11) Kuntres 15 Av, 5751: An End to Darkness

In honor of the 15th of Av, the maamor “קץ שם לחושך” (“He put a limit to the darkness” —  a posuk in Iyov) was released.

The Rebbe asks the question: since every created thing has a limit, why does this verse say that Hashem “put” a limit on the darkness, implying that otherwise it would not have had a limit?  The answer begins that in general, undesirable things (darkness) are pushed away by light.  But our posuk is telling us that after reaching the limit of the darkness, it won’t be the possibility for darkness.  This is the true Geuloh, which leaves no room for darkness.

The maamor then begins to get into deep concepts of chassidus, most of which we will not mention here.  Many of the Dvar Malchus sichos speak about the need to draw the makif into the pnimi, meaning to internalize in the intellect (seichel) that which is above the intellect.  For this there are two examples, brought in this maamor: Will (ratzon) which is enlothed in siechel; and Faith (Emunah) which is enclothed in seichel.  On their own, both Will and Faith, Ratzon and Emunah, are beyond the intellect, called in Chassidus “makif“.  But the manner in which they are internalized (brought into seichel) is quite different.

We find that Ratzon “forces” the intellect to come to the conclusions it wants.  The intellect understands things in the way that the Ratzon wants.  We see this in the ability of human beings to intellectually justify almost any behavior or goal that they want.   To “rationalize” something that is really not “rational” — this is the power of the Will to overpower the intellect so that it comes to the conclusions that the Ratzon wants.  The Ratzon is forcing and changing the Seichel, and the Seichel is being nullified in the face of the Ratzon.  Thus, it is not much of a chiddush that the Ratzon remains unchanged (the person still wants the same thing, because he “forced” his intellect to give him a good rational).

When bringing Emunah into seichel, however, the belief does not force the intellect.  The fact that his intellect will agree to what he believes in (to intellectually accept that his belief is true) is coming from the intellect, from the true and unbiased conclusion of his Seichel:

When he contemplates intellectually in order that his intellect will also be in accordance with his belief, he makes an effort that his contemplation and “intellectual back and forth” will be honest and unbiased (ע”פ אמיתת השכל), and nonetheless it does not cause a change is his Emunah [he does not “lose his faith” as a result of his effort to come to a rational understanding of the things he believes in]…because even after he understands the matter intellectually, his Emunah remains above his intellect.  

The Rebbe also brings here, in footnote 33 (on the words “honest and unbiased (ע”פ אמיתת השכל)” from the Rebbe Rashab:

“and since he knows that the thing [in which he believes] is in essence true, because his Emunah is on strong foundations, he is not afraid to delve deeply into the subject and he does not limit the power of his Seichel to inquire and seek and weigh each thing until he will come to the truth of the matter.”

The Rebbe is giving over something very relevant to the subject of Geuloh: it is not enough to have Emunah, this Emunah must be brought into Seichel.  This must be done honestly and truthfully (unlike when we bring Ratzon into Seichel, when the honesty of the intellect is compromised to the Ratzon).  This depends on our Emunah standing on strong, unshakable foundations, an Emunah which is not afraid to look honestly at the subject (and nonetheless, it will not be compromised from the challenges involved in trying to understand).  This is a sort of litmus test for us: do we really believe the Rebbe when he tells us that we are the last generation of golus and the first generation of Geuloh (and all that comes along with that)?  If so, we must take that Emunah and bring it into our understanding — which is the inyan of learning Moshiach and Geuloh.  If we find that we have to “force” our understanding, then our conclusions will not be true (probably because we are afraid that our Emunah is not so solid).  On the other hand, we cannot remain content with our Emunah above Seichel, we have a mandate to draw it down into the intellect.  (This recalls the Rebbe’s statement on 28 Sivan that we must “agree” that the Geuloh is here.)

The key to all this?  Bittul.  As the Rebbe states in the maamor:

It is known that Emunah is bittul and seichel is metzius, and it is understood that for Emunah to be enclothed in Seichel is Bittul being drawn into Metzius.  Since his intellectual effort is for the sake of his Emunah [and even this that his Seichel remains in its Metzius and is not nullified to the Emunah (like it is nullified to the Ratzon) is for the sake of the Emunah, in order that also the Seichel as it is in its Metzius will be in accordance with Emunah.

We could say that this is also how we are meant to influence others: not to “force” them to accept what they are being told (the opposite of Bittul, which nullifies the independence of the intellect); but, rather, to share with them the subject of the Emunah (that the Geuloh is here, the identity of Moshiach…) and to give them the tools to understand (which demands that we also must have these tools) and to reach the conclusion intellectually that these matters are in fact true.  In this way we and those around us will be able be “partners” (as the Rebbe says in the sicha of 28 Sivan) to truly agree that the Geuloh is here b’pashtus.

Va’Eschanon 5751: To See That Moshiach Was Born on Tisha B’Av

Shabbos Parshas Va’Eschanon is also “Shabbos Nachamu”, the first of the “seven [Sabbaths] of comforting”, named after the haftorah which begins with the words “Nachamu Nachamu ami” (Be comforted, be comforted, My people).

The double expression of “Nachamu” (double-comforting following the destruction of the Beis Hamikdosh (twice) on Tisha B’Av) implies a true, unlimited comforting after the destruction of Tisha B’Av.  (The Rebbe points out that: “Since the comforting is (not only words of comfort and the like, but rather) through the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdash.” — (one of the jobs of Moshiach.))

The first Beis Hamikdosh was primarily due to revelations from Above to below; the second was primarily an effort from below to Above.  The third Beis Hamikdosh, which is eternal, (because it) will be a union of those two qualities.  In other words (explained in footnote 52 in the original), the revelation of G-dliness that occurred in the first Beis Hamikdosh was so powerful that it nullified the worldly reality of those in this world; the second Beis Hamikdosh emphasized the integration of G-dly revelation into the worldly reality of those in this world.  These will be unified in the third.

This primary difference between these two directions is that the integration of G-dly revelation into the worldly reality of those in this world (in a way which does not “shatter” their reality) takes a long time.  Similar to the process of conquering and dividing Eretz Yisroel under Yehoshua, which took 14 years.

This is similar to the process of going from Tisha B’Av to the 15th of Av, of which our sages say “there were never Yomim Tovim for Yisroel like the 15th of Av….”  What happened to cause the 15th of Av to receive such a description?  The first, and main, event to happen on the 15th of Av is that those who were decreed to die in the desert ceased dying on that day.  To explain:

Those who accepted the testimony of the meraglim about the land of Israel and didn’t want to enter were condemned to die in the desert on that same day, Tisha B’Av, during the next 38 years.  Each year, on Tisha B’Av, those who reached 60 years old would dig graves, lie down, and would not wake up in the morning.  In the final year, the last group followed the same procedure only they were surprised to wake up the next morning!  They surmised that they had made a mistake in calculating the day of the month, so the next night they again lay down to die in their graves.  But the next morning they also awoke!  Thinking that they had erred in calculating the date, they did this again the next night, continuing until the night of the 15th when the full moon indicated that they had not erred in the date but, rather, the decree had been annulled by Hashem!

In other words: the decree had been annulled on Tisha B’Av itself, but it took until the 15th of Av for them to realize this, to internalize it and integrate it.  Similarly, the “birth of Moshiach” on Tisha B’Av is not recognized immediately, but takes a long time to be realized, internalized, and integrated.  The Rebbe expresses it that “when the moon is full it is known with certainty that Moshiach was already born on Tisha B’Av (similar to what we find regarding the establishment of the 15th of Av as a Yom Tov, even though the decree had been nullified on Tisha B’Av)”.  The moon hints at the Jewish people, and the full moon means to receive the light of the sun [Moshe Rabbeinu is likened to the sun] in a complete and perfect manner.

Saying that Moshiach is “born” on Tisha B’Av means a dimension of his revelation (not his physical birth, see the Maharal* and Abarbanel).  But even after Moshiach himself becomes spiritually “large”, the exile is drawn out in so that it will be in a complete and perfect manner also as regards its integration by those in this world.

So we understand from the Rebbe’s words that as far as the revelations from Above are concerned, Moshiach is here and nothing is lacking.  But nonetheless the state of golus continues because the process of our accepting and integrating this new reality is a time-consuming process (which, of course, is up to us!).

Thus, the instruction of the Rebbe here is to emphasize again the need to learn matters of Geuloh, especially in Pnimiyus Hatorah, in a way of “laboring” in Torah, “and may it be Hashem’s will that through contemplating these matters we should merit immediately to see the true and complete Geuloh — Immediately, mamash”!


* Footnote 93 refers to Netzach Yisroel by the Maharal of Prague, page 132 which speaks of the birth of Moshiach.  Towards the end of that page, the Maharal writes how Moshiach’s name is “Menachem”, the comforter, because just as the “comforter” must be distant and removed from the mourning of the one he is comforting, similarly Moshiach (Menachem) is distant and removed from the rest of the people due to his lofty and elevated spiritual level.

Devarim 5751: Aquiring the Geuloh in the Closed Chest

Several times in these talks of 5751-52 the Rebbe states that the “direct way” to bringing Moshiach is through learning the subjects of Moshiach and Geuloh.  Parshas Devarim contains the instruction “do not disturb Moav” (אל תצר את מואב, Devarim 2:9), which is the nation living in one of the three lands “beyond the Yarden river” which were promised to Avraham Avinu and will be inherited in the future.  These lands are called the lands of the Keni, Kenizi,  and Kadmoni (lands of Ammon,  Moav, and Edom (Seir)–see Rashi on Devarim 2:5).

The inheritance of these lands is explained at length in Chassidus as referring to the intellectual faculties (Chochma, Bina) and the super-intellectual level of Kesser (see Lech Lecha 5752, for example), which are part of our spiritual makeup, but we have not “acquired” them yet.  In fact, the names Keni, Kenizi and Kadmoni all contain the letters of “kinyan” (the letters ק – נ – י), acquisition, hinting that these lofty levels must ultimately be “acquired” — internalized in a way where we master them.

With that in mind, note the interesting expression the Rebbe uses in the sicha for parshas Devarim, that all matters of the Geuloh have been completed and are “as if in a closed chest”:

…all the matters have been completed, and the Beis Hamikdash stands ready Above, and similarly all the matters–“everything is ready for the feast”, everything is ready as if in a closed chest and they have given the chest and its key to every single Jew.

What makes this noteworthy is the following halacha of the Rambam in chapter 21 of the laws of Mechira (“Selling”):

If, however, a person tells a colleague: "I will sell you whatever this house contains for this and this amount," "...whatever this chest contains,..." or "whatever this sack contains for this and this amount," the purchaser agrees and performs meshichah, the transaction is not binding. For the purchaser did not make a binding commitment, since he does not know what the receptacle contains, whether straw or gold. This is no more than gambling. The same applies in all analogous situations.

The Rambam rules that one cannot acquire something if he does not know what he is acquiring!  We cannot acquire the “closed chest” which contains the Geuloh until we know what is in it!  Until we know what Moshiach and Geuloh are all about, even if “the closed chest” that contains them has been handed to us along with the keys, we need to learn about it in order to “acquire” it, to internalize it as our own.

And if you will ask: but we have the keys, why not just open the chest and we’ll know exactly what’s in it and that satisfies all requirements for kinyan (acquisition)?

Yes, this is true. But the fact is that the chest and the keys have been given over to every Jew, and yet no one has yet seen fit to open the chest and reveal the Geuloh; thus, it seems that in order to arouse a Jew to do that he has to be motivated to do so by excitement over what is inside the chest that has been given to him.  How will he be motivated to open the chest?  Through fulfilling the Rebbe’s instruction to learn the subjects of Moshiach and Geuloh, to know what is in the chest, and then certainly each one of us will realize the great treasure we have been given and we will rush to open it up — and the sooner the better!

Devarim 5751: One More Request for Moshiach

In the year 5751, Tisha B’Av fell out on Shabbos.  In such a year, the fast, together with all other aspects of mourning the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash, are pushed off until the 10th (Sunday).  But the positive aspects of Tisha B’Av remain, which include it being an “auspicious time” (like every fast day) and also the birth of Moshiach.  Therefore, on Shabbos Tisha B’Av we are eating a feast!  Halacha permits one to sit and enjoy a repast as rich as Shlomo Hamelech’s even to the last moment before shkia (sunset) [unlike regular years, when we eat a mourner’s meal before the fast].

This itself is a taste of the Messianic Age, when all the fast days will be transformed to days of rejoicing, and as such our Shabbos meals on Tisha B’Av assume a Moshiach-like dimension of the feast of the Levyoson and Shor Habar (the Leviathan and Wild Bull).  On a deeper level: every year we re-experience the churban, the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash, and the mourning, and then in the afternoon, at Mincha-time, comes the comforting–the birth of Moshiach.  This year we have the birth of Moshiach (who builds the 3rd Beis Hamikdash which will never be destroyed) without the churban!  This hints that b’pnimiyus the destruction of the 1st and 2nd Beis Hamikdash were really only for the sake of the building of the 3rd, eternal Beis Hamikdash.

All of this was in fact present at the time of the churban, but it was concealed.  The inner positive aspects of Tisha B’Av, the birth of Moshiach, does not become revealed until the 15th of Av, which is when the moon is full, the moon being the aspect of Dovid Malka Mashicha. (This also hints at the Jewish people, when they reach full potential to receive the light (as the moon receives and reflects from the sun), reveal that Moshiach was actually born on Tisha B’Av.

The three weeks leading up to Tisha B’Av hint at the “three moichin” (3 aspects of Supernal Intellect) which themselves correspond to the lands of the three nations — Keni, Kenizi, Kadmoni — which were promised to Avraham Avinu (along with the land of 7 nations conquered by Yehoshua).  The Torah forbids us to have anything to do with these lands during the time of until Moshiach comes, but the fact that part of these lands were conquered by other nations (Sichon and Og) and then conquered and settled by the tribes of Gad, Reuven, and Menashe, is itself a hint that these three dimensions of the Supernal Intellect come together with the land of 7 nations, which refers to the seven midos.

Sefer Devarim is Moshe Rabbeinu addressing the Jewish nation before they will enter the land of Israel.  Moshe knew that Hashem had decreed upon him not to enter the land, but still he did not cease to beseech Hashem in prayer asking Him to allow him to enter the land, reaching 515 prayers (the numerical value of “Va’eschanon”, the parsha we read at Mincha).

From here there is also something for all generations to learn from…that without looking at all the prayers and requests that were until now, we need again and again to daven and request from the Eybershter “Ad Mosai” — “until when”.

…and as was said,  immediately mamash, today mamash, since all the matters have been completed, and the Beis Hamikdash stands ready Above, and similarly all the matters–“everything is ready for the feast”, everything is ready as if in a closed chest and they have given the chest and its key to every single Jew.  The only thing that we are waiting for — that a Jew will shout another shout, with another request and demand and another reminder: “Ad Mosai“?!…

13) Kuntres Rosh Hashono, 5752

13) Kuntres Rosh Hashono, 5752

Released a few days in advance of Rosh Hashono, the discourse begins with the verse from the prophet Yeshaya: “On that day a great shofar will be sounded, and the ones who are lost in the land of Ashur and the ones who are pushed away in the land of Mitzrayim, will come and prostrate themselves to Hashem on the Holy Mountain in Yerushalayim.”

The Rebbe asks a few questions on this verse: What is special about a “great shofar”? Why does it say that the shofar “will be sounded” without specifying who will be sounding it — it seems as though it will be sounded on its own?

The shofar here is explained in spiritual terms: the cry of the innermost point in the heart which is above intellect. This cry draws down the corresponding level from Above, meaning the Supernal Will which transcends the level of Chochma (usually translated as “wisdom”).

There is a different verse that describes the shofar as being sounded by Hashem, but that verse refers only to a “shofar” and not a “great shofar”.  But the “great shofar” of the future is sounded from a level higher than any of Hashem’s names!

Also at Matan Torah there was the sound of a shofar, but not a “great shofar” — the shofar of the future will be even greater.  The reason, given in the name of the Mitteler Rebbe, is that at the time of Matan Torah the entire Jewish people were in a state of closeness with G-dliness קירוב לאלקות and therefore a “regular” shofar was sufficient to awaken their hearts.  But the shofar of the future, of the true and complete Geulah, has to reach the “lost” and the “pushed away”, who are far from G-dliness, and therefore in order to reach them requires the “great shofar”. This also explains why it send that it will be sounded “by itself” — because in order to awaken those who are so far from any interest or recognition of G-dliness will require a cry from Above, by itself, without any awakening from below at all. Now, on every Rosh Hashono, we sound a regular shofar, meaning that through our effort we awaken and draw down from Above.  But the great shofar of the future is drawn down by itself without any effort from below.

However, there is a question: we find that the great shift of the future is likened to our sounding of the shofar on Rosh Hashono through our own effort — they couldn’t be more different! The Rebbe explains it by connecting it to the original Rosh Hashono, at the Creation of the world, which preceded any effort from below (since “below” did not yet exist), and what this teaches us in our avoidah:

The shofar is narrow at one end and wide at the other. This reflects our cry from the narrow side, the limitations we find ourselves in.  Just like the way that a poor man’s prayer is more potent and heartfelt and more readily accepted, so, too, the cry that comes from the “narrow” limitations that challenge us.  And there is nothing more “narrow” and limiting than to be lost in Ashur or pushed away in Mitzrayim, so the “great shofar” of the future that is sounded “by itself” in order to awaken those distant individuals is indeed similar to our shofar.

But beyond that, it turns out that this itself — the very lowly and distant state of the lost and pushed away — is the cause of such a lofty revelation as the “great shofar”! And this is in fact the reason that Hashem created such places, and caused a Jew to be exiled there.  When these places cause an awakening of the “great shofar”, not only are the Yidden in those places elevated to a higher level, but these places themselves (the lowliest places of exile) are also elevated.

How does this explanation guide us in our avoidas Hashem (since the lost and pushed away are not consciously serving Hashem)?  Says the Rebbe: even one whose avoidah is complete בשלימות can learn from this: if he contemplates the loftiness of the Ohr Ein Sof then even his “true avoidah” is lacking and considered a sin; therefore, he feels himself to be “lost” and “pushed away”, and through this the revelation of the “great shofar” is awakened and drawn down.  Since he recognizes and feels that the Revelations are drawn down not by his own avoidah, but rather by Hashem’s chesed — it is like the shofar that is sounded by itself with no awakening from below at all.

The Rebbe then adds, in the name of his father-in-law the Previous Rebbe, that this “great shofar” awakens the “innermost point” of every Yid, and every single one (including the lost and pushed away) will want to go out of golus and go to Yerushalayim and prostrate themselves to Hashem, because this is the true desire of every Yid.  Meaning, that unlike Yetzias Mitzrayim when the desire to leave came from Above, in the future Geulah it will be the desire of Yisroel to come to Yerushalayim — the awakening from Above of the “great shofar” is only the means by which the true desire of Yisroel is revealed. Thus, the avoidah will in fact be their own, only that for the truly “lost” and “pushed away” the avoidah will come after the great shofar which will awaken their true desire (which was drawn down from Above by itself).

The instruction for us is:

“… At the end of the time of golus when only a few moments remain before that day when the great shofar will be sounded [and more than this, as regards several inyonim the inyan of “the great shofar will be sounded” has already begun, as understood from the words of my father-in-law, and particularly that since the time he wrote that until now many years have passed, and how much moreso in the recent times when we saw that there are a number of individuals who were at first in a situation of lost and pushed away, r”l, had an awakening of tshuva through the sounding of the “great shofar”*] there needs to be the avoidah of Bittul. This is the awareness and feeling that everything that is accomplished through his avoidah, both as regards himself and as regards others, is not due to his own virtues, but rather it had been given from Above.  Such a feeding will not cause a weakening in his avoidah, but to the contrary, this getting will cause his avoidah to be stronger.  Because when his avoidah drives grin his own existence, it is limited — his “maximum” בכל מאודך is his own limited maximum.  But when he feels that his avoidah is not through his own power but rather from G-dliness, then he goes out from his own limited existence and his avoidah is above measurement and limitation.”

The Rebbe concludes that this has to be drawn into physicality גשמיות, and it is understood that whatever was done until now is insufficient (after all — we just learned that we can access the unlimited in our avoidah!). The awakening of the “great shofar” has to be in a way that every Yid, including the lost and pushed away, will come to prostrate himself to Hashem on the Holy Mountain in Yerushalayim, in the simple sense, through Moshiach Tzidkeinu.  Meaning: we don’t rest until every Yid is part of the Geulah, until every Yid recognizes Moshiach, until every Yid reveals and acts upon his true desire to leave golus and go to Yerushalayim!

*This maamor was originally said after the awakening that followed the Six Day War.

Parshas Nitzavim, 5751: The Intrinsic Connection

The Rebbe brings out from a year where Rosh Hashana falls out on Monday and Tuesday an emphasis on the special value of the avodah of Yidden.  The world was created perfect, but it was a limited level of perfection, and it is only through the avodah of Yidden — an infinite neshoma enclothed in a limited physical body — that the world can transcend itself and achieve a higher level of perfection.  This is the idea, discussed in other sichos, of 10 and 11, where 10 is perfection and 11 transcends that original perfection.

The Rebbe also returns to the concept mentioned in last weeks sicha, that a Jew’s connection to Hashem is intrinsic and not dependent on his performance of Torah and Mitzvos.  Torah and Mitzvos simply serve to reveal  his intrinsic connection.  The Rebbe says that by emphasizing a Jew’s essential connection to Hashem this serves to in turn bring out a greater commitment to Torah and Mitzvos–because in truth a Jew really only does Torah and Mitzvos because this is an expression of his true nature.  In other words, we remove all aspects of fear of punishment and we find that he will do mitzvos even more enthusiastically!

And, as the Alter Rebbe said, that Moshiach’s arrival would be publicized in the newspapers, the Rebbe states:

May the Redemption come immediately, indeed, may it be that it has already come. For the newspapers have already written about Moshiach’s coming — may they continue to write more and may these articles be in the past tense for Moshiach’s coming will already be a reality.

[Ki] Savo 5751: Yisroel, “First Fruits” of the World

The midrash says that there are two “firsts”, Yisroel and the Torah, and we don’t know which came first.  Until we see that in the Torah it states “command bnei Yisroel”, “say to Bnei Yisroel” , now we know that Yisroel came first.  This is the concept of Bikkurim.

The Torah commands us that upon entering and settling Eretz Yisroel, we are to offer Bikkurim, the “first fruits” of the 7 species of which Eretz Yisroel is praised.  These first fruits, the initial blossoming of the seven species, are brought to the Beis Hamikdash in Yerushalayim, placed in a basket, presented to the Cohen and given to Hashem.

It turns out, then, that these first fruits achieve the highest purpose that is attainable — to be offered to Hashem in the Beis Hamikdash.  The purpose of having fruits in the world, of the world itself, is represented by the these fruits being offered to Hashem.  Eating them, enjoying them — all this is secondary.  That a Yid gives of his finest to Hashem — this is the real purpose.

The Yidden, the Torah tells us, are the Bikkurim of the world.  They are the purpose and ultimate reason for the world’s existence.  Not only did Hashem consult with the souls of the Yidden before creating the world, but the world was (and is) created for the Yidden.  The world is created by Hashem through the Torah, but for the sake of the Yidden.  The connection of Yidden to Hashem is direct, with actually no need for the Torah at all (because the Yid is also one with the Torah).  Then why is the Torah so critical?

The role of the Torah is that through keeping the Torah a Jew reveals that he is connected with Hashem in his very essence.  The Torah does not exist without Yidden to keep it, but a Yid exists even before he encounters the Torah.  And even if he is not keeping the Torah, chas v’sholom, he is still connected in his very essence with Hashem Himself.

The Rebbe elaborates at length in this sicha on the importance of each and every Yid, that a Jew’s true reality is that he is one with the Holy One, blessed be He, which is concealed until it is revealed by his becoming Bikkurim.  And the Torah says that the Bikkurim need to be in a container — this is the body which contains the neshoma.  One who has sufficient finacial means brings a container made of precious materials.  But one who does not have the means brings a simple container and this simple container is kept by the Cohen.  This shows that even the lowly material of which his container is made is elevated to be “before Hashem”.

The container [טנא] hints at the letters of Torah (טעמים, נקודות, אותיות), meaning that the neshoma’s “container” — the body — is really the letters of Torah which become the thought, speech and action of a Jew.  Even if this relates to “lowly things” (he only understands Torah in a physical way), this body is still a container for his Bikkurim and is elevated to be “before Hashem”.  Thus, every thought, every word of speech, and every action of a Yid is important and is in fact the very purpose of the existence of the world!  As regards this importance, the Rebbe says:

The preciousness of every Jew before the Holy One, blessed be He is unconditional, he does not need to be a Torah scholar, one who learns Torah or one who fulfills the Mitzvos or the like, but rather “anyone who wants [can approach the King when he is in the field (Elul)]” is able to greet the King, who “greets everyone with a pleasant countenance”.

This closeness to Hashem should cause one, especially in Elul, to take an accounting of his thought, speech, and action, because:

…even one thought, speech, or action which seems of little importance compared to the rest of his thoughts, speech, or actions–but even this thought, speech, or action is a part of his Bikkurim which are brought to the Beis Hamikdash, before Hashem your G-d — and the Cohen who will be in those days  is careful with his every movement — certainly [the Jew] will make every effort that even the smallest things, every detail of his conduct, will be done with the complete attention and carefulness.

In conjunction with this: being that we are in essence one with Hashem, when we have an awakening from below, we cause an awakening from Above–and in this way we are able to bring the Geulah!  In the Rebbe’s words:

Since a Jew is “one” with the Holy One, blessed be He…he has no private will, but rather in the words of the Mishnah (Pirkei Avos) — “make your will like His will in order that He will make His will like your will” — the will of the Holy One, blessed be He is the will of a Yid and the will of a Yid is the will of the Holy One, blessed be He.  Thus, it is in the power of every Jew to (influence the Holy One, blessed be He and to) nullify the golus and to bring the Geulah immediately!

If we want Hashem to bring an end to this Golus, who brings it about? Yidden, since we are one with Him!  And if we will have a true will to end Golus רצון אמיתי — then at that same moment Hashem will automatically bring an end to the Golus!

 

Ki Seitze Insight: Mouths Filled with Laughter — the Future is Now!

Near the end of the sicha (ois 15) the Rebbe makes an astonishing statement that demands our attention.  The verse in Tehillim (126b) states “then our mouths will be filled with laughter” (אז ימלא שחוק פינו), upon which the gemara (Brochos 31a) comments:

Rabbi Yoḥanan said in the name of Rabbi Shimon ben Yoḥai: One is forbidden to fill his mouth with mirth in this world, [as long as we are in exile (ge’onim)], as it is stated: “then will our mouths fill with laughter and our lips with song” (Psalms 126:2). When will that joyous era arrive? When “they will say among nations, the Lord has done great things with these” (Psalms 126:2).

The emphasis is that “then” is referring to the time of the future Geuloh (and thus it is explained throughout Torah, including Toras HaChassidus of all of the Rebbeim, including the Rebbe).  The time to “fill our mouths with laughter” is at the time of the Geuloh.  Now comes the amazing chiddush of the Rebbe:

“Then (in the time to come, l’asid lavo) we will fill our mouths with laughter.”, which, in our generation, the Nossi of the generation, my father-in-law the Rebbe, whose second name is Yitzchok, from the root meaning laughter and joy, and he is the 8th Nossi from the Baal Shem Tov (8 being the gematria of “then” in our posuk אז), the inyan of “we will fill our mouths with laughter” is done (not in the future tense, “then”, but rather) in the present tense.

A verse that is universally explained to be referring to the time of the Geuloh, some time in the future, is now explained by the Rebbe to be something that is occurring (or can occur) now!  To understand better what this means (in addition to the clear implication that this aspect of Geuloh is no longer something reserved for the future) let us take the Rebbe’s own description of what it means to “fill our mouths with laughter”.

If we look at the maamor “Ani L’Dodi” printed as a Kuntres in Elul, 5750 (one year before our sicha), we will find that the Rebbe offers us the following definition of our posuk:

A smiling countenance [referring to the moshol of the King in the field] — this is the essential pleasure תענוג עצמי (which the Holy One, blessed be He, takes in Yidden), the inyan of the circus קניגיא [which Hashem will make in the times of Geuloh for the pleasure of the Tzaddikim] when we will see in a revealed way that all the war of good and evil (in this world) is only for laughter and pleasure, “then we will fill our mouths with laughter”.

This means that during Golus we are unable to properly realize that our struggle with evil is really a staged battle from which Hashem takes great pleasure and from which we ourselves will take great pleasure, and therefore we cannot “fill our mouths with laughter” because our battle against evil seems very real, the existence of the evil is an ever-present danger.  But the time of Geuloh brings with it a new revelation: that this is all part of the Divine plan for Divine pleasure, and realizing this properly allows us to “fill our mouths with laughter” despite our struggles with the evil inclination.  Evil is no longer real, but simply part of the “game” of this world (as the Rebbe explains earlier in this sicha regarding “when you go out to war ‘on’ your enemies” — higher than and above your enemies (to the point that they don’t have a real existence)).  Thus, when the Rebbe says that we can already fill our mouths with laughter, it means that we are capable of properly grasping and internalizing the true nature of our struggle with our “enemies”.  When one realizes this, he will not have any fear but rather renewed motivation to overcome these “enemies”, since he can fully recognize that this is all a Divinely ordained “circus” and not a real battle at all.

“Then” is “now”, and we can truly live Geuloh!

Ki Seitze, 5751: Tasting the Reward Now

Two parshas are read this Shabbos: Ki Seitze (“when you go out to war on your enemy”) in the morning, and in the afternoon the first section of “Ki Savo” (“when you will enter the land to inherit it and to settle it…”).  Thus, on one single Shabbos, we have two seemingly opposite lessons from the Torah: going to war against an enemy (the avodah of golus), and settling the land (the reward of the Messianic Era).

Since everything is guided by Divine Providence, we have to learn from this combination: that we can be a situation of doing the avodah of making a war on the enemy in the time of golus and yet at the same time be in a completely “settled” state, which is the reward for this avodah.

How can we accomplish this?

Through the knowledge that in essence a Jew is completely above the existence of any opposition — Hashem “consulted” with the souls of the Jewish people before creating the world, showing that we are in fact one with Hashem and above the world.  If so, then why would we agree to the creation of a world that contains “enemies” whom we will have to overcome in war? Because Hashem did not want to give us “bread of shame” (unearned reward), and therefore He created a world for us to earn the reward.  And our neshomos agreed.  In order to realize Hashem’s desire for a dwelling place in the lower realms, there must be lower realms where there is the possibility of war.  But the truth of the matter is: a Jew in his source, and even as he is enclothed in a physical body in this world — remains higher than the concept of any opposition.

When a Jew is aware that this is the true reality, then even his “going out to war against the enemy” is infused with the aspect of “settling the land”.  “Settling the land” implies Eretz Yisroel, a land which “desired (רצתה) to do perform the will of her Creator” — where there is no longer a “war” to fulfill Torah and Mitzvos, but rather one overcomes his evil inclination with ease.

The Rebbe adds that:

“the main thing –that the avodah is amidst ease and comfort in the simple sense, ease of the soul and ease of the body, which is achieved through the Holy One, blessed be He, giving to every single Jew all that he needs materially and spiritually, and with abundance.”

This includes all that a Jew needs in order to do the avodah itself, and after that as a reward for the avodah that he performs.  And this material (and spiritual) reward is a sampling of the physical reward that will be in the Messianic Era.  Not only that, but the Rebbe makes a revolutionary statement, that the verse “then their mouths will be filled with laughter” (explained by Chazal and Chassidic discourses as referring to the Time to Come) is applicable now!  “Then” is “now” in the present tense.  The rewards of the Time to Come, the Messianic Age, are available to us now.  Although they are “locked in a box”, every Jew can open the box whenever he wants.  How?  By performing one more mitzvah.  As the saying goes “the future is now” — but by the Rebbe this is not merely a slogan, it is the reality!

All this receives greater emphasis since the year the sicha was said was 5751 (תנש”א), the letters of which spell out the command “you will be exalted”, referring to Moshiach.  This is “both as regards the revelation and coming of Moshiach” (the distinction between these to concepts will be explained separately, G-d willing) “and as regards the wedding of Knesses Yisroel and the Holy One, blessed be He in the Messianic Era, and in the words of the [midrash] Yalkut Shimoni: ‘the year Melech HaMoshiach is revealed in him…he stands on the roof of the Beis Hamikdash …and says humble ones, the time of your redemption has arrived’.”  The Rebbe adds in the footnote the continuation of this Midrash: “And if you don’t believe, see via my light…at the same time the Holy One, blessed be He, shines the light of Melech Hamoshiach and of Yisroel and they all go to the light of Melech Hamoshiach and of Yisroel, and they [the nations of the world] come and lick the dust from beneath the feet of Melech Hamoshiach…”

We will make a divergence from the main body of the sicha in order to understand this.  It is important to note what the Midrash is telling us: that there will come a time following the initial revelation of Moshiach (“Moshiach is revealed in him” means the revelation of the soul of Moshiach in the one who has been anointed by Hashem to be Moshiach, explained in our post on Parshas Naso) when nonetheless the Jewish people will not be prepared to believe him when he says that indeed the time of their redemption has arrived.  How do they get out of their own lack of confidence in themselves and in the words of Moshiach?  The Midrash says “see via my light” (ראו באורי שזרח עליכם), that through Moshiach’s light, meaning wisdom — the Torah that Moshiach teaches — they will be able to see the reality that Moshiach is describing to them.

Through our effort to learn and understand the Torah that Moshiach is revealing to us, we will merit to see the reality that he is describing to us: the reality that “the time of your redemption has arrived”!

Ki Seitze: Adding “the” Mitzvah

The statement of the Rambam is well-known: every individual should consider that the fate of the world is in his hands. By performing a single mitzvah, one person can tilt the scales of judgement and bring salvation to the entire world.

In the Sicha of Ki Seitze 5751, the Rebbe describes how the reward for Mitzvos is, metaphorically, locked in a chest. This chest is in the possession of all Jews.*

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“Not only that, but he has the ability and the permission to open the chest (and to reveal the reward) any time he wants — by adding “one mitzvah” more, that through this [mitzvah] ‘he will tilt the scales…'”

Those who learn the Sichos are already familiar with this Rambam (the Rebbe showed an enthusiasm for this Rambam over the years). But, in general, the Rebbe adds a new dimension in his use of sources, and especially regarding the Sichos of Nun-Alef/Nun-Beis we should be on the lookout for new dimensions of understanding.

We offer the following insight:

The Rebbe here separates the words “one mitzvah” מצוה אחת from the rest of the quote from the Rambam, and the Rebbe adds the words “by adding one more mitzvah” (עי”ז שמוסיף עוד מצוה אחת).

To say “adding one more mitzvah” (עי”ז שמוסיף עוד מצוה אחת) implies something quite different than the Rambam’s wording of “performing one mitzvah” (עשה מצוה אחת).  Adding one more (עוד) implies a mitzvah that was not already fulfilled, that there is “one more mitzvah” that we can “add” which will bring the revelations of the true and complete Geulah.

In truth, there are many Mitzvos we haven’t fulfilled in actuality, since we lack the ability to bring korbonos. But there is one mitzvah that has not been fulfilled — and is possible to fulfill today — and it is a mitzvah fulfilled by the Jewish people as a whole.*

This is the mitzvah mentioned in last week’s parsha, Parshas Shoftim: the mitzvah to appoint a King שום תשים עליך מלך. Although it was fulfilled in earlier generations, our generation has not properly fulfilled it. More than that, the shleimos of this mitzvah was not reached through the appointing of Shaul Hamelech or Dovid Hamelech; rather its shleimos is the appointing of Melech haMoshiach — which is the responsibility of our generation, specifically!

This interpretation fits perfectly with what the Rebbe says here: because the opening of the “chest” that contains the reward of our Mitzvos (the revelation of Ohr Ein Sof in the world, as explained in the Sicha) is related to Yemos haMoshiach, and it is self-understood that in order for it to be Yemos haMoshiach there must be a Moshiach, whom the Jewish nation has a mitzvah to appoint over themselves, accepting his kingship.

So look at this portion of the Sicha again, and see how the Rebbe is saying that the “one mitzvah” which we can add, which will bring the lofty revelations we are longing for, is the mitzvah of appointing a King מינוי מלך!

Of course, this is a Mitzvah that falls on the shoulders of the entire Jewish nation as a whole, so it’s not enough that you and I and the bochurim in 770 accept the Rebbe as King, Melech haMoshiach, but requires the acceptance of his kingship by the Jewish nation. This is, lechoira, also the meaning of the Rebbe’s words in Noach 5752: the Geulah doesn’t depend on anything besides Moshiach himself.

אין הדבר תלוי אלא במשיח צדקינו עצמו

All that remains is to appoint the King!


*) It is possible, though not necessary, to say that the Rebbe means here the collective body2018-08-22 20.33.38 of all Yidden rather than each individual: “The reward that until now is “closed in a chest” is already found in the possession of the “worker” (each and every Jew).”