Chayei Sara: The Message Beyond the Sicha

As we learned in the Dvar Malchus sicha of parshas Chayei Sarah, this parsha contains the first shilchus in Torah and that in our times shlichus has a new element: the acceptance and “kabbalas panim” of Moshiach.  In most years, it comes out to be the time when the International Gathering of the Rebbe’s shluchim is held.  The Rebbe often brings the words of the Shelah that everything is by hasgacha protis, and thus days and events which fall out near the Parsha are connected with that Parsha.  The Rebbe also speaks about the connection between the Torah portion and the daily section of Tanya, Tehillim, and Rambam.

If we look, we see a wonderful and eye-opening hasgacha protis as regards the Kinus Hashluchim.

When the Kinus Hashluchim falls out on parshas Chayei Sarah, thousands of Shluchim find themselves at the Kinus on Shabbos listening not only to the story of Eliezer, the servant of Avraham Avinu (the first shliach in the Torah), but also, of course, to the haftorah.  The haftorah for parshas Chayei Sarah (Melachim I, 1:1-31) describes the attempt by Adoniyahu, son of Dovid Hamelech, to usurp his aged father’s throne and rule in his father’s place instead of his brother Shlomo (Solomon, whom Dovid Hamelech had chosen as his successor).  Dovid is informed what his son is doing:

[Adoniyahu] has gone down this day and has slain oxen and fatlings and sheep in abundance, and he called all the King’s sons, and the officers of the army, and Evyassar the priest, and behold they eat and drink before him, and they said, “Long live King Adoniyahu.” (“Yechi Hamelech Adoniyahu”)

The culmination of his attempt to usurp the throne is the people’s acceptance of his Kingship by declaring “Yechi Hamelech”!  Dovid Hamelech swears that Shlomo shall reign after him, and the haftorah ends with the words  “Let my lord King David live forever.” (“Yechi Adoni Hamelech Dovid L’olam”).

The importance of declaring “Yechi Hamelech” is explained by the Rebbe in the sicha of Beis Nissan, 5748 (1988), where the Rebbe brings the Rambam’s description of the king of the nation as the heart of the nation.  Just as the heart pumps blood, which is life, to all of the limbs of the body, giving life to the body, proper circulation is dependent on the limbs, which must also return the blood to the heart.  This, explains the Rebbe, is the people’s declaration of “Yechi Hamelech” — the limbs (the people) returning life-blood to the heart (the king).

Now see more hashagacha protis:

In the portion of Tanya that was learned on this same Shabbos, the Alter Rebbe writes about the circulation of the blood in spiritual terms:

The cause of illness or health lies in the distribution and flow of the life-force from the heart to all the organs, [this life-force] being vested in the blood of life which flows from the heart to all the organs; and the spirit of life and the blood circulates all around into all the limbs, through the veins that are embedded in them, and returns to the heart.  Now, if the circulation and flow of this spirit of life is always as it should be…then the individual is perfectly healthy.  …But should there be any disorder in any place, restraining, hindering or reducing the circulation and flow of the blood with the spirit of life vested in it, then this bond — which connects all the limbs with the heart by means of this circulation — is severed (which would extinguish life), or diminished, in which case the individual will fall ill and sick (May G‑d protect us!)

To summarize: On the Shabbos day when all the Shluchim of the Rebbe are gathered together to discuss the goals and techniques of their Shlichus, Divine Providence brings about that:

  1. The “latest word” from the Rebbe on this parsha the Rebbe informs us what is the new element in shlichus in our times: 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;
  2. The haftorah concludes with the declaration “Yechi Hamelech” (describing how “Yechi Adoni Hamelech Dovid L’olam” negates and prevents the crowning of the “usurper to the throne” as expressed in the undesirable declaration “Yechi Hamelech Adoniahu”); and,
  3. The daily section of Tanya teaches that spiritual health derives from proper circulation, when the limbs return the flow of blood to the heart — the exact metaphor that the Rebbe uses to explain the declaration “Yechi Hamelech”!

For those who need a hint in this matter, Hashgacha Protis has provided it.

We conclude with a brocha that every single one of the Rebbe’s shluchim (and, as the Rebbe says in the sicha, every Jew in our generation has been appointed a shliach of the [Previous] Rebbe) should be healthy in all their limbs and in their heart, both physically and spiritually, and that they should be successful in fulfilling the shlichus of the one who sent them, including and especially the “new element” that has become the “gateway” for the entire shlichus–to greet Moshiach Tzidkeinu in actual reality, through the final words of the haftorah as they apply in our generation, the generation of Moshiach (a descendant of Dovid through his son Shlomo*):

Let our Master our Teacher and our Rebbe, Melech Hamoshiach, live forever!

* Rambam, 13 Principles of Faith, #12 (See the original sicha and also questions and answers by Rabbi Shlomo Majeski)

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.

Ki Seitze Insight: Mouths Filled with Laughter — the Future is Now!

Near the end of the sicha (ois 15) the Rebbe makes an astonishing statement that demands our attention.  The verse in Tehillim (126b) states “then our mouths will be filled with laughter” (אז ימלא שחוק פינו), upon which the gemara (Brochos 31a) comments:

Rabbi Yoḥanan said in the name of Rabbi Shimon ben Yoḥai: One is forbidden to fill his mouth with mirth in this world, [as long as we are in exile (ge’onim)], as it is stated: “then will our mouths fill with laughter and our lips with song” (Psalms 126:2). When will that joyous era arrive? When “they will say among nations, the Lord has done great things with these” (Psalms 126:2).

The emphasis is that “then” is referring to the time of the future Geuloh (and thus it is explained throughout Torah, including Toras HaChassidus of all of the Rebbeim, including the Rebbe).  The time to “fill our mouths with laughter” is at the time of the Geuloh.  Now comes the amazing chiddush of the Rebbe:

“Then (in the time to come, l’asid lavo) we will fill our mouths with laughter.”, which, in our generation, the Nossi of the generation, my father-in-law the Rebbe, whose second name is Yitzchok, from the root meaning laughter and joy, and he is the 8th Nossi from the Baal Shem Tov (8 being the gematria of “then” in our posuk אז), the inyan of “we will fill our mouths with laughter” is done (not in the future tense, “then”, but rather) in the present tense.

A verse that is universally explained to be referring to the time of the Geuloh, some time in the future, is now explained by the Rebbe to be something that is occurring (or can occur) now!  To understand better what this means (in addition to the clear implication that this aspect of Geuloh is no longer something reserved for the future) let us take the Rebbe’s own description of what it means to “fill our mouths with laughter”.

If we look at the maamor “Ani L’Dodi” printed as a Kuntres in Elul, 5750 (one year before our sicha), we will find that the Rebbe offers us the following definition of our posuk:

A smiling countenance [referring to the moshol of the King in the field] — this is the essential pleasure תענוג עצמי (which the Holy One, blessed be He, takes in Yidden), the inyan of the circus קניגיא [which Hashem will make in the times of Geuloh for the pleasure of the Tzaddikim] when we will see in a revealed way that all the war of good and evil (in this world) is only for laughter and pleasure, “then we will fill our mouths with laughter”.

This means that during Golus we are unable to properly realize that our struggle with evil is really a staged battle from which Hashem takes great pleasure and from which we ourselves will take great pleasure, and therefore we cannot “fill our mouths with laughter” because our battle against evil seems very real, the existence of the evil is an ever-present danger.  But the time of Geuloh brings with it a new revelation: that this is all part of the Divine plan for Divine pleasure, and realizing this properly allows us to “fill our mouths with laughter” despite our struggles with the evil inclination.  Evil is no longer real, but simply part of the “game” of this world (as the Rebbe explains earlier in this sicha regarding “when you go out to war ‘on’ your enemies” — higher than and above your enemies (to the point that they don’t have a real existence)).  Thus, when the Rebbe says that we can already fill our mouths with laughter, it means that we are capable of properly grasping and internalizing the true nature of our struggle with our “enemies”.  When one realizes this, he will not have any fear but rather renewed motivation to overcome these “enemies”, since he can fully recognize that this is all a Divinely ordained “circus” and not a real battle at all.

“Then” is “now”, and we can truly live Geuloh!

Ki Seitze: Adding “the” Mitzvah

The statement of the Rambam is well-known: every individual should consider that the fate of the world is in his hands. By performing a single mitzvah, one person can tilt the scales of judgement and bring salvation to the entire world.

In the Sicha of Ki Seitze 5751, the Rebbe describes how the reward for Mitzvos is, metaphorically, locked in a chest. This chest is in the possession of all Jews.*

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“Not only that, but he has the ability and the permission to open the chest (and to reveal the reward) any time he wants — by adding “one mitzvah” more, that through this [mitzvah] ‘he will tilt the scales…'”

Those who learn the Sichos are already familiar with this Rambam (the Rebbe showed an enthusiasm for this Rambam over the years). But, in general, the Rebbe adds a new dimension in his use of sources, and especially regarding the Sichos of Nun-Alef/Nun-Beis we should be on the lookout for new dimensions of understanding.

We offer the following insight:

The Rebbe here separates the words “one mitzvah” מצוה אחת from the rest of the quote from the Rambam, and the Rebbe adds the words “by adding one more mitzvah” (עי”ז שמוסיף עוד מצוה אחת).

To say “adding one more mitzvah” (עי”ז שמוסיף עוד מצוה אחת) implies something quite different than the Rambam’s wording of “performing one mitzvah” (עשה מצוה אחת).  Adding one more (עוד) implies a mitzvah that was not already fulfilled, that there is “one more mitzvah” that we can “add” which will bring the revelations of the true and complete Geulah.

In truth, there are many Mitzvos we haven’t fulfilled in actuality, since we lack the ability to bring korbonos. But there is one mitzvah that has not been fulfilled — and is possible to fulfill today — and it is a mitzvah fulfilled by the Jewish people as a whole.*

This is the mitzvah mentioned in last week’s parsha, Parshas Shoftim: the mitzvah to appoint a King שום תשים עליך מלך. Although it was fulfilled in earlier generations, our generation has not properly fulfilled it. More than that, the shleimos of this mitzvah was not reached through the appointing of Shaul Hamelech or Dovid Hamelech; rather its shleimos is the appointing of Melech haMoshiach — which is the responsibility of our generation, specifically!

This interpretation fits perfectly with what the Rebbe says here: because the opening of the “chest” that contains the reward of our Mitzvos (the revelation of Ohr Ein Sof in the world, as explained in the Sicha) is related to Yemos haMoshiach, and it is self-understood that in order for it to be Yemos haMoshiach there must be a Moshiach, whom the Jewish nation has a mitzvah to appoint over themselves, accepting his kingship.

So look at this portion of the Sicha again, and see how the Rebbe is saying that the “one mitzvah” which we can add, which will bring the lofty revelations we are longing for, is the mitzvah of appointing a King מינוי מלך!

Of course, this is a Mitzvah that falls on the shoulders of the entire Jewish nation as a whole, so it’s not enough that you and I and the bochurim in 770 accept the Rebbe as King, Melech haMoshiach, but requires the acceptance of his kingship by the Jewish nation. This is, lechoira, also the meaning of the Rebbe’s words in Noach 5752: the Geulah doesn’t depend on anything besides Moshiach himself.

אין הדבר תלוי אלא במשיח צדקינו עצמו

All that remains is to appoint the King!


*) It is possible, though not necessary, to say that the Rebbe means here the collective body2018-08-22 20.33.38 of all Yidden rather than each individual: “The reward that until now is “closed in a chest” is already found in the possession of the “worker” (each and every Jew).”

Devarim 5751: Aquiring the Geuloh in the Closed Chest

Several times in these talks of 5751-52 the Rebbe states that the “direct way” to bringing Moshiach is through learning the subjects of Moshiach and Geuloh.  Parshas Devarim contains the instruction “do not disturb Moav” (אל תצר את מואב, Devarim 2:9), which is the nation living in one of the three lands “beyond the Yarden river” which were promised to Avraham Avinu and will be inherited in the future.  These lands are called the lands of the Keni, Kenizi,  and Kadmoni (lands of Ammon,  Moav, and Edom (Seir)–see Rashi on Devarim 2:5).

The inheritance of these lands is explained at length in Chassidus as referring to the intellectual faculties (Chochma, Bina) and the super-intellectual level of Kesser (see Lech Lecha 5752, for example), which are part of our spiritual makeup, but we have not “acquired” them yet.  In fact, the names Keni, Kenizi and Kadmoni all contain  the letters of “kinyan” (the letters ק – נ – י), acquisition, hinting that these lofty levels must ultimately be “acquired”–internalized in a way where we have control over them.

With that in mind, note the interesting expression the Rebbe uses in the sicha for parshas Devarim, that all matters of the Geuloh have been completed and are “as if in a closed chest”:

…all the matters have been completed, and the Beis Hamikdash stands ready Above, and similarly all the matters–“everything is ready for the feast”, everything is ready as if in a closed chest and they have given the chest and its key to every single Jew.

What makes this noteworthy is the following halacha of the Rambam in chapter 21 of the laws of Mechira (“Selling”):

If, however, a person tells a colleague: "I will sell you whatever this house contains for this and this amount," "...whatever this chest contains,..." or "whatever this sack contains for this and this amount," the purchaser agrees and performs meshichah, the transaction is not binding. For the purchaser did not make a binding commitment, since he does not know what the receptacle contains, whether straw or gold. This is no more than gambling. The same applies in all analogous situations.

The Rambam rules tjhat one cannot acquire something if he does not know what he is acquiring!  We cannot acquire the “closed chest” which contains the Geuloh until we know what is in it!  Until we know what Moshiach and Geuloh are all about, even if “the closed chest” that contains them has been handed to us along with the keys, we need to learn about it in order to “acquire” it, to internalize it as our own.

And if you will ask: but we have the keys, why not just open the chest and we’ll know exactly what’s in it and that satisfies all requirements for kinyan (acquisition)?

Yes, this is true. But the fact is that the chest and the keys have been given over to every Jew, and yet no one has yet seen fit to open the chest and reveal the Geuloh; thus, it seems that in order to arouse a Jew to do that he has to be motivated to do so by excitement over what is inside the chest that has been given to him.  How will he be motivated to open the chest?  Through fulfilling the Rebbe’s instruction to learn the subjects of Moshiach and Geuloh, to know what is in the chest, and then certainly each one of us will realize the great treasure we have been given and we will rush to open it up — and the sooner the better!

 

Pinchas 5751 — A Deeper Look at a “Pnimi”

In this sicha the Rebbe explains that we bring the Geuloh through the avoidah of “making ‘here’ Eretz Yisroel” (מאך דא ארץ ישראל).  This is associated with the avoidah of being a “Pnimi” — one who is completely involved in what he is doing.  The instruction of “making ‘here’ Eretz Yisroel” is explained by the Rebbe: “even when he is found ‘here’, in chutz la’aretz, and in the time of golus — one must make ‘Eretz Yisroel’ [while he is] ‘here’ — in this place and time…seemingly: according to Torah ‘here’ (chutz la’aretz) is not ‘Eretz Yisroel’!”

The way to make “here” (which is not “Eretz Yisroel”) into “Eretz Yisroel” is by being totally involved in the avoidah of the moment, without thinking about what it will lead to, whether it is the main thing or a preparation for something else.  “It is known the saying of the Rebbe Rashab — a Pnimi is one who is completely involved in everything he does.”  Even if what he is doing is a preparation for something else (such as singing the niggun as preparation for hearing a Chassidic discourse from the Rebbe), he is focused on what he is doing and not what it leads to.

A Yid must do his avoidah ‘here’ — in this place and time — with complete perfection (based on his abilities and potentials in his situation) in thought, speech, and action, as a ‘Pnimi’ who is completely involved in whichever avoidah he is presently doing (and he doesn’t think at the time that he’s doing it about another avoidah later)…he is making in this place (and time) a land in which Yiddishkeit (Yisroel) is openly recognizable. 

Now let’s look deeper.

The repeated references to “here” as our present “time and place” draws to mind the Maamor edited by the Rebbe and published a year earlier (found in “Meluket Daled”), beginning with the words גדול יהיה כבוד הבית הזה (“Gadol Yehiyeh Kavod haBayis Hazeh“).  In that maamor (sections 6-7-8) the Rebbe explains some very deep concepts behind the miraculous phenomenon that took place in the Kodesh haKodashim in the Beis Hamikdash: the place of the Aron [Kodesh] was immeasureable (“makom ha’Aron eino min haMida“).

First, let us explain the phenomenon: The Kodesh haKodashim itself was 20 amos by 20 amos, and the Aron (containing the luchos (the tablets of the Torah) was 2½ amos by 1½ amos.  Under normal circumstances, there should be 17½ amos of space from each side of the Aron to the walls (20-2½=17½).  But in actuality the Aron measured a full 2½ amos, but there remained 10 amos from each side of the Aron to the wall — it didn’t take up any space in the room!

The explanation is best understood from looking at the maamor itself, but to briefly summarize: time and place are generally a function of the name “Elokim”, which is tzimtzum and concealment.  This is the essence of golus: G-dliness is concealed and the divisions of time and place come into being.  Higher than the name Elokim is the name YKVK, which is essentially higher than time and place.  This is not to say that they do not exist at all, as the Rebbe explains, but rather that they exist without division and separation (התחלקות), with all moments being united (the name YKVK meaning “past, present, and future as one” — היה, הווה, ויהיה כאחד).  The same is true for the spacial dimensions: they exist in a state of unity without being divided into “here” and “there”.

Having explained that, the Rebbe explains the miraculous phenomenon of the Aron in the Kodesh haKodashim: the “place” of the Aron was not a usual “place” like the rest of the world, which is created by the name Elokim concealing the oneness of YKVK.  Rather, that place is unique in that it has a revelation of YKVK within the reality created by Elokim.  In other words: all regular places in the world exist in a state of division and separation, each place separate from and distant from other places.  In a YKVK reality there would be no such thing as individual places, they would all be nullified to the Oneness.  In this unique spot there was the revelation of YKVK (Oneness and unity) within Elokim (separation and division), resulting in a place in our familiar world of Elokim which possessed fixed dimensions (20 amos) but yet revealed the unity and oneness of YKVK in that the fixed dimensions of the Aron could co-exist within the fixed dimensions of the Kodesh haKodashim in a state of unity.  (See the maamor for the full explanation.)

From here we can appreciate a deeper dimension of “make ‘here’ Eretz Yisroel”: the very concept of “here” as opposed to “there” is function of the name Elokim, the source of Tzimtzum and golus.  From the perspective of YKVK the terms “here” and “there” are irrelevant because all places are as one.  So the very fact that we are found “here” means we are in a world of Tzimtzum, a world of division and separation created by the name Elokim.  What must we do?  We must make “here” into Eretz Yisroel — the avoidah of revealing the true underlying Oneness (as it exists by the name YKVK) through being a Pnimi “who is completely involved in whichever avoidah he is presently doing (and he doesn’t think at the time that he’s doing it about another avoidah later)” which is a YKVK reality — there is no “now” and “then” since the YKVK reality is always found in the present moment (which includes all moments).  Through this avoidah of emulating the YKVK reality …he is making in this place (and time) a land in which YKVK  is openly recognizable.  The future revelation of YKVK (within Elokim) will reveal that the Tzimtzum is not real from the perspective of YKVK, and will bring about the unity of all places and all moments (the true meaning of the ingathering of the exiles from all four corners of the world).  This is the Eretz Yisroel reality (certainly as it will be in the future when Yerushalayim will spread out to all of Eretz Yisroel…), and the way we arrive to Eretz Yisroel (the revelation of the unity and Oneness of YKVK) is through the avoidah of being a Pnimi — living the moment in a way of all moments — in our thought, speech, and action!

Gimmel Tammuz: What is the Moment When the Sun Stands Still?

Would you like to know at what moment the sun stood still on Gimmel Tammuz, 5754?

In the sicha of parshas Korach, Gimmel Tammuz, 5751, the Rebbe explains at length the great miracle which occurred on Gimmel Tammuz in the days of Yehoshua bin Nun: the sun and the moon (and the entire cosmic system) stood still.  “Shemesh b’Givon dom“.

This miracle doesn’t seem to have such an obvious connection to the miraculous Geuloh of the Rebbe Rayatz in 5627 (the subject of the Rebbe’s farbrengen), but mashpiim find an obvious connection to the events of Gimmel Tammuz 5754: that just as it was by Yehoshua bin Nun, that he commanded the sun and the moon (and the entire cosmos) to stand still, causing time to “freeze” in order to enable the Yidden to win the war they were waging on their own effort, so too we are in a “frozen moment” where the Rebbe wants us to finish the war to end golus with our own effort.  But there is an even greater insight, as we hope to explain with Hashem’s help.

When Gimmel Tammuz comes around, half the farbrengens are on the theme of celebrating “as’chalta d’Geuloh” (the beginning of the Geuloh), and the other half are  on the theme of hillula.  Come and hear an amazing reconciliation of this widespread confusion:

When Eliyahu HaNovi was preparing to ascend heavenward, he asked his disciple Elisha what he could do for him “before I will be taken from you.”  Elisha responds with a puzzling request: a double-portion of Eliyahu’s prophetic spirit should rest upon him.  Eliyahu replies that this is a difficult request, meaning it is impossible to give more than one has (Rashi)!  Nonetheless, Eliyahu adds that if he (Elisha) will see him being taken from him, then he can fulfill his request.

There are various answers given to the question: how could Eliyahu HaNovi give his disciple more than what he possesses.  The answer we will present here is explained in depth in Likutey Mohoron (Breslov), and will open our eyes to something amazing.

In Likutei Mohoron (ch. 66) it explains, based on the Zohar, that every Tzaddik possesses two dimensions of ruach — his supernal ruach, and his lower ruach.  He lives his life in this world with his lower ruach, but when the time of his histalkus arrives, the supernal ruach descends to this world and unites with the lower ruach (compare with Igeres Hakodesh, siman 27).  This means that the Tzaddik, in his final moments in this world, has a lofty revelation that far exceeds what he experienced in his lifetime.  Continues Likutey Mohoron: once the two aspects of ruach unite, the supernal ruach has to leave this world (because its nature is that it cannot tolerate to be here), and it ascends together with the lower ruach, which has united with it, and this is the Tzaddik’s histalkus.  Thus we find that by Rashbi, for example, he revealed the loftiest things in his final moments.

It comes out that every Tzaddik has three distinct stages:

  1. his life in this world when only his lower ruach is accessible;
  2. his final moments when his supernal ruach is revealed in this world;
  3. his departure from this world, together with both dimensions of his ruach.

In the story of Eliyahu and Elisha, it was these “final moments” which provided the opportunity for Elisha’s request to be fulfilled: Eliyahu was still alive in this world, but with the revelation of his supernal ruach.  Prior to this moment, he could not give a double portion because he himself didn’t have it;  after this moment, he was already gone from the world and couldn’t give it over; but in exactly these final moments he had both aspects, and thus he could in fact fulfill Elisha’s request for a double portion.

These final moments paradoxically combine the elements of physical life together with the lofty qualities the Tzaddik attains when he is nistalek.  At that moment he is both “chai v’kayam” and at the same time “more than he was in his lifetime” (יתיר מבחיוהי, in the loshon of Igeres Hakodesh).

Now imagine that at this very moment the sun and the moon stand still.  Time freezes and the Tzaddik’s ascent is also “frozen” —  he remains “chai v’kayam”, alive as a soul in a body in this world, together with supernal revelations that are reserved for a histalkus.  Instead of a fleeting moment of opportunity for his disciples and mekusharim to receive a double portion, this moment of opportunity doesn’t end…

We could say that this is a deeper dimension of the Rebbe’s lengthy explanation of the sun and moon standing still: that the time will come (3 years to the day after the Rebbe spoke the sicha) when the Rebbe will make use of this gimmel Tammuz miracle of “Shemesh b’Givon dom” to create an unprecedented situation: the Rebbe will be holding by both realities!  He will continue to be chai v’kayam without histalkus (as the Rebbe tells us in the sicha of Bo 5752 that our generation will not experience histalkus), yet at the same time “more than he was in his lifetime” (יתיר מבחיוהי), which is a lofty state which is achieved at the time of — histalkus?!

This explains (and even validates) the divergent perspectives: yes, the Rebbe remains chai v’kayam b’guf gashmi, and yes, he also possesses the qualities of “more than in his lifetime”.  Practically speaking, it gives each and every one of us the opportunity to receive from the Rebbe even greater koichos than were available all the years, because the Rebbe himself is holding by greater koichos.  And it also gives us the keilim to understand how half of Lubavitch looks at Gimmel Tammuz differently from the other half!*  These feel the Rebbe lives, those feel “more than in his lifetime”, and both think that you can’t have the two together.  But, in fact, we can, and apparently we do!

May we utilize these great koichos to bring the Geuloh b’poel mamash and truly open our eyes to the reality of the Redemption.


*) This recalls the explanation, attributed to the Helige R’ Yisroel of Ruzhin, of the machloikes between the Alter Rebbe (who advocated spreading the wellsprings of Chassidus) and R’ Boruch of Mezibuz (who was opposed to spreading Chassidus broadly).  He said that when Moshiach told the Baal Shem Tov that he would come when “your wellsprings will spread out”, the Baal Shem Tov’s eyes welled up with tears.  R’ Baruch, a grandson of the Baal Shem Tov, felt the pain of his grandfather’s tears that his wellsprings would have to descend to “chutza”, and therefore opposed something which caused his grandfather pain.  The Alter Rebbe, though, was a spiritual grandson of the Baal Shem Tov, and he felt the pain of the Baal Shem Tov that derived from the long time it would take to spread out the wellsprings before Moshiach would come, therefore he worked to speed it up.  We could say that the Rebbe has Chassidim that are more attuned to the reality of “chai v’kayam“, and Chassidim that are more attuned to the reality of “more than in his lifetime”, and all that is lacking for achdus is to expand the keilim.

The text of Likutey Mohoran in Hebrew and English here.

Parshas Naso, 5751: The Year (in which) Moshiach is Revealed

In the sicha of Parshas Naso, the Rebbe states as follows:

There is a special quality in the Shabbos after Shavuos in this year

To preface, it has been said numerous times that according to all the signs in the words of our sages about the end of days (in addition to the general announcement in the times of the gemara that “all the end-times have passed”), this generation is the last generation of the exile and the first generation of the Geulah.  This was testified to by my father-in-law the Previous Rebbe  — in connection with his well-known proclamation of “immediately to tshuva, immediately to Geulah” — that in his days (decades ago) all the matters of avodah had been finished, and all we need is only to “polish the buttons” and to stand ready to receive Moshiach Tzidkeinu.  How much more so after all the work of spreading the wellsprings outward from then until now, especially upon the completion of 40 years (since his histalkus) it is absolutely certain that we have also finished “polishing the buttons”, and we are standing ready to receive Moshiach Tzidkeinu.

This is especially emphasized in this year — the year 5751 (1991) — [the Hebrew letters of this year, תנש”א] hinting at the verse “his kingship shall be exalted” (תנשא מלכותו) in the entire world, and it also stands for “I will show wonders”– beginning with the wonders that we already saw in actuality, revealed in the eyes of the whole world, in this year [referring to the miracles of the Gulf War].  That through [these events] the words of the Yalkut Shimoni midrash were fulfilled: “In the year that Melech Hamoshiach is revealed all the kings of the world will quarrel, the king of Persia [Iran/Iraq], the king of Arabia, and the Holy One, blessed be He, says to the Jewish people, “my children, do not be afraid, all that I have done I only did for you…the time of your Redemption has arrived.”  Since that time, we are already standing at [the closing section of the Yalkut Shimoni midrash] “in the hour that Melech Hamoshiach comes, he announces to the Jewish people and says humble ones, the time of your redemption has arrived.”

Throughout the Gulf War, the Rebbe made references to this Yalkut Shimoni midrash, but here the Rebbe says unequivocally that “it has been fulfilled”, specifically quoting the words “in the year Melech Hamoshiach is revealed”.  In other words: in 1991 Melech Hamoshiach was revealed.  But despite this, as the Rebbe points out in other sichos, the Jewish people are still fearful and require Moshiach to tell them not to be afraid and to inform them that the Geulah has arrived.  But the “breakthrough” has happened: the year Melech Hamoshiach is revealed.

To add further insight:

“The year in which Melech Hamoshiach is revealed…” (“שנה שמלך המשיח נגלה בו”). The word “year” in Hebrew is feminine, and grammatically we would expect this Midrash to read “נגלה בה“, meaning “in her [the year, feminine]”.  So we need to explain why it says “בו” instead of “בה”: “the year Melech Hamoshiach is revealed in him“[masculine].

Regarding this logical question, it will help to take a look at the Ohr Hachama, the commentary of R’ Avraham Azulai, z”l, on the Zohar:

[…]so to it will be with the Moshiach after he merits to that neshoma and recognizes himself that he is Moshiach, as it states [in the Zohar] Moshiach will be revealed but he still won’t be recognized by the rest of the people[…] (Shemos 7b, quoting R’ Chayim Vital, z”l)

This describes how the initial “revelation” of Moshiach is when the neshoma of Moshiach is revealed to the individual who has been chosen by Hashem to be Moshiach. At the time that this individual receives the neshoma of Moshiach it is a private revelation, “but the rest of humanity will not recognize him”; only later will he be revealed to the people as Moshiach—what we refer to as the “coming of Moshiach”.

We could say that the Yalkut Shimoni’s use of the word “בו” transforms the literal meaning to “the year that Melech Hamoshiach is revealed in him”, a hint to “the year that [the neshoma of] Melech Hamoshiach is revealed in him [the one who will be Moshiach].”  In 5751 there was a revelation of the “yechida of the yechida”  (the lofty soul of Moshiach) in Moshiach himself.  The delay is the recognition of this by the world.

The reason for this “delay” is found in the Ohr Hachama on Shemos 9a, where it state:

“Moshiach can’t redeem Israel from below…only from Above…there needs to be an awakening from below in order to awaken the rachamim from Above, even if the physical Moshiach wants to redeem [them].”

This describes a situation where there already exists the “physical Moshiach” (i.e., the individual to whom has been bestowed the lofty neshoma of Moshiach) who himself knows that he is Moshiach, but the revelation to all of Israel has not yet occurred. We can see this in the language of the Yalkut Shimoni itself: the Midrash begins with “the year in which the King Moshiach is revealed”, and the Midrash concludes with “the hour in which the King Moshiach comes”.

The year in which Moshiach is revealed refers to the initial revelation, when there is still a need to explain the events of the world to the Jewish people, “don’t be afraid”, etc. The hour when Moshiach comes refers to that transcendent moment when the Jews themselves are able to actually see and recognize the light of Moshiach (as stated in the continuation of the Yalkut Shimoni, brought in different sichos).

In other words, the revelation of Moshiach precedes and is distinct from the coming of Moshiach. (And it is self-understood that when there is such a situation—a situation where the tzaddik who himself is Moshiach is the only one to whom this has been revealed– then only this tzaddik himself is able to know and to inform others that “the year in which the King Moshiach is revealed” has been fulfilled, etc.) .

See 5751–The Year Moshiach Is Revealed for more insights into the relevance of this Yalkut Shimoni to the Gulf War and the present world situation.

Keep Your Eyes on the Rebbe!

In the Sicha of Parshas Emor, that Rebbe made the following enigmatic statement:

[The Geulah and building of the 3rd Beis Hamikdash] will be hastened through the study of Torah, and of Chassidus in particular. This also includes looking into the face of your Rebbe, which helps one’s understanding…

This concept is found in the Gemara (as brought in the Sicha of Emor), and the Rebbe himself wrote (in the early years of his leadership) that a person should imagine the face of the Previous Rebbe or look at his photo, explaining the benefits that come from this.  So why mention it seemingly “out of context” in a Sicha in 5751?

It can be understood that the Rebbe is not only saying to look at the Rebbe’s visage, whether in person or via a photo, but something more than this.  The Rebbe is giving us advice how to better understand these Sichos of 5751-52, where the Rebbe is speaking openly about Moshiach in unprecedented ways: when we are learning here about Moshiach, we need to know whom we are talking about; that this is not just “learning Torah lishmah”, but has very practical ramifications. How will we properly understand what the Rebbe is trying to tell us about the identify of Moshiach, and whether we are waiting for him to come or if he has already come? Simple: Keep your eyes on the Rebbe!

Read the following words from the Sicha of Behar-Bechukosai as they are without “looking at the face of the Rebbe”, then read them again with the Rebbe in mind — you will understand very well the “enigmatic” advice “which helps one’s understanding“:

Immediately we will see that Moshiach is already found among us, and every single Jew will point with his finger and say “Behold, this one (is the Melech haMoshiach, and he already) came”.

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Tzoraas: The Illness Before Geuloh

In the landmark Sicha of Tazria-Metzora 5751, the Rebbe explains how Tzoraas is a condition that occurs at the end of golus, after avoidas habirurim is finished (which is why it appears in the Torah after parshas Tazria, which refers to the birth of the soul of Moshiach).  As we are now holding at that time and place — the end of golus, after the birurim are finished — the condition of Tzoraas is relevant to us.

In fact, the Rebbe states clearly that each and every Yid today can be said to be on the level of one who has completed his avoidah and is holding in a state of the Metzora — all the bad is coming out, but the inside is completely refined.  (Reminiscent of chazal’s play on words that “Metzora” is from the words “moitzi ra’“, a reference to loshon hora, but according to Chassidus we can understand it literally “to put out the evil” — that all the evil has been purged from within and it’s appearance externally is really the final stage before it’s complete eradication.)

How can we understand this Tzoraas in our lives?

The maamor of the Alter Rebbe in Likkutei Torah and this Sicha of the Rebbe MH”M explain how the oirois Elyonim (“lofty Divine lights”) begin to shine in a Yid’s soul only after the inner refinement is completed.  Lacking bittul and proper vessels to receive these oiros, the lights of G-dly עונג (pleasure) are rearranged to become נגע (lesion).  This manifests itself as anger, judgmental behavior, and “spiritual arrogance”.  The powerful lights of Tohu which demand “Moshiach Now!” and “Yechi Hamelech” may be unable to tolerate those who one perceives to be “holding up the process”.  We could call it intolerance for and arrogance regarding one who appears to be a “misanaged” in these matters.

There is another form of Tzoraas that can affect their person, in the opposite manner, alluded to also in the maamor.  The Alter Rebbe explains that the lesion of Tzoraas which appears on the skin is a white patch of skin because the white color is a sign that the blood flow is interrupted.  In a healthy body the heart pumps blood to the limbs, and the limbs return the blood to the heart (see also Tanya, Igeres Hakodesh ch. 31).  The failure of the limb to return blood to the heart results in the white patch of skin, which is Tzoraas.

With this concept in mind, let us revisit the words of the Rebbe is the Sicha of Beis Nissan, 5748 (3 years and a month before the Sicha of Tazria-Metzora 5751).  There the Rebbe explains how the King is the heart of the nation (as the Rambam writes), and just as the role of the heart in the body is to pump blood, which is life, to the limbs, similarly the King gives life to the people. And just as in a healthy body the limbs must send blood — life — back to the heart, so, too, the people must give life to the King (for there is no King without a people).

The people giving life to the King, says the Rebbe, is expressed by the crowning of the King with the expression “Yechi Hamelech”, which “emphasizes that also the actions of the nation affect the life of the King”.

The crowning of the King by the people through the declaration “Yechi Hamelech” is likened to the limbs returning the blood to the heart. And the failure to return blood to the heart results in the white lesion which is Tzoraas, meaning that the inability (for whatever reason it may be) to declare “Yechi Hamelech” is itself a case of Tzoraas!

The cure for Tzoraas, as explained in our sources, is the bittul that comes from learning Torah–and in our time the Rebbe emphasizes that it must be in the subject of Moshiach and Geuloh, especially as explained in the Rebbe’s own Sichos and Maamorim.  This study provides the the vessels to heal both forms of Tzoraas — both the intolerance and judgmental form, and also the inability of the “limb” to return the blood to the “heart” by crowning the King with the declaration “Yechi Hamelech”.

Surely we will all add in this study, to bring about the realization of “the law of the Metzora on the day of his purification”, which the Rebbe says refers to the revelation of Moshiach.

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

!יחי אדוננו מורנו ורבינו מלך המשיח לעולם ועד