In particular in these days — the days of Moshiach — in which we are found now, we need only to “open up the eyes”, and then we see that we are already found in the true and complete Geuloh in the simple meaning of the words, and all of bnei Yisroel are ready in all the details “to approach and to sit down at the table”, a table set with all the delicacies and all good things, beginning with matters of Geuloh, Levyoson and the Shor haBar and the aged wine, and more and primarily, “to know Hashem”, “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of Hashem as water covers the seas.”
The sicha of Vayishlach 5752 contains several threads, each of considerable significance.
Firstly, the Rebbe explains the concept of the diminution of the moon — that the full moon on the 15th of the lunar month, when the moon fully receives and reflects the light of the sun, is followed by a decrease in the light until it completely disappears from sight. However, this period of diminution of the light of the moon is really only as far as the revelation of the moon is concerned. But the fact that we continue to count the days up (16th, 17th, 18th, etc.) hints that in fact the moon is really reaching a higher level, coming closer to the sun (the mashpia) until it ultimately unifies with it and becomes a mashpia itself. “The complete perfection of the moon is when the it becomes like the sun and no longer needs to receive the light of the sun.“
The unification of the sun and the moon, the mashpia and the mekabel, requires the moon to be completely nullified, resulting in “the essence being revealed” (etzem b’hisgalus). This is a metaphor for the relationship of the Jewish people to Hashem, that when Yisroel is completely nullified to Hashem they become unified and they themselves become like Him, both being equal “one crown for both of them”. All this takes place after the process of refinement (avodas habirurim) is completed.
This brings us to the next significant thread of this sicha, where the Rebbe states that the refinement of the sparks of Tohu (related to Esav in our parsha) has been completed, and “all the matters of avodah have been finished and completed, also as regards (and in) the world.” Although this appears in many of the sichos of Dvar Malchus, in our sicha of Vayishlach the Rebbe addresses the question: if everything has been done, what do we do now? The answer is found in the conduct of Yaakov towards Esav in our parsha. Returning from living with Lavan in Charan, Yaakov was ready for Moshiach and anticipated that Esav, too, was ready. Thus, what Yaakov did is what we are doing. The verses tell us how Yaakov sent excessive gifts to Esav, and bowed down 7 times. In Torah Ohr, the Alter Rebbe explains what this means spiritually, which the Rebbe summarizes as follows:
“Yaakov sent messengers before him to Esav his brother” — that Yaakov, whose source is from the world of Tikkun, sent messengers literally “before him“, to the level that is higher than him, to Esav his brother who has his source in the world of Tohu (since, due to his relationship to Yaakov, we are referring to Esav after he was refined and returned to his source, the transcendentlevel of Tohu). This was “in order to draw down the transcendent level of Tohu to him below in Tikkun, which is the aspect of internalized light, that the transcendent will shine forth internally and they will be unified together. This is also the meaning of the unification of the moon and the sun (Yaakov and Esav, inner light and transcendent light, memaleh kol almin and sovev kol almin), until the moon no longer receives from the sun (since the the refinement of the sparks of Tohu has already been finished and completed, which was the reason that the moon was originally diminished to be a receiver, as explained earlier in the sicha), but rather the light of the moon becomes like the light of the sun, that both are equal.
(Footnote 89): We learn out from the avodah of Yaakov after he thought that Esav was already refined, and even after the messengers returned and informed him that Esave was not yet refined — he did not get involved in “avodas habirurim” (to refine Esav), but rather he became involved in “the elevation of the ‘lower waters’ to draw down the ‘masculine waters’ of the transcendent level of Tohu‘ [hala’as Ma”n lehamshich Ma”d d’makif d’Tohu] via his offering. [More explanation is required, but time does not allow us to do so here and now. See Torah Ohr on our parsha.]
The Rebbe continues and connects this with the refinement of the nation of France, in loshon kodesh “Tzorfas” which has the numerical value of 770, that this represents the completion of the process of refining the world. “From this it is understood that literally in our times we need only to open the eyes and to see the reality b’poel mamash.” (Footnote 112): “That is to say, not only this that the avodah of refinement has been completed and that we need to bring about a revelation of this in the world, but rather more than this, that there is already revealed [such a revelation] in actuality, and we need only to open the eyes, because already ‘you have been given…eyes to see.'”
Our sages tell us that the Jewish people are likened to the moon and thus we count according to the moon. The months of the Jewish calendar begin with the birth of the new moon each month. This means that the 15th of every month is the date of the full moon. What is a full moon? It is the time when the moon reaches the state of maximum revelation, reflecting the light of the sun to its utmost. This is called shleimus halevana, the moon being “full” and “complete”. This process of the waxing of the moon until it reaches completeness is illustrated by the increasing number of the day of the month: 1, 2, 3, etc., until the 15th. The ascending number corresponds to the ascending completeness of the moon’s revelation.
The true completeness of the moon, explains the Rebbe, is not truly found on the 15th of the month (the full moon), because then the moon is is only at maximum capacity as a mekabel, a receiver (and reflector) of light from the sun. The true shleimus, the true completeness of the moon is when the moon becomes similar to the sun — a mashpia — and no longer needs to receive light from the sun.
By examining the astronomical properties of the movement of the moon we will understand this more deeply: the first half of the month, when the revelation of the light of the moon is increasing daily, the moon itself is actually moving further away from the sun. The further it gets from the sun, the greater its light. In the second half of the month it moves closer to the sun, and as it gets closer its visible light diminishes. This is because the closer the mekabel is to the mashpia, the less he is able to “shine forth”, due to the great self-nullification, bitul, it has in order to receive. What occurs in the second half of the month, the Rebbe explains, is that the moon comes closer to the sun in order to achieve the union of the two of them in the following month. While the light of the moon diminishes at this time, in truth light is only a glimmer of the essence. And as the moon approaches the sun, its essence is coming closer to revelation. When is the essence revealed?
When the mekabel is unified with the mashpia to such a degree that it also becomes a mashpia, and there ceases to be a relationship of giver/recipient between them, that both of them are equal — then the essence is revealed.
So it turns out that as great as the revelation of the full moon may be, it is only as regards the moon as a mekabel from the sun. But the true shliemus of the moon begins its approach in the second half of the month — as it comes closer to the sun and is transforming into a mashpia itself. For this reason, we continue to count up (16, 17, 18, etc.) even as the moon wanes and its illumination diminishes — because on a deeper level it is still climbing to higher levels.
It is for this reason that we find that the holidays of the Torah are on the 15th of the month when the moon is full (or, in the case of Shavuos — in the 1st half of the month, when the light of the moon is increasing). But Yud Tes Kislev, the Matan Torah of Toras haChassidus, falls out on the 19th, in the second half of the month. This is because the revelation of Chassidus is a beginning and a taste of the Torah of Moshiach (“Torah chadasha m’iti seitzeh“) which is connected with the revelation of the essence (which is what is taking place by the moon in the second half of the month).
This is also connected with the weekly parsha, where Yaakov has finished refining the sparks of holiness that were trapped in the realm of Lovon his father-in-law and is now going to greet Esav. This parsha is speaking about the time, at the end of golus, when the avodah of birurim will be finished. Yaakov is ready for the days of Moshiach,to unify with Esav (representing the unification of the neshoma and the body, and also the Holy One, blessed be He and Yisroel).
Thus the difference between Yaakov as he is involved in the service of refinement and Yaakov as he is prepared for the Redemption, parallels the difference between the moon as it receives light from the sun and as it will be in the Era of the Redemption, when it will be equal to the sun.
When Yaakov confronted Eisav, although Yaakov was prepared for the Redemption Eisav was not, and the task of refining Eisav and the material worlds associated with him had to continue for centuries. In the present age, however, to borrow an expression from the Previous Rebbe, “We have already polished the buttons.” The task of refinement which was entrusted to the Jews has been completed.
Thus we are now living in a new era with a new service. Instead of concentrating on the refinement of the world, our efforts must focus on revealing the Redemption. The Era of Redemption, which is described with the analogy of a feast, is a present reality, all that is necessary is for us to open our eyes and see.
So it turns out that this week’s parsha is speaking directly about our times — the end of golus when we have completed avodas habirurim (work of refinement) and are ready to be transformed from mekabel to mashpia by revealing the unity of the Holy One, blessed be He, and Yisroel. Furthermore:
From this it is understood that the continuation of the avodah that follows (as long as Moshiach Tzidkeinu is delayed for whatever reason (completely unknown and not understood)) is not avodas habirurim (for avodas habirurim has already been completed and finished) but rather, it is a special avodah to bring the revelation in actuality in the world.
[For those who are familiar with the terminology of Chassidus (explained in Torah Ohr on our parsha), the Rebbe notes (footnote 89) that this present avodah is similar to what Yaakov attempted to do when he went to greet Esav — dividing his camp into two camps, sending abundant gifts to Esav, and bowing before him. “He did not involve himself in avodas habirurim (to refine Esav), but rather he involved himself in ‘hala’as ma”n to elicit ma”d of Tohu’ via his offering” which he sent to Esav. This itself is worthy of a separate essay. But , simply put, he made an effort from below-to-Above in way that it will awaken from the supernal source of Esav an outpouring of the lights of Tohu, recalling the Rebbe’s words of Koach Nissan: that we must drawn down the lights of Tohu into vessels of Tikkun. All of this requires further explanation.]
The Rebbe continues and connects this with the refinement of the nation of France, in loshon kodesh “Tzorfas” which has the numerical value of 770, that this represents the completion of the process of refining the world.
From this it is understood that literally in our times we need only to open the eyes and to see the reality b’poel mamash.” (Footnote 112): That is to say, not only this that the avodah of refinement has been completed and that we need to bring about a revelation of this in the world, but rather more than this, that there is already revealed [such a revelation] in actuality, and we need only to open the eyes, because already ‘you have been given…eyes to see.’
Yaakov Avinu, fleeing the wrath of his brother Esav, arrived in Beis El as the sun was set ting unexpectedly. As a result of the sudden sunset, he went to sleep there for the night. The next morning, when he woke up, he realized where he was — Har Hamoriah, the site where the Beis Hamikdash would later be built. He declared his shock that he had slept in such a holy spot!
In the Dvar Malchus sicha of Vayeitzei, the Rebbe examines Yaakov’s laying down to sleep “‘in that place’ — the place of the Mikdash (מקום המקדש)…”
This expression “the place of the mikdash” (“מקום המקדש”) should grab our attention — this is the same expression the Rebbe uses in Kuntres Beis Rabbeinu Sh’b’Bavel (which was published and distributed several weeks prior to this sicha). In that Kuntres, the Rebbe states that 770 is the “place of the Mikdash” (מקום המקדש). Does the Rebbe want us to realize that we, too, are “sleeping” in the “place of the Mikdash” (מקום המקדש) and don’t realize it?!
However, the Rebbe explains in this sicha that the seemingly disgraceful “sleeping in the place of the Mikdash” can also be interpreted in a positive fashion: at the time that one lies down to sleep there is equality between the head and the feet. The entire body is flat, on one level, no part is higher than any other (unlike when standing, when the head is highest, the feet are lowest, etc.). Although this position is a tremendous descent from the perspective of revealing the ability of the respective parts of the body, since these abilities (thought, speech, sight, hearing, etc.) are not revealed when one is asleep. But, at the very same time, there is something lofty about this state: it reflects on the revelation of Atzmus — the Essence and Being of Divinity — which transcends all differences such as head and foot, higher and lower, spiritual and physical. As much as one can display his abilities while he is awake, this display also shows the distance between the various parts of the body. When one is asleep, and the differences are not apparent, this represents the complete unification of lower and higher — Atzmus.
If so, then maybe we should keep sleeping and not wake up? Why shatter this revelation of Atzmus that just learned is so essential and transcendent? Because after sleeping, this level will be drawn also into the revelations of the various abilities mentioned above:
Even when Yaakov “awakens from his slumber” (a hint to the Rebbe’s expressions in the Dvar Malchus sicha of Toldos), and the head then returns to its lofty level compared to the lowly foot, nonetheless the “equality” generated by the revelation of Atzmus — the Essence — remains. We create a dwelling place down below: a “dira b’tachtonim“
This means that our sleeping on the site of the greatest Divine revelations, the place of the Mikdash (מקום המקדש), is not a disgrace, but is actually connected with the revelation of the Divine Essence and Being itself! And the Rebbe’s call to “open our eyes” (via learning Chassidus and especially the subjects of Geuloh and Moshiach) is not a call to do away with this dimension of sleep, but rather to draw down this dimension (revelation of the Essence) into the awake, physical world, a world which is ready to be a vessel to receive and internalize these revelations!
In this sicha, which was said on Shabbos Vayeitze, which corresponded in 5752 (and also this year, 5780) to the 9th of Kislev, the birthday and hillula (day of passing) of the Mitteler Rebbe, the 2nd Rebbe of Chabad.
The Alter Rebbe, his father, represented the attribute of Chochma (wisdom), and his son the Mitteler Rebbe represents the attribute of Bina (understanding). Just as Bina expands and reveals the breadth and depth of Chochma, so, too, the teachings of the Mitteler Rebbe are “wide as a river”, allowing one to drink deeply from the wellsprings of pnimiyus haTorah. This is significant to bringing the Geuloh, because:
At this time there needs to be…the study of pnimiyus Hatorah as it has been revealed in the teachings of Chassidus, and the fulfillment of the instructions of our Rebbeim. This includes — learning the subjects of Moshiach and Geuloh, in a way that it opens the heart and the eyes and the ears — so that they will understand, and see and feel the true and complete Geuloh tangibly in the physicality of the world.
Not merely learning as some sort of intellectual exercise, but rather “in a way of seeing, that this [the true and complete Geuloh] is already prepared and ready, and one only needs to open the eyes and then he will see this!“
Practically speaking, this means adding in the learning of the Torah of the Mitteler Rebbe, for his teachings are specifically in a way of Bina. It is through learning in a way of Bina, understanding, where it becomes integrated with a person, that the studies have an effect on the person. This means an effort to express his “spirituality” and his chassidishkeit in his physical matters, until there will be no divide between his “spiritual” aspect and his physical being.
Furthermore, this can impact the world dramatically, because:
We have completed all the birurim (refinement), including the refinement of “Esav he is Edom”, and how much more so considering that even in the time of Yaakov Avinu he already thought that Esav was refined (and from Yaakov’s level in fact he was). And all the more so after all of the avodah that has taken place since then (to refine Esav) until we are at the point where Esav is already completely refined, as we see in the conduct in our days (golus Edom) of the nations of the world who are related to “Esav he is Edom”, such as this country, a country of kindness, and such conduct is spreading to other nations, as we see lately.
We find that Yidden are ready, the world is ready, even the nations of Esav are ready. What remains, then, to be done?
The only thing lacking is — that a Jew should open his eyes properly, and should see how everything is ready for the Geuloh! There is the “set table” already, and there is already the Leviyoson and the Shor Habor and the aged wine, and Yidden are sitting at the table — “their father’s table”, together with Moshiach Tzidkeinu (as stated in seforim that in every generation there is one of the seed of Dovid who, due to his righteousness, is fitting to be Moshiach), and there is already a “heart to know and eyes to see and ears to hear”.
Let us open up the seforim and open up our eyes and ears and hearts to know the truth of the only one who is fitting to be the redeemer, and in that way we empower him (as the Rebbe said in the sicha of Chayei Sara) to redeem the Jewish nation from golus!
This week the sicha examines a simple but deep concept: the distinction between “essential existence” (“etzem metzius“) and the revelation of that existence. This is illustrated by the difference between the birth of a person, the beginning of their essential existence, upon which everything they will do in the future depends, and the actual good deeds that they will do in their life.
Similarly, we find by the moon (this sicha was spoken on the Shabbos following Rosh Chodesh Kislev), that Rosh Chodesh is the “birth” of the new moon. Following its birth, the moon proceeds over the next 15 days to wax greater and greater, increasing the amount of light it shines. The greatest light that reflects from the moon is on the 15th of the month, representing the fulfillment of its ability to shine (a “full moon”). [There is also a special quality of the 2nd half of the month is explained in the sicha of Parshas Vayishlach]. Yet, even the great light of the full moon derives from the initial revelation of its essential existence on Rosh Chodesh.
In the case of a Yid: the first moment of revelation of his essential existence, etzem metziyuso, is the moment of his birth when the neshoma comes into a physical body. All of what he will proceed to do afterwards is found in this initial moment of his coming into existence, and this moment is the main thing — “the entire existence of a person over the course of all the days of his life are contained in the moment when he is born and goes out into the air of the world.”
Everything that proceeds after the birth is simply an expansion and greater revelation of that first moment. The importance of what follows (his “good deeds”) is that these good deeds bring about the revelation to the world of his essential existence as a G-dly neshoma — and this is the fulfillment of his existence.
Nonetheless, the main thing is that first moment when he comes into existence, birth. We see this in the birth of a child, which is accompanied by rejoicing and celebration even before the child has done anything. And more than this, the Rebbe explains:
“the main quality of the Jewish people in their essential existence, “Yisroel and the Holy One, blessed be He, are all one”, is intact even without the performance of Torah and Mitzvos, “pleasing ways and good deeds”. Like the metaphor of a fleshly King who has many sons, that the love he has for his sons is essential love even when they do not possess “pleasing ways and good deeds”. (And on the contrary: regarding the sons who do possess “pleasing ways and good deeds”, and it is logical to love them, the essential love is not so evident).
Of course one loves a son who’s ways are pleasing and deeds are good. But to love a son who lacks pleasing ways and good deeds? In such a case it is clear that the love derives not from the “nachas” of his behavior, but from his essential existence as the son of this father.
This shows also on the importance of the physical body of a Jew, which has no special quality in and of itself, but nonetheless Hashem chose the Jewish body. Thus, a Jew’s body expresses Hashem’s essential connection to a Jew even more than the neshoma — because a neshoma has the unique quality of being a “part of G-dliness” (like a son whose ways are pleasing and deeds are good). By being enclothed in a physical body and doing the work to refine it, the neshoma reveals that it also possess an essential connection to Hashem that is not dependent on its special qualities.
The concept of birth, and of the moon, are directly connected to the Geuloh. Just as birth, and the birth of the moon, is a moment which contains the entire essential existence of the person, so, too, the moment of the Geuloh is the revelation of etzem haneshoma, the essence of the neshoma, which is higher than any name which we can give it, even higher than the name “Yechida” and “chelek Eloka“. It is like when a person awakens from sleep, even before he has enough awareness to say “Modeh ani“, thanking Hashem for restoring his soul, he already has awoken to his essential existence. This is the moment of Geuloh — awakening to our true essential existence.
Not only that, but it is known that every Jew contains within him a spark of Moshiach. The Geuloh comes when each one reveals the spark of Moshiach within him — the revelation of the essence of the neshoma “etzem haneshoma mamash“. This is “waking up from sleep”, and this waking up brings about that he will proceed to reveal the essence in actuality, which is the true inyan of the Coming of Moshiach.
So, the question then is: how do we “wake up”?
When the chayus of every single Yid is in the inyan of Moshiach, this brings (automatically) to the state of Yemos Hamoshiach (the Days of Moshiach), that the essence of the Yidden will be revealed in actuality.
This is “breathing the air of Moshiach”, which allows us to feel the “spirit of Melech Hamoshiach” — the essence — which is more fundamental than eating and drinking, and higher than the “light” of Melech Hamoshiach.
The Rebbe concludes the sicha:
…we should have the begining of the true Geuloh, via Moshiach Tzidkeinu — “a king will arise from the house of Dovid, etc.”, until “he will rectify the entire world to serve Hashem together…” And as hinted at in the end of the haftorah of the previous week…which finishes with the declaration “Yechi Adoni Hamelech Dovid l’Olam” (“Live my master the King Dovid forever”) — the eternality of the Kingship of the house of Dovid…which reaches its perfection via Melech Hamoshiach…the meaning of this declaration is the revelation of the existence of Melech Hamoshiach. And through this [declaration] comes his revelation before the eyes of all through his activities, etc.”
There is a need to wake up, to declare that there is the existence of Melech Hamoshiach (“Yechi Hamelech”), which is the essence of our own existence. It is by doing this that we are able to bring about the revelation of Melech Hamoshiach in the world, to bring the Geuloh in actuality.
This sicha was said on Shabbos during the annual Kinus Hashluchim gathering in 5752 (1991), and primarily addresses the task of shlichus.
Standing by the beginning and opening of the Kinus Hashluchim — emissaries of my father-in-law the Rebbe, Nosi Doreinu, in all corners of the globe — we must mention, first of all, the foundation [of the Shlichus] and to verbalize the task of the shluchim in our generation in general, and especially — the new element which has been added especially in the most recent time to the work of shlichus: to greet Moshiach Tzidkeinu in the true and complete Geuloh. [Emphasis in the original]
The Rebbe proceeds to explain that periodically there a new element (“chiddush”) is added to the Shlichus, which becomes the gate through which all the other elements ascend, and in our generation and in this time “the special shlichus of our time: to greet Moshiach Tzidkeinu.” [it should be noted that in the original the expression is “lekabel pnei Moshiach Tzidkeinu”, which can be translated as “to greet”, but literally the words convey the meaning “to accept the face of Moshiach”.]
Then the Rebbe explains at length what a Shliach is, according to halacha, and how in fact every Jew is a shliach of the Holy One, blessed be He, to transform the world into a dwelling place for Him through Torah and Mitzvos, which is the avodah of unifying the spiritual and the physical. The concept of a shliach receives emphasis on parshas Chayei Sara where the Torah goes on at great length about the first Shliach, Eliezer the servant of Avraham, to make the shidduch of Rivka and Yitzchok, which itself is the basis for the unification of the spiritual and the physical, the soul and the body, self-nullification (“bitul”) and individual being (“yesh”). (This can be addressed in another post, with Hashem’s help.) The Rebbe then returns to the subject of greeting Moshiach:
From this it is understood, that the only thing which now remains in the avodah of the shlichus is: to greet Moshiach Tzidkeinu in actuality, so that he [Moshiach] will be able to fulfill his shlichus in actuality and to take all of Israel out of the golus!
In other words: in order for Moshiach to be able to fulfill his task of taking us out of exile, we need to “greet” him, to “accept his face”, meaning to recognize him and acknowledge that he is the one we follow to get out of golus!
In the name of the Rebbe Rayatz, we are already “standing ready” to greet Moshiach, tshuva has already been done, all the avodah is finished, but yet the Geulah has not yet come. Thus, there must be something else that we must do.
What is in fact required of us? Our Sages explain that in each generation, there is an individual who is fit to be Moshiach and “when the time comes, G‑d will reveal Himself to him and send him.” The service at present is thus to be prepared to actually accept Moshiach and create a climate in which he can accomplish his mission and redeem Israel from the exile.
And this is the task of the International Conference of Shluchim: First and foremost, to make a public statement that this is the task confronting us — to prepare ourselves to accept Moshiach. Every aspect of our service and every dimension of our activity must be directed to this goal.
Every shliach should realize that he is responsible to explain the above concepts to all the individuals in his city. He must convey to them, in a manner which they can understand and relate to, the imminence of Moshiach’s coming and the need to study about Moshiach and the Era of the Redemption.
This sicha makes clear that not only are we dependent on Moshiach, but that — Moshiach is dependent on us! He cannot lead us out of exile unless we recognize him and accept his leadership. [And, as the Rebbe mentions in other sichos, the attribute of Kingship (“Malchus”) is only awakened to accept the Crown (“Kesser”) due to the expressed desire of the people, and the implications are easily understood.]
How do we fulfill this shlichus? By conveying theses concepts in a manner which the other person can understand. While the concepts like “Malchus“, “Kesser” and “pnimiyus Atik” may not understood by someone who hasn’t studied pnimiyus haTorah, but the concepts of a nation appointing and accepting a King are surely understood by all. And the examples are many.
The key to it all: learning and teaching. As the Rebbe expresses numerous times in the Dvar Malchus sichos, that the direct way to bring the Geulah is by learning about the subject. And in this particular sicha the Rebbe adds that this is speeded up by making a resolution to learn the entire Torah Ohr and Likkutei Torah of the Alter Rebbe. Understanding Moshiach and Geuloh enables one to recognize the Moshiach.
Nothing else remains to be done.
“I will be for them a small sanctuary (mikdash me’at) in the lands where they will come.” (Yechezkiel 11:16)
Our sages explain this psouk to mean that even outside of Eretz Yisroel, in the place and time of golus, there is a “small mikdash” which is a scaled-down example of the “great mikdash” in Yerushalayim. Rebbi Yitzchok in the gemora (Megillah 29a) said that these are the shuls and study halls in Bovel (Babylon), and Rebbi Eliezer said that this is “Beis Rabbeinu sh’b’Bovel” — “the house of our Rebbe in Bovel”.
The Rebbe, as might be expected, holds that these two sages do not have an argument, that each one surely agrees with the opinion of the other; the only difference is what they consider to be the main and most important fulfillment of the prophecy of “mikdash me’at“. Rebbi Eliezer holds that it is the study hall (place of learning) and shul (place of Tefilla) of “Rabbeinu”. Every shul possesses this quality in a small measure, but the primary and most complete manifestation of it is in the shul and study hall of the Rav whose Torah decisions are followed by the people of the city. And, in a fuller sense, there is one place which is the main “mikdash me’at” in the time of golus: the shul and study hall of the leader of the generation.
Our sages state that “Everywhere that Yisroel were exiled, the Shechina was exiled with them.” The sages in our gemora asked where in Bovel is the Shechina to be found? Abaye answered: in the shul of Hutzal and the shul of Shaf v’Yosiv in Nehardea — sometimes here and sometimes there. These were two unique shuls in Bovel, the first being close to the study hall of the revered Ezra the Sofer, the second being built from stones that were brought from the Beis Hamikdosh in Yerushalayim and “the Shechina was always found there” (Rashi). It called “Shaf v’Yosiv” (meaning “uprooted and [re]settled”) to indicate that “the Mikdash travelled and settled there”. It was literally the Beis Hamidkash of that generation, as “the revelation of the Shechina that was in the Beis Hamikdosh in Yerushalayim (and nowhere else) traveled and settled in this special place in Bovel, in place of the Mikdash in Yerushalayim.“
Of course, the Shechina dwells in every shul where Jews gather for Tefillah, and every study hall where they learn Torah, but nowhere is the Shechina more revealed than in the Beis Hamikdosh in Yerushalayim, or (in the time of golus) in these special buildings. Similarly we find that “in the future the shuls and study halls of Bovel will be established in Eretz Yisroel” — this is true of every shul and study hall, all of which will be connected to the Third Beis Hamikdosh in Yerushalayim. And when these places are relocated to Eretz Yisroel, the revelation of the Shechina will also return to Eretz Yisroel, and there will no longer be a revelation of the Shechina outside the land of Israel where the “mikdash me’at” stood. The Rebbe adds (quoting the Maharsha): Continue reading
This sicha begins with the story of the Rebbe Rashab as a young boy. On his 4th or 5th birthday he was brought to his grandfather, the Tzemach Tzedek, to receive a blessing. When he entered his grandfather’s room he burst out in tears and said “In cheder, we learned that G-d revealed Himself to Avraham. Why does He not reveal Himself to me?” The Tzemach Tzedek responded:
“When a Jew [alternatively, ‘When a tzaddik’] who is ninety-nine years old recognizes that he must undergo [the spiritual service of] circumcision, he is worthy of having G-d reveal Himself to him.”
Both the question and the answer contain clues to the process of redemption.
The mitzvah of circumcision is a unique covenant with the Creator which is brought about by removing the foreskin, the “orlah“, an impure manifestation that obscures. Although none of us is on the level of Avraham Avinu’s Divine service, we learn from him that even if a person has reached the 99th level of perfecting himself (corresponding to his 99 years at the time), he must take the next step to realize that there is a greater level of Divine revelation which can only be revealed by circumcising himself — removing the orlah which obscures that revelation (even if it may be very subtle and barely noticeable to him). The goal is not “self-perfection” but rather G-dly revelation. The orlah blocks this G-dly revelation from being complete, and must be removed even at the age of 99 years (and how much more so before then).
In order to accomplish this, we must tap into the same yearning, the same sense that something critical is lacking, which caused the young Rebbe Rashab to burst into tears that G-d had not revealed Himself to him. The goal of all of our effort and service of Hashem is to bring about this Divine revelation. No matter what we have accomplished, no matter how far we have come (whether as individuals or the Jewish people as a whole), until we bring about this revelation of G-dliness we have not accomplished the goal. Even if we have finished the Divine service of golus, we still need to bring about the revelation of G-dliness in the world, to bring into actuality the true and complete Geuloh. To do this we need to feel a yearning for Hashem’s Divine revelation.
This is particularly evident in the mitzvah of milah (circumcision) which is “sealed in our flesh”, connecting the Divine command with the material body of each Jew. Similarly, the Divine revelation of which we speak cannot remain spiritual, it must come down to the world, to the soul as it is enclothed in a material body.
The Rebbe explains that all of this is connected with the revelation of the spark of Moshiach which is contained in every Jew — that each one of us must reveal this spark of Moshiach which is within us. Revealing it means bringing it out in our consciousness, in our actions, and in our influence on the world. A person revealing his spark of Moshiach is a “personal redemption” and all of the “personal redemptions” come together to become the true and complete Geuloh. How do we speed this up? By acting as a shliach, meaning an “agent”, utilizing all 10 powers of soul (3 of intellect, 3 of emotion, 4 of action) to bring about G-d’s revelation in the world, primarily by learning and spreading the teachings of Chassidus in way where they are understood and internalized. This is a preparation for the inner bond with Hashem that will be revealed.
Furthermore, we are at a stage where there are no more obstacles to this revelation. The Rebbe Rashab, when he founded the Yeshiva Tomchei Temimim, spoke about the two stages before the redemption which are hinted at in Psalm 89: those who are the “enemies of Hashem”, enemies of G-d and His Torah (the maskilim and reformers of his generation); and those who “scorn the footsteps of Your anointed one (Moshiach)”, meaning Torah-observant Jews who have little faith in Moshiach (complete sicha of the Rebbe Rashab). The Rebbe Rashab noted then that the students of Tomchei Temimim are the “soldiers of the House of David” who fight these wars. In our sicha of Parshas Vayera, the Rebbe says that even this has been completed, indicating that there are no longer any real “enemies of Hashem” among the Jewish people (only those who are like a “captured child” (תינוק שנשבה) raised by gentiles, not responsible for how he was raised), and similarly (and a greater chiddush) — there is no longer any real opposition to Moshiach. Rather, we have entered the stage of Psalm 90 (the Rebbe’s kapital for the year 5751-52) which concludes with the verse “May the pleasantness of G-d our L-rd be upon us, establish for us the work of our hands,” referring to the Holy Temple.
Since we have reached the completion of our Divine service, all that remains is to awaken a yearning for Divine revelation like the young Rebbe Rashab and to act like Avraham Avinu and “circumcise ourselves” — meaning to remove from ourselves anything which obscures the Divine revelation, no matter how subtle it might be. This, together with learning and teaching Chassidus and fulfilling our shlichus with all powers of our soul, speeds up and brings about the true and complete redemption which can take place immediately!
Hashem’s instruction to Avraham Avinu “Lech Lecho” is a leaving (from “your land, your birth place, your father’s house”) for the sake of arriving: arriving to “the land I will show you”, Eretz Yisroel.
According to Chassidus, each of these expressions of leaving has a spiritual counterpart in the avodah of a Jew:
- Your land (artzecha) refers to one’s will (ratzon), that one has to leave his concepts of “I want”;
- Your birth place refers to the traits one was born with, to leave the concept of “that’s the way I am”;
- Your father’s house refers to the education and training that one has become accustomed to.
First one must completely leave these three limiting self-conceptions (even if they are in the realm of Holiness), and having left them he can now proceed towards “the land I will show you”, the Land of Israel. Back in parshas Pinchas the Rebbe explained that a Jew must “make here Eretz Yisroel”, make it “a place where G‑dliness, holiness, and Yiddishkeit are openly revealed”, and further: to conduct ourselves in the spirit of the Geulah. Here the Rebbe says that we are far beyond the beginning of the process of conquering the land outside of Israel and making it Eretz Yisroel, and thus the instruction to “go out from your land” in our case refers also to the land that has already been made into Eretz Yisrael. To not only “go out” from negative things, but to “go out” from the current, limited level we have obtained even in holy things.
This includes not only the land of the 7 nations, which correspond to the 7 midos (the 7 emotional attributes of chesed, gevurah, etc.), but the land of all 10 nations that was promised to Avraham, including the 3 nations of Keni, Kenizi and Kadmoni, which correspond to the 3 moichin (the 3 intellectual attributes of the soul: Kesser, Chochma, and Bina). And the acquisition of this land will take place peacefully, without the war that was required to conquer the 7 lands, meaning the 7 midos.
This process of “Lech Lecho” — leaving what one is accustomed to, even good and holy things — takes place by revealing powers that one did not even know he had. This includes adding in learning Torah and making chiddushim (novel insights), gathering people on Shabbos to teach them Torah. This process of “Lech Lecho” is the preparation needed to reach the “Torah of Moshiach”, which is connected with the acquisition of the 3 lands, the 3 moichin, which is the “sha’ar haNun“, the 50th gate which Moshe Rabbeinu was only able to reach at the end of his life. And through this we will reach the complete revelation of the Torah that was given at Har Sinai: the level of “a new Torah will go forth from Me” (Vayikra Rabba 13:3 on Yeshayahu 51:4).
We can observe that during the decades of the Rebbe’s leadership, the Rebbe numerous times demanded a new “lech lecho” from the Chassidim*:
- In the “Yud’s” (the 1950s) the Rebbe demanded that Chassidim go out from what are called worldly assumptions (“hanachos ha’olam”), to leave the “balabatish” behavior and attitudes that were common at the time, even among Chassidim (the Rebbe in those years would make fun of those who were concerned that their tie was straight and that the color matched their shoes);
- In the “Chof’s” (the 1960s) the Rebbe began pushing for Chassidim in general to go out from the confines of the Chassidic community to go on Shlichus (“Ufaratzta“);
- In the “Lameds” (the 1970s) the Rebbe pushed Chassidim to become “activists” both locally (in Crown Heights) and internationally (influencing the Israeli government regarding “Who is a Jew“);
- In the “Mem’s” (the 1980s) the Rebbe launched into a greater emphasis on Moshiach — “We Want Moshiach Now” — and introduced the spreading of the 7 Noachide Laws to Gentiles.
Each of these steps demanded that the Chassidim “go out” from the things they had become accustomed to, time after time another “lech lecho”. We can observe that in the “Nun’s” (the 1990s) the Rebbe ratcheted up the push for Moshiach and introduced identifying and publicizing Moshiach, and the need to accept Moshiach’s Kingship (as mentioned in Parshas Noach, among other places). This also demanded (and still demands) a “lech lecho” from Chassidim who had become accustomed to the previous standards that the Rebbe established.
Here in our sicha, the Rebbe reminds us that in order to bring the revelation of Moshiach and the true and complete Geuloh we cannot stand still (even if we are standing in the best of places) — we must “go out” to the land where the Rebbe is guiding us, exemplified by the Rebbe’s enthusiastic encouragement of the singing of “Yechi Adoneinu Moreinu v’Rabbeinu, Melech Hamoshiach l’Olom Vo’ed!” Pack the bags and Lech Lecho!
*) Here we are speaking about the Rebbe’s demands of Chassidim, but it also recalls the following episode about the Rebbe himself as told by the Rebbe’s secretary Leibel Groner’ ע”ה:
When R’ Moshe Leib Rodstein, my wife’s uncle, lived in Poland before World War II, he served as the secretary of the Rebbe Rayatz. His job was to type the letters the Rebbe wrote and to send them to the addressees. After the war, when he arrived in the United States, he continued working for the Rebbe Rayatz. After the passing of the Rebbe Rayatz, the Rebbe asked him to stay on in his job, which he did until he passed away.
R’ Moshe Leib once told me, “It is hard to understand. When an apprentice trains under an electrician, carpenter or the like, after a while he learns the trade and opens his own business. I thought that after working for the Rebbeim for many years that I’d learn the profession of Admurus and would be able to open my own Admurus and be a Rebbe.”
I asked him why this hadn’t happened. He said, “I saw a new Rebbe every day! The Rebbe of today is not the Rebbe of yesterday.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Every day, I saw new giluyim and new conduct on the part of the Rebbe. Each day, there were things I had never seen before. So I could never learn the trade and I did not become a Rebbe.”