8) 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 its 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 (“lighting 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 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 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 retains his sense of independent existence (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 has a direct relevance to Moshiach and Geulah, alluded to in the final sections of the maamor. When Yisroel preceded Matan Torah by saying “na’aseh v’nishma” “we will do and [only then] we will understand”, 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: 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, as the Rebbe says in other sichos, all that remains to be done is accepting the Kingship of Melech haMoshiach: this itself is not the ultimate level of bittul. Once the Kingship is accepted it must become clear that it is impossible for us to do anything opposite the King’s will due to our complete state of bittul

The Rebbe knows that we might fear that such a great level of bittul is depressing to our animal soul, and so he adds that this ultimate level of bittul is accompanied by a special joy: simcha shel mitzvah!

7) Kuntres Shavuos 5751: “Above” is Created From Below

7) 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 sake 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 achieve 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:

  • Something which exists but it’s hidden העלם שישנו במציאות;
  • Something which only exists in potential העלם שאינו במציאות; and
  • The 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 which is concealed in a coal;
  • the (potential for) fire concealed in a flint stone;
  • 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

6) 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 of 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?  By diligently laboring to understand this dimension of Torah, and asking Hashem to please “Open my eyes…”!

5) 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).  Contrasting this: 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 a way of 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.

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 lacking, 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.

21) Kuntres Chof-Beis Shevat: the Infinite Revealed

21) Kuntres Chof-Beis Shevat: the Infinite Revealed

This maamor begins with the verse of parshas Mishpotim: “These are the statues that you shall place before them: if you will acquire a Hebrew servant…”.  The Talmud Yerushalmi says that statues the verse is referring to are the secrets of Torah.  This raises a question, since the term “mishpotim” refers to the basic statutes of the Torah which the human mind can grasp (including the nations of the world), but not the Torah’s hidden secrets.  Furthermore, what is the connection with acquiring a Hebrew servant?

The defining element of a Hebrew servant is his acceptance of the yoke of servitude: his kabbolos ‘ol.  The reason this appears at the beginning of the Torah’s many “mishpotim” (statutes understood by the human mind) is to hint even when we fulfill the Torah’s laws which we understand — we must be fulfilling them [as well] out of kabbolos ‘ol, like a servant who does what he is told without understanding.  After all, the main thing about these laws is that they are the Will of Hashem, and Will is above reason and understanding.  But haven’t we defined the mishpotim as laws which our mind does understand?  In fact, it is not a contradiction: Continue reading