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).”

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!

Dvar Malchus Shoftim: A Closer Look

Dvar Malchus Shoftim: A Closer Look

It is known that the Rebbe, in the early years of his leadership, spoke of the importance of learning the most recent sichos in a very exacting way  (“If only Anash, and particularly the Tmimim, would be exacting in my father-in-law the Rebbe’s words, especially his sichos of 5710 and the year before.”).  Let us do just that with two easily overlooked matters in the sicha of parshas Shoftim.

WHO IS THE NOVI?  WHO ARE THE STUDENTS?

In this sicha the Rebbe states clearly that the Rebbeim are the prophets (Novi) of our generation, including the Rebbe himself.  The phrasing, however, demands a closer look.  In section 11 the Rebbe states:

A Novi about whom another Novi testifies about him that he is a prophet — as this relates to the Leader of our generation, and which is continued in the generation after him via his students etc. — he is presumed to be a prophet and this second one does not require investigation [as to whether he really is a Novi or not]…

The Rebbe mentions here a Novi (who benefits from testimony about his prophetic abilities) and another Novi (an established Novi who provides the testimony).  This relates to “the Leader of our generation”, and continued in the generation after him via his students.  We could suggest the following interpretation: “a Novi (the Rebbe Rayatz) about whom another Novi (the Rebbe Rashab) testifies about him that he is a prophet…and is continued in the generation after him via his students (the Rebbe himself)….”  This seemingly fits with the Rebbe’s generally expressed view that the Rebbe Rayatz is the Leader of our generation, and the Rebbe is a continuation of the Rebbe Rayatz.

However, from our perspective the Rebbe Rayatz was the leader of the previous generation whereas the leader of our generation is the Rebbe himself.  According to this perspective, we could suggest an alternative interpretation: “a Novi (the Rebbe himself) about whom another Novi (the Rebbe Rayatz) testifies about him that he is a prophet…and is continued in the generation after him via his students (the Chassidim)….”  The first part fits well, as well as the plural “students” fitting “Chassidim” better than just the Rebbe alone.  But we can surely challenge as to how the Chassidim are to be considered continuing the prophecy — who among us Chassidim holds of himself that he is a prophet?!

To this we can answer that it is stated in Chassidus that in the ultimate future all of Israel will possess prophecy, and although it may presently be concealed from most (or all) of us, we are destined for it (as the first generation of Geuloh).  Furthermore, there might be a hint in section 12, where the Rebbe mentions the Geuloh and interjects the words “the end of the deed was first in thought” (סוף מעשה במחשבה תחילה).  These words might bring the diligent student to recall the Kuntres which the Rebbe distributed earlier this year, on Beis Nissan 5751.  In that Kuntres, the Rebbe brings a moshol of giving tzedoko to a poor man: “the end of the deed” which was “first in thought” is not the actual giving of the tzedoko, but rather that the poor man should accept the gift and use it beneficially and happily.  We might suggest that this supports our second interpretation, hinting that we have been giving tremendous spiritual gifts, including even prophecy!  But it is not enough that this is given to us — we must accept it.  And until we properly accept it, it remains concealed.

[As to the expression “the generation after him”, this is not problematic since more than once the Rebbe expressed himself that there is a 7th Nosi (counting from the Alter Rebbe, or, alternatively, the 9th Nosi counting from the Baal Shem Tov) and the 8th Nosi (or the 10th from the Baal Shem Tov) will be Moshiach.]


THE FOUNDATION STONE CANNOT BE HIDDEN AWAY

In section 12 the Rebbe addresses the eternity of prophets and the Leaders of the generation by likening them to the eternality of the “Foundation stone” (the “even ha’shesiya“) upon which the entire world stands and which is not subject to change:

“…I will provide for you a Novi, etc., like you”, the Leader of the Generation who “is everything” “Tzaddik, foundation of the world”, along the lines of the even hashesiya (Foundation Stone) — which is found in a specific place in this physical world, and exists eternally without change (not even the change of being hidden away (“geniza“), as occurred with the Aron which was hidden away, or anything similar to that), in the way that a judge and a Novi exists (eternally) in every generation….

There are those who like to see this passage as expressing the concept that the Rebbe remains alive (“chai v’kayam”) even after what appeared to happen on Gimmel Tammuz, 5754.   This would seemingly preclude being “hidden away” (even in a state of “chai v’kayam“) in a gravesite, or the like.  [There are other, even more clear, sources from the Rebbe which explain why it is necessary for the Nosi Hador to be physically alive, and the concept is not built from this passage in our sicha].

However, as we proceed to section 13, we find something that seems to challenge our initial understanding:

…the Beis Hamikdash itself (which is built and prepared Above) will descend from Above to below, together with the Kodesh Hakodashim and the Foundation Stone that is in it, from which the entire world is supported.

First the Rebbe tells us that the Foundation Stone is found in a specific place in this physical world, and is so eternal that it can’t even be hidden away.  Then the Rebbe presents us with a challenge: how would this not be a contradiction to the fact that this very Foundation Stone (which is in this physical world) is located in the Kodesh Hakodeshim Above and we need it to descend from Above to below?!  And all the more so we are challenged to understand this “contradiction” in light of the fact that this was given as an example of the eternality of the Novi, the Leader of the generation!

At this point we will not attempt to offer an explanation, only to render a conclusion that seems to be a necessary outcome of the Rebbe’s words.  The conclusion is that there is no contradiction to being “in this physical world” and being “Above”.  If the way we understand those concepts presents a contradiction, then apparently our understanding is flawed.  Because to the Rebbe there is no contradiction, and he can even express this in a single sicha!

For a possible way of “expanding our vessels” and redefining these terms to fit the Rebbe’s usage, we suggest a look at the booklet “Eternal Life of a Soul in a Body” at our sister site MoshiachInDepth.wordpress.com.  The idea is that “this physical world” has various levels, including a dimension which cannot (presently) be discerned.  When we will sufficiently refine our physical bodies and the body’s senses, we will be able to discern these higher and more refined levels of physicality — as we labor to draw down the lofty concepts of Pnimiyus Hatorah into our human intellect through diligent study, this brings about that these higher levels will “descend” into our awareness.  We will perceive that there are aspects of “this physical world” which are “Above” other aspects, which cannot presently be perceived even though nothing is concealing them.

Devarim 5751: Aquiring the Geuloh in the Closed Chest

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 master 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 that 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”

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 space in the Beis Hamikdash: in that space the size of the holy ark (the aron kodesh) took up no space (“makom ha’Aron eino min haMida“).

First, let us examine the phenomenon: The Kodesh haKodashim itself was 20 amos wide, and the aron was 2½ amos wide.  Under normal circumstances, if one would measure the distance from the wall to the edge of the aron one would find a distance of 8¾ amos in each direction.  But in actuality the distance measured was a full 10 amos from each side of the aron to the wall!  Although the aron measured a full 2½ amos, 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”.

[In the world of Tzimtzum created by the Divine name Elokim, there is a division of place, I can be here and you can be there.  But really, “here” and “there” are not different places but rather concepts.  Wherever I am found is “here” and wherever I am not found is “there”.  Thus, the concept of going to Eretz Yisroel is a concept of Tzimtzum and golus.  In the Geuloh, when there will be a revelation of YKVK in our present reality.  In the Geuloh we will discover that “here” includes everywhere, and thus we will find ourselves in Eretz Yisroel (and more: in the Kodesh haKodashim, where all places are unified in that one place — everywhere is “here”).  So, in actuality, we are not working “here” in order to go “there”; we are working “here” to bring about the revelation that “here” really includes “there”.]

Based on the above, we can understand 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 Pnimiwho 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, a Yid …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!

Rebbi Akiva’s Opinion on Gimmel Tammuz

Rebbi Akiva’s Opinion on Gimmel Tammuz

Everything in the life of the Rebbe’s Chassidim is governed by the Rebbe’s teachings.  But when something occurs for which we don’t have explicit instructions — such as Gimmel Tammuz — we must look in the Rebbe’s Torah for guidance.

Many Chassidim will say that the Rebbe in fact does give explicit instructions for Gimmel Tammuz, for example in 5751 the Rebbe writes that Gimmel Tammuz represents “the beginning of the Geuloh”.  Nonetheless, not every chosid today is prepared to accept that what the Rebbe said regarding the “beginning of the Geuloh” of the Rebbe Rayatz can so easily be applied to  Gimmel Tammuz, 5754.  Even so, this split — how Chassidim respond to the situation after Gimmel Tammuz 5754 — is itself addressed by the Rebbe, as we hope to show.

In Likkutei Sichos volume 19 is printed a famous sicha explaining an aggadeta at the end of Mesechta Makos.  The aggadeta describes two incidents involving Rebbi Akiva while he was travelling with three other sages.  What concerns us here is the second incident:

Rabban Gamliel, Rebbi Elazar ben Azaryah, Rebbi Yehoshua, and Rebbi Akiva were going up to Yerushalayim (after the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash).  When they reached the point where they could see the Temple Mount they all (including Rebbi Akiva) tore their garments as a sign of mourning.  As they proceeded and approached the site of the Beis Hamikdash, they saw a fox run out of the Holy of Holies.  The three sages began crying, and Rebbi Akiva laughed.

“Why are you laughing?!” they asked him.

He responded: “Why are you crying?”

They answered: “The place about which the verse states ‘a non-Kohen who approaches will die’ and now foxes are are going there and we shouldn’t cry?!”

Rebbi Akiva responded: that is why I am laughing.  The verse states (Yeshayahu 8:2) “two faithful witnesses will give testimony: Uriah haKohen and Zecharia [the prophet].”  The prophecy of one is dependent on the other.  Uriah prophesied (about the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash) that  “Zion will be plowed like a field”.  Zecharia prophesied (about the Geuloh) that “elderly men and women will yet sit in the streets of Yerushalayim.”  “Now that I see that Uriah’s prophecy was fulfilled, I’m certain that Zecharia’s will be fulfilled.”

They said to him: “Akiva, you have comforted us.  Akiva, you have comforted us.”  Thus ends the aggadeta.

The Rebbe asks a number of questions, which are answered at length in the Sicha, but for our purposes we need to understand how the Rebbe explains Rebbi Akiva’s laughter upon seeing something as drastic as a fox running out of the Holy of Holies.   The Rebbe explains Rebbe Akiva’s view as follows:

Rebbi Akiva was able to see the good, even in something that appears as not good at all.  Since the good will come out in the end, his opinion was that the future good takes precedence over anything “not good” in the present.  Thus, if one knows (according to Torah, not merely a “hergesh”) that the destruction that you see will lead to Geuloh — this demands, according to Rebbi Akiva, that one relate to the future Geuloh and not the present destruction.  In the Rebbe’s words: Rebbi Akiva only saw the future good.

And more than that: in the verse the destruction itself is likened to a “plowed field”, which is actually part of the growth process.  It is not a negative step which one must suffer in order to get to better things down the road; rather — the plowing itself is part and parcel of the sowing and reaping.

In other words, not only the future good must take precedence over the unpleasant present, but the present itself is part of the future good!  And this is why the other sages were comforted by his words: because he showed them how the future good was actually already present in the “here and now” (despite how unpleasant the “here and now” might appear).

Let us translate this as it might apply to Gimmel Tammuz in our times:

All of our four sages agree that on the face of it Gimmel Tammuz is not a happy event.  The Rebbe is not seen, the Rebbe is not heard, we don’t see the Rebbe by farbrengens or dollars or kos shel brocha.  At the same time, it is appreciated by all that we are proceeding towards Moshiach, and whatever is lacking now is only temporary.  The future is good, but the present is “not-so-pleasant”.  Why do those who follow the approach of the 3 sages cry?  Because of what is lacking in the present, even if they know that the future will be good.  Along comes Rebbi Akiva and not only does he not cry — he laughs!  He makes a leibedik farbrengen on Gimmel Tammuz, without even mentioning the word “hillula“!

What is Rebbi Akiva’s “secret”?  He learned the sources and he understands — for example, that “Moshiach is revealed and concealed” — and thus he recognizes and even sees the future good that will come from this — and that is all he sees!  Not only that, but he understands that “this one is dependent on the other” — that the revelations of the true and complete Geuloh, the revelation of Hashem’s essence, atzmus umahus, are in fact dependent on us doing the work under our own power without relying on the Rebbe’s visible presence to inspire us.  This is the “plowing” that brings to the “sowing” and the “harvesting” — the future good is already here with us, hidden within the present that is “not-so-pleasant”.  From Rebbi Akiva we learn that this knowledge is enough to transform crying to laughter, even while the future good is still hidden.

One more point:

The Rebbe in the sicha asks: why do we need be told the names of all three sages?  After all, we don’t find in this aggadeta any difference of opinion among them, nor do we learn any chiddush from them.  If it would tell us “Rebbi Akiva and three of the sages” seemingly that would be enough.  The Rebbe answers that we to know their their identities because from this we learn that they were all men of distinguished lineage: Rabban Gamliel was the Nosi Hador, a scion of the tribe of Yehuda; Rebbi Elazar ben Azarya (himself a future Nosi) was a Kohen, the tenth generation from Ezra HaKohen; Rebbi Yehoshua was a Levi, of those who sang and made music in the Beis Hamikdosh.  Due to their outstanding yichus and important positions they were overwhelmed when they saw how low things had fallen after the churban.

Rebbi Akiva, however, was the son of converts, and he himself had been an ignoramus until the age of 40 when he first began learning the basics of Torah.  Rebbi Akiva’s very existence was proof of the tremendous good that can come from “the other side”, from that which appears outwardly to be not good.  Thus, Rebbi Akiva was naturally able to see with great clarity the future good —  regardless of how it seems at present.  Rebbi Akiva possessed what the other sages in our aggadeta lacked: despite their superlative backgrounds and positions, they could not see the future good hidden in the not-so-pleasant present. That is, until Rebbi Akiva explained it to them.

If we translate that to our present situation, we see that the Rebbe is apprising us of what to expect: those with the most illustrious “gezhayichus, those who held the most visibly important positions in the Rebbe’s staff (and those learning in the mosdos they run), may find it a difficult challenge to get past the present situation which appears to be the opposite of good.  To the contrary, the baal teshuvahs and their families, the “newcomers” may find it easier to grasp the Rebbe Akiva perspective: to see that the concealment since Gimmel Tammuz is actually — as the Rebbe states in the sicha — the beginning of the Geuloh.

If there are those who, after 28 years, still haven’t adopted Rebbi Akiva’s perspective, we are forced to say that those of us who do see Gimmel Tammuz as the beginning of the Geuloh must shoulder a lion’s share of the blame:  how many years of wasted efforts spent arguing with each other?  If we, the Rebbi Akivas, will properly explain the concepts as they are found in nigleh and Chassidus, then we are assured by this aggadeta that the others (at least those who are willing to discuss the matter) will come around to see the hidden, inner good just as Rebbi Akiva sees them.  Not only that, but they themselves will tell us “Nichamtanu! Nichamtanu!” — you have consoled us after nearly 30 years of crying!

This alone will surely speed the Geuloh, and bring about the ultimate hisgalus of the Rebbe, Melech HaMoshiach!


View the sicha in Likkutei Sichos volume 19 (in Yiddish) here.

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 will open our eyes to something amazing:

In the maamor for L’ag B’Omer (summarized here), the Rebbe notes that the revelations of Pnimiyus Hatorah that Rashbi revealed on the day of his passing (histalkus) were much greater than what he had revealed over the course of his life up to that point.  The Rebbe offers an explanation for this (footnote 19): that generally the aspects of Nefesh-Ruach-Neshoma are enclothed in the body, whereas the aspects of Chaya and Yechida are above being enclothed in the body.  However, at the moment of histalkus there is a revelation of the aspects of Chaya and Yechida even while the neshoma is still enclothed in the body.   Thus, in the case of Rashbi, he was still alive in the simple sense of a neshoma in the body, yet he was experiencing a revelation of the higher levels of Chaya and Yechida, and therefore he revealed greater things than he had ever revealed previously when he the ChayaYechida were not revealed to him.  Obviously, this has relevance to Elisha’s request from Eliyahu.

This matter is explained similarly, with slightly more specifics in the sefer Likkutei Mohoron (ch. 66), based on the Zohar.  It is explained there that when the time of his histalkus arrives, the higher aspect (of Chaya-Yechida) descends to this world and unites with the lower aspect (Nefesh-Ruach-Neshoma).  Once the two aspects unite, the higher level has to leave this world (because its nature is that it cannot tolerate to be here), and it ascends together with the lower level, which has united with it, and this is the Tzaddik’s histalkus.

This means that the life of every Tzaddik goes through three distinct stages:

  1. his life in this world when only his lower aspect (Nefesh-Ruach-Neshoma) is accessible;
  2. his final moments when the higher aspect (Chaya-Yechida) is revealed in this world;
  3. his departure from this world, together with both dimensions of his neshoma.

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 physically alive in this world, but on a higher level — with the revelation of his Chaya-Yechida.  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 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” at the moment of opportunity: he remains “chai v’kayam“, alive as a soul in a physical body in this world, and he also has received the lofty level of revelations that are reserved for a histalkus.  But here, 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 share the limited perception 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.

 

Kuntres Lag B'Omer 5751

From Kuntres Lag B’Omer, 5751


*) 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 unity is to expand the vessels of understanding.

The text of the above-mentioned section of Likkutey Mohoran in Hebrew and English here.

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

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

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

This is especially emphasized in this year — the year 5751 (1991) which 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.”

Prior to and during the first Persian Gulf War, the Rebbe made frequent references to this Yalkut Shimoni midrash, but here, for the first time, 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], only according to what Yisroel arouses Above can the Moshiach act….”

This describes a situation where there already exists the individual to whom has been bestowed the lofty neshoma of Moshiach (“the physical Moshiach”).  He himself knows that he is Moshiach, but the revelation is not yet recognized by all of Israel.  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, two distinct stages: the revelation of Moshiach which precedes and is distinct from the coming of Moshiach.  The Rebbe is informing us that the first stage has been fulfilled, and we have transitioned to the second stage, which is dependent wholly on the efforts of Yisroel, as the Ohr Hachama writes: “only according to what Yisroel arouses Above can the Moshiach act….”

Therefore, it is understood the words of the Rebbe (28 Nissan): “I have done all that I can do, now I give it over to you to do all you can do to bring Moshiach in actuality”.  If we truthfully cry out “Ad Mosai” (“until when”), we are really asking the question on ourselves: because while Moshiach is the one who brings the Geuloh, Moshiach’s ability to act comes from us.

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 makes 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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VIDEO: The Poor Man Must Accept the Gift

Based on the Maamar in Kuntres Beis Nissan 5751: The Rebbe gives the moshol of giving to a poor man. The “initial thought” is not the giving of the tzedakah, but that the poor man should accept it and benefit from it, which is not in the power of the giver, only the recipient.

What does this mean for Dor Hashvii and the Rebbe’s assertion that “I’ve done all I can do, now I give it over to you…”