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!)

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

Kuntres Beis Nissan 5751: To Give and To Receive

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).

 

Kuntres 25 Adar: Giving Over the Etzem

Kuntres 25 Adar was published in honor of the birthday of the Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka, which in a regular year (not a leap year) comes out around parshas Pekudei.

The discourse is based on the posuk “these are the  accounts (pekudei) of the Mishkan, the Mishkan of testimony, which was counted at the command of Moshe”.  The discourse discusses the difference between midos, which are essentially for another person (the mida of Chesed, for example, involves giving to someone else), and the intellect, which is essentially for the individual alone.  Midos are inherently revealed (even when they are still hidden in the heart), whereas intellect is inherently concealed (even when it is being given over to another).

This distinction is related to the difference between the two times “Mishkan” is mentioned in the verse, which also corresponds to Torah and Mitzvos as compared to Tshuva, which find expression in two levels of Tshuva (lower and higher). In addition, the verse mentions Moshe, who is the aspect of self-nullification (bittul) which unifies the two levels.  Worthwhile to see the maamor inside.

Most noteworthy to us is probably the following section of the maamor:

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… We can explain what is stated in Likkutei Torah [about this verse], that “pekudei” also has a meaning of “to be impregnated” and “seclusion”, as the sages say “a man is obligated to be with his wife [before departing on a journey]”.  It is explained elsewhere in Chassidus the [three marital obligations of providing] “her food, her wardrobe, and her marital relations (onasah): her food (nourishment) is giving over something that enclothes itself in the vessel of the recipient; her wardrobe (clothing) surrounds, which is a higher level; and onasah is giving over the essence, which is higher than the surrounding level of garments.

And we can add that the special quality of onasah is not only as regards a bestowal from above (that onasah is the giving over of the essence), but also as regards Yisroel, that they receive this bestowal not through a garment.  And we can say that this is what is meant by or sages when they said that “one who says ‘I [make a condition that our relations will take place with me] in my garment and she in her garment’ has to divorce and pay the kesuba”: that the negation of “I in my garment” is because the bestowal from Above is without a garment, and the negation of “she in her garment” is because receiving the revelation is not through a garment.

Here, as the Rebbe begins the year-long series of revelations of the year 5751-52, right at the beginning of the year-long cycle of Dvar Malchus, there is a clear statement about what is and will happen.  The “husband” (the Rebbe) is about to “go overseas” (at least visibly and audibly) and therefore he is going to fulfill his halachic obligation to “be with his wife” (the Chassidim) and give over the essence, the atzmus which is higher than either Sovev or Memaleh, and transcends intellect and emotion. How must this be done? “Without garments”, which in Chassidus refers to thought, speech, and action — without the familiar reference points, a completely different manner than the way the husband and wife relate the rest of the time.

The hint should be clear now (though surely it was not clear in 5751): the Rebbe in these Sichos and maamorim is giving over Atzmus — the essence of everything — before “going away for a while”* (at least in a revealed way).  And this creates a state of pregnancy, which leads to birth: a moshol for the true and complete Geuloh!

* There are those who tell being at a Simcha with the Rebbe’s mazkir R’ Binyomin Klein in 5754 (1994), when after a few lechayims R’ Klein revealed that the Rebbe had told him, shortly before Chof-Zayin Adar that he will be “going away for a while” (“איך גיי אוועק פאר א וויילע”) [heard from Mrs. Klar, who heard it from that mother of one of the bachurim who was there.]

Maamorim: The Big Picture

Interesting to note the sequence of the maamorim that were printed in 5751, the beginning of the year of Dvar Malchus:

Purim — The level of Purim: an awakening that leads to the downfall of the enemies of Israel (Haman, Stalin in 5713 after this maamor was said, Sadaam Hussein in 5751 when it was edited and printed), and ushers in the period of the ascendency of Mordechai, Esther, and the Jewish nation–while still in the place of exile.

25 Adar — The transmission of the essence from mashpia to mekabel, and it’s revelation, occurs specifically without garments (in a simple, Halachic sense, and also the revelations of thought, speech, and action).

Beis Nissan — The act of tzedoko is completed by actually giving money to the poor man; but the initial desire is only fulfilled when the recipient actually accepts the tzedoko and benefits from it.

11 Nissan — Tefilla leMoshe, the prayer of Moshe, is the prayer of a rich man who lacks nothing and possesses tremendous abundance.  If so, then what does he daven for? He davens that Yisroel (Malchus) should realize that they themselves are rich (spiritually, and from that is drawn down wealth into physicality as well).

18 Nissan — According to Halacha, birds require an additional degree of guarding than animals (not only walls, but also a roof) because they are able to “fly away”.  Similarly, the conceptions of the intellectual soul can also “fly away” to undesirable places, and therefore an additional level of caution is required (a degree that is unnecessary while guarding the animal soul).

 

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Kuntres Hey Teves, 5752

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!

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 Geulah!