Shemini 5751: Unifying the Limited and the Unlimited

Periodically parshas Shemini (“Eighth”, referring to the 8th day of setting up the Mishkan in the desert) is read 8 times (this occurs outside of Eretz Yisroel in a non-leap year when Pesach falls out on Shabbos).  This gives rise to the expression “Shemini Shmoneh Shmeina”, meaning “[When parshas] Shemini (“Eighth”) [is read] Shmoneh [eight times, then the year will be] Shmeina [fat]” — with material and spiritual abundance.  This special quality is not only present in a year when this occurs, but is drawn into all the years until the next time that it comes to be read 8 times.

The “eighth” that is mentioned in this parsha is the beginning of the indwelling of the Shechina in the Mishkan. The world derives from 7 — the number of days of Creation, the days of the week, the 7 midos (emotional attributes, as explained in Kabbala and Chassidus).  The number 7 represents G-dly light as it is enclothed in the Creation. The number 8 represents the G-dly light above Creation, and it is specifically on the 8th day that we find the Shechina being revealed in the Mishkan.

Ultimate Purpose of Creation

Hashem’s intent in creating the world is that the G-dly light that is above the world (represented by Shemini, 8th) will not remain separate but rather will be drawn down to be revealed in the world in a way that the world, on its own terms, will be able to receive this revelation.

This means revelation above limitation bring unified with limitation itself.  These two aspects, when unified, allow the recipient to be a vessel to accept this revelation in an internalized way.  The order of this avodah is from below to above.  This is connected with the revelation of the Shechina in “the work of your hands”, the Mishkan.

This is exemplified in the words of the Sages that the place of the Aron Kodesh (containing the Luchos) transcended limitation (“eino min hamida”).  The Aron itself had precise measurements, but the place transcended limitation, meaning limitation and unlimited together, that the unlimited can be grasped by within the bounds of the lower (limited) entity.  The Rebbe explained this in another Sicha:

[We find that the Aron (the ark which housed the tablets) possessed just such a quality [of opposites co-existing]. The Talmud states that “the position occupied by the Aron did not take up any space.” That is, the Aron had definite physical dimensions — 2½ cubits length, 1½ cubits width, 1½ cubits height. Logically then, when placed in the Holy of Holies, the Aron should have occupied this amount of space. Yet, the Talmud tells us, it took up no space at all! This is logically impossible — for it is the synthesis of two opposites: the finite and the infinite. Yet in the case of the Aron, it existed. The Rashba cites this as proof of the existence of the phenomenon of the logically impossible.  Not only did the Aron transcend the limits of nature (itself a great miracle, since the Aron was made of physical gold), but simultaneously the finite and infinite co-existed together in it: the Aron had definite physical limits, yet took up no space…Its concept is made possible from a level that transcends both of them, allowing the synthesis of these two opposites. (From sicha of 23 Elul, 5742)]

We find this as well in the avodah of a Jew — there is his limited and measured avodah, as befits his level, to make himself into a vessel to internalize the revelations.  And additionally there is the avodah of “with all your might” (b’chol me’odecha) — a vessel to receive G-dliness above the limitations of the person.  The ultimate goal is the unification of these 2 forms of avodah.  To summarize: Shemini (8th) is the unlimited, whereas  Shmoneh (the number 8) is the unlimited as it is contained in the qualities of limitation (7): the unification of limited and unlimited, the ultimate intent of Creation.

[Interestingly, the Rebbe, taking a hint from the “shmeina” (“fat”, related to the concept of oil) asserts that the mention of oil in the Shulchan Aruch (Y.D. 105:5) hints at Pnimiyus Hatorah (within the laws themselves).  Through properly keeping the laws of the Shluchan Aruch there is a drawing down and revelation of this “oil” of Torah also in the world (since the halachos relate to conduct in the world, including earthly financial matters) and “through this comes about the Geulah of all Yisroel”. In other words: keeping Shulchan Aruch properly impacts the world and through this Yisroel is redeemed!]

The revelation of the level of G-dliness that is above the limitation of world is specifically via the avodah from below to above — within the limitations of the world.  As with the 8 which comes specifically from the 7 that precede it.  Thus we find that the limited and measured avodah is connected (in its source) with the highest level (above the source of the unlimited).  Similar to what we find with the Aron — the concept of “eino min hamida” (transcending limitation), comes specifically because the Aron had defined measurements.

Transforming the Exile (“gola”) Into Geulah

The 14th day of the Omer, as it was the day this sicha was said, completes the avodah of refining Chesed (first 7 days of the Omer) and Gevurah (second 7 days), which are the spiritual root of limited and unlimited.  Chesed, as is known, is the attribute of “kindness” and giving.  Gevurah, as explained by the Alter Rebbe [Torah Ohr, Noach 9c] is not tzimtzum (contraction and limitation), but rather the attribute of “might” which can overpower other forces (“hisgabrus haChayus”). The 14th day is Malchus (Geulah) which is in Gevurah — the revelation of the Ketz haGeulah (the “end” associated with Geulah), something which is not revealed during golus since it is above revelation.  Gevurah is not the absence of Chesed, but rather a higher level of might that can conceal the ChesedGevurah brings about exile, but is itself a powerful level of Kedusha, as explained in Chassidus regarding the special quality of “the light that comes from the darkness”.

Geulah, as explained many times in the Rebbe’s Sichos, is attained by adding to the word “gola” (exile) the letter “alef” (representing the Holy One, blessed be He “Alufo shel olam”).  This adding of the letter “alef” is accomplished via “our deeds and our avodah during the time of exile” (Tanya) upon which the Geulah is dependent.  Through this, the exile itself (“gola”) becomes Geulah.

 The main thing is that through “our deeds and our Avodah during the duration of exile” we bring the Geulah.  It is specifically the concealments and limitations of exile which give the strength to bring Geulah (the level of Malchus sh’b’Gevurah).

This is similar to statement of our Sages: “everyone who fulfills the Torah amidst poverty will in the end fulfill it amidst wealth.”  Via the poverty of exile, “there is no one who is poor except in knowledge” (“ein oni ela b’da’as”), we receive the true wealth of knowledge and wealth in the simple sense — in the true and complete Geulah.  This is especially since we have already fulfilled any obligations to endure the limitation of “poverty” (in the previous generations) [meaning — primarily — poverty of knowledge].  Now there is freedom and abundance (“harchava”) in a simple sense from the kingship of the nations.  [The Rebbe is making a thinly veiled reference to the Messianic Era (Yemos Hamoshiach) of which the sages say “there is no difference between this world and the Messianic Era besides servitude to the nations”.  This refers to the first epoch of the Messianic Era, followed by a second epoch of even greater G-dly revelations.  For more explanation, see Inyonei Moshiach and Geulah #8.]

Thus, we can learn Torah and fulfill Mitzvos in a relaxed state of mind and body (“menuchas hanefesh and menuchas haguf”) with “wealth” in Torah — via the printing of many seforim that (some) were hidden until now.  For this reason the Geulah will have both the positive quality of Geulah and the positive quality of Golus (the quality of avodah performed via compelling one’s self (“hiskafya”), limitation and constriction, “amidst poverty”…)

Geulah Didn’t Come—Proof That it Depends on Us

Since the Geulah didn’t yet come, this itself is proof that it is dependent on “our deeds and our avodah” of this generation.  It is specifically through avodah amidst boundaries and limitation and concealment (which derive from Gevuros), because amazing powers are hidden away within them—powers which can bring the Geulah.

There is a rule that “The Holy One, blessed be He, does not demand of us more than we have the power to accomplish, so therefore we have the power to bring the Geulah (since that is what is demanded of us).  To be a partner with Hashem in this, not just to help.  A partner implies being involved in all the details in a complete manner.  Since a Jew is a part of G-dliness (chelek Eloka) he possesses the greatest powers to bring about the greatest things — until even the command “be Holy because I am Holy”, upon which our Sages comment “Holy, like Me” — with certainty!


All of us have the responsibility to add in avodah to bring Moshiach in actuality.  There is no room to rely on others — each one needs to do the avodah of “to serve my Master” by himself, and he is given the powers to do this.  How so?  By adding in Torah and Mitzvos — the revealed and the Pnimiyus, and fulfilling Mitzvos in an exemplary manner. The Rebbe mentions learning Pirkei Avos and influencing others to do the same.  Spreading Torah and Yiddishkeit and the wellsprings of Chassidus outward, the latter especially brings about “the Master comes” — this is the King Moshiach.  And all of this amidst anticipation and yearning for the Geulah.Shemini5751_AddInTorah2

Tzav 5751: Moshe “the G-dly Man” Has Power to Redeem Us

The sicha opens by mentioning that this Shabbos was Shabbos Hagadol, the Shabbos when we commemorate what the Shulchan Aruch calls “the beginning of the Geuloh and the miracles”.  This does not refer to the 10 plagues (9 of which already occurred by this time), but to the armed revolt of the first-born Egyptians who demanded from Pharoah and the elders of Mitzrayim that they let the Bnei Yisroel leave Egypt.  When Pharoah refused, the first-born took up arms and killed 600,000 Mitzriim.  The Rebbe is connecting this with the Gulf War (which ended 2 weeks before Shabbos Parshas Tzav), when the “first-born” (the strongest nations) took up arms against a tyrant who was threatening the Jewish nation.  Recall the words of the Shulchan Aruch: “the beginning of the Geuloh and the miracles”.

But the focus of this sicha is on the redeemer, on Moshe Rabbeinu.  What makes him singularly capable of redeeming the Yidden from golus Mitzrayim?  (And since “the first redeemer is the last redeemer” (Moshiach) — this applies also to the final redemption.)

The Rebbe explains that Moshe is uniquely qualified, and endowed with the ability, to bring the Geuloh.   To understand this, the Rebbe defines for us the meaning of Geuloh: “the revelation of G-dliness down below in the redemption from Egypt is in order that Yidden, as they are found in the world, can see, and recognize, and know the Eybershter.” Seeing the miracles (which began on Shabbos Hagadol) enable Yidden to have a Geuloh, “freeing them from the limitations of world, the enslavement to worldly assumptions and servitude to the various limitations of world.” The miracles Hashem shows us are not an end to themselves, but are motivating and enabling us to march out of our state of golus by ourselves.

All of this comes about through Moshe Ish HaElokim — Moshe the G-dly Man (Tehillim, kapital 90).  By referring to him as a G-dly Man (איש האלקים) the Torah is indicating that Moshe unifies two levels: power above the world (Elokim) and the level of enclothing in the world (man).  Thus Moshe, possessing both these levels (“ish” and “Elokim”), is a connecting intermediary (ממוצה המחבר) who connects G-dliness with the world (being that he is openly connected to G-dliness even as he is also enclothed in the world).

More than that, the Rebbe explains a second “unification” indicated in the expression “Moshe ish haElokim”: the level of “Moshe” and the level of “Ish HaElokim”.  Moshe is the name he received when he was pulled from the waters of the Nile by Basya bas Pharoah: “I drew him from the water” (מן המים משיתיהו).  As explained in Chassidus, this is referring to the lofty level of Moshe’s neshoma, that it derives from the highest, hidden worlds (עלמא דאתכסיא), the world of Tohu which is likened to water.  According to this explanation, the level of “Moshe” is entirely above the world, G-dliness that has no relationship with the world.  “Ish HaElokim” (here we look at it as a single title) refers to the unification of “Ish” and “Elokim”, meaning the unification of world with the level of G-dliness that has a connection to world.  Moshe Ish haElokim unifies all these levels.

Although not mentioned in this sicha, the Rebbe explains in a maamar just how lofty the aspect of “Moshe” really is — not only higher than Elokim, but also higher than YKVK.  And the various levels of YKVK:

Sefer Hamaamarim 5718, parshas Shemini

Moshe reaches the Essence, Atzmus (עצמות) mamash.  The verse that states “and Yisroel saw the mighty hand that Hashem had used in Mitzrayim…[and they believed in Hashem] and in Moshe His servant” goes from the lower levels to the higher levels: “That Hashem did…” this is the lower name YKVK; “and the people saw Hashem…” this is the higher name YKVK; “and they believed in Hashem” this is the name YKVK that is in Atzmus.  And after that it says “and in Moshe His servant”, from which it is understood that Moshe is higher even than the aspect of YKVK that is in Atzmus.  And therefore he has the power to unify and to draw down the aspect of YKVK that is in Atzmus [into the world] that it should shine openly.

This loftiness of Moshe generates not only miracles that are enclothed in nature (the name Elokim) but miracles completely above the way of nature.  And all of this is for us: that we will “…see, and recognize, and know the Eybershter…” and thus be freed from “the limitations of world, the enslavement to worldly assumptions and servitude to the various limitations of world”.

All of the above is meant to lead us to perform our service of Hashem in a miraculous manner.  We must reveal the “Tzaddik” within us — not only the “Tzaddi”, but the “Tzaddik” (with the addition of the letter Kuf ק).  This implies using free choice to choose the side of holiness (“Tzadi” — “My side”), which has the power to elevate even those aspects which are “below the line”, just as the letter “kuf” has a leg which reaches “below the line”.  When the Yidden, who have free choice (due to being enclothed in wordly bodies), choose the side of holiness, their choice adds the “kuf” to “Tzadi”, making “Tzaddik”; this gives the power to transform the world and it’s inhabitants, that they should also agree.

Again, the Rebbe is repeating to us that the Geuloh is not a passive fireworks show of miracles, but rather it gives us the “green light” to get to work and reveal the redemption through our own actions.  This is assisted by our recognition of the miraculous state of the world, which occurs through Moshe the G-dly man, the first redeemer and the last redeemer.

Vayikra 5751: Miraculous Conduct

The sicha of Parshas Vayikra is the first sicha of the Dvar Malchus cycle (the sichos from Vayikra 5751 until Vayakhel 5752).  The focus of this sicha is a recurring theme in all the sichos from these 12 months: drawing the miraculous (which transcends nature) into the natural order of things.

The demonstration of this in our sicha is the special occurrence that occurs once in a few years: Rosh Chodesh Nissan comes out on Shabbos.  In such a year, three Sefer Torahs are removed from the Aron Kodesh to be read: the regular Sefer for the parsha, a second sefer for Rosh Chodesh, and a third sefer for the annual reading of  “Parshas Parah” prior to Pesach. The only other times 3 sefer Torahs are taken out are Simchas Torah (every year) and Shabbos Chanukah on Rosh Chodesh (not the case every year).

The 3 sefer Torahs of Simchas Torah are described by the Rebbe as “t’midin“, a regular offering in the consistent, fixed order of things.  The 3 sefer Torahs of Shabbos Rosh Chodesh Nissan in such a year as 5751, an infrequent occurrence, is in the category of “musafin“, something “additional” to the usual order of things. It is also implicit in the nature of the readings on those days: on Simchas Torah we read “Bereishis”, Hashem creating the world as it conducts itself according to nature; and, on Rosh Chodesh Nissan the first mitzva (counting the months) “החודש הזה לכם”, which the Rebbe refers to as the miraculous conduct of the world.  Not only that, but Nissan is called “the month of Redemption”, implying also a Redemption from conduct in accordance with nature, transcending those limitations and proceeding to miraculous conduct.

The Rebbe, as one might expect, emphasizes the unification of these two dimensions:

“the ‘miraculous conduct’ is drawn down and permeates (also) in the matters of the world in actual action… that the avoidah of actual deed in the matters of the world is not in the usual way, like natural conduct, but rather like miraculous conduct, above his nature and the manner to which he is accustomed.”

The Rebbe, before our very eyes, has shifted the meaning of “miraculous” onto us.  This year of 5751, “it will be a year that I will show wonders” (תהא שנת נפלאות אראנו), follows the “year of miracles”, 5750 (תהא שנת ניסים), in which there were the miracles of the Gulf War, the end of Communism, the breakup of the Soviet Union, and swords into plowshares — great wonders “out there” in the world. But here in this Sicha the Rebbe is letting us know that the real focus is our miraculous conduct in Torah and Mitzvos — going beyond our own nature, beyond that to which we are accustomed, that our performance of Mitzvos should be “miraculous” compared to our nature and regular conduct (comparable to 3 sefer Torahs of Shabbos Rosh Chodesh Nissan).  In the Rebbe’s words: “the addition and meaning in avoidah in a way of  ‘miraculous conduct’ in the avoidah of each and every Jew…until the perfection of the avoidah…” 

The Rebbe even provides us with a practical example: giving tzedaka in a way that transcends limitations:

… Even after he has given properly for holiday needs (צרכי החג) — he needs to make an accounting that reflects the additional blessing he will receive from Hashem in the meantime [as a result of the tzedaka he gave for holiday needs], and therefore his maaser and chomesh obligation [tithing 10% and 20%] has increased as well, and thus he needs to increase what he gives for holiday needs. And more than this: he can and must add in giving for holiday needs (beyond maaser and chomesh) even before he sees the results of the increased blessing. The more he will increase his giving for the needs of the holiday, likewise the blessing of Hashem will increase with abundant wealth

Based on what was explained previously, the miracle is not the “abundant wealth” one will receive, but rather the miraculous conduct of giving tzedaka beyond his accustomed manner (which is what draws down the abundant wealth). In other words: we are the miracle. (And if we are not, then we had better to get to work and become the miracle in our performance of Mitzvos!)

The Rebbe’s emphasis here is on doing things “not in the usual way…but rather…above his nature and the manner to which he is accustomed.” We can recognize how this is a fitting “opening statement” to the sichos of Dvar Malchus, in which the Rebbe introduces us to the concept of “living with Geuloh”, transcending the previous generations in this respect.  And even  more fitting when we contemplate that these sichos of Dvar Malchus are also a prelude to the events of Chof-Zayin Adar and Gimmel Tammuz, which brought about a dramatic “paradigm shift”: the centrality of “taking orders” becoming eclipsed by the necessity of “taking initiative” — a shift which demands going “above his nature and the manner to which he is accustomed.”