4) Kuntres Beis Iyar, 5751: Why Concealment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3) Kuntres 18 Nissan: Guarding the Intellectual Soul

What is easier: keeping a powerful beast like a cow or a bull locked up in it’s pen, or a bird?  Which requires “additional guarding”?

Although a bird possesses nothing of the power that the bull has, it has an additional ability that even the most powerful beast lacks — the power of flight. Thus, fences are sufficient to keep a mighty bull locked up, but a tiny bird is not properly guarded unless the walls are capped by a roof.

In Halocho this expresses itself in the laws regarding courtyards — that a large courtyard that is not covered by a roof is considered a carmelis (by Rabbinic decree, even though according to Torah it is a private domain (reshus hayochid)), but if it is covered with a roof then it remains a private domain according to Rabbinic opinion as well.

The maamor printed for 18 Nissan, 5751 (anniversary of the Rebbe’s Bris Mila)  explains this in terms of our Divine service: the animal for which fences are sufficient is our animal soul; the bird that requires a roof is our Intellectual Soul (Nefesh Hasichlis).  The animal soul, while powerful, has four legs on the ground and looks down — it’s only attraction and interest is gashmiyus.  It is enough to build fences to pen it in.  But the Nefesh Hasichlis, while it is a human intellect which relates to worldly things, possesses an inclination to “fly away” to contemplate things which are of a higher nature. Thus it needs a roof as well.

What is this roof?

In our Divine service, the “roof” is the wonderment (הפלאה) we feel when contemplating and realizing that the lofty things we are studying (and through study, grasping) are in fact beyond our grasp because they are G-dliness. G-dliness is without bounds, but whatever we understand with our human intellect (the Nefesh Hasichlis) is limited, and thus or understanding is not the “real thing”.  Keeping this in mind puts a “roof” of self-nullification (bittul) on our intellectual efforts so they don’t get carried away with themselves and “fly off” from the realm of the Oneness of Hashem (reshus hayochid) and enter the realm of self-importance and pride (ישות וגאווה).

How does this relate to our Sichos of 5751-52?

The avodah of Chassidim since the revelation of Chasidus was primarily in the realm of emotional attributes (midos) — battling and striving to transform the animal soul. Learning Chassidus was a major component of this avodah, but the revelations of Chassidus kept to the boundaries of Torah and Mitzvos — Tikkun.

In the Sichos of 5751-52, when the Rebbe will demand “do all that you can to draw down the lights of Tohu (but in a way of vessels of Tikkun)”, the revelations cross the border from the Torah and Mitzvos of the time of golus (limited, but familiar to our human outlook and understanding) to the first stage of the Messianic era (ימות המשיח) and elevate us to a new (and unfamiliar) level of understanding and a new outlook.

The work of transforming the animal soul, the Rebbe informs us, is completed (and if we don’t see this, it is only because we haven’t made the proper effort to reveal it), and we begin the shift to transforming our consciousness, the realm of the Intellectual Soul.

So right from the beginning of this seismic shift in the pnimiyus of our avodah, the Rebbe published this maamar to give us a “heads up” that while keeping the behema (the animal soul) only required fences, the next step of “opening the eyes” of the Intellectual Soul requires a roof as well if we are to keep ourselves within the private realm, the “reshus hayochid“.

Internalizing concepts such as: we can now “fill our mouths with laughter”; we have reached the time for receiving the reward of our Divine service; Yidden and Hashem are really One thing; Mitzvos will be nullified in the future; the created “yesh” is in essence the true “Yesh” of Hashem’s essence; etc., require one to “cover” his intellectual efforts in these concepts with a “roof” of bittul so that his Intellectual Soul will not “fly away” and take these ideas to the wrong place.

(We could further say that through this discourse the Rebbe gave Chassidim the power to do this lechatchila, and to understand the Sichos in the proper way, consistent with Halacha — as we see is the case across Lubavitch!)

2) Kuntres Yud Alef Nissan 5751: Prayer of the Rich Man

This discourse of the Rebbe was edited and printed for distribution for the Rebbe’s birthday, 11 Nissan, 5751.  A lengthy and deep discourse, we mention here only the main points, reflecting the themes of the Dvar Malchus sichos from the same period.

“Tefilla leMoshe” is called by our sages the prayer of a rich man, and “Tefilla leDovid” is the prayer of a poor man.  Since tefilla is defined as our asking for our needs, what is a rich man’s prayer?  What does he need?

We find that according to Torah one must fill the needs of the poor man.  This doesn’t only mean those necessities requires by every person, it means we are obligated also to fill his personal needs.  If he had previously been wealthy and was accustomed to a servant and a horse to run before him, then for him such a thing is lacking and we must provide it for him.  One is obligated to fill what he lacks, but one is not obligated to make him rich.  Thus, it comes out that even having a servant and a horse running before him (i.e. to be not lacking anything) is still not wealthy.

Wealthy, explains the Rebbe, is “superabundance”, which is more than just that nothing is lacking.  Furthermore, it means that this abundance is not received from another source (and thus could be cut off or taken away); rather, it is inherently his — making him rich in essence (עשיר בעצם).   This is why our sages say “there is no one wealthy except in da’as (knowledge)”.  Rich (in knowledge) means that what he has learned has become unified with him and part of him as a result of his own effort (as opposed to remaining on the level of what others taught him).

Back to the question: one who is rich has superabundance — what, then, is his prayer?!  The Rebbe answers: he prays for others.  His tefilla is for the needs of others.  This is Moshe Rabbeinu, who lacked nothing and needed nothing (not in the realm of da’as (as he is the one who gave us the Torah), and surely not materially) — his prayer was for the needs of the Jewish people (which corresponds spiritually for the attribute of Malchus).

But if Moshe Rabbeinu, the rich man, feels the lack of Israel so intensely, then he himself is lacking!  And if he is leaving, then he is not rich!  The truth is, explains the Rebbe, that since he is “rich in essence” it is not possible for him to be lacking anything.  While he does feel for Israel, this is not the same as lacking something.  More than that, from the perspective of “rich in essence” there is nothing lacking whatsoever in Hashem’s world nor by any of His creations. Thus, from Moshe Rabbeinu’s perspective, the Jewish people are also “rich in essence” and not lacking anything.  If so, what was his prayer for?  His prayer was that this fact that Israel are in truth “rich in essence” should be felt in an open and revealed way by them.  No one lacks anything other than the da’as, the knowledge to recognize. When one’s knowledge broadens, he reveals to himself that he is in fact rich in essence.

The discourse concludes by connecting all of this with the inyan of tefilla. It is precisely prayer that draws down these revelations.  As our sages say about Moshe Rabbeinu that he was “ish Elo-kim” — a G-dly man: when he went up the mountain he was a man, when he descended he was Elo-kim.  This is tefilla, prayer, that one “ascends the mountain” to reach Hashem, and draws this “down below” into his daily life so that this shleimus, perfection, is revealed in his behavior — when a Jew does this he causes the same thing in the attribute of Malchus, which brings about the true and complete Geulah.

Moshiach Now!

View the original discourse here

1) Kuntres Beis Nissan 5751: To Give and To Receive

A Chassidic discourse, called a maamor, was edited by the Rebbe and published in honor of the Hillula of the Rebbe Rashab, Beis Nissan, 5751.  This was the day after Shabbos Vayikra, the very beginning of the cycle of Dvar Malchus.  We are going to extract a small section of this maamor which stands out boldly as a descriptive explanation of the sharp and shocking words of the Rebbe on 28 Nissan (a few weeks after this maamor was released): “I’ve done all I can do, now I give it over to you to do all that you can do to bring Moshiach in actuality”.

The section of the maamor we will look at states as follow:

The Rebbe Rashab explains the difference between two inyonim: “its beginning is wedged into its end and its end into its beginning” (נעוץ תחילתן בסופן וסופן בתחילתן) and [the similar expression that] “the end of the deed was first in thought” (סוף מעשה במחשבה תחילה).  The difference between them is that “it’s end” (סופן) refers to the end and completion of the thought, wedged into the beginning of that which is being given (ההמשכה).  And a moshol is brought for this from the giving of tzedaka.  That the beginning (of the giving) is the mercy (רחמים) that is awakened towards the poor man.

The concept that “its end is wedged into its beginning” is that the main intent in the awakening of mercy (“its beginning”) is that there should be actual giving to the poor man (“its end”).  And if there will not be any actual giving, then the main thing is lacking.  Its end is wedged into its beginning: the intent (of giving) which is wedged into its beginning (the awakening of mercy (רחמים) for the poor man)….

The inyan of “the end of the deed was first in thought” (סוף מעשה במחשבה תחילה) is higher than the inyan of “its beginning is wedged into its end and its end in its beginning” (נעוץ תחילתן בסופן וסופן בתחילתן).  This is because the meaning of the expression “end of the deed” (סוף מעשה) is not the end of the act of performing the deed itself, the action of the person.  Rather, it means the action that comes as a result of the actions performed by the person.  In our moshol, the giving of chesed: the “end of the deed” (סוף מעשה) is when that which is being given is accepted — that the poor man should accept that which is being given to him with a good feeling (מקבל את ההשפעה בטוב) and that he should benefit from what he received. 

This aspect — the manner in which the poor man accepts that which is given to him — is not dependent on the giver, but rather on the recipient….  Thus, the pleasure that the giver has from the acceptance of what he gives (the poor man accepting with a good feeling that which he has been given) is a greater pleasure than the pleasure from the “giving” alone.

This brief moshol, when we take a moment to contemplate what it is telling us, resolves a lot of questions.  It also eliminates much of the anxiety raised by the sicha of 28 Nissan (which has been magnified by the state of affairs we find ourselves in for over 20 years, ר“ל, when do not receive new sichos or maamorim).

View the Rebbe’s renown sicha of 28 Nissan in light of this kuntres.  The Rebbe telling the Chassidim “I have done everything in my power to do”, corresponds to giving to the “poor man”.*  Having succeeded in completing the act of giving, he now has to wait until “the poor man should accept that which is being given to him with a good feeling and to benefit from it”, because “this is not dependent on the giver, but rather on the recipient”.

The Rebbe is sharing with us a most vital piece information: you, the Jewish people, have been given everything you need!  It’s the reality: “the money is in the bank,” and the Geuloh is in the bank!  But it is up to you yourselves to accept it, to realize what you have received, to put it to good use and benefit from it!

All the sichos and maamorim the Rebbe spoke, all the seforim the Rebbe instructed to print, all of the brocha and hatzlocha, guidance and direction that the Rebbe has poured and continues to pour on the Jewish people and the world…this is not just a coin in the poor man’s cup — this is true wealth!

But as long as it remains in the cup (and all the more so if we don’t realize that it’s even there), then we remain in a golus of poverty — poverty in our own perception of reality.  We need to accept what the Rebbe has given us, put it to use in shaping our reality, and in this way we ourselves will realize that not only do we have the potential to no longer be poor, but that we are in fact rich in actuality — the true and complete Geuloh!

The matter was given over to us by the Rebbe and is completely in our hands!  So, now, let’s ask ourselves the question: Ad mosai?!!


* We should note that in Kuntres Yud Alef Nissan, the maamor printed for the Rebbe’s 90th birthday, the Rebbe explains that the Jewish people are not really poor except in awareness, and the “prayer of the rich man” (Moshe Rabbeinu) is that the Yidden should realize that they are in fact rich.  Nonetheless, one who sees himself as poor really is poor — “there is no poverty except for knowledge” (איו עני אלא בדעת).

22) Kuntres Purim Koton: The Level Above Mesirus Nefesh

22) Kuntres Purim Koton: The Level Above Mesirus Nefesh

This Maamor was distributed by the Rebbe himself on Purim Koton, 5752, less than two weeks before the dramatic event of 27 Adar I (“Chof Zayin Adar“), making this the “last” Kuntres (so far) that the Rebbe distributed.  Combined with the tremendous chiddushim of the maamor, it has earned a special status as a clear guide for how to proceed in our efforts to bring about the true and complete Geuloh.

The Maamor is based on a maamor that the Previous Rebbe said in Russia (“V’kibel HaYehudim”, 5689), and comes to explain the opening verse of Parshas Tetzaveh:

:וְאַתָּ֞ה תְּצַוֶּ֣ה אֶת־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל וְיִקְח֨וּ אֵלֶ֜יךָ שֶׁ֣מֶן זַ֥יִת זָ֛ךְ כָּתִ֖ית לַמָּא֑וֹר לְהַֽעֲלֹ֥ת נֵ֖ר תָּמִֽיד

And you shall command the children of Yisroel, and they shall take to you pure olive oil, crushed for luminary, to kindle the lamps continually.

The Rebbe asks a series of questions on this verse:

  1. Why does the verse state “You (Moshe) shall command…” when Hashem is the One who commands and Moshe is only the Shliach to carry out the command?
  2. Why does it state that the Bnei Yisroel should bring the pure olive oil (for the lighting of the Menorah) to Moshe when the Menorah is lit by Aharon haCohen and not Moshe?
  3. Why does it state “crushed for the luminary”, when we would expect it to say “for the light”?
  4. Why does it state “to kindle the lights continuously” when in the very next verse it states “from evening until morning”?

In the course of answering these questions, the Rebbe will reveal some astonishing chiddushim that serve as a guidepost for our avoidah in this period.

 

THE ROLE OF MOSHE RABBEINU

The term Mitzvah (command) has a meaning of “binding and connecting” (צוותא וחיבור), which means that Hashem is instructing Moshe “You shall bind and connect the Bnei Yisroel” with the unlimited Ohr Ein Sof.  Because Moshe bestows this on Yisroel, this brings about an addition and increase on the part of Moshe himself.  This is because Moshe and Yisroel are like the head and legs of one body — that all of Yisroel are the legs of Moshe and Moshe is the head of Bnei Yisroel.  Just as the legs take the head to places that it couldn’t reach on its own, similarly Yisroel are capable of adding and increasing in the revelation of ohr by Moshe.

Moshe is referred to as “Raya Mehemna” which translates conventionally as “trusted shepherd”, but also as “shepherd of faith (emunah)”.  That just as a shepherd takes his flocks to graze, enabling them to eat (internalizing the nutrients), so, too, does Moshe Rabbeinu enable the Bnei Yisroel to “internalize” emunah.  They, in turn, add to Moshe’s level.

 

THE ROLE OF GOLUS

The expression in our verse, “crushed for the luminary” is that by being “crushed” (כתית) we reach the “luminary” (מאור).  Not just crushed, but specifically that one feels “broken and crushed” from being in golus.  At first glance, it seems that in the times of Purim the Yidden were “crushed” by the decree of Haman, and from this they reached the “luminary”, the essence of the soul (עצם הנשמה) that enabled them to have complete self-sacrifice (מסרות נפש) at that time.  But there is more than this.

The Rebbe explains that there is a level of emunah which a Yid possesses because his neshoma Above “sees” G-dliness.  This is a lofty level, but it can remain external, not affecting the person so much.  But there is a higher level of emunah which derives from the essence of the neshoma, not dependent on any level of “seeing”, which can be drawn down to affect the Yid in a deeper, pnimiyusdike way.  This is the level that Moshe Rabbeinu “feeds” to Bnei Yisroel, that this lofty level of emunah should be internalized.  How does he accomplish this?  By providing Bnei Yisroel with “G-dly knowledge” (דעת באלקות), through which the emunah becomes internalized.  And this itself is accomplished by Moshe Rabbeinu (including the Moshe Rabbeinu in every generation) who reveals the essential connection of the essence of the soul, Etzem Haneshoma.  This higher level is mainly revealed through mesirus nefesh (self-sacrifice), which was more evident in the generations following Moshe Rabbeinu himself (exemplified by Purim).

Jews have had mesirus nefesh over all the generations, but at Purim the entire nation had mesirus nefesh (during the time of Haman’s decree).  Moshe Rabbeinu himself was primarily involved with providing the Bnei Yisroel with G-dly knowledge, since his generation did not have much call for mesirus nefesh.  Mordechai’s primary effort, however, was to reveal the power of mesirus nefesh in all the members of his generation.  The Previous Rebbe, in his maamer, points out the Midrash that Mordechai was the shepherd of the generation in a revealed way.  The Rebbe derives from this that by stating this about Mordechai, the Previous Rebbe was in fact ruling on himself that he is the shepherd of the generation in a revealed way.  (And Chassidim follow this reasoning and state that the Rebbe, by mentioning this, is ruling on himself as well, that he is the shepherd of the generation in a revealed way!)

 

CRUSHED IN GOLUS

The maamor of the Previous Rebbe (upon which the Rebbe’s maamor is based) starts with the words of the Megillah “v’kibel haYehudim“, which is explained to refer to the revelation of the essence, the aspect of “luminary”, of the Yidden at Purim.  But, points out the Rebbe, that verse appears towards the end of the Megillah, after the miraculous downfall of Haman (and his decree) — Mordechai was elevated to a high rank and the situation of the Jews in Paras and Madai was at its peak!  Even the entire “house of Haman” was given to Esther.  Why would the concept of the luminary (and especially as per our opening  verse: “crushed for the luminary”) appear at that point?

Explains the Rebbe something amazing: there are two levels of being “crushed for the luminary”.  That of the time of Haman’s decree, and that of the period after Mordechai became second to the King.  The higher level is the latter, meaning that the aspect of “crushed for the luminary” that comes after the miracles, after the danger has passed, is greater!  One level of “crushed for the luminary” occurs when Yisroel are found in a state of being crushed (kosis) because of obstacles and dangers to the observance of Torah and Mitzvos.  But a higher level occurs when Yidden are in a situation of abundance  — both materially and spiritually — and nonetheless they are “crushed” just from the very fact of being in golus!  The true desire of every Yid is the revelation of G-dliness in the world, and even the unhindered ability to keep Torah and Mitzvos can be in a state where G-dliness is still concealed, and thus a Yid will feel “crushed” — this is the revelation of the essence of a Jew, revealing the highest level of the aspect of “luminary”, the essence of his neshoma.

 

TWO LEVELS OF “LUMINARY”

The practical difference between these two levels of the “luminary” of the neshoma is as follows: the first level is expressed through mesirus nefesh, which is a lofty matter, but is essentially something “additional” to the personality (כחות הגלוים) of the Yid, something which can come and go and leave no lasting impression on him.  The second level, however, is expressed by the fact that it affects and changes his personality and behavior.

From another angle, the difference between the two levels of “luminary” is in how they come about.  The first level is a direct result of the efforts the Moshe Rabbeinu of the generation to awaken and reveal the power of mesirus nefesh in the Yidden.  Regarding the second level, however, the Rebbe states: …“Crushed for the luminary” includes this that Yisroel are broken and crushed from the fact that they are in golus, that this inyan is via the avoidah of Yisroel…that the avoidah of the Nosi Hador to awaken and reveal in every single Yid the emunah which derives from the essence of the neshoma is in a way that afterwards they will perofrm their avoidah on their own (יעבדו עבודתם בכח עצמם), until they will be a “continual lamp” (נר תמיד) which is not subject to change, even externally.

 

SUMMARY

Based on the Rebbe’s explanation, the verse “v’Atoh Tetzaveh” (“And you shall command the children of Yisroel, and they shall take to you pure olive oil, crushed for luminary, to kindle the lamps continually”) can be understood to be saying:

“And you shall bind and connect the Children of Israel to the Ohr Ein Sof, and they will add ohr to you, which comes from being crushed from the existence of golus (even when everything is in abundance), to the point that the revelation of the essence of the neshoma and its effect on the individual is permanent.”

The maamor contains several wondrous chiddushim, among them:

  • There is a higher level revelation of the essence of the neshoma than mesirus nefesh; whereas mesirus nefesh involves nullifying one’s existence to the revelation of the essence of the neshoma, the higher level involves influencing and changing one’s existence in a permanent way;
  • This higher level is revealed not at a time of harsh decrees, but rather at a time of material and spiritual abundance;
  • When the Previous Rebbe brings a Midrash about Mordechai being the Moshe of his generation, he in fact ruled on himself that he, too, is the Moshe of the generation (and the understanding that follows about what it means that the Rebbe himself mentions this, etc.);
  • There is a higher level of Jewish unity and Ahavas Yisroel that derives from this level of revelation of the essence of the neshoma.  There is already the lofty Chassidic level of Achdus Yisroel and Ahavas Yisroel described in perek 32 of Tanya which comes from making “the nefesh ikkar and the body secondary”.  But here we find a higher level which derives from the essence of the soul; being that the essence of the neshoma is rooted in Hashem’s Essence, which is also in a state of unity with the “body” (כחות הגלויים), thus the unity of Yidden is in all of their matters, including those matters relating to the body.

This is taste of the intellectual revelations contained in the maamor.  Now, the work begins — our avoidah to bring the revelation of the essence of the neshoma also in our revealed dimensions, and thus bring the Geuloh also from below to Above.

20) Kuntres Yud Shevat 5752: Avoidah, Stage 2

20) Kuntres Yud Shevat 5752: Avoidah, Stage 2

Note: This Maamor is NOT based on the chapter of Bosi Legani that we learn this year.  (Unless you are reading this in the year תשצ”ב)

For 40 years the Rebbe would say a Chassidic discourse on one of the 20 chapters of the last maamor (Chassidic discourse) written by the Frierdicker Rebbe, entitled Bosi LeGani.  Every year at the Yud Shevat farbrengen, the Rebbe would say a maamor (sometimes more than one) on that year’s chapter.  Beginning from 5749 the Rebbe did not say a new maamor, instead an edited version of a maamor on that year’s chapter was printed.  The cycle started again in 5751 (addressing chapter 1) and the maamor printed in 5752 can be expected to have added significance, as it was released during the year of Dvar Malchus sichos.  In fact, when looked at in this light one indeed finds a message that fits with the unique chiddushim of 5751-52.

A general point: the edited version of a maamor is often significantly different from the way the Rebbe originally said the maamor.  In some instances, the edited maamor is so different from the original that it presents a completely opposite perspective.  (For example: the Rebbe once said a maamor in which the he spoke about the superiority of Torah over Mitzvos; when edited and published, the maamor addresses the superiority of Mitzvos over Torah!)  In the maamor published for Yud Shevat 5752, it is noteworthy to point out that the relevant “chiddush” is not explicitly stated in the original, unedited version of the maamor which the Rebbe said in 5732 (which can be viewed here), but when edited in 5752 the Rebbe saw fit to state it clearly.  The matter is as follows:

One who has been following Dvar Malchus, or has learned the Rebbe’s sichos and maamorim from all the years, is likely familiar with the concepts of the revelation from Above as opposed to the effort we make from below.  In this maamor, this is associated with Matan Torah (from Above to below) and the Mishkan (the vessel for receiving the revelation of Elokus).  The Rebbe explains that “this that Hashem desired to have a dwelling place down below (“dira b’tachtonim”) is that there will be a revelation of Elokus below via the avoidoh of human beings.”  Thus, the main element is the Mishkan (and Mikdash), where the avoidah of korbanos takes place.

The Mishkan (and by extension, the Mikdash) has two distinct stages.  The first is the making of the Mishkan (עשיית המשכן), the second is the avoidah which takes place in the mikdash — the avoidah of iskafiya and is’hap’cha (“breaking” the evil inclination, and “elevating” the inclination).  There is an aspect of “ikkar Shechina” that is drawn down through the making of the Mishkan (ועשו לי מקדש) , and after this is a higher level (נעלית יותר) that is drawn down by the two aspects of avoidah.  States the Rebbe: “therefore, the main avoidah that took place in the Mishkan and Mikdash was the avoidah of sacrifices (korbanos), iskafiya and is’hap’cha.”

From here we see the first point: the main thing is not the making of the Mishkan, but rather the avoidah that follows.  The original maamar of Bosi Legani can leave one with the impression that the main thing is the making of the Mishkan and the gilui Shechina that comes with it (the work of Moshe Rabbeinu, the 7th generation, as quoted in the maamar).  Similarly, after hearing the Rebbe’s revelation that 770 is the actual place of the 3rd Beis Hamikdash (“Beis Rabbeinu sh’b’Bovel“), and that “all Jews will find themselves standing (איבערגעשטעלט) in our Holy Land together with the third Beis Hamikdosh WHICH WE HAVE HERE (וואס מ’האט דא)…” (Sicha of 28 Sivan, 5751), we might become so excited we might lose sight of the fact that this is only the first stage; the Rebbe is clarifying for us that only after the first stage does the work really begin!*

The second point involves the distinction between “breaking” and “transforming” the evil inclination (the avoidah of iskafiya and is’hap’cha).  In general, Chassidus explains that “breaking” the evil inclination is the challenge of the average Jew, the Beinoni, as he stands up to its challenges.  Tzaddikim, who are not tempted by evil, don’t have those nisyonos, and their avoidah is that of transforming evil.  This would lead one to imagine that the Beinoni graduates to the avoidah of transforming evil when his avoidas haBirurim is completed.  This would seemingly be supported by the shift in focus from iskafiya in the previous generations (exemplified by the conduct of great Chassidim like Itche der Masmid), to the avoidah of transforming and elevating the world around us.  In this maamar, the Rebbe clarifies that in fact the avoidah of transforming evil is primarily associated with the making of the Mishkan (the first stage, mentioned above), whereas the avoidah of korbanos (the second stage) is essentially breaking (nullifiying) evil, just as the korban itself is completely nullified in the fire of the mizbe’ach.  In other words: after the revelation of “ikkar shechina” that is drawn down by the making of the mishkan, the higher level revelation is drawn down by our avoidah of iskafiya.  Not only is iskafiya still relevant — it is the main avoidah(Not to say that the iskafiya of today is the same as the iskafiya of previous generations, ואין כאן המקום לאריך).

It comes out that while the every Bosi LeGani maamar since the original Yud Shevat begins with the greatness of the drawing down of the Shechina through the making of the Mishkan, here in the latest (as of now) maamar the Rebbe brings out clearly that there is a higher level achieved through the avoidah that is performed after the Mishkan is built.  Once could say that here the Rebbe is connecting the beginning of his leadership (“…Moshe, he is the 7th, and all 7ths are beloved, drew down the Shechina into this world…mainly in the Beis Hamikdash, as is stated ‘make for me a Mikdash’…”) with the completion of more than 40 years of that leadership (when we have “a heart to know, eyes to see, ears to hear, etc.”), and clarifying for us that we aren’t finished yet!

* Well-known is the comment of the Rebbe to J.J. Hecht, after the latter was working very hard on a particular project and expressed to the Rebbe that at least when Moshiach comes we’ll be able to relax.  The Rebbe responded that when Moshiach comes we will start to work several times harder!

19) Kuntres Hey Teves, 5752: How to Give

19) Kuntres Hey Teves, 5752: How to Give

The Kuntres printed for Hey Teves (ה’ טבת) in the year 5752 is a Chassidic Discourse the Rebbe said on parshas Vayigash, 5732, edited for publication under the supervision of the Rebbe himself.  The discourse explains some deep concepts in Chassidus, which we will not attempt to explain here; rather, we will take one point in the discourse.

The parsha begins with Yehuda approaching Yosef.  As is known, Yosef was dressed as an Egyptian, his brothers had no idea that this was their brother that they had sold into slavery so many years earlier.  This “Egyptian” was demanding that their brother Binyomin remain with him as a slave, because of the “theft”  of his goblet (which Yosef himself orchestrated).  Yehuda fearlessly approaches Yosef and asks — and even demands —  that the “Egyptian” let Binyomin return to his father (of whom he says “his soul is bound up with his soul”) and enslave one of the other brothers in his place.

This act of selflessness on the part of Yehuda represents the rectification of the original sale of Yosef, as is known.  But as explained according to Chassidus, there are even loftier things occurring here.

To summarize these loftier things, without elaboration: Yosef represents the level of Z”A and Yesod, the mashpia who gives spiritual influence; Yehuda represents the level of Malchus, the mekabel who receives from the mashpia.  Yehuda is requesting from Yosef to give over to him the spiritual influence.  And more than that, he is asking to receive this, reflecting the active participation of the mekabel.

Obviously, the mashpia (giver) is higher than the mekabel (receiver).  But in their source, it is reversed: the source of the mekabel (receiver) is on the level of Kesser (the “crown”) which is far above the source of the mashpia (giver).

Chassidus explains that when the mashpia gives over to the mekabel (who actually has a higher source in Kesser) then the mashpia also receives this level of Kesser.  That by giving, the mashpia also receives something even greater from the mekabel.

That said, the Rebbe explains the words of Yehuda “בי אדני” which are usually translated as “please, my lord” or “please, my master”.  But the word בי is unusual, it means “in me”, and there the verse would make perfect sense without it.  So why is it there?  The Rebbe explains as follows:

This that Z”A wants to desires to give over to Malchus (because any bestowal of spiritual influence is only through a desire for such) is because it feels the lofty level of the source of Malchus, which is mainly that by giving over to Malchus the result will be the perfection of that which is drawn down into Z”A.  Thus, Yehuda said to Yosef “in me, my lord” בי אדוני, that the spiritual influence drawn down from Z”A to Malchus should be (not for the perfection of Z”A, but rather) in order that this spiritual influence should be drawn down to Malchus, “in me, my lord”.

In other words: one who is in a position to give/teach to others can do it with the consideration of how this is part of his own rectification and perfection, and he is correct.  “Helping others is good for you”.  But an even higher level is reached when — and this is the Supernal desire — that it should be done without that consideration, but rather only for the sake of and the benefit of the mekabel, the receiver!

After this, Yosef could no longer hold himself back and he revealed himself to his brothers, which is the model for Hashem revealing Himself to us in the true and complete Geuloh!

18) Kuntres Chanukah, 5752

18) Kuntres Chanukah, 5752

The lofty level of the Chanukah lights, as explained in the teachings of Chassidus, is connected with the self-sacrifice of the Maccabees, and through this they succeeded to impact and “light up” the public domain (reshus harabim).  We see this in the mitzvah of Chanukah candles, which are intended to publicize the miracle specifically in the public domain.  (The reason that the custom is to light inside the home, not in the public domain, is beyond the scope of this post.)

But why is this only by Chanukah, and not by Purim?  The miracle of Purim, also, was brought about by self-sacrifice; and not only by a small group (Mattisyahu and his children), but by the entire Jewish people.  So why don’t the mitzvas of Purim impact the public domain?

In order to explain this, the Rebbe first explains the three levels stated in Chassidus: Tzaddik, Yoshar, and Chossid, each one on a higher level than the previous.  A Tzaddik has the power to “overrule” the Holy One, blessed be He, as our sages say “The Holy One decrees, and the Tzaddik nullifies the decree”, or “the Tzaddik decrees, and the Holy One fulfills it”.  Yet, the level of Chassidim is even higher, as the verse in Tehillim states: “All your handiwork will thank You, and Your Chassidim will bless you” (Tehillim 145:10), meaning that the blessing of Chassidim draws down from a level which the “your handiwork will thank you” cannot reach.

The level of Chassidim is the level of serving Hashem with bittul (self-nullification) which is from the aspect of etzem (the essence), a level higher than one’s own existence.  In the words of our sages: “Who is a Chosid? One who performs Chesed (giving) with his owner.”  Explains the Rebbe:

Among the reasons that one whose Divine service is (not for himself, but rather) for the sake of Above is called by the name Chosid (from the word chesed, giving) is that since his avodah is with the ultimate self-nullification (bittul), above his own existence, it follows that what he draws down through this avodah is from the [highest of levels, the] level of “Pnimiyus Atik”.

Correspondingly, this level is also reached through the teachings of Chassidus:

The teachings of Chassidus are the aspect of Pnimiyus Atik.  Thus, through the study of teachings of Chassidus and following the ways of Chassidus, the natural powers of the soul (of the one who is involved in Chassidus) become G-dly powers.  Because via what comes down and is revealed from Pnimiyus Atik, he feels (at least in a concealed way) that the true [Divine] existence is his existence.

This revelation which is higher than the limitations of the world (למעלה מהשתלשלות) therefore transcends the boundaries of the world and is found in every place equally.  This is the concept of the lights of Chanukah illuminating the public domain, because they draw down from “Pnimiyus Atik” which is present in all places.

And from this we can understand why the self-sacrifice of Purim did not reach the public domain but on Chanukah it did:

Because the self-sacrifice of Matisyahu and his sons was that despite that they were weak and few; nevertheless, they battled against the mighty and the numerous.  The fact that they performed actions in the natural way (a war) in order to defeat the Greeks, even though according to the natural order there is no chance for the weak and the few to defeat the might and numerous, is because it was taken for granted by them that even nature (of this lowly world where klipos are powerful) is G-dliness.  This deeply ingrained premise derives from the feeling that His Divine True Existence is the existence of all entities.  And because of this, they drew down from the level of Pnimiyus Atik.

What is the lesson here for us?  To serve Hashem as Chassidim, not for our own benefit (whether it be material or spiritual benefit, including the pleasure of “slaking ones thirst for G-dliness”), but rather in a state of self-nullification to do what is needed of us; in a way where we realize that all of existence is, inherently, G-dliness, and therefore we can accomplish our mission even in the “public domain” because it does not really have any separate existence from G-dliness.  Like the Chanukah lights, we can even reveal G-dliness in the public domain that seemingly has an independent existence, for in fact it does not!

This itself is the state of “the time to come”, the true and complete Geuloh!

17) Kuntres 19 Kislev: The Power of Chassidim

17) Kuntres 19 Kislev: The Power of Chassidim

This maamor, originally spoken on Yud Tes Kislev 5726, is based on the familiar posuk “Podah v’sholom nafshi“, but it provides a completely different perspective than the maamor released a week earlier (for 10-14 Kislev, 5752).  Here, the Rebbe explains according to the words of our Sages that Hashem states: “whoever labors in Torah and in acts of Kindness (Gemilus Chassodim) and davens with the community, I consider it as though he redeemed me and my children from the nations of the world.”

Firstly, the Rebbe groups them as two: Torah and Gemilus Chassodim drawing down from Above, and Tefillah rising from below to Above.  The Rebbe describes the difference between Brocha (drawn down from Above) and Tefillah (from below), based on the verse “Your Chassidim will bless you” חסידיך יברכוך as explained by the Rebbe Rashab: that specifically Chassidim have the power to draw down brocha in a way that the Divine light illuminates Malchus (the lowest level, which “possesses nothing of its own”).

The advantage of a brocha (generally given by Tzaddikim) is that it has the power of a command: that one who is standing above the hashpo’ah can command that it descend to the recipient (despite the fact that there are obstacles preventing it from descending).  Thus, a brocha is a certainty.  The disadvantage is that it only relates to hashpo’ah that is already “in the pipeline”, for which there is already a Divine Will.

The advantage of Tefillah is that is has the power of “Yehi ratzon” — to create a new Divine Will.  Where previously an individual was ill, Tefillah can bring about a new ratzon that the individual will be healthy.  The disadvantage is that it is not guaranteed — sometimes the Tefillah is answered (and drawn down into the world), sometimes not.

The power of Chassidim is that they can draw down the power of both together: the new ratzon brought about through Tefillah with the certainty of a command found in a brocha.  This is because they draw down from the level of submission, hoda’ah, which is above intellect and understanding.  This level of brocha is similar to what is drawn down by Torah.  Torah can bring about a change in the world, something new which wasn’t before, as we find by Rashbi that during a decree of drought he brought down rain by saying Torah (changing Divine Will and nullifying the decree).  All this in a way that the change occurs automatically, without effort from below, with no need for a command.

This is also related to Chesed and Tzedaka (Chassidim and Tzaddikim): Tzedaka means providing a person with what is lacking for him, “but you are not commanded to make him rich”.  Chesed goes beyond that, one can even make a person wealthy.  Similarly, the level of Chosid (one who goes “above and beyond” in his service of Hashem) is able to draw down so much that he can make Malchus “wealthy”, and even beyond wealth, taking even the one who is already wealthy (lacking nothing) to an entirely new level.  This wealth, on a completely new level, is what nullifies the opponent, the menaged (the content of the posuk Podah v’Sholom).  There is a level where there is no war, but there is still a menaged; beyond that is the level of “sholom” (of l’asid lavo) where there isn’t even a menaged (see the previous maamar) — because even the sparks of holiness that “became evil” and lost all feeling for G-dliness will be affected.

These levels reflect differing levels of bittul: in Tefillah the individual feels himself separate from Elokus; higher than this is the Brocha commanded by a Tzaddik, where the individual’s reality is G-dliness, but the world remains a separate reality; the highest level is the level of Torah, where the results are automatic, because it represents a revelation of Atzmus — the reality of Elokus is the only reality and thus there isn’t even a need for a command.  This is also the level drawn down by “Your Chassidim will bless you” חסידיך יברכוך.

Through learning Pnimiyus Hatorah this nullifies the enemy (corresponding to the third level — where there is no reality besides Elokus).  This is connected with Yud Tes Kislev and the release of the Alter Rebbe which is the vindication of spreading the wellsprings outward.  That the maayonos will reach even the “outside”, and not only the waters of the wellsprings but the wellsprings themselves.  This is the spreading of the wellsprings that brings Moshiach, for it draws down the highest levels to the lowest levels (Pnimiyus haKesser to Malchus sh’b’Malchus), and itself is like the three levels that were described above: the one who labors in Torah and in Gemilus Chassodim and davens with the community.  “And through this ‘he redeems me and my children from among the nations’, at which time will take place the promise ‘I will remove the spirit of impurity from the earth’, and Hashem will be King over all the Earth, on that day Hashem will be one and His name will be one.”

16) Kuntres Yud/Yud Daled Kislev, 5752: Reveal the Yechida

16) Kuntres Yud/Yud Daled Kislev, 5752: Reveal the Yechida

Famous are the numerous maamorim over the years explaining the posuk “Padoh v’sholom nafshi“, the verse which the Alter Rebbe was reading when he was notified of his release from Russian prison on Yud-Tes Kislev, 5559.  This verse is also relevant to the release of his son, the Mitteler Rebbe, from arrest on Yud Kislev, some  28 years later.  The maamor in this kuntres was said on Yud Kislev 5722 (the 3rd maamor of that farbrengen!) and edited and printed in 5752 in honor of that date (and also in honor of Yud-Daled Kislev, the Rebbe’s wedding anniversary).

The verse states: “He redeemed my soul with peace from the battle that came upon me, because the many were with me.”

The common thread in almost all of the maamorim, beginning with the maamor of the Mitteler Rebbe, focuses on the concept of being redeemed from battle in a way of peace, which is seemingly an oxymoron — if there is peace there is no battle!  The explanation is that in fact there is a battle, a battle between the nefesh Elokis (the G-dly soul) and the nefesh habahamis (the animal soul we possess).  One may attempt to overcome his animal soul using his intellect (the lower levels of his G-dly soul, nefesh, ruach, neshoma), or overpowering it with force of will, ratzon (from the level of Chaya), but in these cases the Animal Soul can fight back with its own intellect and force of will — a battle.  Only when one reveals his yechida, the highest level of his soul, can he nullify the struggle of the Animal Soul and thus win the battle “in peace” —  “Padoh v’sholom”.

In this maamor the Rebbe explains that there are two aspects of “sholom” (בשלום — ב’ שלום): from Above to below, and from below to Above.  When there is a revelation of Ohr from Above which overwhelms and nullifies the Animal Soul, the Animal Soul ceases to oppose the G-dly Soul, but it doesn’t change the Animal Soul itself: it nullifies its reality, but doesn’t change it.  The change occurs through the struggle of the G-dly Soul to overcome and transform the Animal Soul, bringing it to realize on its own terms that it should love Hashem.  But even so, the Animal Soul will still remain a potential adversary.  We should by now be familiar with the Rebbe’s approach: that we need both aspects, from Above to below and from below to Above; and not just independently, but a unification of the two lines of influence.

The Rebbe brings the story of the Chossid of the Tzemach Tzedek, who complained in Yechidus (private audience) that others were “trampling on him” in the Beis Midrash.  The Rebbe points our attention to the fact that this Chossid’s self-importance (yeshus) was not only manifesting itself in the “mikdash me’at” of the Beis Midrash, but even in the private chamber of the Rebbe!  Despite the manifestation of the Shechina in those places, this Chossid’s yeshus remained intact.  This illustrates the necessity for avoidah, the work from below to Above (because despite the great revelations from Above a person can remain unchanged).  As expressed elsewhere (see, for example, the sicha of Vayeira): the lofty revelations from Above only become revealed to one who makes himself into a vessel to receive them.

Nitzutzos and Hisnagdus


In the final two oisios of the maamar, the Rebbe explains the continuation of the posuk: “…because the many were with me“.  The intent behind the descent of the nitzutzos, the Divine sparks, below is in order that they will be refined and return to their source (and even higher).  Because of this:

…It is not possible (אין שייך) that there should be any resistance or opposition (from the nitzutzos) to their refinement.  The fact that it is possible for there to be resistance and opposition is only from the side of the person (who is responsible for the refinement), for he has free choice.  But as far as the nitzutzos are concerned — there is no choice involved (they must be refined).

…And more than this: the nitzutzos want and yearn to be refined.  This is the meaning of “the many were with me”, that the nitzutzos found in the aspect of “the many” (רבים — implying those elements in the world which are opposed to G-dliness) yearn for their refinement… It is only because these nitzutzos are in golus in the aspect of “the many” that this is not revealed.  To such a degree that sometimes it appears that the individual and the worldly matters (not only that they don’t assist, but rather) interfere with his avoidas Hashem.  Because the concealment of the nitzutzos is the ultimate concealment, expressed as “a concealment that is not in existence”.  But via the avoidah of “the many were with me”, the awakening of the Yechida, the essence of the soul (עצם הנפש) which is higher than our reality, this “concealment that is not in existence” of the nitzutos is awakened and is revealed, together with their yearning to be refined, and then it is seen openly that the matters of the world (not only do not interfere, but rather) assist in avoidas Hashem.

This awakening of the Yechida contains within it both of the levels that were mentioned earlier: from Above to below and from below to Above, in a way where each one contains an aspect of the other.  Since the nitzutzos have a desire to be refined (from Above) — this is the admixture of “from below” in the revelation of Ohr from Above.  And similarly the refinement from below is in a way where the opposition is nullified (an aspect of “from Above”), for the same reason: the desire of the nitzutzos to be refined. When we awaken our Yechida, we reveal that in truth there is no opposition from the world (including the nations of the world) to a Jew serving Hashem, even if this truth was completely hidden before.

All of this takes place via the revelation of the Yechida, which we can bring about “by thinking about the inyan of the Yechida [and the resolution that his conduct will be fitting with the aspect of Yechida in his nefesh], the redemption of his G-dly soul from the war with the Animal Soul in a way of peace.”  One could say that “thinking about the inyan of the Yechida” is fulfilled by thinking about Moshiach (who possesses a soul which is the “yechida klolis” of the entire Jewish people), and making the commitment to conduct himself as Moshiach desires.  (Obviously, this can be done more completely when one is aware of Moshiach’s identity and his opinion on how a Jew should conduct himself in various matters.)  The Rebbe hints at this explanation in the closing words of the maamor“then (l’asid lavo) there will be the revelation of the Yechida via Moshiach, who is the aspect of the Yechida Klolis…”, and the work is in our hands!