Keep Your Eyes on the Rebbe!

In the Sicha of Parshas Emor, that Rebbe made the following enigmatic statement:

[The Geulah and building of the 3rd Beis Hamikdash] will be hastened through the study of Torah, and of Chassidus in particular. This also includes looking into the face of your Rebbe, which helps one’s understanding…

This concept is found in the Gemara (as brought in the Sicha of Emor), and the Rebbe himself wrote (in the early years of his leadership) that a person should imagine the face of the Previous Rebbe or look at his photo, explaining the benefits that come from this.  So why mention it seemingly “out of context” in a Sicha in 5751?

It can be understood that the Rebbe is not only saying to look at the Rebbe’s visage, whether in person or via a photo, but something more than this.  The Rebbe is giving us advice how to better understand these Sichos of 5751-52, where the Rebbe is speaking openly about Moshiach in unprecedented ways: when we are learning here about Moshiach, we need to know whom we are talking about; that this is not just “learning Torah lishmah”, but has very practical ramifications. How will we properly understand what the Rebbe is trying to tell us about the identify of Moshiach, and whether we are waiting for him to come or if he has already come? Simple: Keep your eyes on the Rebbe!

Read the following words from the Sicha of Behar-Bechukosai as they are without “looking at the face of the Rebbe”, then read them again with the Rebbe in mind — you will understand very well the “enigmatic” advice “which helps one’s understanding“:

Immediately we will see that Moshiach is already found among us, and every single Jew will point with his finger and say “Behold, this one (is the Melech haMoshiach, and he already) came”.

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Behar-Bechukosai: Dwelling Place — Below

Consistent with the theme that runs through almost all the Sichos of Dvar Malchus, the Rebbe address in this Sicha the split between Above and Below, “Oneness” and multiplicity. Paraphrasing the Mishna in Pirkei Avos: the dimension of “one utterance” and that of “ten utterances”.

The aspect of “one utterance” (through which the world could have been created) refers to the higher dimension, where the simple Oneness of G-dliness is the only reality, and any created entity is completely nullified to that Oneness, losing all individual importance.

The aspect of “ten utterances” (through which the world was created) refers to the lower reality where every entity has it’s own role and unique importance distinct from the greater unity and Oneness. This dimension of reality, however, can impose upon — and even conceal — the Oneness that underlies and permeates Creation.

In other words, “one utterance” brings a complete nullification of the world, whereas the “ten utterances” are what generate the reality of world (although in a way where the world is permeated with Holiness drawn down from Above).  The “problem” here is that each one cancels out the other, which is not the Divine intent.  Says the Rebbe:

..the true perfection is the combination of the two together — that also the level of G-dliness that is above the world (“one utterance”) is drawn down and revealed and permeates the multiplicity of the individual created begins (“ten utterances”).  Through this the intent of Creation is fulfilled, that the Holy One desired a dwelling place in the lower realms.

What is the true definition of the famous expression דירה בתחתונים (a “dwelling place in the lower realms”)?  It is the unification of the Upper and Lower dimensions.  Not in a way that the Higher dimension (עליונים) descends from it’s lofty level, for then it is no longer truly Higher; and not in a way where the Lower ascends from it’s own level, for then it is no longer truly Lower.  Rather: “The Upper as it is in its loftiness becomes united with the Lower as it is in its lowliness…”

In other words, Torah and G-dliness remain lofty (not sacrificing their inherent loftiness and Holiness in order to fit into the limitations of the earthly perspective); man remains earthly (physically eating, drinking, sleeping, etc.) — but these same “earthly” matters of the man down below become permeated with the loftiest dimensions of Above. When we achieve this, we have created a dwelling place (for Hashem’s essence, His “true self”, so to speak) in the lower realms (which remain earthly and lowly).

This is the purpose of the Giving of the Torah. But the Torah cannot only be “given” by Hashem, it must also be “received” by us.  In order to become a proper vessel to receive the Torah (especially that level of Torah which is above the world and man) a person must leave his reality through complete self-nullification (תכלית הביטול). This self-nullification will express itself through the impossibility of machloikes, since the reason for machloikes is one’s ישות lack of self-nullification. In this way one becomes fitting and prepared to receive the level of the Torah that is above any connection to the world, which is the level of Torah that will be revealed in the true and complete Geuloh.
That is the preparation to receive this level of the Torah; but to actually receive it means that through learning with understanding and comprehension it will permeate and become the person’s reality. And through this:

Immediately we will see that Moshiach is already found among us, and every single Jew will point with his finger and say “Behold, this one (is the Melech haMoshiach, and he already) came”.

Kuntres 13 Iyar: Like Which Brother?

This Chassidic discourse was printed in honor of the Yahrtzeit of the Rebbe’s brother, Yisroel Aryeh Leib.  Fittingly, it begins with the words of the posuk “Oh, that you were like a brother to me,” (Shir Hashirim, 8:1). Rashi comments that this verse refers to the way Yosef dealt kindly with his brothers even though they had mistreated him (by selling him as a slave to Egypt).  Contrastingly, there is a midrash which says that the verse refers to his beloved brother Binyomin, who, unlike his older brothers, had no hand in selling Yosef down to Egypt.

The discourse goes into depth about the nature of free choice, and the responsibility of Yosef’s brothers for selling him even though later Yosef reveals that it was divinely orchestrated for the good —  so that Yosef should rise to power in Egypt and be in a position to provide for his family when they sought respite from the famine in the land of Canaan.  However, we are now only going to focus on the part of the discourse that shows an open connection to the sichos of Dvar Malchus.

The verse “Oh, that you were like a brother to me,” is a request from the Jewish people to Hashem — to relate to us like a brother.  It is understood why we would interpret it to be referring to the brothers who sold him: the brothers did evil to Yosef but he repaid them with kindness.  Similarly, we request from Hashem that even though we have “done evil to Him” through our sins, He should repay us with kindness.  However, as we know from the story in chumash, Yosef’s kindness followed the trials and tribulations that he put the brothers through in order to bring them to do tshuva and acknowledge their sin.  By asking for Hashem to relate to us like Yosef to Binyomin, who had no hand in the sale of Yosef, we are asking for open and revealed good without any “trials and tribulations”.

The difference between the two interpretations (whether the verse is referring to Yosef’s conduct to his 10 brothers or to Binyomin) will be understood as the difference between a number of contrasting concepts, all of which contain a common thread.

On the one hand we have the lofty revelation of Yetzias Mitzrayim, which was an awakening from Above (not something Bnei Yisroel earned from their own efforts).  But, as lofty as it is, it remained essential “makif” and was not internalized.  On the other hand, we have Sefiras Ha’Omer (in the days following our going out of Mitzrayim), which is our own effort at refining ourselves.  It is not as lofty as when Hashem revealed Himself and took us out of Mitzrayim, but because it is our own avoidah it is internalized in a settled way (בפנימיות ובהתישבות).

The discourse goes on to find the same relationship between the avoidah of tshuvah (leaving one’s reality, the bittul of one who lacks all qualities) and the avoidah of Tzaddikim (having bittul that does not negate their existence, humility where one is aware of his abilities).  In short: powerful and lofty but remains “outside” the person, contrasted with a not-as-lofty revelation that is internalized.  It is specifically this aspect of being internalized that fulfills Hashem’s desire for a dwelling place down below (דירה בתחתונים).

Based on this, we can understand the two interpretations of our verse: the interpretation that “brother” refers to Yosef as he conducted himself with his brothers who sold him represents our request for the loftiest revelations (Yetzias Mitzrayim and the avoidah of Baalei Tshuva).  The other interpretation, which says that it refers to Binyomin, reflects a request for an internalized, settled revelation (Sefiras Ha’Omer and the avoidah of Tzaddikim).

Since both interpretations are going on the same verse, they are really not contradictory — they are complementary.  Meaning that our real request is for the highest revelations, but that these highest revelations should be internalized in a settled way — all of the benefits without any of the drawbacks!

This is the avoidah that the Rebbe has given us with the famous words of the Sicha of 28 Nissan: “oirois d’Tohu but in keilim d’Tikkun”.  (In a later Sicha of 22 Shevat, this is described as the unification of the aspect of “10” and the aspect of “11”.)  Our avoidah to bring the Geuloh is not that of Baal Tshuvah nor that of a Tzaddik;  rather, ours is an avoidah that combines these two dimensions, demanding that we constantly transcend ourselves like a Baal Tshuvah, and then internalize it so it is as natural as the avoidah of Tzaddikim.

Emor 5751: Turning Gola into Geulah

In this sicha we see how important is the concept of transforming exile (gola) to Redemption (Geuloh).  The Rebbe brings out that we are not fighting the exile (gola) but rather transforming it as it is in its essence by inserting and revealing the Alef — the recognition of G-d’s presence.  In other words, the Rebbe is explaining that the Geuloh, which is ready to occur at any moment, is dependent upon our active recognition that everything is from Hashem.

If so, what is the chiddush here?  In the times of the Mishna, the sage Nochum ish Gamzu would respond to every undesirable event by saying “this too is for the good” (“gam zu letoiva”).  And in Igeres Hakodesh (siman 11) the Alter Rebbe writes that we must believe that everything is for the good; only because some things are beyond our conception they are imagined by us to be “bad”.

The chiddush could be said to be as follows: previously this belief that everything is from Hashem and everything is truly good (whether revealed or concealed) was something that was beyond our conception.  We could only believe in it as one believes in something that cannot be seen or perceived.  However, in our generation, on the brink of (and prepared for) the revelations of the Geuloh, we are able — through this avoidah of emunah — to actually bring it into our understanding and perceive it, and thus see it transpire in actuality.

These correspond to the three levels (three different ways of explaining the “alef”) which the Rebbe speaks about in this sicha:

  • The Master of the World (Alufo shel olam): G-dliness as it is found in the world;
  • Being imbued with wisdom (a’alfa chochma): referring to the Torah, which is higher than the world but somewhat related to the world;
  • Wonder (peleh): the letters alef, lamed, pay (which spell “alef”, and can be re-arranged to spell “peleh“, meaning “wonder”) refers to the level of G-dliness which completely transcends the world.

In the Rebbe’s words:

This represents the progression of G-dly revelation leading to the days of Moshiach: 1) G-dliness within the world, 2) G-dliness higher than, but still connected with the world, and 3) the revelation of G-d’s essence. Our service of G-d in golus (which consists of bringing the Alef into golah to bring the Geuloh) must correspond to these three levels. And through this we bring about these kinds of G-dly revelation alluded to by the letter Alef.

This means that we must reveal the presence of G-dliness within the world by using all physical objects for a holy purpose — “for the sake of Heaven” (to correspond to the level of G-dliness within the world). Furthermore, we must bring down and reveal the second level through learning Torah, and reveal the third level of peleh by learning Pnimiyus HaTorah, Chassidus, which corresponds to the level of peleh in Torah.

We can extend this idea further: in addition to the revelation of the level of peleh through the study of Chassidus, it is revealed through the very exile itself. The prophet Yeshayahu said (12:1), “On that day [(of redemption] you will say, ‘I thank you G-d for having been angry with me.’ ” This verse seems somewhat puzzling. Granted that we will be thankful for G-d’s nullification of exile — but this expression of appreciation would not really be wholehearted. One would praise G-d even more completely if there had been no exile to begin with!

In light of the above this can be easily understood. Redemption comes about from and is composed of the very exile itself. We are therefore thanking Him deeply for the exile since we realize that it has brought the highest revelations, including that corresponding to the level of peleh.

This level of peleh that the Rebbe is speaking of is not only wonders taking place in our physical world (such as the Gulf War), but the Rebbe specifies that this is also (and even moreso) to be found in Torah itself — to perceive the wonders of Torah.  And beyond that: within our very selves, that we have the ability to “wondrously” transform ourselves to the level of a complete Tzaddik!  This is a tremendous Chiddush, as the Rebbe explains, because in Tanya it is explained that many souls descend to the world only to struggle and never to achieve the goal of “be a tzaddik“.  Now, asserts the Rebbe, all we need to do is to “do our part” to fulfill the oath to which the soul is sworn (“be a tzaddik“) and every one of us can in fact become a tzaddik!

This will be hastened through the study of Torah, and of Chassidus in particular. This also includes looking into the face of your Rebbe, which helps one’s understanding, as the Gemara (Eruvin 13b) quotes R. Yehuda HaNasi as saying, “This that my sharpness exceeds that of my colleagues is because I saw R. Meir from the back; and if I would have seen him from the front, I would be even sharper.”

All this will help further purify the world and reveal G-dliness within it. It must be accompanied by the additional G-dly service of each particular Jew, by keeping away from evil and, furthermore, doing the utmost to fulfill the oath administered to his soul before birth, “You shall be a tzaddik.” One might object and point out that in Tanya itself it is written that not every individual can necessarily become a tzaddik, and that one doesn’t have complete free choice in this area. However, since the Jew has the essence of G-d within him, ultimately even this is within his reach. Furthermore, after all the purification, etc. of the Jewish people over the course of time, now every Jew is able to reach the level of tzaddik — similar to the way things will be in the Messianic Age.

All this contains straightforward guidance in what all Jews should be doing to further hasten the redemption — in all three levels alluded to by the letter alef. This means first of all revealing G-d’s presence in the world through using all worldly objects for a holy purpose, etc. In addition, there must be a special increase in Torah study — and particularly the study of Chassidus — in a way that it should be clearly understood in Chochmah, Binah, and Da’as. Included in this is also influencing others to follow suit.

It follows that the work is on our shoulders: we simply have to make a true effort to “be a tzaddik” and we will be amazed at the results.  We will bring about our own personal Geuloh, leading to the true and complete Geuloh of the entire Jewish nation, and the entire world!

Emor 5751: You Can Now Be a Tzaddik

Briefly, we have a major novelty (chiddush) in this sicha, indicating that our reality is no longer limited in the way earlier generations were limited (we will see similar insights in parshas Vayigash, be”H).  Before we get to this, it is very noteworthy the Rebbe’s statement about the importance of looking at the face of the Rebbe as being included as part of learning Torah, which speeds the Geulah:

[The Geulah and building of the 3rd Beis Hamikdash] will be hastened through the study of Torah, and of Chassidus in particular. This also includes looking into the face of your Rebbe, which helps one’s understanding, as the Gemara (Eruvin 13b) quotes R. Yehudah HaNasi as saying, “This that my sharpness exceeds that of my colleagues is because I saw R. Meir from the back; and if I would have seen him from the front, I would be even sharper.”

As regards the novelty(chiddush), all students of Tanya know two things: Firstly, every single Jew must endeavor to fulfill the oath that his soul swore before coming down to the world (“Be a Tzaddik”); and secondly, as stated in Tanya, that try as one might, one may never reach this level because it is not dependent on ones merits.  Some souls are born to struggle but not to achieve the goal of being a true Tzaddik (one who has overcome and transformed his evil inclination).  Here the Rebbe informs us that there is now nothing standing in our way of achieving the objective! You and I, every Jew, if we will truly make the effort we can succeed to be victorious over our evil inclinations:

All this will help further purify the world and reveal G‑dliness within it. It must be accompanied by the additional G‑dly service of each particular Jew, by keeping away from evil and, furthermore, doing the utmost to fulfill the oath administered to his soul before birth, “You shall be a Tzaddik.” One might object and point out that in Tanya itself it is written that not every individual can necessarily become a Tzaddik, and that one doesn’t have complete free choice in this area. However, since the Jew has the essence of G‑d within him, ultimately even this is within his reach. Furthermore, after all the purification, etc. of the Jewish people over the course of time, now every Jew is able to reach the level of Tzaddik — similar to the way things will be in the Messianic Age.

The excuse that being a Tzaddik is “beyond my reach” and “halevai beinoni” (“if only I could reach the intermediate level”) is no longer valid! Today we are truly in a period of “I tried and I found” (“yagaati u-matzosi“).


Full sicha in English
Full sicha in Laha”k

Kuntres Beis Iyar, 5751: Why Concealment

[The discourse presented here was edited by the Rebbe and printed for Beis Iyar 5751 (1991), and with retrospect we can see how it is meant to guide us and strengthen us through the present time (even more so than when it was published), as will be explained, בע”ה.

The haftorah that is read when Shabbos falls out in Erev Rosh Chodesh (the day before the new month when the moon is completely concealed) begins with the verse: “Yehonosan said to him: tomorrow is [Rosh] Chodesh and you will be remembered (נפקדת) because your place will be vacant (כי יפקד מושבך).”

The words of this verse demand explanation: why are words from the same root — נפקדת and כי יפקוד — used for completely opposite concepts? “You will be remembered” is seemingly quite the opposite from “your place will be vacant”, which implies that he will be missing?!  To explain this, the Rebbe mentions several concepts which we will touch upon here only superficially (but the wise will investigate and find deeper things…).

Firstly, the Rebbe explains that the entire “drama” in this haftorah involving Shaul Hamelech, his son Yehonosan, and Dovid Hamelech are, on a deeper level, referring to the unification of the 6 higher sefiros and the 7th (in the language of kabbalah Z”A and Malchus (ז”א ומלכות) which are likened to husband and wife) .  Thus the word נפקדת also means the union which can bring forth children, relating to the union of husband and wife.  This unification of the sefiros takes place through the intellectual attribute of Bina, which is from a higher level.  This can be read as a hint to what the Rebbe describes as the “direct way” to bring the Geuloh in actuality: by learning (the power of Bina) the subjects of Moshiach and Geuloh.

Further, the Rebbe explains how the name נתן (last three letters of Yehonosan) refer to Malchus on the level described as sea (ים, which conceals the sefiros), whereas Dovid is Malchus on the level described as dry land (ארץ, where things are revealed).  The verse “Yehonosan said to him [to Dovid]…” refers to transforming the sea to dry land (as occurred at the spitting of the sea).  Interesting to note that the gematria of the words in the verse of crossing the sea — ויבֹאו בני ישראל בתוך הים ביבשה — has the same value as the declaration יחי אדוננו מורנו ורבינו מלך המשיח לעולם ועד.  (Which was declared before the Rebbe for the first time on the Shabbos following the release of this maamor in 5751!)

All of the above is in connection with Erev Rosh Chodesh, when the moon is concealed. This reflects a state of complete self-nullification (bittul) which brings about the birth of the new moon on the following day: the unification of the sun and the moon (mashpia and mekabel).  How can the bittul of Erev Rosh Chodesh accomplish this amazing unification?  Because the bittul of the time when the moon is concealed draws down from the level of Kesser (כתר), the level which is entirely above the chain of worlds (סדר השתלשלות).

Look closely: a period of concealment which appears to be quite a negative phenomenon is actually a time when the highest levels are being drawn down!  This is in order to bring about the Divinely desired unification of mashpia and mekabel (Hashem and Yisroel, Rebbe and Chassidim) through the power of Bina (learning and understanding).  This learning and understanding brings about the internalization of the lofty levels that are drawn down at the time of concealment — an experience which is likened to the splitting of the sea, when the concealment itself is transformed to revelation (and the verse has the same gematria as the declaration of “Yechi Hamelech…”)  (Can we sense that the Rebbe is explaining for us what is happening b’pnimiyus as we live through the “Erev Rosh Chodesh” of the post Gimmel Tammuz era?)

Returning to the maamor, the verse starts with the words “And Yehonosan said” (the drawing down of the lofty lights of Atzilus) and them is followed by “tomorrow is [Rosh] Chodesh”, meaning Erev Rosh Chodesh when the moon is in a state of concealment. First the lofty lights are given, after that the concealment takes place.  (First the lofty lights of the Sichos of 5751-52, as a preparation for the concealment of 27 Adar and 3 Tammuz.)

In fact, the Rebbe explains that in the path from coming out of Mitzrayim (in Nissan) to Matan Torah (in Sivan) Erev Rosh Chodesh occurs twice, for the months of Iyar and Sivan. Erev Rosh Chodesh Sivan is a giving of power (נתינת כוח)  for the union (נפקדת) that occurs via the giving of the Torah. Erev Rosh Chodesh Iyar (when this discourse was originally said) is a נתינת כוח giving of power for ויפקד מושבך — the time of concealment, as described at length above.

Learning the discourse itself will surely help the reader to put all these concepts in their proper place, and understand how the Rebbe (in this discourse and in many of the Sichos of this period) is preparing us for the crucial avoidah that takes place in a situation of concealment — avoidah that brings about a revelation of the unification of the mashpia and the mekabel and an end to that very concealment itself!

28 Nissan: Do All You Can!

What follows comes from the “famous sicha of Koach (28) Nissan”, which the Rebbe spoke after Maariv prayers to a small crowd in 770. Although the words were –- and remain –- shocking, an attempt to shake Chassidim out of their complacency in golus, they would be followed by nearly a year of sichos containing some of the loftiest revelations, which are the subject of this website: the Dvar Malchus sichos of 5751-52.

The shliach and mashpia R’ Zalman שיחיה Liberow is fond of pointing out that although the Rebbe’s words are strong, disturbing, and sound almost as though the Rebbe “doesn’t know what to do with these people” (chas v’sholom), if we take a second look we find that the Rebbe says that he is doing “the only thing left to do”, which should give us tremendous encouragement! It means that literally there is nothing else that needs to be done (by the Rebbe) to bring Moshiach. If the Rebbe gives it over to us, it means that we have the power to do it! “Karov eleicha hadavar me’od.”

(Perhaps it is worth noting that 28 Nissan is the 13th day in counting the Omer, Yesod sh’b’Gevurah. It is the day that the walls of Yericho, the first city conquered by Yehoshua bin Nun and the bnei Yisroel upon entering Eretz Yisroel. It is also the day (in 5714 [1954]) that the Rebbe taught the famous niggun of “Tzema Lecha Nafshi”, a niggun of longing for G-dly revelation.)

A translation of part of the sicha:

Because of the unique stress on the Redemption in this time, an astonishing question arises: How is it possible that despite all these factors, Moshiach has not yet come? This is beyond all possible comprehension.

It is also beyond comprehension that when ten (and many times ten) Jews gather together at a time that is appropriate for the Redemption to come, they do not raise a clamor great enough to cause Moshiach to come immediately. They are, heaven forbid, able to accept the possibility that Moshiach will not arrive tonight, and even that he will not arrive tomorrow, or on the day after tomorrow, heaven forbid.

Even when people cry out “Ad mosai” — Until when will we remain in exile?’ they do so only because they were told to. If they had sincere intent and earnest desire, and cried out in truth, Moshiach would surely have come already.

What more can I do to motivate the entire Jewish people to clamor and cry out, and thus actually bring about the coming of Moshiach. All that has been done until now has been to no avail, for we are still in exile; moreover, we are in an inner exile in regard to our own service of G-d.

All that I can possibly do is to give the matter over to you. Now, do everything you can to bring Moshiach, here and now, immediately.

May it be G-d’s will that ultimately ten Jews will be found who are stubborn enough to resolve to secure G-d’s consent to actually bring about the true and ultimate Redemption, here and now immediately. Their stubborn resolve will surely evoke G-d’s favor, as reflected by the interpretation of the verse, “For they are a stiff necked people; You will pardon our sins and wrongdoings and make us Your possession.”

I have done whatever I can; from now on, you must do whatever you can. May it be G-d’s will that there will be one, two, or three among you who will appreciate what needs to be done and how it needs to be done, and may you actually be successful and bring about the true and complete Redemption. May this take place immediately, in a spirit of happiness and gladness of heart.


View the video with English subtitles: