Vayeitzei 5752: Asleep on the Site of the Beis Hamikdash?!

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?!

Apparently so.

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!

Vayetzei 5752: We Need Only to Open the Eyes

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!

Toldos 5752: The Essential Existence is Revealed

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.

Chayei Sara 5752: Shlichus is Finished, Now We Must Greet Moshiach

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.

Kuntres Beis Rabbeinu Sh’b’Bavel: The Place of the Beis Hamikdosh in Golus

Kuntres Beis Rabbeinu Sh’b’Bavel: The Place of the Beis Hamikdosh in Golus

“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

Vayeira 5752: To Really Want Divine Revelation

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!

Lech Lecho 5752: Pick up and Leave

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*:

  1. 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);
  2. 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“);
  3. 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“);
  4. 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.”

 

 

Noach 5752: Geuloh is Dependent Only on Moshiach Himself

The chosid R’ Zushya Willemovsky, “The Partisan”, was told by the Rebbe in a private audience in the 1960s that there remained 20 or 21 things that needed to be accomplished in order for Moshiach to come.  From this we learn the significance of the sichos of Dvar Malchus in general, and parshas Noach in particular — that everything has been accomplished and nothing is preventing the Geuoh.

In this sicha, the Rebbe speaks about the importance of periodically making a proper spiritual accounting (cheshbon tzedek) to search out a recognize the areas in ourselves which need improvement, even things that are very slight imperfections (such as causing someone to feel bad because we didn’t return their greeting(!)).  This should be done with joy, with recognition that it is easier than ever to rectify these matters because the Jewish people, who are like one body, “are found in a state of an individual who is healthy in all of his limbs and organs, both spiritually and physically, and thus anything that is lacking is likened to a weakness or a minor illness in one limb which can be healed quickly and easily”.

Furthermore, when a person takes stock of himself and recognizes that he has flaws and failings which need to be rectified, “this is not a contradiction, G-d forbid, to the testimony of the Leader of the Generation that the work has already been completed and we are standing ready to receive Moshiach Tzidkeinu.”  Yes, we need to search these things out, and upon identifying them to rectify them, but these things do not delay Moshiach’s coming.

Dependent Only on Moshiach Himself

“With absolute certainty all the ‘end times’ have passed, and [the Jewish people] have already done tshuva, and now the matter is not dependent upon anything other than Moshiach Tzidkeinu himself!  (Italics in the original.)  Towards the end of the sicha the Rebbe repeats: “…when we do a proper accounting at  the end of the first week of the year 5752, “it will be a year with wonders in it”, we come to the conclusion that the matter is not dependent upon anything other than Moshiach Tzidkeinu himself (as stated above)…”

It might seem that the implication of these words is that we have done all that we can do, now all that remains would be to wait for Moshiach to decide when to reveal himself.  However, this sicha was preceded a half a year earlier by the famous sicha of Chof-Ches Nissan, 5751, where the Rebbe told the Chassidim that he had done everything he could do, all that remains is to give it over to us to bring Moshiach.  (Several days later a woman passed by the Rebbe for dollars, crying that we were counting on the Rebbe to bring Moshiach, to which the Rebbe answers “it must be done by Klal Yisroel, you included, and this person included, and that person included…”)

This means that we need a different way to understand the expression “the matter is not dependent upon anything other than Moshiach Tzidkeinu himself” — since the Rebbe clearly has put in the hands of the Jewish people to “do all that you can” to bring Moshiach in actuality.  Meaning that it is clearly not the Rebbe’s intention that we stage around crying out to Moshiach: “reveal yourself!”  If so, if it is not enough to wait patiently (or, even impatiently) — then what is implied by the matter being dependent upon Moshiach himself?

We can better understand this expression in light of the words of the Rebbe in the sicha of Chayeh Sara (three weeks after this parshas Noach) in which the Rebbe describes the chiddush, the change in the shlichus which becomes the new gateway for the rest of the efforts of shlichus, namely: to accept Moshiach Tzidkeinu in the true and complete Geuloh.”  (Italics in original.)

 This sheds light on the expression in our sicha, “that the matter is not dependent upon anything other than Moshiach Tzidkeinu himself ” — it is not that we are waiting for Moshiach to do something, since we already know that we are the ones who have to do (“do all that you can“).  Rather, the statement comes to tell us what it is that we need to do, that our efforts to bring Moshiach pertain to Moshiach himself: to accept this individual as Moshiach, to make him (personally my, and collectively our) King.  Everything else has been done, the road has been paved to Moshiach.  Now, all that remains is the acceptance of his Kingship by the people, and this is what “flicks the switch” to the true and complete Geuloh!

Noach “Saw a New World”

The opening verse in Parshas Noach says that “נֹ֗חַ אִ֥ישׁ צַדִּ֛יק תָּמִ֥ים הָיָ֖ה בְּדֹֽרֹתָ֑יו” “Noach was a righteous man, he was perfect in his generations”.  The Midrash on this posuk (Midrash Rabba Noach, 30:8) says in the name of R’ Levi: “Whoever it is said about them ‘he was’ saw a new world.”  The Midrash then enumerates five individuals, the first being Noach, citing that when he and his family exited the ark, they saw a new world.

In what sense did Noach see a new world?  Obviously, it was the same Earth, although following the waters of the flood surely the surface of the Earth looked different than it did previously.  And of course, the evildoers who populated the Earth previously were no longer around.  But can we really say that this is what it means to see a “new world”?

The Rebbe, in the sicha of Noach 5752, clues us in to what is being implied here according to pnimiyus haTorah:

In the creation of the world, the Torah refers to Hashem using two names: YKVK and Elokim.  YKVK is G-dliness that is above the world.  Elokim is the name which indicates concealment, allowing independent-feeling worlds to come into existence.  In the words of Tehillim: “The Sun and a shield [these are the names] YKVK [and] Elokim”.  The name YKVK is the emanation of worlds, the infinite “light” of the worlds, and Elokim is the “shield” or “filter” that conceals the light in order that finite worlds can come into existence.

“That in the reality of the world as it is created via the name Elokim is revealed the name YKVK, until it is recognizable in a revealed way that “YKVK is Elokim” (הוי’ הוא האלקים), that in truth the contraction and concealment (Elokim)  are really the name YKVK. הצמצום וההסתר (אלקים) הוא לאמיתתו שם הוי-ה

(Sicha Parshas Noach, 5752)

Meaning that the world is still the same world that was created via the name Elokim, only that it becomes revealed that really even this name Elokim is just a reduction of the light of YKVK, but not something independent or separate.

So the “new world” that Noach saw was not a new form of creation, but a new perception: he could now perceive how the world of Elokim is really a world of YKVK.  It was recognizable and revealed to him.  He saw the same world but in an entirely new way, thus he saw a “new world”.

We can use this to understand many things the Rebbe is trying to tell us in these Dvar Malchus sichos, giving us the tools to “open our eyes”, including the subject of last week’s sicha regarding “servitude to the nations”.  Over there the Rebbe explains how there is servitude to the nations in the time of Golus, but that this servitude does not extend to our neshomas, nor to our bodies as regards matters of Torah and mitzvos.  And even those things where we must follow the law of the land because “dina d’malchusa dina” (the law of the land is the law) is not because we are in servitude to the nations of the world, but because this is how Hashem wants it to be in the time of Golus.

In those short paragraphs, the Rebbe has opened our eyes to a “new world”: a world where there is no servitude to the nations, which is the definition of (the first period of) the Days of Moshiach!  In other words, if one is in a personal Golus and in fact believes that the Jewish people is in servitude to the nations, then in fact he is in such a state, r”l.  But when one internalizes what the Rebbe says there, he discovers that not only our neshomas and our bodies (as regards performing Torah and Mitzvos) are not in servitude to the nations, even those areas where we do go according to their decisions (monetary matters and the like) — this is not due to any form of “servitude” but rather it is Hashem’s will!  So by following civil monetary law, we are in fact fulfilling Hashem’s will no less than in other halachic matters!  Externally, it is the same Golus, but the Rebbe has given us the tools to “see through” the darkness of Golus and realize that the concealment of the name Elokim (Golus) is really coming from YKVK — a new world!

This is one example of many to be found in Chassidus in general, the Rebbe’s teachings in particular, and the Dvar Malchus sichos most especially.  By making these changes in our perception and understanding of the world, we place ourselves in a state of Geulah even while the world “continues in its natural way”.  This is the beginning of Yemos Hamoshiach, each one coming to the realization based on his own efforts to internalize these concepts.

Bereishis 5752: No Servitude to the Nations

The Rambam, in his “Laws of Kings and Their Wars and Melech HaMoshiach”, declares that the coming of Moshiach and the process of redemption are not dependent upon the miraculous.  “Do not expect that in the Days of Moshiach the  pattern of conduct of the world will change, but rather the word will conduct itself in a normal manner…”  “Our sages have taught that there is no difference between this world and the world to come is servitude to the nations.” (Chapter 12)  This means to say that even in the Messianic Era (the first stage), the world continues to go in a natural way, however the Jewish people are no longer in a state of “servitude” to the nations as they were during golus.

In this sicha, the Rebbe explains how the Jewish nation was chosen by Hashem and thus the entire Creation exists for the sake of the Jewish people and thus the truth is that the nations of the world do not truly hold sway over us (“servitude”).

Even though the Jewish people in exile are found in a state of “servitude to the nations”, and there is a command in the Torah “the law of the land is the law” (dina d’malchusa dina)…the reason is not due to fear of the nations of the world (at the time of exile) G-d-forbid, but quite the contrary: Jews are the primary thing (reishis) and the nations of the world were created for their sake….  Rather, the reason is that this is the way the Holy One, blessed be He, ordered things, that this is how things need to be in the time of exile.

Although in certain matters (monetary cases, taxes, and the like) “the law of the land is the law”, yet this does not infringe upon matters of Torah and Mitzvos, the soul, and also does infringe on the bodies and the physicality (and materiality) of a Jew, for he always remains primary (reishis) and above the nations of the world.  The command that “the law of the land is the law” is not because he is in a state of servitude to the nations of the world, but because this is what Hashem decreed to be the state of affairs in exile (“because of our sins [we were exiled from our land]”).

In other words, the Rebbe is quite clearly stating that we are not now in a state of servitude to the nations in any respect.  This is explained as having always been the case, however it is clear that the Rebbe is indicating that a new threshold has been reached: while the Jewish people have always been in essence above servitude to the nations, this was not something that was perceptible in the world (a world of persecution and suffering for the Jewish people, both materially and spiritually).  But now it is possible to recognize that although we and the world still operate in the natural way, the Jewish people are not in a state of servitude to the nations of the worlds.

This is evident in a simple sense (freedom to fulfill Torah and Mitzvos in every country where Jews live), as the Rebbe points out in the sicha.  It is also referring to something deeper (and not explained explicitly in the sicha).  According to Chassidus, the “nations of the world” (which are numbered as 70 according to Torah) refer to our midos, our natural responses to what we understand according to our human intellect which is informed by the physical world we inhabit.  Servitude to the nations of the world, according to Chassidus, means that a person cannot escape the feelings and emotions generated by his worldly outlook.  To be free of servitude to the nations means: although one still perceives the world as operating in the natural manner (according to “nature” rather than Torah) one is not bound to this perception, and in fact one is free to understand things according to Torah and to have feelings and emotions generated by Torah rather than the “way of nature”.

As an example: a person has a lack of income, the “nations of the world” tell him that he must cut down on the amount he gives to tzedaka, and work more hours, including on Shabbos, in order to generate more income.  The Torah says that he should increase the amount he gives to tzedaka and to be careful not to work on Shabbos.  Servitude to the nations of the world means that even though he knows what Torah says, nonetheless he feels forced to cut back on tzedaka and to work on Shabbos–he is enslaved to the outlook of the natural world.  To be freed from this servitude means that not only does he not feel “forced” to do these things, but on the contrary he can actually feel the need to give additional tzedaka. He has been liberated from the natural perspective, even though he continues to perceive the world as operating in a natural manner.

We still see a natural world, but we are now free to relate to that world in the way that Torah instructs — without feeling compulsion from the nations of the world (from without or from within).  This is the first stage of the Messianic Era.