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!

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 honestly 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 (which demands that we also must have these tools) to understand and 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.

Kuntres 28 Sivan: I Will Show You Wonders Behind the Miracles

A Chassidic discourse on the verse “As in the days when you came out from Mitzrayim, I will show you wonders” was edited and distributed by the Rebbe on 28 Sivan, 5751 (50th anniversary of the Rebbe’s arrival to America together with the Rebbetzin).  The subject is the nature and varying levels of miracles and wonders in general, and particularly as they will be in the Messianic age.  This not only shares an obvious connection with the miraculous escape of the Rebbe and Rebbetzin from Europe to America 50 years earlier, but also with the year 5751 תנש”א, which the Rebbe repeatedly referred to as the year of “I will show you wonders” (the letters of the Jewish year — Nun-Alef — standing for the  Hebrew words in our verse “I will show you wonders.”)

First, we need to understand the varying levels of miracles: miracles above nature (transforming water into blood, splitting the sea), and miracles enclothed in nature.  Miracles enclothed in nature themselves divide into 3 types: where the miracle is recognizable (Purim, Chanukah); where nature conceals the miracle but there is still a recognition that something out of the ordinary occurred and one is obligated to thank Hashem (an ill person who is healed, a prisoner who is freed, etc); and the lowest level, where nature so completely obscures the miracle to the point that one doesn’t even recognize that a miracle occurred (אין בעל הנס מכיר בניסו).

The Rebbe proceeds to explain that the last type of miracle, unrecognizable from the ordinary process of nature, is actually the highest in it’s source, from the verse עושה נפלאות גדולות לבדו, the great wonders that Hashem does “alone”, no one knows about them.  It is from this level that the great wonders of the Messianic age will come, which will be wonders even compared to the wonders of Mitzrayim.  This can explain why the about the Messianic wonders it says “I will show you wonders” — because they will come from the high level which today are unrecognizable — Hashem will have to “show” us that they are wonders.

But, the Rebbe explains, this verse of “showing wonders” doesn’t only apply to miracles enclothed in nature, but also miracles above nature.  Those miracles will be wonders even in comparison to the wonders that were seen in coming out of Mitzrayim.  But we are left with a question: what need is there to “show” the wonder of a miracle so above nature that it is already a wonder?  The answer the Rebbe gives is amazing.  But to reach that answer, we have to first understand the following:

First, the difference between these miracles is the degree to which they are grasped by human intellect.  A wonder like the splitting of the sea is so beyond human comprehension that we cannot grasp it at all, we can only gaze at it speechlessly.  The more the miracle is enclothed in nature, the more we can grasp it intellectually; to understand not only what happened, but how it happened.  The Rebbe gives examples: we don’t understand how a dead person is brought back to life, we only know that before he was dead and now he is alive.  But looking at the miracle of Purim, for example, we can see exactly how the decree was abolished, or when a sick person is healed we can grasp how it was brought about through certain drugs.  From this out comes out that being enclothed in nature is really what reveals the miracle, making it accessable to the human intellect.  The ultimate form are the miracles that we don’t even recognize — they are so fully grasped by our intellect that there is no sense of wonder that would cause us to notice something unusual has happened, which would cause us to give thanks to Hashem.

Mitteler Rebbe asks a question on the miracles that are unrecognizable: since they derive from the lofty level of “Him alone” (לבדו), then how is or possible for anything to conceal them?  His answer is that, in fact, nothing can conceal them.  They are so fully and seamlessly revealed by nature that we can’t even recognize that something out of the ordinary has occurred!

But really, all miracles come from the Ohr Ein Sof; the difference of whether that are enclothed in nature or not depends on whether they are from the aspect of concealment within the Ohr Ein Sof (למעלה מעלה עד אין קץ), it the aspect of revelation (למטה מטה עד אין תכתית).  And all the wonders of the Messianic era will revealed, including those that derive from the aspect of concealment.

So, the wonders of the Messianic era will come from the highest levels, and will also be revealed even into the human intellect.  But more than that, the Rebbe explains that even the miracles of the Messianic era that will not be enclothed in nature (like the splitting of the sea and the river) will be in the following manner: not only the splitting of the sea will be seen openly, but the revelation [of Elokus] that brings about the splitting of the sea will be seen openly! (As by the splitting of the sea upon coming out of Mitzrayim, when everyone pointed with a finger and said “this is my G-d” (זה א-לי ואנוהו). While by Yetzias Mitzrayim this was a one-time event, in the Messianic era it will be the ongoing reality!)

So we find that the miracles of the Messianic era will be wonders, from a higher level than even the wonders of Yetzias Mitzrayim, and at the same time they will be able to be grasped by human intellect.  (And they will be seen in a way where the Divine revelation itself will be perceived!)  But how will nature — which derives from the Divine name Elokim which conceals G-dliness that is above world — be able to accommodate such a degree of revelation?  The Rebbe explains that  through avoidas habirurim, refining the Divine sparks that fell in physicality, the Jewish people effect a refinement of nature.  Nature itself becomes elevated  (עלית הטבע), so that instead of obscuring the level of G-dliness that is above the world, it becomes a vessel for that G-dliness to be revealed!

It will be interesting to note (for those who have learned the Sicha explaining the “New Torah That Will Go Forth From Me”) that the Rebbe references chapter 16 in Shaar HoEmuna by the Mitteler Rebbe.  There, the Mitteler Rebbe explains this same subject of miracles, and also the difference between the aspect of concealment within the Ohr Ein Sof (למעלה מעלה עד אין קץ), and the aspect of revelation (למטה מטה עד אין תכתית).  He brings out that these two aspects correspond to Halacha (revelation to the lowest levels) and Kabbala (hidden secrets above revelation). Through this reference we can tie together everything in our maamor (which seems to be speaking only about miracles and wonders in physical objects) with the concepts discussed in the Sicha explaining the “New Torah That Will Go Forth From Me” — the ability of Moshiach to draw down the loftiest secrets of Torah to the point where they become Halacha! 

But what is the connection between the secrets of Kabbala, rulings in Halacha, and miracles in the physical world?  As explained by the Rebbe elsewhere, a Halacha ruling (psak din) has an affect on the world, and thus we can understand that when Moshiach draws down the secrets of Torah into Halacha (unifying the aspect of concealment with that of revelation) that this causes the same effect in the physical world, resulting in miracles and wonders which themselves unify the levels of concealment and revelation — above nature and within nature, as explained in this maamor of 28 Sivan 

Kuntres 15 Sivan: True Hiskashrus

The Rebbe brings in the name of the Rebbe Maharash a Midrash which states: “The Holy One said to man, ‘my candle is in your hand, and the candle is in my hand; My candle in your hand is Torah… Your candle in My hand is the soul… If you guarded My candle, I guard your candle; but if you extinguished My candle, I extinguish your candle.'”. Although it may sound like a case of reward and punishment, the maamor explains it in a much deeper way:

The soul is likened to a candle because of its inherent nature to desire to rise up and be nullified in its source. This is accomplished by Aharon, who has the job to light the menorah until “the flame ascends of its own accord.”. Thus, the verse says “like good oil on the head descends on the beard the beard of Aharon…”. The beard of Aharon is the inyan of the halachos of Torah. This explains our midrash: that guarding the candle of Torah guards the soul that is desire to ascend should be revealed. This is accomplished via Torah.

As Chassidim we can understand that it refers to our hiskashrus to the Rebbe: that by guarding (learning and fulfilling) the Rebbe’s Torah we insure that our desire to be mekushar to the Rebbe remains revealed and is not extinguished, chas v’sholom. (Especially applicable in the period of concealment since Gimmel Tammuz.)

The emphasis here is on “keeping” the Torah, meaning fulfilling the Mitzvos (of course Talmud Torah itself being one of the Mitzvos). Because through Mitzvos one achieves bittul, and only when there is bittul can there be the resting of the Shechina on the body (the analogy of a candle brought in Tanya). And the ultimate level of bittul is acheived through fulfilling Mitzvos. This is why Parshas B’ha’aloshcha (“lightning the candles”) follows the festival of Shavuos, because the level of bittul that became possible after Matan Torah is far greater than what was before.

Even though the natural love of the soul for Hashem — to always be connected and never be separated even to the point is self-sacrifice — existed before Matan Torah, this love is an inheritance from the Avos, who possessed a level of Bittul called מרכבה a chariot. The chariot (the horses who pull it) fulfill the will of the rider not because they want that they should have a connection to the rider (like the natural love of the soul, mentioned above), but rather because they are bottel  nullified to the rider.

This level of Bittul of a מרכבה chariot is included (hidden) in the natural love the soul possesses. It is a level of bittul where he does not want anything for himself, only that there should be a revelation of G-dliness in the world, fulfilling Hashem’s desire for a Dwelling Place down below.

But, explains the Rebbe, even this is not the ultimate state of bittul. Because as long as he wants something — even just to fulfill the Divine desire — he remains a metzius. The “true inyan of bittul” is the avoidah of Kabbolas ‘ol, that “he is like a slave who has no desires, all that he does is due to the yoke that was placed on him, which forces him to fulfill the will of the Master.”

This all has a direct relevance to Moshiach and Geulah, alluded to in the final sections of the maamor. When Yisroel said נעשה ונשמע “we will do and [only then] we will understand” — before Matan Torah — they were accepting the yoke of Kingship. By accepting the yoke of Kingship it had the effect of making the King into an actual King. (“There is no King without a people”.). But the bittul after Matan Torah is the ultimate bittul — because the mitzvos are now the decree of Hashem and they force the person to act accordingly.

The levels of Bittul explained here are:

  1. A natural desire to be attached and not be separated from G-dliness;
  2. The chariot which has no desire of it’s own, only the desire to fulfill the desire of the rider;
  3. The bittul of kabbolas ‘ol, like a slave, who has no desire of his own (but nonetheless there is still the metzius of the slave (or the people who have made the King into a King));
  4. The bittul of Mitzvos after Matan Torah — the ultimate state of bittul, when “it is impossible for there to be a metzius in the world that is in opposition the command of the Holy One.”

This seemingly would completely eliminate the metzius of the person. But, says the Rebbe, since “Yisroel and the Holy One, blessed be He, are all One” then this level of bittul does not nullify his metzius, but to the contrary this is his metzius. Thus the Midrash says that by keeping Torah and Mitzvos (the ultimate level of bittul) this guards and preserves our soul (our unique metzius).

It comes out that the Rebbe is revealing to us that although all that remains to be done is accepting the Kingship of Melech haMoshiach (as the Rebbe states in other Sichos) , this itself is not the ultimate level of bittul (the level which reveals how we are one with Hashem). Once the Kingship is accepted it must become clear that it is impossible for us to do anything opposite his will, because of our complete state of bittulBut, explains the Rebbe, this bittul is accompanied by a special joy — the simcha shel mitzvah!

Kuntres Shavuos 5751: “Above” is Created From Below

As explained in Chassidus, Sefiras Ha’Omer precedes Matan Torah because we must refine the 49 aspects of our Nefesh Behamis (animal soul) before we can receive the Torah. But the Torah itself was given to us to refine our animal soul (as Moshe argued to the Malochim who wanted Torah kept in the Heavens that Mitzvos like “Do Not Steal” only apply to one who has to combat an evil inclination). This raises the question: is refining the animal soul for the sake of receiving the Torah, or is receiving the Torah for the same of refining the animal soul?!

To answer this, the Rebbe points out the language pertaining to Sefiras ha’Omer: to count seven complete weeks (שבע שבתות תמימות). The Midrash asks when are the weeks “complete” תמימות? “When Yisroel are doing the will of the Omnipresent.”  This “doing the will of…” is accomplished through the love of “all your might” בכל מאודך (as we say in Shema). When we acheive this level — which is beyond our limitations — Hashem responds to us in a similar fashion, “as water reflects a face” כמים הפנים לפנים.  Meaning that what one sees in another person is the reflection of how one looks at them. This also applies Above.

The concepts here are explained at length and in much greater depth in the maamor, but the general idea is a familiar one — that our service of Hashem is what generates the “face” that is shown to us from Above.

The process by which the “face” is generated is:

  1. Hashem desires that our actions can have an effect;
  2. We generate a desire from our side, reflected in our efforts (העלאת מ”ן);
  3. From this is generated the “hidden” sefiros (עשר ספירות הגנוזות);
  4. These hidden sefiros are the source of the “revealed” sefiros (עשר ספירות הגלויות) which filter down to create the reality in our world.

To explain it more deeply, the Rebbe offers three levels of concealment: a) something which exists but it’s hidden העלם שישנו במציאות; b) something which only exists in potential נעלם שאינו במציאות; and c) a third level which doesn’t exist at all, only that there is a possibility for it (less of an existence than even “potential”, as explained in the maamor).  There is a moshol for each of these levels: the fire concealed in a coal; the (potential for) fire concealed in a flint stone; and the third level is likened to a name: without a name there is not even the possibility of calling the person, when he has a name there is a possibility that one could call him.

Regarding names, the Rebbe explains that it also refers to titles, such as “wise” and “kind” (חכם, חסיד) — that when one calls a person “wise” one awakens and reveals the latent wisdom the person possesses.

(The Rebbe is here teaching is something critical to our times: that in order to reveal the latent power of Moshiach, we need to address him with that title!  Meaning that there is practical significance to referring to the Rebbe as Melech haMoshiach.)

There are two key points to understand here.  Continue reading

Kuntres Lag B’Omer: Open My Eyes

This discourse starts with the words of Tehillim “Open my eyes and I shall gaze at [hidden] wonders from Your Torah” (“גל עיני ואביטה נפלאות מתורתך”).  This should immediately grab our attention, since the Rebbe called this year “I will show wonders” (“אראנו נפלאות”) and over the year would proceed to explain that all we need to do is “open our eyes”.  In this discourse the Rebbe explains to us what this means.

The verse mentioned above has a connection with Lag B’Omer (when the maamor was originally said, and when, 14 years later, it was published in 5751).  Because the word גל (“Gal” — Open [my eyes]”) contains the same letters as “Lag” B’Omer ל”ג בעומר.

Lag B’Omer is not only the day that Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai appeared (to fleshly eyes) to pass away, but it was the day of “the main revelation” of the inner dimension of Torah.  As brought in the Zohar that Rashbi revealed “holy words that he had not revealed over the course of his life (because the things he revealed [at the time of his passing] were the highest matters, that even Rashbi had been afraid to reveal then prior to this”.   Who fails to see the bold hint here —  that the Rebbe, in the year before our fleshly eyes perceived 27 Adar and Gimmel Tammuz, is revealing the us (in Dvar Malchus) things which had not been revealed previously.

The Rebbe proceeds to address a simple question: if the inner dimension of Torah is concealed from us, then the request should be “reveal to me” the hidden matters.  But the verse requests instead “open my eyes” — implying that the concealment is due to the eyes and not to the matters being hidden from sight.

The answer is that the Torah was given in order that we will become elevated, becoming vessels in which Elokus can be revealed. And specifically in those matters which apply “down below” (such as eating, drinking, business, etc.).  In terms of “Your Torah” (to quote the posuk) this means perceiving the hidden dimension of Torah within the revealed dimension; the deep intentions (כוונות) which are enclothed in the mitzvos. In fact, the main refinement and purification of the lower beings (the main intent of the giving of the Torah, as mentioned above) takes place via the intentions of the mitzvos.

All of this is related to Rashbi and Lag B’Omer, as the other verse that contains a hint to this day is “this witness-mound of stones” (עד הגל הזה) that Yaakov Avinu built as a mechitza for Lavan that neither of them would cross.  As the Rebbe explains here, this mound of stones was never meant to be permanent (as opposed to a wall, which has permanence).  Rather, this mound of stones (“Tzimtzum” and concealment) was only constructed in order that Yisroel will do the work to remove it, and to reveal the inner dimension of the Tzimtzum itself.  This recognition — that the Tzimtzum is really for the sake of revelation (we could say by way of a moshol: like the father who hides from his son on order that the son will search for and find him) — is the accomplishment Rashbi, who refined this mechitza and brought about that the highest revelations could be perceived also in the lowest worlds.

This means that:

…the seeing of the wonders of Torah should be (not only because the wonders will be revealed, but rather)  because the Holy One, blessed be He, will open up the person’s eyes and the person will see the wonders of Torah in his own matters…that the Tzimtzum [the concealment which allows the dimension of “his own matters” to come into being] is really for the sake of revelation.”

In other words, the message of the year 5751, the year of “I will show wonders”, is that within matters that derive from the Tzimtzum itself, we should perceive the loftiest revelations of Elokus — in the  revealed world, in the revealed dimension of Torah.  And how can we possibly succeed to do that properly?  Through turning to Hashem and asking: “Open my eyes…”!

Kuntres 13 Iyar: Like Which Brother?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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