12) Kuntres Chof Menachem Av: How to Add the “Alef”

The Rebbe mentions numerous times in these talks that everything that is necessary for the Geuloh is already here, we simply need to add the letter “alef” to the word gola (which means exile), thereby transforming it to Geuloh.  But what exactly does it mean to add an “alef” to the exile that we are in?

There are many levels to answering this question, the most basic of which is that it means revealing Hashem (the ruler of the world, “alufo shel olam“) in the world through Torah and Mitzvos.  Additionally, it means recognizing Hashem’s Divine Providence that is behind everything, even those things which appear to us as the opposite of good.

We find an even deeper and more comprehensive explanation in the Chassidic Discourse that was edited by the Rebbe and published in 1991 in honor of the Hillula (anniversary of the passing) of the Rebbe’s father, Levi Yitzchak Schneersohn.

The discourse discusses the source for the statement of our sages that a Jew must make 100 blessings every day.  The sages find scriptural support for this in a verse from parshas Ekev: “Now, Yisroel, what (“mah”) does Hashem your G-d want from you” (Devarim 10:12).  The sages say “don’t read mah (“what”) rather me’ah (“one hundred’)”.  This familiar technique of the sages doesn’t change the original meaning, of course, but adds another level.  In this case, they are adding the letter “alef” to the “mah” (which means “what”) and the result is the one hundred blessings (“me’ah”) that a Jew must say.

In chapter 3 of the discourse, the Rebbe explains the deeper significance of inserting an “alef”, which is surely applicable as well to the Rebbe’s instruction to add an “alef” to exile to transform gola into Geuloh.  To briefly summarize the Rebbe’s words:

“Mah symbolizes Malchus, which is the level where G-dly revelation can be internalized (in Chassidic terminology, the level of memaleh kol almin and the soul levels of Nefesh, Ruach, Neshoma).  In the  avodah of a Yid, this is the avodah of “you shall love Hashem your G-d with all of your heart” (b’chol levovecha) which derives from the external dimension of the soul’s intellect (chitzoniyus ha’seichel).  As implied by the term “all of your heart” it generates a feeling of love in the emotional attributes of the heart’s emotional attributes, but only there.

“Me’ah” is the level of Arich, a level that transcends us and can only be revealed in a transcendent, encompassing manner (sovev kol almin and the transcendent soul level of Chaya).  In our avodah this is the love “with all of your soul” (b’chol nafshecha) which derives from the internal dimension of the soul’s intellect (pnimiyus ha’seichel).  This love is felt in the intellect, and then automatically spreads out to affect all the soul’s powers and limbs.

How do we go from one level to the next, from “with all of your heart” (limited to the heart) to “with all of your soul” (which spreads to all the powers of the soul)?  It is through the avoda of “all of your might” (b’chol me’odecha), which reaches the “alef“, the supernal level of Atik which completely transcends the world (higher than both memaleh kol almin and sovev kol almin, the soul level of Yechida).  In avodah this is mesirus nefesh, to give one’s soul (either literally, or, in the way applicable in our generation: giving away one’s personal desires, mesirus haratzon, in order to fulfill the will of Hashem).  Because it transcends the other two levels, it is able to unite them and to draw down (the meaning of brocha, a blessing) the level of “me’ah” into the level of “mah“, that they should both be revealed in the person.

Clearly, this is understandable as regards the “alef” which we must insert into gola in order to make Geuloh: to awaken the level of Yechida, through serving Hashem “with all of your might”, having true mesirus nefesh to fulfill Hashem’s will, especially as it is revealed through “your servants, the prophets” and most especially the Novi of our generation.  This puts in the Alef and results in Geuloh!  Let’s not be lazy about this, because we have to bring Moshiach now!

Re’eh 5751: Publicize Geuloh in Every Place

The name “Elul”, the month which begins in some years on Shabbos Parshas Re’eh (as it did in 5751 when this sicha was spoken), famously stands for “Ani L‘dodi V‘dodi Li”, “I am for my Beloved, and my Beloved is for me”.  The first part of this verse, “I am for my Beloved”, refers to the avodah from below to Above, the second part (“and my Beloved is for me”) reflects the awakening from Above which follows.  In other words, in Elul we serve Hashem from our own power (taking a spiritual accounting, repenting for what is lacking, and making spiritual improvements) and this generates the Awakening from Above which are the lofty revelations of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

The Shelah writes that there is a connection between every parsha and the days when it comes out, meaning in our case a connection between parshas Re’eh and the month of Elul.  But whereas the emphasis in Elul is the avodah from below to Above, the very first verse of our parsha is the opposite: “See I am giving you today blessing”, from Above to below.  These are completely opposite?!  The Rebbe explains this seeming contradiction by first pointing out that although Elul is a month of avodah from below, but the initial letters of Elul include both aspects–below to Above (“I am for my Beloved”) and Above to below (“my Beloved is for me”).  More than that, the avodah of Elul itself includes both.  It is explained in Chassidus that in the month of Elul “the King is in the field”, meaning that there is a lofty–but hidden–revelation from Above which gives the potential to each and every Jew to bring himself, through his own effort from below, to be suitable to enter the King’s royal chambers on Rosh Hashanah.  Thus, the avodah of Elul is inclusive of both inyonim.

The Rebbe notes that:

The avodah of the person from below to Above (“I am for my Beloved”) is (not on a lower level, as implied by it coming from “below”, which is limited by the limitations and state of the person, but rather it is actually) a higher level (“Above”) which is above all limitation.  This is because as regards the true inner state of the Jew, the neshoma of the Jew, which is “truly a piece of G-dliness Above”, the level of Yechida, is in fact in a perfect state of unity with the Holy One, blessed be He.

All he needs to do is to reveal his true reality, that he is one with the Holy One, blessed be He.  This is accomplished by serving Hashem in a way which transcends limitation, avodah which comes from the essence of his existence, which is that he is one with the Holy One, blessed be He.  And because this is the essence of the existence of every Jew, it is relevant even at the beginning of his avodah.

Having said all that, the Rebbe proceeds to give “standing orders”:

It is incumbent to publicize and awaken in every place the avodah of Elul and, with particular emphasis, the inyan of Geuloh, which in fact permeates all of this avodah.  All must be permeated and done with the spirit of the Geuloh (including, and especially, through learning Torah on the subjects of Geuloh and the Beis haMikdash), amidst anticipation and complete certainty that immediately we are seeing with fleshly eyes that “Behold, this one (Melech Hamoshiach) comes”.

Simply put: to proclaim and to publicize in every place — with words that come from the heart — that the Holy One, blessed be He says (through his servants the Prophets) to every single Jew “See, I am giving before you today blessing”, until that literally today mamash we see with fleshly eyes the blessing of the true and complete Geuloh.

[And we should add and emphasize that this declaring and publicizing of the above must be also via those who claim that they still didn’t completely “get it”, meaning completely grasping and understanding in a conscious manner.  Since they also are complete in their belief, they are able (and thus, they must) publicize these things to others, beginning with their families (for surely they need not “suffer” from the fact that this matter is still not sitting well with him intellectually), and also all those who are found around him, every single Jew, and certainly through the proper effort the words will be accepted and will bring about the desired effect, including also in the one who is proclaiming and publicizing, that by him it will be internalized properly, etc.].

I have to proclaim and publicize even if I’m not completely with it?  Yes, even one who is not completely with it.

Perhaps if all of us took these words of the Rebbe seriously and acted on them properly, we would already see it with fleshly eyes.  It’s still not too late — “Today, if you will heed his voice“.

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.

Eikev 5751: To Awaken Hashem to Bring the Geuloh

This Shabbos blesses the upcoming month of Elul.  Elul is an acronym (rashei teivos) for “Ani leDodi v’Dodi Li“, which means “I am for my beloved, and my beloved is for me”.  First comes “I am for my beloved”, the effort that comes from below (from us towards Hashem), using our own powers (avodah b’koach atzmo).

This is related to the fundamental concept of creation: Hashem wants to give us the opportunity to earn our reward, to avoid the embarrassment of receiving “bread of shame” (nahma d’kisufa).  This requires not only that we do what we are supposed to do, but that we do it in a way of yegia, exertion, using our own powers.  And more than that, to go beyond what we are accustomed to do and serve Hashem with exceptional effort.  Through this (the effort of “Ani leDodi“) we cause the response: “v’Dodi li“, an awakening from Above and a drawing down from Above to below.

Not only is this a fundamental aspect of our task in life, it also applies even when a Yid has arrived at the end of his avodah (represented by Elul, the last of the months of the year).  Because in Elul we have both the “below to Above” and the resulting “Above to below”, and it is specifically when the Jew does the avodah from his own powers that it draws down from Above in a way that it is internalized (b’pnimiyus).  This is also hinted at in the final letter of the alef-beis, the letter Tav, which has a numerical value of 400 which alludes to the “400 shekel kesef” with which Avraham Avinu purchased the cave of Machpela to bury his wife Sara.  These 400 shekel represent, according to Chassidus, a powerful longing (“kesef”, silver, related to “kisufim”, longing) for Divine revelation.

Although the emphasis here is on our avodah from below, which is the avodah of the body, we really must have as well the avodah from Above which is the avodah of the neshoma.  The difference between them is that the avodah from below takes place in a measured way, an orderly progression from level to level.  In fact, even the revelation of the neshoma from Above must be according to the limitations of the body.  We cannot “overload the circuit” in our intense desire to reveal the neshoma, but rather the revelation of the neshoma occurs in accordance with the body’s ability to contain it.

Having said all that, the Rebbe proceeds to state that all which we have needed to do has been done.

The only thing which remains is – that the Holy One, blessed be He, will take out Bnei Yisroel from the golus and bring them to the Holy Land… and therefore Yidden request and shout again and again – and now even more powerfully than before – “Ad Mosai”?!  How much longer?!

The ultimate goal being the true and complete Geuloh (from Above to below) which will arrive at a unification of both aspects, that the lowest thing – golus – will become Geuloh – “gola” with the addition of an “alef”.  Even though the ultimate level comes from Above, and is dependent on Hashem, nonetheless the Geuloh is in our hands:

A Yid has the power to awaken himself, and to awaken other Yidden, and mainly to awaken, so to speak, the Holy One, blessed be He….  A Yid receives (in this place [770] and in this time [the Rebbe’s farbrengen]) the greatest potential, and thus he has both the greatest merit and obligation to request and to shout to the Almighty: Ad Mosai”?!  How much longer?!…Since we have already finished all the matters of “our deeds and our work”, and consequently we are shouting and demanding  “Ad Mosai”.  Immediately the question is asked: since all the matters have already been accomplished – how could it be that Moshiach still didn’t come?!…

The Rebbe proceeds to answer his own question by saying that since Moshiach still hasn’t come, then there might be one more thing that needs to be done, possibly in the area of spreading Chassidus, since Moshiach told the Baal Shem Tov that he will come when the wellsprings of the Baal Shem Tov spread forth.  Perhaps there is one more thing left to do, to reach those who are blind.  And this has been accomplished by the publication of the Tanya in Braille.  So since we did the last thing, Moshiach must come immediately.

Here we see clearly the Rebbe’s approach:  asserting that everything has been completed; but, even so, if Moshiach still hasn’t been revealed it  have means that we must try one more thing and maybe this will arouse Hashem to bring the Geuloh.  And surely this final thing will bring Moshiach, for if not — Ad Mosai”?!  How much longer?!

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 Geulah, 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 Geulah — 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 have control over 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 tjhat 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!