Va’era 5752: The Rectification of Death

In the second sicha printed for parshas Va’era 5752, the Rebbe elaborates on the statement of the sages that “one who dies on Erev Shabbos, it is a good sign for him”.

The Gemara describes that when R’ Yehuda haNosi took ill, R’ Chiya visited him and found him crying.  He asked him why he was crying (assuming that he was afraid of death).  R’ Chiya proceeded to give him a list of signs that portend well for the fate of a person after death (and their opposite): Dying amidst laughter is a good sign, while crying is a not good; one who dies on Erev Shabbos is a good sign, after Shabbos is not good.  (And several others.)

R’ Yehuda haNosi responded that he was crying (not from a fear of his fate after death, but rather) because of the Torah and Mitzvos he would no longer be able to perform.  Seemingly, the list of good signs brought by R’ Chiya (several of which applied to R’ Yehuda haNosi and were meant to comfort him), do not help the reason given by R’ Yehuda for his crying, because seemingly being unable to perform Torah and Mitzvos after ones passing is not affected by the good signs of how a person passes away.  (The Rebbe brings a proof for this from the story in the Gemara about Dovid haMelech, who asked to pass away on Erev Shabbos (because then one is not subject to “chibut hakever“), and Hashem refused him, telling him that even one day of his Torah learning was more dear to Him.)

Furthermore, the Rebbe asks on this whole discussion a fundamental question:

“How is it possible to truthfully say (in Toras Emes, the Torah of truth) that “one who dies on Erev Shabbos it is a good sign for him” — a “good sign” in relation to the occurrence of death, the opposite of life, the ultimate opposite of good according to Torah?!”  

Sincethe Torah defines “good” as fulfilling the will of Hashem through the performance of Torah and Mitzvos as a soul in a body, then death is the opposite of Good, since it is the the departure of the soul from the body and the performance of Torah and Mitzvos ceases (thus it was the reason for R’ Yehuda haNosi’s crying).

In answer the Rebbe explains that:

The “good sign” of “one who dies on Erev Shabbos” indicates and emphasizes the rectification of the undesirable aspect in the general inyan of death, and automatically the reason for R’ Yehuda haNossi’s crying over the interruption of Torah and Mitzvos is nullified (and rectified), as we will explain.

The Rebbe proceeds to explain that already on the very first Erev Shabbos, when Adam Harishon was created, there was already something similar to death that took place, as the verse states “Hashem brought a drowsiness upon the Man and caused him to sleep”.  Sleep is called “one-sixtieth of death” by our sages, for when a person sleeps his life force (chayus) is not visible (through movement, expressing ideas, etc.).  This is seemingly an undesirable state, but in fact it is a sign that there will be an increase in the individual’s chayus (life-force) when he wakes up, an incomparable increase.  In the case of Adam Harishon this resulted in the creation of his wife, Chava, after which they could bring unlimited generations into being — an incomparable increase of chayus compared to before he slept, from the limited to the unlimited.

This model also holds in the bigger picture of the 6,000 years of this world which correspond to the days of Creation (the 7th millennium corresponding to the 7th day, Shabbos).  The 6th millennium (which we are in presently) corresponds to “Erev Shabbos”, the end of the time of golus, and there is this inyan of sleeping through which is brought about a union on a higher level (according to Kabbalah this is the union of Z”A and Malchus, the Holy One, blessed be He, and Knesses Yisroel), corresponding to the sleep of Adam Harishon that resulted in an infinitely higher state of being.

Thus, one who “dies on Erev Shabbos” also refers to one who passes away in our time, the eve of the 7th millennium; it is like the sleep we mentioned above.  So it turns out that this death (on “Erev Shabbos” at the end of golus) is for the sake of an increase and renewal of life.  This has two explanations:

a) Our sages say “Yaakov Avinu did not die…just as his descendants are alive, so, too, he is alive”, that through the continuation of the life of his descendants (true life, in accordance with Torah) this brings about that “also he is alive”.  And more than this, that this inyan of “he is alive” in its true sense, meaning eternal existence, is revealed by the continuation and eternality of “his descendants are alive” after his passing [in other words, Yaakov’s eternal life is revealed specifically after he passes away (or, at least, seemed to pass away) by the fact that his descendants continue to live the true life of Torah]that specifically then it can be seen in a revealed way the eternality (the truth) of “he is alive”.  So it turns out that through death comes about an increase and renewal of life — the revelation of the eternality and truth of life.

b) And this is the main thing: that the concealment (histalkus) of the chayus that occurs at death is for the sake of an increase and renewal of chayus as a soul in a body — at the resurrection of the dead, for then there will be life of a soul in a body in eternal life.

This enables us to answer the question of how does telling R’ Yehuda haNosi that “one who dies on Erev Shabbos it is a good sign for him”: since on Erev Shabbos it is emphasized that the concealment (histalkus) of the chayus is for the sake of an increase and renewal of the chayus.  Thus, it turns out that

…the time of death coming on Erev Shabbos is in a way that emphasizes in a revealed way the good aspect alone, the increase and renewal of chayus, both through the increase of the eternality and the truth of the life through the fact that “his descendants are alive”, and also and mainly through the Resurrection of the dead right after the time of burial.

Thus, it turns out, that this “good sign” indicates and emphasizes the rectification of the undesirable aspect in death, and automatically the reason that Rebi [Yehuda haNosi] was crying over the nullification of Torah and Mitzvos is rectified as well, because when Tzaddikim arise at the Resurrection of the dead (at the beginning of Yemos Hamoshiach, forty years before the epoch of the Resurrection of the dead of all Bnei Yisroel) there is a continuation of the fulfillment of Torah and Mitzvos (and to the contrary: in a higher degree of perfection — “as mitzvos of Your will”, כמצות רצונך)

In other words, death on Erev Shabbos is a good sign also as regards the fulfillment of Torah and Mitzvos, for following on the heels of this death is the Resurrection of the dead which enables the fulfillment of Torah and Mitzvos as a soul in a body in a perfected and unlimited way, immeasurably greater than the way it was before the “death on Erev Shabbos”!

The Rebbe then takes this even further: that the main intention of this “good sign” is not literal death, chas v’sholom, but rather the avodah of the Yid in his lifetime as a soul in a body.  This is especially after it has already occurred literally with unique individuals, and through them it is sufficient to fulfill the obligation of the rest of Bnei Yisroel (so that the rest of us do not need to literally pass away in order to attain the higher level described above). Consequently, by the rest of Bnei Yisroel there will be only the spiritual avodah of “death” (meaning self-nullification, bittul), with a seamless continuation to eternal life (without any interruption in between) in the time to come.

Death on Erev Shabbos (the 6th millennium, our times) is only a concealment as a preparation for a revelation of a higher level of life — eternal life of the soul in the body, in the ultimate state of perfection!

Shemos 5752: To Bring to the Days of Moshiach

This parsha, following the passing of Yaakov, Yosef, and the brothers, is the beginning of a new era in the history of Bnei Yisroel — the beginning of the Egyptian exile.  “These are the names of Bnei Yisroel who came to Egypt” — the first exile.

The midrash states that the reason for the subsequent redemption from Egypt was “due to the fact that [Bnei Yisroel] did not change their names…they went down as Reuvain and Shimon and they came up as Reuvain and Shimon.”  This is a comment on the name (and initial verse) of our parsha: Shemos (meaning, “names”), which refers to the beginning of the exile in Egypt, as mentioned.

The Rebbe derives from this that the verse “these are the names of Bnei Yisroel who came to Egypt” is also emphasizing the merit for which they were ultimately redeemed from Egypt (“that they didn’t change their names”).  In other words — it is referring both to the beginning of the golus and also to the future Geuloh from that golus.

The whole idea of “coming to Egypt” is in truth the “Geuloh of Yisroel”.  The descent which occurs in the meantime [until the Geuloh comes] is on the superficial level (בחיצוניות), but on a deeper level (בפנימיות), the descent itself is (not only for the sake that through it will come the ascent that occurs through the redemption from Egypt, but more than that–) a part of the ascent and the Geuloh itself, until we reach the ascent of the true and complete Geuloh…the future Geuloh.

In other words, not only is there a “descent for the sake of an ascent”, which makes the descent worthwhile in the end; here the Rebbe is saying something much greater: the descent itself is already part of the ultimate ascent!

At this point, the Rebbe turns to explain the familiar statement:

Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah said: I am like a person seventy years old and yet I did not merit (to understand the source for the obligation) to recall the exodus from Egypt at night until Ben Zoma explained: “It is written, ‘so that you recall the day you left Egypt all the days of your life.’ ‘The days of your life,’ this refers to the actual days. ‘All the days of your life,’ includes the nights as well.” Our Sages say: “ ’The days of your life,’ this refers to the present era. ‘All the days of your life,’ includes the Era of the Redemption.”

There are three levels: Day (when the light of Hashem is shining); Night (the darkness of exile); and the Days of Moshiach (Yemos Hamoshiach, which we will explain).

The Rebbe refers here to Yemos Hamoshiach as a time of “a state of Geulah”, which seemingly is not the same thing as Geulah.  Rather, it is a unification of Geulah (completely transcending all limitations) with golus — where the unlimited aspect of the Geulah is “drawn down into the limitations of the reality of olam hazeh”.

How can such a thing happen, the unlimited being drawn into the limited?  This is the unique power of the Nosi, the leader of the generation (as was Rabbi Elazar ben Azaria, mentioned above):

The chiddush of the leader of Yisroel (“Nosi b’Yisroel” — the word “Nosi” coming from the word “exalted” התנשאות) is that he connects and unifies “all the days of your life” of every single Jew and of all of Israel — “all the days of your life” the physical days in olam hazeh and particularly in the time of golus (“nights”) — with the Geulah in general and with Yemos Hamoshiach in particular… specifically the Nosi has the power to connect and unify the golus with the Geulah.

For us, this means that “all the days of your life” — as a soul in a body in this physical and material world and in the time of golus, we can go out from the limitations of this world and, more than this: put ourselves in a state of Yemos Hamoshiach!  It is true that the complete Geulah depends on everything being “as it should be” (תוכו כברו).  Nonetheless, even in a personal state of golus (when one is not “as he should be”) he is given special help from the Holy One, blessed be He, and he is given the ability to bring about the true and complete Geuloh.  This is why Rabbi Elazar ben Azaria changed the policy and opened up the doors to the study halls to allow students who were not “as they should be” — because he gives them the power to transform things even while in a state of golus!

Thus, even in the “night” of golus, having descending into Egypt, surrounded by 70 nations, he can bring himself to a state of Geuloh — “all the days of your life, to bring Yemos Hamoshiach”.

How realistic is this for us?  The Rebbe states:

The instruction from this is understood in simple terms, especially in our generation and our time: as has been said numerous times the words of my father-in-law the leader of our generation (“Nosi Doreinu”), that in addition to the fact that already “all of the end-times have passed”, and Bnei Yisroel have already done tshuva, and finished everything, including polishing the buttons, and all that is needed is that the Holy One, blessed be He, will open up the eyes of Bnei Yisroel so they will see that the true and complete Geuloh exists already, and we are already sitting at the set table, at the feast of the Levyoson and the Shor Habar, etc., etc….

This includes transitioning seamlessly from “the days of your life” into “Yemos Hamoshiach”:

and from “the days of your life” at this time and in this place, without any delay in between, chas v’sholom, every single Jew passes immediately with the ultimate perfection in a continuation of “all the days of your life” in Yemos Hamoshiach, and the eternal life that will be then.

What is our job?  Our job is to actually to bring to “Yemos Hamoshiach”, with an emphasis to recognize the one who accomplishes all this:

As regards actual action, the intent is that the avodah of Bnei Yisroel now must be “to bring to Yemos Hamoshiach”, to reveal already in actuality that the state of “coming to Egypt” in golus is in truth a state of “the Geuloh of Yisroel”, through this that they prepare themselves and prepare others for the state of “Yemos Hamoshiach”…and since there is already the “king from the house of Dovid who is involved in Torah and busy with Mitzvos like his father Dovid…and he will force all of Israel to go in it and to rectify its breaches and fight the wars of Hashem” — for then “we can assume that he is Moshiach” (בחזקת משיח) — that already immediately he will be “certainly Moshiach” (משיח בודאי), through this that “he did all this and succeeded and built the Beis Hamikdash in his place and gathered-in the dispersed of Israel… and rectified the entire world to serve Hashem together, etc.”

Sicha in English

Sicha in Hebrew

Sicha in original Yiddish

Vayechi 5752: Eternal Life for Every Jew via Yaakov Avinu

Our parsha begins with the words “Vayechi Yaakov” (“Yaakov lived”).  And although in the parsha we read about Yaakov’s passing, nonetheless our sages teach us that “Yaakov Avinu didn’t die — just as his children are alive, so too he is alive”.  Explains the Rebbe:

The life of Yaakov is eternal life through this that it is drawn to to his children and their descendents until the end of all of the generations.  “His children are alive” meaning true life through learning and fulfilling the Torah.  [Although we mention his children], nonetheless the name of the parsha is named after the life of Yaakov (“Vayechi Yaakov”) — since the truth of the life of Yaakov, eternal life, is expressed in the life of his children.

This means that Yaakov himself lives eternally (soul in a body, as explained elsewhere), and since the material eyes see that”they embalmed him and buried him, etc” his eternal life is expressed through the life of his children — they are alive because he is alive (and similarly, he is alive because they are alive — he is the reason they are alive, and they are the revelation that he is alive).

This parsha is in proximity to the fast of the Tenth of Teves, the day when the walls of Yerushalayim were besieged — the first step in the process which led, eventually, to the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash.  In the prophecy of Yechezkiel about the destruction, Hashem instructs him to take a “pan of iron” and to erect a “wall of iron”, symbolizing the seige of Yerushalayim.  Our sages speak of barzel, iron, as the element which actually destroyed the Beis Hamikdash, and for this reason it was not used in its construction.  In the words of the Midrash: “This is the gift…gold, silver, and copper…but iron is not written here, neither by the Mishkan nor by the Mikdash.  Why?  Because Edom is likened to it, and they are the ones who destroyed the Beis Hamikdash.”

Here the Rebbe introduces the concept of “barzel d’kedusha” — iron of the side of holiness.  This refers to being “stiff-necked” for holiness, for Torah and Mitzvos:

This is the inyan of “stiff-necked” in a positive sense, the strength and fortitude (iron) of the etzem haneshoma, the essence of the neshoma.  For it is through this that we nullify the iron of the opposite of holiness which is the “stiff-neck” of the evil inclination.  [Practically, this means] keeping the complete Torah, in a way of strength and fortitude of the “iron” of holiness.

For this reason, the third Beis Hamikdash will be constructed also with iron, because after the iron of the opposite of holiness (which destroyed) is nullified and refined, then the Beis Hamikdash is rebuilt through the iron of holiness (as mentioned above).  I turns out, explains the Rebbe, that the Tenth of Teves, the seige of Yerushalayim, is not only the beginning of the exile and the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash, but it is in fact the beginning of the construction of the 3rd Beis Hamikdash and the future Geulah!  The destruction of the (previous) Beis Hamikdash was for the sake of the construction of the third, eternal Beis Hamikdash — “the beginning of the destruction and the exile is the beginning of the Geulah, similar to sowing seeds in the ground as the first step towards (and which brings about) the beginning of the sprouting.”

Parshas Vayechi is also Shabbos “Chazak” (being the final parsha in Sefer Bereishis we say “Chazak Chazak V’nischazek” (“Be strong, be strong, and may we be strengthened!”) upon completion of the reading of the parsha). This “strengthening” (chizuk) for the whole time of golus is “Vayechi Yaakov” — Yaakov lives.  Yaakov’s inyan is Torah, and Yaakov’s eternal life is revealed through Torah, specifically “the expounding of our sages, that from this we learn that Yaakov Avinu did not die”).  A strengthening (chizuk) to stand with the strength and fortitude of iron for matters of holiness, for in this way we transform the iron of the opposite of holiness, which destroyed the Beis Hamikdash, into the iron of holiness and the building of the Beis Hamikdash of the future.  (And this occurs through Moshiach, who will conquer these klipos.).

Yaakov Avinu is one of the patriarchs who merited to “taste the eternal life of the world to come in their life in this world”.  In the future, this will be experienced by every single Jew (their descendants) together with all the Jews of all the generations who will arise in the resurrection of the dead.

And how much more so all of Bnei Yisroel in our generation ([for we are presently alive] living neshomos in living bodies without any interruption, chas v’sholom, at all in life [of this world and the life of the world to come — a seamless transition], and Nosi Doreinu at our head…for then every single Jew will be alive, living eternally in the simple sense, beginning with the Bnei Yisroel of our generation, souls in bodies, for long and good years…eternal life.

 How do we bring about that our generation and every generation will experience the eternal life in this world which awaits them?

…the resolution alone to increase in “one mitzvah” in a way of sowing (even before one has fulfilled it) should bring the “sprouting” of the Geulah in actuality, and immediately…we should already have the “coming up” from the exile to the Geulah…and Nosi Doreinu — the Yosef of our generation [a reference to the Previous Rebbe] — who “did not die”, like Yaakov Avinu, as is known that “Nosi” (נשיא) stands for “a spark of Yaakov Avinu” (ניצוצו של יעקב אבינו), and it is through the hiskashrus and the bittul to the Nosi Hador that this [that he “did not die”] is drawn into each and every one of the people of this generation.

 Yechi Adoneinu Moreinu v’Rabbeinu Melech Hamoshiach L’olam Vo’ed!

Vayigash 5752: The World’s Limitations Are No Obstacle

In our parsha we read about Yehuda approaching Yosef (whom he did not know was really his brother), despite the fact that he was second in command to Pharaoh.  Yehuda fearlessly, but respectfully, demands that Binyomin be freed.  Although he spoke respectfully, he did not ask permission to approach (as is customary) and was prepared to fight if necessary.  All this in order to free his youngest brother, Binyomin.

Who was mightier — Yosef, or Yehuda?  Yosef was second only to Pharaoh, and everyone had to do exactly what he commanded.  Yehuda, on the other hand, was a visitor with no rights, and in previously he had bowed in deference to Yosef.  However, Yehuda “broke protocol” and, seeing that the life of Binyomin was at stake, confronted this Egyptian viceroy with mesirus nefesh (hardly imagining that this was really his brother who loves him) .

To understand this, the Rebbe explains two approaches to dealing with the world:

a) to be limited by the world and its limitations (of physicality, of customs and “protocol”), to go “in the way of the world”; and

b) to be completely above the world and its limitations, not reckoning with it.

The Rebbe then makes an analogy to the feast of Achashverosh (in the times of the Purim story), which was conducted according to “the desire of each and every person”.  The Midrash says “each and every person” means Mordechai and Haman, and asks how can one fulfill their completely opposite desires simultaneously?  The answer: to a flesh and blood king this is impossible, but in the future Hashem will do exactly that.

How so?  Mordechai’s desire, as the name “Mordechai HaYehudi” suggests, is not to bow down to any idolatry, any aspect of worldly life which is not fulfilling the will of Hashem (even if it is permitted according to Torah) — he desires that everything be for the sake of Heaven, lesheim shomayim.  Haman, on the other hand, claims that since one is found in the world, in golus, then one must reckon with its limitations.  These are completely opposite desires!  But, explains the Rebbe, when you are connected with the Eybershter, you are above the conduct of the world and thus you have the ability to unify opposites: to be in the world and in golus, and yet “not to bow down” and to stand entirely higher than it all.

The question, however, remains: how can one (even if he has the “power” to do so) do two opposite things (practically speaking)?  To “not bow down” to golus, and at the same time to in fact conduct himself in accordance with the limitations of golus?

The answer is that now, in our generation — the final generation of golus and the first generation of Geuloh — it is possible to do so, because the world is a different world.  In previous generations there were various limitations placed on the Jewish people from the outside: decrees, r”l, which impacted Yiddishkeit and did not leave room for a Yid to stand above golus.  Today, however “in our generation this is entirely dependent on a Jew’s will.

From the above we can understand that the might of Yehuda is in fact greater than that of Yosef.  Because Yosef’s might is connected with and the kingdom of Egypt and its limitations, including the conduct of a state.  Yehuda, on the other hand, “did not ask permission” and represents a higher level of “might”, the level of breaking boundaries.  It is specifically Yehuda’s actions that bring to the Jewish people settling in Mitzrayim in a way where they flourish.  When a Jew stands with “forthrightness” (breitkeit), he brings about that even the King of Egypt assists him.

We find that in all the generations there were limitations from the outside, coming from the nations of the world and their decrees against Yidden, r”l, which did not always leave Yidden to conduct themselves with full forthrightness and balabatishkeit.

This is not the case in our generation and in our time, as we see in actuality that we do not have the confusions of the past, and the nations of the world leave Jews to conduct themselves as they please, and the matter is dependent only on the desire of the Yidden to conduct themselves with full forthrightness and balabatishkeit.

Today, the nations of the world not only are not imposing restrictions on Yidden and Yiddishkeit, they even assist, enabling Jews to spread Yiddishkeit and Torah and Mitzvos, and also to that which pertains to the nations of the world themselves, the 7 Noahide laws.  Today a Jew can “go in the way of the world” and still conduct himself as a Jew with full forthrightness and balabatishkeit: fulfilling the desire of both Mordechai (above limitations of the world) and Haman (within the way of the world)!

The Rebbe continues and states that the Frierdicker Rebbe has already informed us that:

all preparations for Geuloh have been completed, and now we must draw down the Geuloh into actuality in the physicality and materiality of the world (materiality which is transformed into physicality*), in a revealed way in the eyes of all flesh…the entire world demands that every Yid should already be standing in the state of the true and complete Geuloh …and the matter is not dependent on anything other than their desire”

Thus, each one of us must conduct himself and herself with forthrightness and balabatishkeit that “the world was created for me” to fulfill Torah and Mitzvos.  There is no need to hide or outsmart the system (“kuntzen“) because today the world enables a Jew to fulfill Torah and Mitzvos, and to bring Geuloh — if he wants, if he stands firm about it.  The Geuloh is here, waiting for us to reveal it in our actions — without asking permission!

* Chassidus defines “physicality” as that which conceals G-dliness, whereas “materiality” not only conceals but asserts a contrary reality.

Miketz (Chanukah) 5752: Oil and the Annointed One

Chanukah commemorates and publicizes the miracle of the oil which lasted for eight days.  Oil is unique in that it is an edible substance, but it is never consumed alone.  We add oil to foods, and it enhances them, but oil by itself is harmful to a person.  Thus, it is demands explanation why the festival of Chanukah is celebrated with oil and not with a festive meal (consisting of bread, wine, and water) as all other festivals are (including Purim, which is similar to Chanukah in many ways).

Let us examine these substances, all of which serve as a moshol for Torah:

Bread and water are a perquisite for life — a person must have bread to eat and water to drink in order to survive. This refers to the revealed Torah, which is necessary for a Jew in order to know how to fulfill the mitzvos.

Wine is a luxury, one can subsist without it.  Nonetheless, it adds enthusiasm and pleasure to the meal.  This corresponds to the secrets of Torah.

Oil is also not essential, but is only consumed in very small quantities that are added to other foods.  The oil refers to the “secrets of the secrets” of the Torah.

Chanukah is commemorated with oil because it is the first step in the revelation of Pnimiyus Hatorah, the inner dimension of Torah which was first “squeezed out of the olives” through the self-sacrifice of the Maccabees as they stood firm and battled the Yavanim, the Greeks (and their Jewish Hellenist supporters) who accepted only the most superficial perspective of Torah.  (And in fact, the oil is commemorated through the candles, and not through eating; the Jewish custom of eating foods cooked in oil (latkes and sufganyiot) shows the inclination and desire to internalize this aspect of Torah which evolved in subsequent generations.)

Oil, the “secrets of the secrets” of Torah, became progressively more revealed: first through Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and the Zohar; later through the teachings of the Arizal; next came the revelations of Chassidus through the Baal Shem Tov; and then Chassidus Chabad, which brings the teachings of Pnimiyus Hatorah in a way which can be consumed and internalized (and not just observed, like candles).  This progressive development in the revelation of the inner dimension of Torah is associated with Moshiach, for the term Moshiach itself means “anointed” (with oil).

Oil can be burned to provide light which illuminates the darkness.  As the darkness of exile increases, there is a greater need for a greater amount of oil (meaning an increase in the learning of Pnimiyus Hatorah).  In these last moments of exile, when the darkness is greatest, there is a greater need than ever for oil, to the point where the Rebbe says that oil is in fact a necessity in our times.  In fact, as far as fighting darkness goes, Pnimiyus Hatorah is more necessary than the revealed Torah.

The revelation of the “oil” of Torah at Chanukah and (even more so on) Yud Tes Kislev is (not only due to the need  that is generated by the increasing darkness of the world, but rather) also and primarily due to the fact that we are proceeding and coming closer to the coming of Moshiach Tzidkeinu, who is called “Moshiach” because he is “anointed” with oil…and through him comes the main and complete revelation of the oil (secrets of the secrets) of Torah…for the main study in the days of Moshiach will be in the secrets of the secrets of Torah.  (As stated in Igeres Hakodesh 26: “They will know all the fundamentals of the revealed plane of the Torah from Pnimiyus Hatorah“.)

Not only is the implication that the “oil” of Torah is coming as an antidote to the increasing darkness, but the Rebbe notes that:

Our approach to the coming of Moshiach Tzidkeinu is also the reason for the strengthening of the darkness in the world — because it is due to the strengthening of holiness that there comes about a strengthening of the opposing side, which opposes the coming of Moshiach Tzidkeinu, and there is a need to fight with the opponent, and this is the idea that “he [Moshiach] fights the wars of Hashem” until “he is victorious”.

The wars of Moshiach are fought by “the soldiers of the house of Dovid“, which in recent generations was the intent of the foundation of Yeshivas Tomchei Temimim by the Rebbe Rashab.  They go out to war against “those who scoff at the footsteps of your anointed one” and are victorious, bringing about the revelation of Dovid, Malka Meshicha.  “And especially in our generation, when all the matters have already been completed, and we need only to ‘open up the eyes’ and to see that ‘behold, this one (Melech Hamoshiach) comes’.”

The Rebbe also touches on the distinction between “ketz haYamim” and “ketz haYamin” (see Tazria-Metzora) the “end” of days (of exile) and the “end” (meaning the beginning) of the “right side” (of the Geuloh).  These correspond with the two reasons for the dissemination of the “oil” of Torah stated above: the strengthening of the darkness and the approach of the coming of Moshiach (and also with this week’s parsha, Mikeitz).  This issue of the “ketz” takes us out of exile and into Geuloh, which is the subject of the sequence of the Torah portions from last week, Vayeishev, through the next three weeks into Vayechi:

…[these parshas] are connected with the subject of the Geuloh: “Vayeshev Yaakov”, that Yaakov sought to settle in tranquility — the ultimate tranquility of the Messianic Era, since from his side he was already prepared for the Geuloh.  [Footnote 96: As emphasized in parshas Vayishlach — that Yaakov sent messengers to Esav his brother to inform him that the birurim were already finished and the time has arrived that they go together towards the Geuloh…to such a degree that even after the messengers informed him that Esav was not yet refined at all, nonetheless he did not involve himself in “avodas habirurim” but rather he sent an offering, “halaas ma’n to elicit ma’d of the makif of Tohu“, in order that he would have the ultimate state of the time-to-come when the transcendent level of Tohu will be drawn down and will be revealed b’pnimiyus in Tikkun.]

From this we proceed to parshas Vayechi, which refers to the “eternal life of Yaakov Avinu in the world of the resurrection.”  (And this includes every Jew, for they are named “Yisroel” after him.)

Even while Yaakov Avinu was in Egypt, and these are referred to as his best years, nonetheless he and his children were not satisfied with this, not satisfied with being that Pharaoh gave them the best land of Egypt, because the main thing by them was the Geuloh.  Thus, “even dwelling in Egypt for a period of time is only for the purpose of bringing the ultimate Geuloh, since through the refinement of Egypt the Geuloh will be in a loftier manner, in the ultimate perfection [in a way which includes the perfection of the intellect].”

The Rebbe concludes that we must strengthen our belief and our anticipation of the coming of Moshiach, to such a degree that he feels that as long as Moshiach Tzidkeinu still didn’t arrive in actuality and in a revealed way, one’s “days” are lacking.  And the main thing: to add in the study and dissemination of Pnimiyus Hatorah, the oil of Torah, in a way where it illuminates the outside (like Chanukah candles), until it brings about the end of “legs of the rebellious ones”.  In this way we can reach the time when “all the fasts will in the future be nullified to* the Days of Moshiach” (Rambam) and not only that, but they will become festival days and days of rejoicing.

* Interesting to note the exact language of the Rambam: that the fast days will be “nullified to” the days of Moshiach (לבטל לימות המשיח, rather than “nullified in”), perhaps implying that they will not be cancelled, but rather the great Divine revelations of the Messianic Era, especially the second stage which brings to Techiyas Hameisim when there is no eating or drinking, will nullify them even without there being any change in them.  This is close to the explanation of Chassidus on the words of the Sages that in the future to come the Festivals will be nullified — not cancelled (G-d-forbid, for they are part of Torah), but rather the Divine revelation which occurs on the festivals will be nullified to the greater revelations of Moshiach, to the point that they will be rendered inconsequential (without being cancelled, like a candle which is overwhelmed by a bonfire).

19-20 Kislev 5752: “We Are in the Days of Moshiach”

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.”

 

Sefer Hasichos 5752 page 173

Sefer Hasichos, 5752, p. 173

Vayeishev 5752: France is Refined, the World is Refined

The Rebbe begins this sicha by restating that we are the final generation of exile and, thus automatically, the first generation of Geuloh, because “we have already finished all matters of the avodah and are already standing ready for the true and complete Geuloh through Moshiach Tzidkeinu immediately.”

There is, however, a question from some quarters: the Geuloh is, after all, dependent on the whole world being ready for Geuloh, not just one person or a small number of people — but the entire world.  The Geuloh depends on the gathering of the dispersed Jewish nation from all four corners of the world, and also the refinement of all the nations and all the lands.  So they ask: where do we see a change in the world the indicates that the world is more ready for the Geuloh today than in previous generations?

The Rebbe proceeds to answer by first reminding us of the purpose of golus: the Jewish nation being scattered throughout the world is, on the outside, a descent.  But its inner purpose is that Jews, wherever they find themselves, garb themselves in the ways of that country (as our sages say: “if you go to a place, follow its customs”), thereby refining and elevating the entire land and nation in which they are exiled.

[To note: the Rebbe writes that the dispersal of Israel to different places is for the purpose of “sifting, refining, and elevating (לברר, לזכך, ולהעלות) the sparks found in that place.”  At least 7 times in the sicha the Rebbe recalls this phrase, speaking of how France and the world have been refined, however the Rebbe only mentions the “sifting” and “refining”.  “Elevation” is not mentioned (except in one place in which the Rebbe speaks of what will (future tense) bring about the true and complete Geulah).  For deeper understanding of the meaning of this distinction, see the booklet “Between Golus and Geulah” at MoshiachInDepth.wordpress.com.]

The Rebbe then focuses on the refinement of France (there were guests from France at this farbrengen), reiterating the difficult history of Yiddishkeit in France, in particular the opposition of the Alter Rebbe to Napoleon and the efforts he made to bring about his defeat.  France, and particularly the spirit of the French Revolution, was a klipa that could not be refined in the times of the Alter Rebbe and so he preferred the victory of Czarist Russia (the Czars being no friends of the Jewish nation) over Napoleon, and even risked his life to flee Napoleon’s armies in order not to be under his rule in any way.  [For the whole story, listen here.]  

However, several generations later, the Rebbe Maharash (the 4th Rebbe of Chabad) visited France, indicating the beginning of the refinement of this klipa.  This culminated in the Previous Rebbe visiting France and saying several Chassidic Discourses there, and, even more, sending his own family — his daughter, Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka, and the Rebbe MH”M — to live there for an extended period of time, contributing the “final blow” to this klipah. These efforts sowed the seeds for the tremendous flowering of Jewish life that has taken root in France since that time — to the point where France is not only a mekabel of Torah, but also a mashpia — and which continues to this very day.

Interestingly, the Rebbe points out, “Tzarfas” (צרפת, France in Hebrew) has the numerical value of 770.  The number 770 is of course the number of the Rebbe’s shul (770 Eastern Parkway) and is explained as the complete form of the number 7, reflecting the 7 midos.  The Rebbe says “we can say that this hints that with the refinement of these countries the refinement of the entire world is finished and completed down to the last detail”!  Since France is the lowest place (which could not even be refined in the times of the Alter Rebbe), when it will finally be refined (as the Rebbe says has occurred) — this indicates that everything has been refined.

The Rebbe concludes by pointing out that miracles were generally given minor importance (if at all) by the Rebbeim and the Chassidim over the generations, but despite this it is worthy that the Rebbe devotes an entire farbrengen to discuss France instead of Torah because it is in the category of “publicizing the miracle”.  Recognizing Hashem’s miracles and praising and thanking Hashem for them touches upon and contributes to the coming of Moshiach Tzidkeinu and the true and complete Geuloh.  (Our sages tell us that Hashem wanted to make the King Hizkayahu to be Moshiach, but because his generation did not sing praises to Hashem over the miraculous downfall of the army of Sancheriv, this did not occur.)  The instruction for us is:

Since we have already finished everything, and the Geuloh has still not come — it is most proper to be involved in ‘publicizing the miracle’, to publicize to himself and to others, and in every place, the miracles that the Holy One, Blessed be He, does for us, [and to do so] with the knowledge that the true and complete Geuloh is dependent on this!

This includes, of course, the miraculous transition of the world to a place where Torah and Yiddishkeit can flourish, even places that were not long ago inherently hostile to the spirit of the Jewish faith.  Recognizing this, that the world is ready for Geuloh, and publicizing it and thanking Hashem for it — this itself brings about the true and complete Geuloh through Moshiach Tzidkeinu!