The Decree is Nullified? But…

The Decree is Nullified? But…

What does it mean that a decree has been nullified?

In many places, including the Dvar Malchus sicha of Tetzaveh, the Rebbe uses the expression that Haman’s decree was nullified (ביטול גזירת המן).  This expression is actually quite surprising.  Where in the Megillas Esther do we see that the King’s order containing Haman’s evil decree was rescinded?  The Megillah actually tells us the opposite: Haman’s decree was sealed with the King’s ring, and “a writ that is written in the name of the king and sealed with the king’s ring cannot be rescinded.”  What actually happened was that the King issued a follow-up decree: the right of the Jews “to assemble and to protect themselves, to destroy, to slay, and to cause to perish the entire host of every people and province that oppress them.” (Esther 8:11).  The original decree of Haman remained in full force (“cannot be rescinded”), and still the Rebbe calls this the nullification of Haman’s decree?

If we examine this, we will see how it is very relevant to the Geuloh and the sichos of Dvar Malchus.

The question is: how can Haman’s decree be considered to have been nullified?  There are two aspects to the answer.

Firstly, the intention behind Haman’s decree was nullified via the issuing of the second decree.  By giving the Jews in his Kingdom the right to defend themselves and despoil their oppressors, the original intent of Haman’s decree has been nullified and replaced (even though the decree itself could not be rescinded).  The second way of explaining it is that nothing changed until the actual fighting and victory of the Jews on 13 Adar — up until that point it was all “theoretical”.  We look at the reality on the ground.

The greatness of Purim is explained by the Alter Rebbe in Torah Ohr as connected with the self-sacrifice (mesirus nefesh) of the Yidden over the course of an entire year.  Haman’s decree to “to destroy, kill, and cause to perish all the Jews” was decreed to take place “on one day, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar”.  From the time Haman’s decree was issued (in Nissan) until the following 13th of Adar was almost a full year.  The sword of destruction was held over their heads for full year, and yet nobody thought to deny his Jewishness in order to save himself — this mesirus nefesh is what the Alter Rebbe praises.

However, the “nullification” of Haman’s decree took place only two months after the original decree was issued.  “In the third month-that is the month of Sivan-on the twenty-third day thereof, and it was written according to all that Mordecai commanded.” (Megillah 8:9).  This means that the year of mesirus nefesh was for the most part after Haman’s decree had been “nullified”.   Yet, the Megillah itself tells us that the second decree alone was enough to cause rejoicing — Mordechai went out in royal garments, and “the Jews had light and joy, and gladness and honor.”  The ten months from 23 Sivan until 13 Adar were ten months of light and joy?  Or ten months of fear and mesirus nefesh?  Seemingly both together.

What does this have to do with Geuloh?

In the sichos of Dvar Malchus, 5751-52, the Rebbe explains to us that the Moshiach is here, Geuloh is here, we are in Yemos Hamoshiach.  Yet the Rebbe also cries out from the fact that we are still in Golus, and Moshiach and the Geuloh haven’t come in actuality (b’poal mamash).  Chassidim are still arguing whether we are living in Golus or Geuloh.  But if we use the model of the Purim story, we can understand how to manage the paradox.

On the 13th of Nissan, Haman’s decree was issued.  Mordechai dressed in sackcloth and ashes, crying in the street, gathering 22,000 Jewish children to fast and learn Torah.  Esther made the two feasts, after which Haman was hung on the gallows and the King gave his ring to Mordechai.  On 23 Sivan the new decree was sent out.  Mordechai dressed in royal garments and the Jews rejoiced.  Ten months later the date of 13 Adar approaches.  The sonei Yisroel start sharpening their weapons.  The reality looks very much like Golus at its worst.

A Jew who lives with what his eyes see can be filled with apprehension and fear, “Hashem — save us!”  But a Jew who lives on Mordechai’s dimension understands that Hashem already did His part ten months earlier!  The Geuloh is already here, but it has to be realized in actuality.  The Jews still have to take advantage of the 2nd decree, to actually “assemble and to protect themselves, to destroy, to slay, and to cause to perish the entire host of every people and province that oppress them.”  Hashem’s done His part; now it’s up to you!

The 13th of Adar looks like we’re still in a Golus world.  But Mordechai has already given us the power of Geuloh: to overcome this apparent Golus and reveal that the Geuloh became a reality back on the 23rd of Sivan.  A reality, yes, but still abstract and theoretical.  But one who holds by the “theory” will know what to do to make this Geuloh a reality — boldly take his weapons in hand and go out to face the enemies with confidence.  One who is overwhelmed by what his eyes see will want to lock himself up in his house, shut off the lights, and hope they don’t see him.  He might beg Hashem to save him, or he might think of ways to appease the enemies — either way, he remains in Golus despite the fact that Mordechai has put the Geuloh in his hands.

We are standing on the 13th of Adar!  Mordechai of our generation, the Rebbe Melech haMoshiach, has already sent out the decree of Geuloh, and has also given us the weapons: Chassidus, Mivtzoyim, Hakhkel, Shlichus.  And the Rebbe said “it must be done by you and by you and by you!”  What is required is that each one of us understand and internalize the Rebbe’s message (the “direct path”), and through this each one will realize that he can and must do his part to bring the Geuloh from abstract theory to reality, to reveal the Geuloh  b’poel mamash!

יחי אדוננו מורנו ורבינו מלך המשיח לעולם ועד

War in Ukraine and Swords Into Plowshares?

War in Ukraine and Swords Into Plowshares?

If you have learned the sicha of Mishpotim 5752 (or read our overview of the sicha), then you already know the Rebbe’s declaration from over 30 years ago that we have already entered “a new epoch in international relations — eliminating a situation of wars between states of the world, illustrated by the reduction and destruction of weaponry…”.  The Rebbe repeats several times throughout the sicha the term “nation-states of the world” (מדינות העולם).  This indicates that in the new epoch there won’t necessarily be a complete end to bloodshed or fighting, but that the conflicts will not be between one state and another (as was the case throughout history).

In fact, since this sicha was said, wars between states have become almost completely non-existent.  True, there have been many bloody conflicts: civil wars, rebel insurgencies, and wars on terror continued to claim victims.  But wars between states?  Almost completely extinct!  The Rebbe’s words have had tangible proof!  (see chart:)

However, on the 24th of Adar, 5782 (2022) something happened which seemed to disturb the fulfillment of the words of the prophet Yeshayahu about “nation not raising sword against nation”: the Russian army invaded Ukraine.  A clear war between nation-states.  A clear case of the “old world order” where a country with a grievance against another country takes matters into its own hands via military power.  Many felt a need to confront the question: How does this war in Ukraine fit with what the Rebbe says in the sicha?

On the face of it, the war in Ukraine definitely seems like a “bump in the road” that demands explanation.  But with a little background, we will see that there really isn’t a question here.  To explain:

If we return to the year 5751 (corresponding to 1990/1991) we find ourselves looking at the Persian Gulf war.  Iraq, led by Saddam Hussein, claimed that the independent state of Kuwait was not truly an independent nation but rather historic Iraqi territory.  Iraq attacked and conquered Kuwait.  In response, a coalition of some 35 countries joined together, supported by United Nations sanctions, to drive Iraq out of Kuwait and restore the Gulf nation’s sovereignty.  In effect they were saying: “the Lubavitcher Rebbe has announced that wars between states have been eliminated, therefore we won’t tolerate your invasion of Kuwait!”

The fighting — Operation Desert Storm — began on Rosh Chodesh Shvat, 5751.  A few days later, Shabbos Parshas Bo, the Rebbe spoke about the events at the farbrengen in 770.  Among other things, the Rebbe spoke about the “King of  Bovel” (seemingly a reference to Saddam Hussein) — that they destroyed his palace, he is on the run without communication with his armies, he wanders from place to place without rest, his existence is in danger.  In fact, the coalition had no plans to depose Saddam, who was at that time comfortably ordering the firing of SCUD missiles at Israel from his military command center.  What the Rebbe described at the farbrengen did not match the reality.  One of the transcribers of the Rebbe’s sichos, YY Jacobson, tells that he received a phone call that night from the Rebbe’s secretary Leibel Groner.  He was told, in the name of the Rebbe, that they should not publicize the parts of the Sicha that spoke about the war.*  The Rebbe had said  “the time will yet come” (“עוד חזון למועד” — a posuk from the Novi Chavakuk regarding the Geuloh).

As is known, the Gulf war ended after about six weeks.  Saddam Hussein’s army had been defeated, but Saddam himself remained firmly and ruthlessly in power.  A year later, 5752, the Rebbe spoke and edited the Sicha of Mishpotim, where he states that the world has entered “a new epoch in international relations — eliminating a situation of wars between states of the world.”

Eleven years later (12 years to the day (Purim) that the first Gulf War ended), the second Gulf War was launched.  This time, Saddam Hussein was the target and he was indeed forced to flee his palace, fleeing from place to place, hiding, out of contact with his military — exactly the details the Rebbe had said in the sicha of 5751!

What this means to us is that when the Rebbe edited the sicha of Mishpotim for publication in 5752, he knew full-well that the there would be another war in Iraq.  When the Rebbe publicized that the world has entered “a new epoch in international relations — eliminating a situation of wars between states of the world”, this clearly did not mean that there would never again be another war between states!

Thus, the question as to how Russia could invade Ukraine doesn’t even begin to be a question.  Especially when we find that the response of the world to the war in Ukraine is very similar to what occurred in 5751: the nations of the world refuse to accept that one state can invade another state, and are using many and various methods (military, economic, etc.) to “convince” Vladimir Putin to end his military operations and resolve his issues without warfare.

To summarize: the sicha of Mishpotim 5752 is not telling us that wars between one state and another are already extinct (since the Rebbe knew that there would be another invasion of Iraq) but rather that among the nations of the world this is no longer acceptable behavior.  They refused to accept it when Saddam Hussein did it.  They are refusing to accept it now that Vladimir Putin is doing it.  The world has truly entered a new epoch, and in fact the war in Ukraine provides proof that the Rebbe’s words are true and eternal!

* The Rebbe’s editorial staff released this “hidden sicha” at the time of the second Gulf War (5763/2003).  It was translated and published in English, but I haven’t been able to find it on the internet.  Here is a link to the “hidden sicha” in loshon hakodesh: Hidden Sicha of Bo 5751_LAHAK

Hakhel Year – a Ketz?

Hakhel Year – a Ketz?

We are presently in a year of Hakhel.  The Rebbe demands from each one of us to be a “Hakhel Yid”: to utilize every opportunity to make Hakhel gatherings of Jews which strengthen Yiras Shomayim, encourage Mitzah observance, and increase Jewish unity.  The Rebbe’s shturem about these activities is known, but why such a shturem?  With a fuller understanding of the subject, we can, with Hashem’s help, give ourselves over to the Rebbe’s inyan of Hakhel with even greater inner chayus (in addition to loyal kabbolos ‘ol).

First, let us note that Hakhel is not a time period, it is an event.  An event which occurs once every seven years in the year after a Shmitta year, the year called Motzei Shvi’is.1  Hakhel is a mitzvah which is performed in the year of Motzei Shvi’is.  By understanding more about Motzei Shvi’is, we can understand better the role of mitzvas Hakhel.

At this point, let us note some of the dramatic events that occurred in Hakhel years:

  • 5713 — all of Russian Jewry was in danger from Stalin’s “Doctor’s Plot“, nd they were miraculously saved upon the sudden death of Stalin as a result of that year’s Purim farbrengen.
  • 5727 — the Jews of Eretz Yisroel were threatened by five Arab armies, and miraculously saw the great victory of Six Day War.
  • 5734 — the deadly surprise attack of the Yom Kippur war, which turned into a miraculous victory (“bigger than the Six Day War” said the Rebbe).
  • 5741 — Eretz Yisroel was facing the threat of a nuclear reactor in Iraq, until the successful bombing of that reactor by the Israeli Air Force.

Also interesting to note that the four times that 770 Eastern Parkway, the Rebbe’s shul, was expanded took place in Hakhel years: 5720, 5727, 5733 (finished by erev Rosh Hashanah 5734, the Hakhel year), and 5748 (the laying of the cornerstone (“even hapina”) for the most recent expansion).  But what’s the connection with Hakhel? Continue reading

Lech Lecho: The 3 Nations and Geuloh

Lech Lecho: The 3 Nations and Geuloh

We present this worked-over translation of a maamer of the Tzemach Tzedek to give a deeper understanding of the land of the 3 nations mentioned in Dvar Malchus and the connection to Geuloh.

The Borders of the Land of Israel in the Future

We are promised in the Torah that in the time to come the Jewish people will receive the land of Israel consisting not only of the land of the 7 nations of Canaan but also the land of the three nations of Edom, Moav, and Amon (the Keni, Kenizi and Kadmoni).

This being so, we are confronted with a question: The prophecy of Yechezkiel describes the borders of the land of Israel as they will be in the time to come, but in his prophecy they are clearly defined as being the same borders as were conquered by Yehoshua ‐‐ the land of only 7 nations. His prophecy is about the time to come: why doesn’t he mention the lands of the other 3 nations?

This is also connected to the additional three refuge cities (arei miklat) which we are instructed to establish in those lands. These refuge cities are, in turn, associated with the rectification of Hevel.  Kayin was able to kill Hevel because Hevel was already condemned to death (“chayav misa“) for having “gazed at the shechina” while offering his sacrifice.

Chazal (Sanhedrin, 98a) explain the verse “in its time I will hasten it” (“B’itah Achishena“) as referring to two distinct end times (ketz, plural: kitzin): “if they merit, I will hurry it (Achishena), if they don’t merit, [Hashem will bring the Geuloh] in its time (B’itah)”. If the ketz comes in its last possible moment ‐‐ B’itah ‐‐ all the descendants of Hevel will be rectified. But, if the Jewish people will merit to the redemption before the ketz of the rectification Hevel is completed, then there will be need for refuge cites (arei miklat) for those (descendants of Kayin) who will kill accidentally (but not intentionally).

[Important to note what is explained in Chassidus: that the rectification of the souls that derive from Hevel are the basis of “refining the sparks of holiness”, the “avoidas habirurim“, which the Jewish people accomplish during the time of golus. See also Toras Chayim, Shemos II, 277a.]

Achishena — An Awakening from Below

In order to understand this matter of B’itah and Achishena, we find that chazal say “the woman conceives first and a male is born; the man conceives first and a female is born.” This means that when Knesses Yisroel (the collective soul of the Jewish people) will “conceive first”, which is the aspect of “elevating the feminine waters” (hala’as ma”n) from below to above, like the yearning of the woman for her husband, then this awakening from below will generate the awakening from Above which draws down the masculine waters (hamshachas ma”d) from a very lofty level so that a male will be born, meaning a higher level [than a female].

We are talking here about the avoidah that gives birth to love in the Jewish people, a male child representing “great love” (ahava raba). But, if the man (Hashem) will conceive first, then a female will be born, meaning the aspect of love [of Hashem] in order to receive a reward in Gan Eden (see Likkutei Torah, Tazria, “Sos Tasis“).

So, too, in our case: if the ketz will be via the awakening of Knesses Yisroel, meaning that through the awakening from below there will be an awakening from Above to speed up the matter before its time, which is the aspect of Achishena, then Hashem will widen the borders and we will inherit the land of the Keni, Knizi and Kadmoni. But, if it will be the man conceiving first, meaning the ketz will come due to an awakening from Above in its (pre‐determined) time, then the borders of the land will remain unchanged, as in the prophecy of Yechezkiel, and the lands of the three nations will be left a desolate wasteland.

Refining the Sparks (Avodas Habirurim)

To explain this matter: the shattering of the vessels occurred primarily in the 7 midos of Tohu (the emotions), but not so much in the Kesser, Chochma and Bina (intellect and super‐intellect) of Tohu.  Thus, as regards their rectification, which is the avoidas habirurim performed by the Jewish people down in this world via Torah and Mitzvos, this is performed on the 7 midos.  At the same time, the three dimensions of Kesser, Chochma and Bina of Tohu are being rectified together with them.

According to this, it would be fitting that the Jewish people should inherit these lands when they finish the task of refining the 7 midos of Tohu; however, this depends on the actions of the Jews in this world, whether it will be “in its time” or “I will hasten it” (B’itah or Achishena, which was explained above as dependent on whether there is first an awakening from below). The expression “inheriting these lands” means the revelation of the good found in the aspect of Kesser, Chochma and Bina of Tohu.

[In other words, we have two factors: the avoidas habirurim and the awakening from below. If the avoidah is finished before there is an awakening from below, this is called B’itah. If the awakening occurs before the avoidah is completed, this is called Achishena. This determines the inheritance of the land.]

Inheriting the Land of the 7 or the 10 Nations?

If the good that is in them will be revealed in a tangible way in the Jewish people, then these lands will be considered part of the Land of Israel and this will take place in the simple sense as well. But, if we will not inherit these lands, then the gentiles in those places will (as stated in the prophecies) be wiped out along with the evil that is there, however, the lofty good that is there will not be revealed directly; rather, it will only be revealed through being enclothed in the 7 midos (the land of the 7 nations of Canaan). Which case will take place depends on the actions of the Jewish people down in this world.

If we bring about Achishena, an awakening from below (hala’as ma”n), the woman conceives first: this will cause a drawing down from below (hamshachas ma”d) and the inheriting of the 3 lands of Kesser, Chochma and Bina of Tohu, and the good that has been refined from them will actually shine forth there. Those lands will be considered as part of the land of Israel, and physically the borders of Israel will reflect this.

However, if it will be B’itah, from Above, even though the spirit of impurity will be removed, nonetheless the good in them will not be revealed; rather, it will only appear through being enclothed in he midos, the land of the 7 nations. In such a case, the lands of the 3 nations will be left desolate.

[We could explain that these revelations will not have a vessel in which to be revealed. These levels of lofty understanding cannot be revealed in the regular vessels of intellect which we presently possess.  Thus, they will only be revealed in the midos, like a person who feels strongly attracted to something or feel vehemently against something without understanding the reason.]

Why Yechezkiel Saw a Future of the Land of 7 Nations

Since the expansion of the land of Israel to include the 3 lands is dependent on the ketz being in a way of Achishena (love that derives from an awakening from below, as explained above), this is why Yechezkiel’s prophecy describes only the land of the 7 nations: because he prophesied about the final ketz which is the ketz B’itah where the borders of the land of Israel remain as they were in the days of Yehoshua.

We notice that in the prophecy of Yechezkiel, the land is divided into 13 sections. The question is: how do we arrive at the number 13 when there are only 10 sefiros? The answer is that the 7 midos each possesses 3 moichin (the Chabad of the midos, bringing to 10) and further the Kesser, Chochma and Bina of Tohu are enclothed in them in a hidden way (bringing to a total of 13).

Thus, we see that the prophecy of Yechezkiel is on the ketz B’itah wherein Kesser, Chochma and Bina will be enclothed in the 7 midos in a hidden way, because the awakening is from Above, that the supernal Man conceives first and there will not be an actual inheritance of the 3 lands. But, afterwards, in the days of Moshiach, through the avoidah of Yisroel they will arrive and merit after several years to the aspect of Achishena, inheriting the 3 lands as part of the land of Israel, until the good in Kesser, Chochma and Bina of Tohu will be actually revealed there.

We see from this maamar of the Tzemach Tzedek that if the Jewish people finish avoidas habirurim but still have not had an “awakening from below” on their own, then the Geuloh arrives but they lack the vessels to perceive the lights of Tohu that have been refined from level of Kesser, Chochma, and Bina of Tohu. If this occurs, then they will have to do the avoidah in Yemos Hamoshiach in order to reach the level where they will “inherit the land of the Keni, Kenizi and Kadmoni”, meaning a revelation of the lights of Tohu in a revealed way.

This explains the assertion of the Rebbe that:

  1. Avoidas habirurim has been completed,
  2. We only need shout “ad Mosai”, to open our eyes to see that the Geuloh is here, and
  3. That we are presently found in Yemos Hamoshiach.

Based on the maamor of the Tzemach Tzedek printed in Ohr HaTorah, Bereishis, page 1167 תתשסז

This article in downloadable PDF format

Noach Saw a New World (Audio)

Noach Saw a New World (Audio)

….So the “new world” that Noach saw was not a new form of creation, but a new perception: he could now perceive how the world of Elokim is really a world of YKVK.  It was recognizable and revealed to him.  He saw the same world but in an entirely new way, thus he saw a “new world”….


Noach “Saw a New World”

Noach “Saw a New World”

The opening verse in Parshas Noach says that “נֹ֗חַ אִ֥ישׁ צַדִּ֛יק תָּמִ֥ים הָיָ֖ה בְּדֹֽרֹתָ֑יו” “Noach was a righteous man, he was perfect in his generations”.  The Midrash on this posuk (Midrash Rabba Noach, 30:8) says in the name of R’ Levi: “Whoever it is said about them ‘he was’ saw a new world.”  The Midrash then enumerates five individuals, the first being Noach, citing that when he and his family exited the ark, they saw a new world.

In what sense did Noach see a new world?  Obviously, it was the same Earth, although following the waters of the flood surely the surface of the Earth looked different than it did previously.  And of course, the evildoers who populated the Earth previously were no longer around.  But can we really say that this is what it means to see a “new world”?

The Rebbe, in the sicha of Noach 5752, clues us in to what is being implied here according to pnimiyus haTorah:

In the creation of the world, the Torah refers to Hashem using two names: YKVK and Elokim.  YKVK is G-dliness that is above the world.  Elokim is the name which indicates concealment, allowing independent-feeling worlds to come into existence.  In the words of Tehillim: “The Sun and a shield [these are the names] YKVK [and] Elokim”.  The name YKVK is the emanation of worlds, the infinite “light” of the worlds, and Elokim is the “shield” or “filter” that conceals the light in order that finite worlds can come into existence.

“That in the reality of the world as it is created via the name Elokim is revealed the name YKVK, until it is recognizable in a revealed way that “YKVK is Elokim” (הוי’ הוא האלקים), that in truth the contraction and concealment (Elokim)  are really the name YKVK. הצמצום וההסתר (אלקים) הוא לאמיתתו שם הוי-ה

(Sicha Parshas Noach, 5752)

Meaning that the world is still the same world that was created via the name Elokim, only that it becomes revealed that really even this name Elokim is just a reduction of the light of YKVK, but not something independent or separate.

So the “new world” that Noach saw was not a new form of creation, but a new perception: he could now perceive how the world of Elokim is really a world of YKVK.  It was recognizable and revealed to him.  He saw the same world but in an entirely new way, thus he saw a “new world”.

We can use this to understand many things the Rebbe is trying to tell us in these Dvar Malchus sichos, giving us the tools to “open our eyes”, including the subject of last week’s sicha regarding “servitude to the nations”.  Over there the Rebbe explains how there is servitude to the nations in the time of Golus, but that this servitude does not extend to our neshomas, nor to our bodies as regards matters of Torah and mitzvos.  And even those things where we must follow the law of the land because “dina d’malchusa dina” (the law of the land is the law) is not because we are in servitude to the nations of the world, but because this is how Hashem wants it to be in the time of Golus.

In those short paragraphs, the Rebbe has opened our eyes to a “new world”: a world where there is no servitude to the nations, which is the definition of (the first period of) the Days of Moshiach!  In other words, if one is in a personal Golus and in fact believes that the Jewish people is in servitude to the nations, then in fact he is in such a state, r”l.  But when one internalizes what the Rebbe says there, he discovers that not only our neshomas and our bodies (as regards performing Torah and Mitzvos) are not in servitude to the nations, even those areas where we do go according to their decisions (monetary matters and the like) — this is not due to any form of “servitude” but rather it is Hashem’s will!  So by following civil monetary law, we are in fact fulfilling Hashem’s will no less than in other halachic matters!  Externally, it is the same Golus, but the Rebbe has given us the tools to “see through” the darkness of Golus and realize that the concealment of the name Elokim (Golus) is really coming from YKVK — a new world!

This is one example of many to be found in Chassidus in general, the Rebbe’s teachings in particular, and the Dvar Malchus sichos most especially.  By making these changes in our perception and understanding of the world, we place ourselves in a state of Geulah even while the world “continues in its natural way”.  This is the beginning of Yemos Hamoshiach, each one coming to the realization based on his own efforts to internalize these concepts.

Re’eh: It’s All Good, Including the Curses!

Re’eh: It’s All Good, Including the Curses!

Our parsha begins with the verse “Behold (re’eh), I am placing before you today a blessing and a curse.”  The Rebbe, very noticeably, does not include that last word (“curse”) when discussing the verse in our Sicha.  The point will become clear as we examine how the Rebbe illustrates this with a story from the gemora.

In tractate Moed Koton the gemora tells how Rebbi Shimon, the famous Rashbi, instructed his son Elazar to approach two sages they encountered and to request their blessings.  Elazar obeyed his father and asked them for their blessings.  The two sages were happy to oblige, but their blessings don’t sound like blessings at all!  Among their choice words: “You should sow but not reap… confusion should reign at your table…” — These are blessings?!

The son returned to his father and complained that not only didn’t these sages give him blessings, but their words left him disturbed!  Rashbi asked his son what they said, and he told him.  Rashbi then proceeded to “translate” for his son the blessings hidden behind the words (“you should bear sons and they should not die… Confusion should reign at your table due to being blessed with many children.”)

This episode serves as an example for how the Rebbe is interpreting the verse in our parsha:

First of all, we must appreciate and understand that everything that Hashem places before us is actually blessing, including those things that appear to us as the opposite of blessings.  Additionally, we need to appreciate that when we don’t see the blessing it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist, but rather that it is concealed.  There are revealed blessings and concealed blessings. 

Why would Hashem place before us something that doesn’t appear like a blessing? 

The Rebbe answers that this is because concealed blessings are actually much greater!  (As we will declare in the time of the Geuloh — “thank You Hashem that you displayed anger with me”, Yeshayahu 12:1)   Revealed blessings are given from Above to below, like a free gift.  But there is a higher level of blessing that comes through transforming the “curse” to a “blessing” — via the avoidah of the Yid down below.  The Rebbe brings the words of the Tzemach Tzedek: “…just as tshuvah is higher than the aspect of a Tzaddik, [so, too] through this that the darkness is transformed to light [via tshuvah]…this that the evil is transformed to good this is higher than the level of good itself.”  Although it appears as darkness and evil — a curse — this is only externally; its true inner dimension is actually a blessing.  So, in fact, there are no real curses — only concealed blessings that need to be transformed externally to reveal their inner, hidden intent.

This might not sound new to those who have learned the 11th epistle in Igeres Hakodesh in sefer haTanya.  There, the Alter Rebbe writes: 

In fact, however, no evil descends from above and everything is good, though it is not apprehended because of its immense and abundant goodness. And this is the essence of the faith for which man was created: to believe that “There is no place void of Him” and “In the light of the King’s countenance there is life,”… By believing this truly, everything becomes good even in appearance.

It seems that the Rebbe is just offering us an additional explanation of concepts that we have been learning for over 200 years.  There is, however, a small but very significant change in wording between the Alter Rebbe in Tanya and the Rebbe in Dvar Malchus.  The Alter Rebbe uses the terminology of “belief”: “the faith for which man was created, to believe….  By believing this….”.  Belief, emunah, is a lofty power of the soul, higher than intellect.  By definition one believes in something when he does not have knowledge of that thing and does not understand it (knowledge and understanding — powers of the intellect).  The Alter Rebbe teaches how a Jew must believe that everything is good because he cannot know or understand this intellectually.  The Rebbe, however, takes us on a quantum leap:

It is possible and is necessary that it be not only on the level of “hearing”, but also on the level of “seeing”… all the aspects of blessings, both revealed blessings and also the most concealed blessings…  This means to say that the approach to the general avoidah of the person is with a knowledge and recognition [emphasis added] that in his inner dimension he is given the revelation of the aspect of “I am Who I am” [Hashem’s essence, enabling him to serve Hashem without limitation, such as the apparent limitation of concealed blessings]… 

The Rebbe is telling us a tremendous chiddush in fitting with the general tone of the Dvar Malchus sichos and the crucial message that avoidas habirurim has been finished.  The chiddush is as follows:

It has always been true that everything is good and no evil descends from Above.  However, at the time the Alter Rebbe wrote the Tanya the human intellect was not yet able to truly grasp this.  Thus, we were instructed to simply believe that the apparent “curses” were in fact blessings.  In our generation, the Rebbe informs us that we already have “a heart to know, eyes to see, and ears to hear”, and demands of us not only to believe but to know and recognize that the “curses” are actually concealed blessings.  And even more than that: to see that the concealed blessings are not really curses.  (Based on the opening word of the verse: re’eh = “behold”). 

What was not possible for the generation of the Alter Rebbe (and thus was not demanded of them) is possible for us, and thus demanded of us!  And the Rebbe has already explained that the “direct way” to accomplish all of these things is by learning Chassidus, the inner dimension of Torah (which opens our eyes to the inner dimension of reality), and particularly the subjects of Moshiach and Geuloh which draw the light of Geuloh into the vessels of our intellect (as noted in Kuntres 15 Menachem Av).  Fulfill the Rebbe’s instructions and you yourself will see only blessings, and you will succeed to transform even the most deeply concealed blessings to revealed good!

Golus — Even While the Light of Geuloh is Shining?

The human eye can perceive light.  But only when it has a wavelength between approximately 380 nanometers (seen as violet) and 750 nanometers (seen as red). But these light rays are only a small fraction of the very broad spectrum of rays that exist, from 0.0001 nanometers in wavelength to a full meter.  This covers Gamma rays, x-rays, ultraviolet, infrared, microwaves, and radio waves — none of which the human eye can perceive.

But this is not a science lesson — what does it have to do with Geuloh?

We will see that it is a basis for understanding how the Rebbe can say that the Geuloh is here, all the end times have passed, and yet we remain in golus.  On the face of it, there is no logical basis to say that something co-exists with its opposite.  Geuloh is the opposite of golus.  If we have one, we perforce do not have the other.  But let us look at what the Rebbe writes in the maamor of Kuntres 15 Menachem Av 5751 which opens with the words “An end was set for the darkness” (“Keitz sam l’choshech“) (originally spoken by the Rebbe on Tisha B’Av (nidcheh) 5724, twenty seven years earlier).

In section 9 of the maamor, the Rebbe describes the end (“ketz“) of the darkness of golus, which is brought about by a revelation of a new aspect of light (“ohr chodosh“).  This aspect of light has no connection with the world, and thus it is capable of completely nullifying the darkness (unlike the aspect of light which illuminates the worlds, which can only “push away” the darkness, but cannot nullify it.)  The Rebbe writes:

We must understand, seemingly, […] in the future Geuloh the darkness of golus will be nullified, because then there will be a revelation of a new light above connection with the worlds.  However, the world itself (as it is in its parameters, including the revelations that are connected to the worlds) will remain in golus, chas v’sholom.

The Rebbe is saying that the Geuloh is a revelation of a new light that, seemingly, cannot be perceived or grasped by the world since this light is completely beyond any connection with the world.  In other words, the Rebbe describes a Geuloh (=revelation of the new light) where the world remains in golus!  To use the example of the light-waves: even if someone will direct a tremendous burst of infrared light in your eyes, you won’t even blink because the wavelength of infrared is beyond the realm of human sight — your eyes are simply incapable of perceiving infrared light no matter how strong it might be.  The light is shining, and you will remain in darkness — Geuloh is here yet you are in golus!

In other words: the light of Geuloh is in fact here, but it hasn’t penetrated your senses yet and thus you remain in golus which means that the true and complete Geuloh didn’t happen yet.

The Rebbe introduced this concept with the word “seemingly”, which means that this won’t be the end of the story.  And the Rebbe continues:

Thus, it is understood that even though the nullification of the darkness of golus comes from the essence of the light, higher than the light which illuminates the worlds, nonetheless, the Geuloh will be (also) in the parameters of the world.  This is because the revelation of the essence of the light that will be in the future Geuloh will shine in a revealed way also in the light that illumines the worlds, and through this — in the worlds [themselves].

A big relief!  Seemingly, the worlds could remain in the darkness of golus even when the light of Geuloh is shining.  But, in fact, this “new light” will also illumine in the worlds, as described.  We might think that by writing this, the Rebbe is simply uprooting the “seemingly”, telling us that it is not part of the equation at all.  But, in the following (and final) section of the maamar, the Rebbe explains how the “new light” will shine in the worlds (which “seemingly” is not possible, since it is beyond connection with the parameters of the worlds):

…also the nullification of the darkness that will be in the future Geuloh will be in the world in its inner dimension (“b’pnimiyuso”).  That even though the nullification of the darkness that will be in the future comes about because of the revelation of a new light which is beyond connection with worlds, nonetheless, the world will be a vessel also for this light.  And through this will be fulfilled the intent for a dwelling place for Him, may He be blessed, in the lower worlds, that the lower (within its own parameters) will be a dwelling place for His essence.

The key words here are that the nullification of darkness “will be in the world b’pnimiyuso” — meaning that it will not be obvious, rather you will have to look for it “b’pnimiyus”, and “the world will be a vessel also for this light”.  This means that it is not “automatic” that the light of the Geuloh will also illuminate in the world (and automatically nullify the “seemingly” problematic “golus amidst Geuloh” issue) — rather, it comes about through our avoidoh.  Not only do we have avoidoh which draws down and reveals the “new light”, we also have an avoidoh which is to make ourselves (and the world) a vessel for perceiving this “new light”, and an avoidoh to “open our eyes” to this new perception.

(At the farbrengen of Parshas Mishpotim, 5714, the Rebbe told a story of the Rebbe Maharash taking his son (the Rebbe Rashab) on a tour of the heavenly realms.  Among the “sights” they saw was a chossid sitting in a brightly lit heavenly chamber with his eyes closed.  The great light in his chamber was generated by the many chapters of Tanya this chossid had memorized. But, despite all that light, his eyes were closed: he was lacking understanding.  The lesson for us, explained the Rebbe, is that we need to open our eyes; not just to repeat from memory, but to understand what we are learning.)

If we go back to our example of the light-waves: imagine that a person could develop his power of sight so that he would be able to perceive also infrared wavelengths, and also ultraviolet wavelengths!  But even so, he still has to open his eyes in order to allow the light in see what was previously unseen. So, too, by us: we have rectified the vessels to receive the light of Elokus, we simply have to let that light in.

This is the “problem”: the Geuloh is here, the “new light” is shining, and we have even succeeded in making the world a vessel for this light.  But as the Rebbe famously said numerous times: we need to open our eyes.  The direct way to do this is through learning the subjects of Moshiach and Geuloh.*  Tanya explains that the “eyes of the soul” refer to chochma, which is Torah.  The Rebbe also alludes to this in the beginning of the maamor:

It is known that every revelation is via Torah (“Torah Ohr” — “the Torah is light”).  From this it is understood, that since the nullification of the darkness of the golus is via light, therefore, in order to draw closer and speed up even more the future Geuloh, this is via the study of Torah in the subject of the light.  (Footnote 14: in addition to the fact that Torah in general is light, in particular Pnimyus Hatorah — via the study of Torah in the subject of light this is brought about even more so.)

To summarize: The light of the Geuloh is inherently beyond our grasp, nonetheless we can make ourselves and the world a vessel to perceive it as it shines within the familiar light of this world.  However, this will be “b’pnimiyus“, and in order to open our eyes to grasp this new light we have to open our eyes — via Torah.  Via Torah, particularly Pnimiyus HaTorah, we can grasp the inner dimension of what we see in the parameters of our world* and identify and perceive that the light of Geuloh is shining there.  But until then, until we bring in the light of Pnimiyus HaTorah, it is possible that we can remain in the darkness of golus (b’chitzoniyus) even as the light of Geuloh is shining full force!

* As the Rebbe says in Dvar Malchus parshas Chukas: “Through understanding Pnimiyus Hatorah and the soul of the matter, one is able to see there also the hidden good, even though one does not see this revealed, or one even sees the opposite (the opposite of good).”