ed!

23) Kuntres 25 Adar: Giving Over the Etzem

23) Kuntres 25 Adar: Giving Over the Etzem

Kuntres 25 Adar was published in honor of the birthday of the Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka, which in a regular year (not a leap year) comes out around parshas Pekudei.

The discourse is based on the posuk “these are the  accounts (pekudei) of the Mishkan, the Mishkan of testimony, which was counted at the command of Moshe”.  The discourse discusses the difference between midos, which are essentially for another person (the mida of Chesed, for example, involves giving to someone else), and the intellect, which is essentially for the individual alone.  Midos are inherently revealed (even when they are still hidden in the heart), whereas intellect is inherently concealed (even when it is being given over to another).

This distinction is related to the difference between the two times “Mishkan” is mentioned in the verse, which also corresponds to Torah and Mitzvos as compared to Tshuva, which find expression in two levels of Tshuva (lower and higher). In addition, the verse mentions Moshe, who is the aspect of self-nullification (bittul) which unifies the two levels.  Worthwhile to see the maamor inside.

Most noteworthy to us is probably the following section of the maamor:


… We can explain what is stated in Likkutei Torah [about this verse], that “pekudei” also has a meaning of “to be impregnated” and “seclusion”, as the sages say “a man is obligated to be with his wife [before departing on a journey]”.  It is explained elsewhere in Chassidus the [three marital obligations of providing] “her food, her wardrobe, and her marital relations (onasah): her food (nourishment) is giving over something that enclothes itself in the vessel of the recipient; her wardrobe (clothing) surrounds, which is a higher level; and onasah is giving over the essence, which is higher than the surrounding level of garments.

And we can add that the special quality of onasah is not only as regards a bestowal from above (that onasah is the giving over of the essence), but also as regards Yisroel, that they receive this bestowal not through a garment.  And we can say that this is what is meant by or sages when they said that “one who says ‘I [make a condition that our relations will take place with me] in my garment and she in her garment’ has to divorce and pay the kesuba”: that the negation of “I in my garment” is because the bestowal from Above is without a garment, and the negation of “she in her garment” is because receiving the revelation is not through a garment.

Here, as the Rebbe begins the year-long series of revelations of the year 5751-52, right at the beginning of the year-long cycle of Dvar Malchus, there is a clear statement about what is and will happen.  The “husband” (the Rebbe) is about to “go overseas” (at least visibly and audibly) and therefore he is going to fulfill his halachic obligation to “be with his wife” (the Chassidim) and give over the essence, the atzmus which is higher than either Sovev or Memaleh, and transcends intellect and emotion. How must this be done? “Without garments”, which in Chassidus refers to thought, speech, and action — without the familiar reference points, a completely different manner than the way the husband and wife relate the rest of the time.

The hint should be clear now (though surely it was not clear in 5751): the Rebbe in these Sichos and maamorim is giving over Atzmus — the essence of everything — before “going away for a while”* (at least in a revealed way).  And this creates a state of pregnancy, which leads to birth: a moshol for the true and complete Geuloh!

* There are those who tell of being at a Simcha with the Rebbe’s mazkir R’ Binyomin Klein in 5754 (1994), when after a few lechayims R’ Klein revealed that the Rebbe had told him, shortly before Chof-Zayin Adar that he will be “going away for a while.” (“איך גיי אוועק פאר א וויילע”) [heard from Mrs. Klar, who heard it from that mother of one of the bachurim who was there.]

Pekudei 5752: The Missing Parsha

The Dvar Malchus begins with Vayikra 5751, but where does it end?  The Parshas Vayakhel sicha is unfinished, and parshas Pekudei is missing (actually, “missing” is one of the definitions of the word*, as in יפקד מושבך).  What is the message?

Firstly, we could take note that the start of our Dvar Malchus cycle is parshas Vayikra.  This hints at the division of the Chasidishe Parsha, Torah Ohr and Likkutei Torah — the former covering Bereishis to Vayakhel, the latter Vayikra through the end.  In an odd turn of hashgacha protis, parshas Pekudei is absent from Torah Ohr (which covers all of Shemos) and appears in the other volume.

But more to the point, the Rebbe generally explains these two parshiyos (Vayakhel and Pekudei, which in many years are read together) as reflecting two distinct angles:

  • Vayakhel means “gathering” and speaks of unity and generality, where the individual elements are subdued in the whole.
  • Pekudei implies making an accounting of the individual elements, and in fact it is here that we learn the details: this many talents of silver, that many hooks and boards, etc.

The fact that our Dvar Malchus has Vayakhel but lacks Pekudei (when looked at in light of the content of all the sichas) implies that from the collective side of things, everything is in a state of Geulah: the aspect of Above to below, the “Nosi is everything” (הנשיא הוא הכל) which nullifies all the elements to the greater whole. You can find this expressed many times in these sichos.

What remains to be completed is the aspect of Pekudei: the completion and perfection of the parts, not as they are nullified to the greater whole but their own intrinsic importance as unique elements. Meaning our avodah, individually.  In the Rebbe’s words: “do all that you can” — you, personally and as an individual!  (Of course, merging the individual effort with the unity of Vayakhel, which is the reason that most years the two parshiyos are read together.)

What is needed now is for each one of us to reveal his spark of Moshiach through our own efforts, and not to expect someone else, not even Melech HaMoshiach, to do it for us. Avodah b’koach atzmo“, to reveal individually what has already been accomplished collectively. To bring — each one of us — Moshiach in actuality!

(Not only will this complete the aspect of “Pekudei”, but it brings about the completion and perfection of “Vayak’hel”, because the “incomplete” Sicha of Vayak’hel hints that even the aspect of “Above to below” remains incomplete as long as the “Pekudei” is lacking.  Completing the task of the mekabel (from below) adds to the perfection of the mashpia (Above).)


* Another meaning of Pekudei is connected with childbearing and the marital union, as in “Hashem remembered Sarah” (to bless her with a child) (ה’ פקד את שרה), and “a man must be intimate with his wife [before seeing out on a lengthy journey]” (יפקוד את אשתו).  In fact, this second meaning is mentioned in the Alter Rebbe’s drush on this parsha in Likkutei Torah, strengthening the connection between the parsha and these words.  This fits as a hint that although Parshas Pekudei is “missing”, and it might seem to some that the “husband” has gone on a journey leaving his wife alone — even so he must “be intimate with his wife” before departing (these Sichos of Dvar Malchus)  and even to the point of making her “pregnant” through this intimacy: pregnant with the true an complete Geuloh.

Vayakhel 5752: Ingathering of the Exiles Has Begun

The sicha that was said on Parshas Vayakhel, 5752 was never properly edited, due to the event of the following Monday,  27 Adar.  (On 27 Adar the Rebbe had a stroke while visiting the Ohel of his father-in-law, the Previous Rebbe).  Nevertheless, the brief overview (“rashei dvorim“) that was written up and presented to the Rebbe after Shabbos was (uncharacteristically) marked up by the Rebbe.  Thus, it passed before the Rebbe, and what needed correction was corrected.

In this overview of the sicha, it says:

…we see in recent years how there has been a “vayakhel” (gathering) in the simple meaning of the word — the ingathering of the exiles (“kibbutz goliyos”) of bnei Yisroel from the entire world, who are going up to Eretz Hakodesh.  This aliyah is incomparable to those that once were in the previous generations.  [To point out that Rabboseinu Nessienu were not in the Holy Land, not even for a visit, and even the trip taken by the Friedicker Rebbe was because he was unable to visit the resting places of his predecessors in Rostov, Lubavitch, and the like].

For all the prior years of the Rebbe’s leadership, the Rebbe was adamant in saying that Jews going to Israel is not the ingathering of the exiles (“kibbutz goliyos”), because the ingathering of the exiles must be done by Moshiach.  But here the Rebbe in fact calls it “kibbutz Goliyos”!?

We can say that what has changed is that now the aliyah — the Jews who were leaving the former Soviet Union, in particular — was coming about through Moshiach himself, and thus it does fulfill the requirement of Kibbutz Goliyos!

It should be noted that this expression, “Kibbutz Goliyos”, is of monumental significance.  One of the requirements of Moshiach to be identified as “certainly Moshiach” is that he gathers in the exiles.  As the Rambam says: “if he builds the Mikdash in its place and ingathers the exiles we know with certainty that he is Moshiach.”

In addition to this, the Rebbe explains in the Kuntreis Rabbeinu sh’b’Bavel that the Rambam rules that Moshiach “builds the Mikdash in its place”, a phrasing which allows itself to be read as “in his place”, referring to the small mikdash (מקדש מעט) in the time of golus, before the Geulah.  How “literally” to understand the Rebbe’s explanation there is strengthened by our sicha about Kibbutz Goliyos, because the Rebbe explains elsewhere (the Chassidic discourse “Gadol Yehiyeh Kavod Habayis Hazeh…”):

the Redemption, (the ingathering of the exiles,) will take place after building the Beis HaMikdash…this dimension comes about through the Third Beis HaMikdash…For the Third Beis HaMikdash, includes all the influences and qualities that will later be revealed.

Meaning that the Ingathering of the Exiles is fueled by the 3rd Beis Hamikdash, and if the Rebbe can say that it has begun then there must be a Mikdash built that is bringing it about.   Thus, we realize that 770 Eastern Parkway is not only the place where the Mikdash will be revealed in the future, but in fact it is presently — now — the Beis Hamidash in his place (the place of Moshiach before the Geuloh, in accordance with the halachic ruling of the Rambam)!  Because if the 3rd Beis Hamikdash was not present, there could not be Kibbutz Goliyos (as explained in the maamar quoted above).


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 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 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!)



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.



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.



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.

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”.

* 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.


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.”

Thoughts on the 22 Shevat Sicha

In the Sicha of 22 Shevat (which we summarize in the article 22 Shevat: The Ultimate Unification) the Rebbe explains the 3 stages that correspond to the dates 10, 11 and 22 Shevat.  Briefly, they are the stages of:

a) Preparing the recipient (“10”) to receive the great revelation;

b) The initial revelation of “11” itself.  It is in a way where the recipient is elevated up to the level of “11” (rather than integrating it into is own reality). It remains separate from the “11”, but also loses its importance as it is subsumed into the matters of the “11”; and,

c) The ultimate unity, when the “11” is fully revealed in the reality of and in the inyonim of the “10”; they become as one, yet the “10” is neither nullified out of existence nor does it lose its importance.

One can learn these deep concepts and be left wondering what they mean practically.  We will attempt to bring these ideas down, and illustrate what they mean (בדרך אפשר) in the relationship of Chassidim to the Rebbe.

3 Stages in the Avoidah of Chassidim

1)Until Yud Shevat the Chassidim had the avoidah to work on themselves, seichel and Midos, to prepare themselves for the Geuloh (עמדו הכן כולכם).  This was the avoidah of the 6th generation, where the difference in the roles of the Chassidim and the Rebbe was emphasized. This avoidah, the preparation of the recipient (“10”),  was was completed upon the histalkus of the Previous Rebbe on Yud Shevat.

2) Beginning with 11 Shevat, the Nesius of the Rebbe מה”מ, the avoidah of the 7th generation begins: the emphasis is not on one’s avoidah with himself, but on one’s task to influence the world around.  This is most pronounced in the inyan of Shlichus, where the Shliach puts aside the shleimos of his personal avoidah in order to become an emissary and representative of the Rebbe מה”מ.  This matches what the Rebbe says about the “10” being subsumed into the “11”: the Shliach’s personal life and interests are subsumed into the Rebbe’s concerns. The Shliach and the one who sent him now share a common avoidah, moreso than in the previous generation, but it is really the avoidah of the Rebbe into which the Shliach is subsumed and thus they remain 2 separate entities;

3) After 22 Shevat the emphasis on Moshiach shifts into high gear, ascending from year to year, with an increasing emphasis on the avoidah being “from their own effort” (בכֹח עצמם), and amazing explanations of the revelation of Atzmus and the unification of the mashpia and the mekabel.  Of course, all this takes on a new dimension after Gimmel Tammuz, when Chassidim are “forced” to proceed without “giluyim” and the Rebbe’s inyonim are now their own inyonim.  The border between Rebbe and Chosid becomes increasingly obscured as the Rebbe becomes more and more revealed in the actions of the Chosid, yet the reality of the Chosid is not nullified.

These thoughts are for your consideration, your own comments are welcome!

22 Shevat: The Ultimate Unification

In the sicha related to the 4th yahrtzeit of the Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka (22 Shevat, 5752), the Rebbe reveals amazing things about this event, the date it took place, and what these mean for us.

The date of the Rebbetzin’s passing is found in the same month two other epochal events: Yud Shevat, the Hilulla of the Previous Rebbe, and Yud-Alef Shevat, the day when the Rebbe MHM officially accepted leadership and inaugurated the 7th generation — Dor Hashvii.  The Rebbe explains the deeper significance of these events on these dates, and how they relate to the Geuloh.

First of all, while we generally view the Rebbetzin as the Rebbe’s wife, the Rebbe in this sicha identifies her primarily as the daughter of the Previous Rebbe.  Her passing comes as a continuation of, and an addition to, the great elevation that occurred on her father’s Hilulla, Yud Shevat.

To give us insight as to what is going on “behind the curtains”, the Rebbe explains that there are two dimensions of a “dwelling place in the lower realms” (דירה בתחתונים):

a) a revelation of Hashem’s essence (עצמותו יתברך), and

b) this revelation drawn down below.

More specifically:

1) A dwelling place for Him (but not Him Himself, so to speak);

2) the revelation of His Essence itself (עצמותו יתברך).

These correspond to what was explained in the sicha of Parshas Yisro, describing the first and last Aseres haDibros (first from Hashem, later via Moshe), which are reflected in the numbers 10 (the world) and 11 (transcending world).

As explained there, the Aseres haDibros were given twice in order that they could be internalized by Bnei Yisroel without the recipients being overwhelmed by the great revelation from Above.  In the Rebbe’s words:

The ultimate [Divine] intent is that Bnei Yisroel, by their own effort and with their own power (עבודתם בכח עצמם)…will draw down the revelation of 11 by making the 10 (tachton) a fitting vessel for receiving this revelation of 11…

This is the basis to explain the significance of the 3 periods which the Rebbe identifies in the sicha: the 10th, 11th, and 22nd of Shevat.

  1. The 10th day of the 11th month (Shevat), meaning the “chiddush” (from “chodesh”, month) of 11 being drawn down and revealed in the world (10).  The avoidah until Yud Shevat was focused on preparing the world (10) to be fitting to receive the revelation of 11 (transcending world) without being nullified out of existence.  The emphasis is on the 10, the receiver, and there is an emphasis on the difference between the level of 10 and the level of 11.
  2. The 11th day of the 11th month, which implies a revelation of the 11 itself, which in turn elevates the 10, but in a way where the 10 loses its importance in the place of the 11.
  3. The ultimate goal, the perfect unity and connection — when the “dwelling place” is united with “the One Who dwells” (Hashem’s Essence), referred to in Chassidus as “the created sense of reality is one thing with the true reality” (היש הנברא הוא דבר אחד עם היש האמיתי).  The Yidden (the “dwelling place”) fully unified with Hashem’s Essence.

Interestingly, the Rebbe then repeats this explanation in a slightly different way:

  1. 10th — Finishing the last remnants of golus, drawing down 11 into 10 but where they remain two separate things (from the view of the tachton), the 11 not being completely invested into the world;
  2. 11th — the elevation of the tachton to the level of the 11, the revelation (only) of the aspect of 11 that is shayach to 10;
  3. 22nd — the perfect shleimus of 10 and 11 (reflected in the number 22, which is two times 11).  This is the unification of both the level of 11 which is shayach to the world, and a second time via the effort of Bnei Yisroel (on their own) to draw it down — which is a higher level, even higher than the Aseres haDibros.  Meaning that through the 22 letters of the Torah that a Yid studies, he becomes unified with Hashem’s Essence.

“After 22 Shevat it brought about (פעל) the last stage in preparing the world for Geuloh”.  This last stage is our Avoidah now.  The task is not to prepare the tachton (ourselves and the world), since this has already been completed.  Nor is it to elevate the tachton (while it remains separate and subsumed in the revelation of 11), since this has also been done.  Rather, the Avoidah now depends on the effort of the Yidden themselves: that by our own effort we bring about the unification of these levels, to where the mekabel becomes unified with the mashpia (see Parshas Vayishlach).  (Which is emphasized in this sicha as pertaining to Torah study.)

The last stage has already begun, it only depends on our effort!


(For some insights on how to understand the stages that the Rebbe describes here, visit this post: Thoughts on the 22 Shevat Sicha)