Nitzovim and Vayeilech, 5751-52

Translation by Sichos in English

1. The unique qualities of the present year are reflected in the signs mentioned by the Sages of our people in regard to the days on which Rosh HaShanah is celebrated. Among them:

a) פתבג המלך — This phrase quoted from Daniel 1:5 and meaning, “the king’s food” is interpreted as follows: When HaMelech (המלך), i.e., Rosh HaShanah,1 falls on either of ב or ג, the second or the third day of the week,2 then pas (פת) — the parshiyos, Nitzavim and Vayeilech are divided. Nitzavim is read on the Shabbos before Rosh HaShanah and Vayeilech, on the Shabbos afterwards.

b) בשז — This means that if Rosh HaShanah falls on the second day (c) as it does this year, then the year will be shleimah, “full,” (a), i.e., both the months of MarCheshvan and Kislevwill have thirty days. Also, in such a year, Pesach falls on Shabbos, the seventh day of the week (z).

Thus the present year contains three different states of perfection:

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Parshas Vaeschanan, Shabbos Nachamu, 5751

1. The Haftoros of the seven Shabbasos of Consolation were instituted to express that purpose. Thus, they contrast with the Haftoros read throughout the year which are directly related to the content of the Torah readings with which they are associated. Nevertheless, even on these Shabbasos, there is a connection to the weekly Torah reading. For as the Shaloh explains, the events of the calendar year share a connection to the Torah portions which are read at that time.

This week’s Haftorah begins Nachamu, Nachamu (“Take comfort, take comfort”) and reflects a twofold comforting for a twofold loss (the destruction of the First and Second Batei HaMikdash). This will come through the construction of the Third Beis HaMikdash in the Era of the Redemption. Herein lies the connection to this week’s Torah reading which begins with Moshe’s prayer to enter Eretz Yisrael. Had Moshe been granted permission to lead the Jews intoEretz Yisrael and build the Beis HaMikdash, the Era of the Redemption would have begun at that time.

There is, however, a difficulty. Outwardly, the emphasis in Parshas Vaeschananis that Moshe’s prayer was not fulfilled and hence there was the possibility for exile and destruction.1 If so, the question arises: What is the connection between this Torah reading and the Haftorah’s promise of comfort for the Jewish people.

This question can be resolved on the basis of the concept that the consolation offered by Shabbos Nachamu is twofold, and the concept of repetition is connected with the redemption. Thus the Midrash comments “There are five letters that are repeated (i.e., they have two forms, one used when they appear at the beginning or in the middle of a word and one used at the end of a word), each of them is associated with the redemption.” Indeed, the concept of repetition is associated with the phrase kiflayim l’toshiah, “a twofold salvation,” which can be taken as an allusion to the ultimate salvation, the Future Redemption.

The connection between repetition and the redemption is that repetition does not imply simply a single repetition of a concept but a manifold and even unlimited repetition. Thus when commenting on the repetition of a command in the Torah, e.g., נתון תתן, “you shall surely give him,” our Sages frequently state that the repetition does not mean that the command must be fulfilled merely twice, but rather even “one hundred times.” Furthermore, one hundred is also not a limit, but rather an allusion to an unlimited amount.2 Herein lies the connection to the redemption, for in the Era of the Redemption, the infinite dimensions of G‑dliness will be revealed.3

In particular, the repetition of the promise Nachamu, Nachamu has a uniquely positive connotation. To explain: In regard to G‑d’s command to Avraham, Lech Lecha, Rashi explains that the repetition of the phrase indicates that the journey will be “for your benefit and for your good.” Furthermore, in regard to his personal future, it represented a redemption from Ur Kasdim. Similarly, we find a repetitive phrase pakod pakoditi (Shmos 3:16) being communicated to the Jews by Moshe as a sign that they would be redeemed from the Egyptian exile. And in the works of the prophets (Zechariah 6:12), the repetitive phraseTzemach… yitzmach is used to foretell the Future Redemption.

In these instances, however, the repeated phrase, though sharing the same root, is not exactly the same. In contrast, the phrase Nachamu, Nachamu is an exact repetition. This is a true expression of the connection between repetition and infinity. When there is a difference between the repeated words, the intent is obviously to convey another message in addition to the concept of repetition, and to express that concept, the words are slightly different. In contrast, when as in the instance at hand, the repetition is exact, it is clear that the only purpose is to express the infinite dimension associated with redemption.

The uniqueness of the message of comfort conveyed by the prophecyNachamu, Nachamu is emphasized by the Rabbis who interpret the repetition as referring to a comfort for the First Beis HaMikdash and a comfort for the Second Beis HaMikdash. Each one of these structures possessed an advantage lacking in the other. Thus the Third Beis HaMikdash will represent a complete comfort for their loss. Hence, it will be a threefold structure, possessing its own unique qualities and the positive qualities of each of the two previous Batei HaMikdash.

To explain: The First Beis HaMikdash was characterized by a unique dimension of revelation from Above, a higher degree of G‑dliness than was manifest in the Second Beis HaMikdash. This is reflected in the fact that five elements of holiness including the Ark were present in the First Beis HaMikdash and were not present in the Second.

On the other hand, the Second Beis HaMikdash possessed an advantage over the First. It was larger and endured for a longer time; i.e., in time and space, the qualities which characterize our material world, it surpassed the First Beis HaMikdash. The Third Beis HaMikdash will possess both these advantages, plus a unique dimension reflected in the fusion of these two.

Based on the above, we can explain the connection between the Haftorah, “Nachamu, Nachamu” and Parshas Vaeschanan. One of the fundamental aspects of Parshas Vaeschanan is the repetition of the Ten Commandments. Although the Ten Commandments are mentioned in Parshas Yisro, they are repeated together with all their details in Parshas Vaeschanan.

The nature of the context in which the Ten Commandments is mentioned inParshas Vaeschanan differs, however, from that of Parshas Yisro. In Parshas Yisro, the Jews were on the level of tzaddikim, and thus that narrative reflects the dimension of revelation from Above. In contrast, the narrative in Parshas Vaeschanan is part of Moshe’s rebuke of the Jewish people and thus it is associated with teshuvah and the service of elevating the worldly plane.4

Beyond this contrast, however, the very fact that the Ten Commandments are repeated points to, as do all repetitions as mentioned previously, the concept of infinity. And this represents an allusion to the infinite aspect of the Torah that will be revealed in the Era of the Redemption, “the new [dimensions of the] Torah which will emerge from Me.”

More particularly, the two thrusts — revelation from Above, the service of thetzaddikim and elevation of the worldly plane, the service of the baalei teshuvah— will be included in this revelation. For “the [dimension of the] Torah will emerge” — i.e., it will go out from the realm of G‑dliness and enter the realm of human understanding and thus relate to the elevation of the worldly plane. Simultaneously, it will come “from Me,” i.e., it will be a revelation from Above. Furthermore, these two thrusts will be fused together as a single movement.

Based on the above, we can also appreciate another connection to this week’s Torah reading, G‑d’s reply to Moshe that it would be Yehoshua who would lead the conquest of Eretz Yisrael. Although had Moshe led the people into the land, their entry would have been on a higher level, there was also an advantage to them being led by Yehoshua, for this represented an elevation of the earthly plane. This is reflected in the fact that the conquest of Eretz Yisrael was prolonged, taking seven years to conquer the land and seven years to divide it.5Since elevating the material plane within the context of its own perspective requires sustained effort, this amount of time was necessary.

As mentioned, had the entry to Eretz Yisrael been led by Moshe, there never would have been an exile. The potential for exile, however, and even the exile itself, must also be seen within a positive light. It is the exile which allows for the elevation of the world at large within its own context. In every land to which the Jewish people have been dispersed, they have elevated the material substance of the land, refining the sparks of G‑dliness enclothed therein.6 Thus through this service, the world itself has become elevated and prepared for the ultimate redemption.

Thus the entry into Eretz Yisrael described in Parshas Vaeschanan must be seen within a context of a greater scope. Since it prepares the world for the Future Redemption, it must be viewed as containing the potential for the ultimate fulfillment to be reached in that era.

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2. Our Sages stated, “Whoever labors in preparation (i.e., not only prepares, but labors in preparation) on Friday, will eat on Shabbos.” This applies in a spiritual sense as well and thus there is a connection between the present Shabbos and Friday which was the Fifteenth of Av.

The uniqueness of the Fifteenth of Av is reflected in that it is a day when the moon is full. This reflects a fullness and completeness within the Jewish people who “fix their calendar according to the moon, resemble the moon, and ultimately will be renewed as [the moon] is renewed.”7

Each month, the fullness of the moon reflects a state of completion in the fundamental service connected with that month. In regard to the present month, its very name Menachem Av, points to a connection with Moshiach, who will be named Menachem, “the comforter.” Similarly, our Sages describe Tishah B’Av as the day on which Moshiach was born, i.e., the day on which his spiritual source is endowed with additional power.8 Thus the Fifteenth of Av is a time when the potential for redemption reaches a state of completeness.

The connection to the redemption is also reflected by the fact that the Fifteenth of Av falls on Friday. Friday is the day of man’s creation. Our Sages explain that man was created on this day, the final day of creation “so that he would find everything prepared for the feast.” This is an allusion to the ultimate feast, the feast of the Leviathan and the Wild Ox, which we will enjoy in the Era of the Redemption.

Similarly, it was on the day of his creation that Adam called to all the created beings “Come let us bow and prostate ourselves before G‑d,” i.e., he brought the entire world to an acceptance of G‑d’s Kingship. And it is in the Era of the Redemption that G‑d’s Kingship will be revealed in a complete and manifest manner.

Our Sages associated the Fifteenth of Av with an increase in Torah study. “From the Fifteenth of Av onward, whoever adds the nights to the days in Torah study will have years added to his life.” Since “all Jews can be assumed to conduct themselves in a kosher manner,” we can presume that they have fixed times for Torah study and therefore, the increase desired is not merely limited in nature, but rather an increase which goes beyond the person’s ordinary limits. And it is through tapping the infinite potential in a Jew’s soul, each individual according to his nature,9 that we can reveal G‑d’s infinity. This will be reflected in the revelation of “the new [dimensions of the] Torah which will emerge from Me” in the Era of the Redemption, for this will be an infinite dimension of the Torah. Similarly, it is connected with a true “increase in life,” the eternal life of the second period of the Era of the Redemption.

3. The above concepts are ever more relevant in the present year, a year when “I will show you wonders.” And we are constantly seeing newer and ever-increasing wonders. For example, during these very days, a Convention ofShluchim is being held in Russia with sessions being held in Lubavitch (where prayers will be said at the gravesites of the Rebbeim), in Alma Atta (where prayers will be said at the gravesite of my father on his yahrzeit, the 20th of Av), and in the capital of that country.

The purpose of this convention is to take on new resolutions to spread Torah and Yiddishkeit both in Russia and throughout the entire world. This is truly wondrous in nature. The country that fought so strongly against the activities of the Previous Rebbe is now paying host to and honoring his shluchim.

These wonders arouse our thirst for the ultimate wonder, the coming of Moshiach, when “as in the days of your exodus from Egypt, I will show you wonders.”

This is particularly true as this year is drawing to its close. Nissan, “the month of redemption,” has already passed, and we are in the midst of Av, the fifth10month when counting from Nissan, which is connected with the redemption. Surely, this is a most appropriate time for the coming of the redemption.

Our conduct can hasten the coming of the redemption. Since we are “on the threshold of the redemption,” it is possible to appreciate a foretaste of the unlimited approach to the Torah and its mitzvos which will characterize the Era of the Redemption. And tasting such a foretaste of the Redemption will bring it closer.

The above implies making an increase in our study of the Torah as mentioned previously in connection with the Fifteenth of Av. This increase should be made both in the realm of Nigleh, the revealed dimension of Torah law, and Pnimiyus HaTorah, Torah’s mystic realm. (In the latter realm is also included the study of Ein Yaakov, the Aggados from the Talmud, for “most of the secrets of the Torah are hidden within it.”) For as the AriZal emphasizes, it is a mitzvah to reveal the secrets of Pnimiyus HaTorah in the present age. This is particularly true since these teachings have been explained and made more accessible through the approach of Chassidus.

There should be a special emphasis on the study of those subjects associated with the Redemption, in particular a study of the portion of the Rambam’s Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Melachim which describes the Redemption. Similarly, emphasis should be placed — as in the period of the Three Weeks — on the study of Hilchos Beis HaBechirah, the laws of the Construction of the Beis HaMikdash.

Also, attention should be paid to the explanation of these subjects in Pnimiyus HaTorah. In general, the study of Pnimiyus HaTorah is associated with the Redemption and thus Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai was told, “With this text of yours, Israel will be redeemed from exile with mercy.” In particular, however, the function of this study as a catalyst for the redemption is more powerful when the subject studied concerns that matter itself. To further enhance the influence of this study, it is desirable that it be conducted in groups of ten, for “when ten people sit and occupy themselves in Torah study, the Divine Presence is manifest among them.”

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4. This week we study the third chapter of Pirkei Avos. Similarly, the opening teaching of the chapter focuses on the number three, stating, “Reflect upon three things and you will not come close to sin.” Herein lies a connection to the Redemption for it is in the Era of the Redemption that the Third Beis HaMikdash will be revealed. Furthermore, as explained above, the Third Beis HaMikdash will be threefold in nature, expressing a unique quality of its own and combining the positive qualities of the two previous Batei HaMikdash.

We are told to “reflect upon three things,” alluding to the idea that our concern with the Third Beis HaMikdash and the Redemption associated with it should not be casual, but rather involve sustained concentration. And this should awaken an yearning and a desire to await Moshiach’s coming. How much more so is this true at present, when we are “at the threshold of the redemption.”

And in this way, “reflecting upon three things” will add a dimension of perfection to the three services upon which “the world stands, Torah, Divine service, and deeds of kindness.” For this will allow them to be carried out in an unlimited manner as will be in the Era of the Redemption.

Similarly, there is also a connection with the increase in Torah study mentioned above, for the Torah is described as “a threefold light.” And this increase will prepare us to appreciate “the new [dimensions of the] Torah which will emerge from Me” in the Era of the Redemption. Then, together with the entire Jewish people, with great happiness and celebration, we will proceed to Eretz Yisrael,to Jerusalem, and to the Beis HaMikdash.

1. Indeed, this Torah reading contains a passage, ki solead bonim, which directly foretells the exile.
2. One hundred is mentioned in this context, because one hundred represents the perfection in numbers. Ten is a complete set and one hundred is ten times ten. In recognition of this dimension of fullness, our Sages required us to recite one hundred blessings every day.
3. This will be reflected in the concept that the Third Beis HaMikdash will be an eternal structure, unlike the previous two which were destroyed after the passage of a certain amount of time.
4. The difference between these two narratives thus parallels the difference between the first set of Tablets received by Moshe and the second set. The first set reflected the service of tzaddikim,while the second set expressed the uniqueness of baalei teshuvah.
5. Furthermore, the conquest continued for an even longer period as evidenced by the fact that, as reflected in the opening passages of the Book ofShoftim, there were portions of Eretz Yisrael which remained unconquered.

6. This is alluded to in our Sages’ statement, “The Holy One, blessed be He, exiled Israel among the nations for the sole purpose that converts would be added to them.” This does not only refer to converts in a literal sense, but also to the sparks of G‑dliness whose inner G‑dly nature could not be revealed in exile.

This service of revealing the G‑dliness in the material substance of the word is reflected in the Tzemach Tzedek’s statement, “Make this place Eretz Yisrael,” i.e., elevate every place in the world so that G‑dliness is revealed within it as in Eretz Yisrael.
7. That renewal will take place in the ultimate redemption which will be led by Mashiach. Herein, there is a further connection to the moon for Mashiachwill be a descendant of King David who represented the personification of theSefirah of Malchus for which the moon is used as an analogy.
8. See the essay, “The Birthday ofMashiach.”
9. This is seen in the Chassidicinterpretation of the phrase בכל מאדך which is understood to refer to an infinite commitment to G‑dliness which takes a person beyond his individual self. Nevertheless, meodechoh is broken into two words meod sheloch,your meod. I.e., we are speaking about a person going beyond his own individual limits, the transcendence required of each individual is determined by his own nature and service which is considered transcendent for one person may be considered limited for another. Nevertheless, even such transcendence is capable of calling forth G‑d’s ultimate transcendence.

10. We find the phrase, “and the fifth part will be Pharaoh’s,” and in this context, a positive concept of Pharaoh, referring to “the source of the revelation of all lights.”

Translation: Sichos In English

Matos-Masei 5751

1. Among the unique factors associated with this Shabbos is the conclusion of the Book of Bamidbar and the public pronouncement which follows, Chazak, Chazak, Venischazaik (“Be strong, be strong, and we will be strengthened”). This threefold repetition1 produces a chazakah, a sequence associated with permanence and strength.

Significantly, the conclusion of the Book of Bamidbar always takes place in the Three Weeks, a period associated with exile and destruction. One might ask; Why does this always occur at a time when the Jews are weakened as it were?

It is possible to explain that the one is a result of the other. Because this is a time when the Jews are “weakened,” there is a need for encouragement and reinforcement. From the fact that the Shabbos is referred to as Shabbos Chazak, (“the Shabbos of reinforcement”), it would appear that there is a more intrinsic bond, that the time itself adds strength to the Jews’ observance of the Torah and its mitzvos.

This concept can be explained within the context of the connection of the expression Chazak, Chazak, Venischazaik to the parshiyos read this week, Mattos and Maasei. There is an obvious connection between the concept of strength and Parshas Mattos. Mattos means “staff,” and is a symbol of strength, permanence, and authority, as reflected in the verse, “staffs of strength for the rods of those who rule.”

Maasei, meaning “journeys,” seems, however, to indicate a state in direct opposition to this permanence and strength. And yet, it is Parshas Maasei which is always read as the last parshah of the Book of Bamidbar. In contrast, there are times when Parshas Mattos is read as a separate parshah on the week before the Book of Bamidbar is concluded.

To explain: A chazakah associated with the number three represents a true conception of strength, for this strength exists Continue reading

18 Tammuz, 5751

1. A fast day is “a time of will.” Therefore it is an appropriate time for Divrei Kivushin, “words which motivate teshuvah.” This is particularly true after the afternoon service, when most people have concluded their work. Thus, in the Talmudic era, it was at this time that the community was free to listen to Divrei Kivushin.

The term Divrei Kivushin also alludes to the expression Kovaish Avon, “suppress sin”; i.e., the intent is not to tell a Jew unfavorable things about his conduct, but rather to emphasize how G‑d will “cast all sins to the depths of the sea.” Furthermore, there is the potential that the sins themselves become transformed into merits, indeed, merits of a uniquely elevated nature for they come from the transformation of the lowest levels.

In particular, there is an emphasis on nullifying and transforming negative qualities associated with this fast, because the date of the Seventeenth of Tammuz fell on Shabbos and the fast was postponed until the present day. The Talmud teaches that there was an opinion — and indeed, the author of this opinion was Rebbi, Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi, the author of the Mishnah — that “since a fast is postponed, it should be nullified entirely.” Moreover, not only should the fast be nullified, but — especially in light of our service throughout these many years — the fast should be transformed into a positive factor. As the Rambam writes, in the Era of the Redemption, all the fasts will be transformed into festivals.

The above receives greater emphasis since many years have already passed since the Previous Rebbe1 announced that we have finished “polishing the buttons,” and we must “stand together prepared” to greet Mashiach.

Added emphasis also comes from the fact that Tammuz is referred to as “the month of redemption.” Since it is associated with the redemption of a Nasi and as Rashi writes, “the Nasi is the entire people,” every Jew shares a connection with this redemption. Thus the Previous Rebbe writes, “The Holy One, blessed be He, did not redeem me only, but also… all that are called by the name Israel.” The latter term includes even those Jews on the furthest peripheries of Jewish involvement;2 even they have a share in the redemption of Yud-Beis Tammuz.

The connection to the redemption is further emphasized by this week’s Torah portion, Parshas Pinchas. Our Sages identify Pinchas with Eliyahu, the prophet who will announce the redemption. It is possible that Eliyahu has already come and has seen the coming of the Mashiach, but that his announcement has not reached us as of yet. The ultimate redemption is unique, for when it comes, it will come in a complete and total manner. In this, we see a contrast to the other redemptions from exile. The previous redemptions came in stages, while the future redemption will be immediate and total.

Our Sages explain that the different redemptions experi­enced by the Jews are alluded to in the passage dealing with the Red Heifer. The Red Heifer was used to purify the Jewish people, “And I will pour pure water upon you and you will be purified.” This refers to the highest level of teshuvah, teshuvah which unites a person with an inner bond of joy with G‑d and therefore, has the potential to transform undesirable elements into good.

This inner bond is established through Torah study. Thus it relates to the coming of Mashiach who in addition to being the king of the Jewish people, will also serve as their teacher, exposing them to “the new [dimension of the] Torah that will emerge from Me.”

This will lead to a renewal of the heavens and the earth and then together with the entire Jewish people, we will proceed “on the clouds of heaven” to Eretz Yisrael, to Jerusalem, and to the Beis HaMikdash, “the Sanctuary of the L‑rd, established by Your hands.”

To hasten the coming of this, three dollars will be distributed to each individual to be given to tzedakah. On these bills, it is written “In G‑d We Trust.” Trust implies more than faith. It is faith so strong that one invests all that one has. Similarly, our faith in G‑d must encompass our entire being.

And this will lead to the era when we will achieve a higher level of faith. “The world will be filled with the knowledge of G‑d” and thus, having achieved this level of knowledge, our faith will be focused on even higher levels of G‑dliness. And in that era, there will be no strife or war, for “delicacies will be available like dust,” i.e., they will be so plentiful that they will have no more importance than dust. A foretaste of this wealth will be granted at present, even before Mashiach comes and then, in the immediate future, we will hear the announcement of Pinchas, i.e., Eliyahu, that Mashiach has come.

(Translation by Sichos in English)

1. Another connection to the redemption is seen in the Previous Rebbe’s name Yosef which refers to the verse Yosef Hashem,… “G‑d will again stretch forth His hand to gather His people.” Similarly, the name Yosef is associated with Rachel’s prayer, “May G‑d add on to me another son,” which Chassidus interprets as referring to the service of transforming “another,” a person who is alienated from his Jewish roots, into a son. This is possible for, in truth, as the Baal Shem Tov explains, each Jew is as dear to G‑d as an only son born to parents in their old age.
2. This is alluded to by the Hebrew term yichuneh, which as explained in the halachic literature connected with gittim (“bills of divorce”), refers to the name which is not used prominently. Even when the way a Jew is most prominently referred to is not “Israel,” as long as that is part of his identity — and it surely is for, “Even if a Jew sins, he remains ‘Israel’ ” — he shares in the redemption of Yud-Beis Tammuz.

Chukas 5751

1. Every day has two dimensions, its place in the week (which depends on the daily cycle of day and night) and its place in the month (which is dependent on the lunar cycle). Each of these serves as a lesson for us in the service of G‑d. In particular, this is relevant in regard to the present Shabbos which falls on the tenth of Tammuz and, as every other Shabbos, is the seventh day of the week. This is especially true, because the numbersseven and ten are of general import.

To focus on the difference between the weekly cycle and the monthly cycle. The weekly cycle reflects a Divine pattern of revelation, paralleling the first seven days of creation. This is not dependent on man’s activity at all. Thus, the holiness of Shabbos is established by G‑d, above all connection to human actions. From the seventh day of creation onward, every Shabbos has been an experience of holiness.

In contrast, the monthly cycle is dependent on man, for it is the Jewish court who establish the calendar.1 This is reflected in the blessing recited on holidays, “…who sanctifies Israel and festive seasons.” Israel is mentioned first, for the sanctity of the festivals is dependent on the Jewish court. This points to the spiritual task given to the Jewish people, to draw down holiness which transcends the creation within our world.

The weekly cycle is thus an expression of the Divine energy invested in the creation. This reflects a level of perfection as our Sages said, “The world was created in a perfect state.” Man, however, was given the potential to raise the creation to a new2 and higher level of perfection. Thus our Sages interpreted the phrase “all that G‑d created to do,” “as created to improve,” i.e., man has the potential and the responsibility to introduce into the world a dimension of holiness which the world does not possess by nature. This holiness will be revealed in the Era of the Redemption, when man will have completed his task of elevating the world.

These two levels relate to the numbers seven and ten. Seven relates to the holiness of the natural order, i.e., the Divine life-force invested in creation. Ten, in contrast, relates to a level which transcends creation and is introduced by man.

Continue reading

Korach, Gimmel Tammuz, 5751

1. On1 the Third of Tammuz, 5687, the Previous Rebbe was released from prison in Leningrad on the condition that he spend three years in exile in the city of Kostroma. At the time, it was not known whether this was a positive step, for although exile is preferable to imprisonment, it is also connected with several hardships and dangers.

Afterwards, on Yud-Beis Tammuz, the Previous Rebbe received the news that he would be freed and on Yud-Gimmel Tammuz, he received the official documents testifying to this. And thus it was revealed that the Third of Tammuz was the first stage of the process of redemption. Furthermore, it was revealed that a death sentence had been issued previously, and the sentence of exile had represented a lessening of his judgment leading to his ultimate redemption on Yud-Beis-Yud-Gimmel Tammuz.

One might ask: Since the redemption was a Divine miracle, why did it have to come in stages? Why wasn’t the Previous Rebbe granted a complete redemption immediately? Further­more, even after Yud-Beis Tammuz when the Previous Rebbe was freed, he did not achieve a complete victory over the opposing forces. Many restrictions remained on the Jews in Russia, until the Previous Rebbe was forced to leave the country. And even after his departure, those restrictions contin­ued. It is not until the present days, more than 60 years after his redemption, that its full ramifications are being realized and Jews are being redeemed from Russia.

Surely this pattern, that redemption comes in stages, is controlled by Divine Providence. And hence, it is necessary to understand the reason for such a pattern. This is all the more relevant because the Previous Rebbe’s redemption relates to the entire Jewish people, as the Previous Rebbe writes in his renown letter:

The Holy One, blessed be He, did not redeem Me alone on Yud-Beis Tammuz, but also all those who hold our holy Torah dear, observe its mitzvos, and all those who are called by the name “Israel.”

Many years previously, another great miracle occurred on the Third of Tammuz. In response to Yehoshua’s request, “The sun stood still over Givon.” Here too, a question arises: On one hand, the stopping of the sun was a great miracle. On the other hand, it also had a limitation. Why did the sun stop? So that Yehoshua could complete the battle against the Canaanites, a battle that was fought through natural means. Seemingly, instead G‑d could have worked a different miracle and caused the Canaanites to be defeated without battle.

There is also a more abstract question involved with this miracle: Did the miracle merely keep the sun’s rays shining to enable Yehoshua to carry on with his battle against the Canaanites? And for this, all that was necessary is for the sun itself to stop. Or was the miracle more inclusive, affecting also the entire physical process — the orbits and spheres — which govern the movement of the sun?

This question revolves around the integration between miracles and the natural order. To what extent did the miracle permeate our ordinary natural frame of reference? Did it merely break the natural order? I.e., the sun stopped. Or did it change the natural order? The entire physical process governing the sun’s movement was affected.2

A similar question is seen in regard to the miracle described in this week’s Torah portion, the blossoming of Aharon’s staff. After Korach’s revolt, Moshe took the staffs of all the Nesi’im and Aharon’s staff, and placed them together in the Sanctuary, placing Aharon’s staff in the center of the others. A miracle occurred and Aharon’s staff sprouted flowers and fruit.

The question arises: Since the entire purpose of the miracle was to show that G‑d had chosen Aharon, why was it necessary for the miracle to take place according to the natural process of the almonds’ growth, that the almond branches would bud, flower, and then give fruit? Seemingly, it would have been sufficient for them to produce the fruit. That would have been a sufficient sign that G‑d chose Aharon.3

To explain: A staff can only sprout flowers and fruit as a result of a Divine miracle. In this instance, however, the miracle permeated the natural order of the world, and therefore, the staff sprouted almonds in a “natural” — within the context of a miracle — manner.4

This relates to a concept of greater depth: Our Sages declared: “Everything which the Holy One, blessed be He, created in His world, He created solely for His honor.” Thus although the nature of the world (עולם in Hebrew which relates to the word העלם, meaning “hiddenness”) is one in which its G‑dly life-force is concealed, nevertheless, each particular entity in the world exists for one purpose alone: to reveal G‑d’s glory.

There is logical support for this concept as well: Since the world and every entity it contains was created by G‑d — and thus G‑d took from His time and effort, as it were, to bring it into being — He surely did so with a purpose, that purpose being that they relate to the Divine life-force which creates them, and thus add to G‑d’s honor, as it were.

This logic is further reinforced by the Baal Shem Tov’s teaching that creation is an ongoing process, happening every moment of existence. Why else would G‑d have created the world in a manner that requires Him to constantly invest Himself within it to bring it into existence. He could have created the world in a manner in which He initially invested enough energy for the world to be maintained for 6000 years.5

G‑d, however, chose to create the world in the manner in which it exists at present so that each creation will feel that it has the potential to increase and enhance the positive nature of the world by revealing G‑d’s glory. Not only does he follow G‑d’s will, he is capable of contributing independently as it were to G‑d’s glory. (This in turn brings a person great joy, because everyone desires to be a contributor more than a recipient.)

It was in order to maintain a constant connection with the creation, that G‑d invested so much of Himself in bringing the world into being. In this manner, He has granted the potential for each particular creation to reveal His glory at every moment.

Were the creation to have received an initial burst of Divine energy that would continue to maintain its existence at all times, the revelation of G‑d’s glory would be in a much more general and far removed manner. In contrast, because G‑d created the world as He did, each moment of existence can serve as means to reveal G‑d’s glory. For example, when a Jew takes a drink of water and recites the blessing “…for everything was created by His word,” this6 reveals the existence of G‑d’s word — i.e., His creative force — within the water. Similarly, every other blessing reveals the uniqueness of G‑d’s creative energy.7

G‑d’s glory is also revealed by miracles. His ultimate intent is that these miracles permeate nature and thus reveal G‑dliness openly within this framework as well. This was reflected in the blossoming of Aharon’s staff in which the miracle was drawn down into the natural manner in which the almond tree gives fruit.

Chassidic thought relates a connection between this concept and the Priestly Blessing. This blessing draws down G‑dly energy from above the natural order,8and yet this blessing also permeates that order, bringing about positive changes within our reality.

A similar concept can be explained in regard to the miracle of the sun standing still for Yehoshua. The intent of the miracle was not to transcend the natural order entirely, but that the miracle should amplify the success of the war which was carried out (primarily) within the limits of the natural order. Therefore, the enemy was not defeated through miraculous means. Instead, the miracle merely allowed the success which was achieved by natural means to be more complete and inclusive.

Therefore, one can conclude that the miracle of the sun standing still did not affect the sun alone, but rather influenced the entire physical process which causes it to move. In this way, the miracle had a greater tie to the natural order.9

Based on the above, we can also understand the gradual nature of the miracle of the Third of Tammuz. Although the Third of Tammuz was a miracle which transcended nature, it also influenced the natural order, the natural order agreeing, as it were, to this miraculous series of events. Simply put, the very same people who arrested the Previous Rebbe were the ones who set him free and, indeed, they were forced to assist him in regard to certain elements of his liberation.

For this reason, so that the opposing forces would — within the context of their nature, and without having lost their power — appreciate the need to free the Previous Rebbe, his redemption had to come in stages. First, his death sentence was commuted to exile and only afterwards, was he set free entirely.

The effects of his redemption did not end there. The Russian government’s opposition to Yiddishkeit continued for many years afterwards until ultimately at present, they are allowing Jews the potential to observe Yiddishkeit and also giving them freedom to emigrate from that country.10

* * *

2. The above concepts can also be connected to the transition between the months of Sivan, the third month, and Tammuz, the fourth month. Our Sages associate the transition from three (gimmel in Hebrew) to four (daled in Hebrew)with the phrase gomail dallim (showing generosity to the poor). This transition takes us from the month in which the Torah was given to a month associated with the Previous Rebbe’s imprisonment and then, brings about the transformation of that month into a month of redemption.

This process is also alluded to in the shape of the letter daled. To explain: Both the letters daled and reish are associated with poverty (for the word dallus means “poverty” and the word reish means “a poor person”). Similarly, the forms of these two letters resemble each other. There is, however, one difference between them. The letter daled has a point at its corner resembling the letter yud, while the reishdoes not.

The point of the daled represents the quality of bittul, which emanates from the essential point of the Jewish soul possessed by every Jew. Even if a Jew is estranged from his roots, he remains a Jew, for this essential point of the soul is above all concealment, connecting the essence of a Jew to G‑d’s essence. Thus, the poverty of the daled is representative of the attitude of bittul which connects a person with the highest levels.11 In contrast, the letter reish is not associated with this quality of bittul and thus reflects poverty which has no connection to holiness.

This reflects the nature of the fourth month, the transformation of poverty and exile to redemption. Even in the lowest levels of distress, one is able to reveal ayud, the essential point of a Jew’s soul, and this establishes a connection with the highest levels of G‑dliness.12

The above has particular ramifications in regard to the service of spreading the wellsprings of Chassidus outward, a service which is particularly related to the Third of Tammuz. From the connection to Parshas Korach and the narrative of the blossoming of Aharon’s staff, we learn that this service must be carried out with zerizus, with energy and vitality.

Similarly, this concept has ramifications regarding all aspects of our service of G‑d. This energy and vitality must permeate every aspect of our service, expressing a fundamental commit­ment to G‑d as the Rebbe Rashab stated, “Were we commanded to chop trees, [we would do so with joy].”

The above also relates to a Jew’s involvement with worldly affairs and earning a livelihood. Aharon’s staff was placed in the ark together with the measure ofmanna. Thus it also serves as a message to the Jews that their sustenance is dependent on G‑d and not on natural means alone.

It is written “And G‑d will bless you in all that you do,” implying that there is a necessity for man’s activity within the context of the rules of nature. Nevertheless, this activity is merely a medium through which G‑d will grant a Jew his livelihood in a miraculous manner. These miracles will permeate the nature of the world and the world itself and the gentile nations will assist the Jews in earning a livelihood, and indeed, enable them to enjoy prosperity as we have seen in the present generation.

* * *

3. To focus on the service of spreading the wellsprings outward in greater detail. This service must become part of a person’s nature, an essential part of his being. When he wakes up in the morning, he must feel that his entire existence is the spreading of Chassidus. The intent is not that he exists as a separate entity and that he dedicates himself to this goal, but that spreading Chassidus is his being itself.

And in this manner, he will be able to spread the wellsprings, the level of Torah at which even a single drop brings purity,13 outward. This means extending one’s own personal service beyond the essential point of faith to the powers of intellect and emotion; in a deeper sense, extending these wellsprings to others beyond one’s self; and in the most complete sense, reaching the furthest peripheries, the area beyond the scope of holiness.

An example of this can be taken from the well-known story regarding a Chassidwho was stopped on the street by a policeman in Peterburg. In response to the policeman’s question, “Who are you?”, the Chassid answered, “I’m bittul (self-nullification),” i.e., bittul was the totality of his existence. Furthermore, he gave this answer in Russian, reflecting how this awareness had permeated even this dimension of his being.

The question, nevertheless, arises: Even if a single individual carries out his service in a perfect manner, what effect can such activity have on the world at large? On the surface, the world seems to be going on without being affected by a Jew’s service in spreading the wellsprings of Chassidus outward or preparing for Mashiach’s coming.

This, however, represents a very narrow view of what is going on in the world. In truth, the world is ready for Mashiach’s coming and when a Jew carries out his service in the proper manner, the world itself and the gentile nations will assist him. This is particularly true in the present year, a year when “I will show you wonders.”

In practice, from the Third of Tammuz onward, efforts must be made to intensify our service of spreading the wellsprings of Chassidus outward. In particular, these summer months should be used to enroll children in summer camps and for those camps to use each moment of the summer to give the children additional exposure to Yiddishkeit, and to do this with joy and vitality.

Also, the Shabbasos of these months should be used to study Pirkei Avos.(Significantly, the present Shabbos is the tenth Shabbos on which Pirkei Avoshas been studied since Pesach.) Furthermore, as mentioned on previous occasions, it is proper that these teachings be studied, not merely recited. At least one teaching should be studied in depth with its commentaries. At the same time, it is worthy to mention the virtues of the Chassidic custom of reciting maamarim after the Minchah service on Shabbos. And may these activities hasten the coming of the time when, together with “our youth and our elders, our sons and our daughters,” we will proceed to Eretz Yisrael, to Jerusalem, and to the Beis HaMikdash.

This text also contains several points which the Rebbe Shlita mentioned in thesichah delivered on Rosh Chodesh Tammuz. Because of the thematic connection to the concepts mentioned onShabbos Parshas Korach, these points were included in the authorized text of the Shabbos farbrengen, and published together as a single piece. Hence they were translated in this fashion as well.

A parallel to these two types of miracles can be seen in the miracles performed by Moshe as a sign that G‑d had sent him. One of the signs involved changing the water into blood. As soon as that miracle was concluded the water reverted to its natural state. Thus, in regard to the stopping of the sun, this would mean that the sun stopped against its nature and once the miracle ceased, its original nature returned.

Another one of the signs worked by Moshe was his hand becoming leprous. In this instance, the nature of his hand changed and a second miracle was required for it to return to its normal state. In regard to the stopping of the sun, this would mean that the entire physical processes causing the sun to move had been changed and a second miracle was required for them to begin operating again.

The extent of the miracle was furthermore emphasized by the fact that Aharon’s staff with its buds, flowers, and fruit, was preserved for all subsequent generations as commanded by the Torah.
This indicated that the qualities of priesthood granted to Aharon had changed his nature and had become an intrinsic part of his being.
Although in Shaar HaYichud VehaEmunah, there are logical proofs why, since the world was created ex nihilo, the creation must be maintained by G‑d at every moment. These proofs apply, however, only within the context of the world as it exists after creation. G‑d is Omnipotent and could have created the world within an entirely different framework and structure.
The term “this” is used because it is not only the person making the blessing that reveals G‑d’s glory, but also the water itself, as it were. For without the water, it would be impossible for this blessing to be recited.

In particular, this applies in regard to the blessings “…Who performs the work of creation,” and “…Whose power and might fill up the world” which are recited when witnessing thunder and lightening as we have witnessed recently in this city.

The blessing “…Whose power and might fill up the world” is also recited when witnessing an earthquake and a volcano. This also reveals Divine power in this world. This is also of contemporary relevance because the volcanic eruptions in a distant portion of the world have affected the citizens of this country. Their soldiers are stationed in that land and are involved in granting assistance to those affected by the eruptions.


Because the source for this influence is above the natural order, it is drawn down in a manner of zerizus, with speed and energy. Generally, Divine influence passes through the order of spiritual worlds through a step by step downward progression. In regard to the Priestly Blessing, however, this downward progression is hastened, with no obstacles interfering with it.

This is also related to the blossoming of Aharon’s staff for G‑d chose to work this miracle with almonds because they blossom faster than any other fruit. In this instance, they blossomed even faster than usual, in a single night.

(In this context, we can also understand the contrast between the names of this week’s parshah, Korach, קרח and next week’s parshah, Chukas, חקת. The names of both parshiyos contain the letters חק, which refers to a transcendent revelation, above the limits of understanding. Korach, however, adds to that a ר, a letter associated with “poverty,” for it possesses only a single leg. It is missing the third leg which alludes to drawing influence down into our material world.

Chukas, in contrast, possesses a ת, the last of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, and one which possesses three lines. Thus, it alludes to the transmission of G‑dly energy into the lowest levels of our material world.)

According to Chassidus, it is explained that Yehoshua caused the sun to cease reciting its praise of G‑d. (This is alluded to by the word dom translated as “stand still” which literally means “be silent.”) When the sun ceased its praise, the gentile nations — who receive their influence from the sun — had no power.
Significantly, there is now a debate whether to change the name of the city in which the Previous Rebbe was imprisoned, Leningrad, back to its original name, Peterburg. This can be seen as a continuation of the upheaval in that country and its rejection of Communist values. (Although the Czarist regime which the name Peterburg is associated with also persecuted the Jews, their persecution cannot be compared to that of the Communists). Thus, this development can also be seen as an extension of the effects of Yud-Beis Tammuz.
This relates to the interpretation of the verse, “A psalm of the poor man: He will pour out his words before G‑d,” that explains that a Jew’s simple commitment brings him to the highest levels, before G‑d Himself.
This relates to the verse, “I am with him in distress,” i.e., whenever a Jew is found in a distressing situation, G‑d is with him.
13.In contrast to a mikveh which requires a large quantity of water to restore ritual purity, even a single drop from a spring can impart such purity.
Translation by Sichos In English

Shlach 5751

1. On Shabbos, the entire Torah reading of the week is read, thus fusing each of the separate elements of the Torah reading into a single whole. The Shabbos day includes within it all the days of the previous week, and thus, the Shabbos reading is also all-inclusive in nature. Although each of the different readings contains an individual message, their being read together as a single Parsha the endows them with a point of general significance. Furthermore, in a larger sense, they share a point of connection, not only to the entire Torah reading, but to the Torah as a whole, for the entire Torah is a single indivisible entity.

In particular, this concept is relevant to Parshas Shelach,where it is obvious how all the different elements of the Torah reading are interrelated. The majority of the Torah reading is concerned with the mission of the spies and the reaction of the Jewish people on their return. Even the subsequent passages, for example, the passage concerning the wine libations and the passage concerning the separation of Challah were mentioned, directly after G‑d told Moshe that the Jews would remain in the desert for forty years, so that the people would be reassured that ultimately, they would enter Eretz Yisrael.

Similarly, the concluding passage1 mentions the mitzvah of tzitzis, a mitzvah of all-encompassing significance which reminds one of the totality of the 613 mitzvos.This further indicates the connection shared between one passage from the Torah and the Torah as a whole.

It is necessary to understand, however, why this concept — how each passage of the Torah is connected to the Torah as a whole — is expressed by Parshas Shelach.What is the connection between this concept andParshas Shelach? Similarly, it is necessary to understand why the connection between Parshas Shelach and the time of the year when this parshah is read, the conclusion of the month of Sivan.

These concepts can be understand through an analysis of the story of the spies and, more particularly, through contrasting the narrative of the spies sent by Moshe and the narrative of the spies sent by Yehoshua which is mentioned in the Haftorah. Among the differences between these two narratives are: a) There was no direct command for Moshe to send spies. Rather, G‑d left the matter up to Moshe’s discretion as Rashicomments on the word לדעתך in the opening verse of the Torah portion. In contrast, Yehoshua was explicitly commanded to send spies. This is obvious; after the disastrous results of the mission of the spies sent by Moshe, he surely would not have sent spies unless commanded to do so by G‑d. b) In regard to the spies sent by Moshe, the Torah uses the expressions “men” and “explore.” In contrast, in regard to the spies sent by Yehoshua, “spies” and “search out,” expressions which reflect more clandestine activities, are used. c) Moshe sent twelve spies and Yehoshua sent only two. d) In regard to the spies sent by Moshe, the Torah mentions the names of the spies and specifically states that they were the leaders of the people. In contrast, the identity of the spies sent by Yehoshua is not mentioned in the narrative. e) The spies sent by Moshe were sent openly; the entire Jewish people knew of their mission. Furthermore, there was no attempt to hide their mission from the gentiles. On the contrary, rather than dividingEretz Yisrael among all of them, each one exploring a portion, they traveled as a group, in a manner which their presence could be noticed by anyone.2 In contrast, Yehoshua “secretly sent spies,” hiding the matter from the Jewish people and surely, from the Canaanites. f) The spies sent by Moshe traversed Eretz Yisrael in its entirety. In contrast, the spies sent by Yehoshua were instructed to “see the land and Jericho,” (i.e., at the outset, their mission had a more limited scope). Furthermore, in actuality, they merely went to Rachav’s house, fled to the hills for three days, and then returned to Yehoshua. Thus, they did not explore the land as a whole, and did not even explore Jericho in its totality.

The differences between the nature of the missions of the spies sent by Moshe and those sent by Yehoshua revolve around the differences in the purpose of these missions. To explain: In general, two reasons are offered for the sending spies by the Jews: a) to prepare for conquest of Eretz Yisrael, to discover its roads and fortifications so that it would be easier to plan an attack. b) To investigate the nature of the land, to inform the people of its positive qualities so that they will be eager to settle within it.

Moshe sent the spies primarily for the second purpose. He was confident that the conquest of Eretz Yisraelwould be accomplished in a miraculous manner. He did, however, desire that they explore the land in order to tell the people of its positive qualities. In contrast, in the time of Yehoshua, this was no longer necessary — for the spies sent by Moshe had already accomplished this objective. It was, however, necessary to prepare for the conquest of the land, since in Yehoshua’s time, the conquest would require actual war, and for this purpose, he sent spies to Jericho.

To explain this idea: The Jewish people asked Moshe to send spies in order to “search out the land,” i.e., to investigate how the land should be conquered. Moshe, however, did not consider that purpose significant, as he told the people, “G‑d, your L‑rd, proceeds before you. He will fight for you.” Nor was there a need to explore the roads, because the pillar of cloud led the Jewish people during the day, and the pillar of fire led them at night.

Why did he send the spies? “To explore the land…. so that they shall see what kind of land it is… Whether it is good… whether it is rich…” And therefore, he told them to bring back some of the fruit of the land, so the Jewish people would all be able to behold actual proof of the land’s positive qualities.3

In contrast, Yehoshua did not send spies for this purpose, for this intent had already been achieved by the spies sent by Moshe. In this instance, the spies were sent for the purpose of preparing for the conquest of the land. Yehoshua realized that the conquest which he would lead would not be accompanied by the miracles that would have characterized Moshe’s conquest of the land. Therefore, he felt the need for spies to investigate the nature of the defenses of the land he was setting out to conquer.

Based on these general principles, we can explain the other particular differences between the mission of the spies sent by Moshe and those sent by Yehoshua. As mentioned, there was no Divine command to send spies, for from G‑d’s perspective, there was no need for such a mission. The land would be conquered in a miraculous manner and He had already assured the people that it was a good and prosperous land.

The Jewish people, however, felt the need to send spies, and Moshe agreed since, as Rashi states in ParshasDevarim, he hoped that once he agreed wholeheartedly to their request, they would feel that he was not hiding anything from them, and would therefore, withdraw the request.

When this did not happen, Moshe presented the request to G‑d, asking whether spies should be sent to explore the land — i.e., not to search out the easiest way of conquest, but to bring back a report which would encourage the people to desire to conquer it as explained above. G‑d replied that this was leftl’datechoh, to Moshe’s own discretion. G‑d did not oppose such a mission, nor did He see a real need for it. Moshe, however, as the shepherd of the Jewish people, saw the need for the people to be encouraged and therefore, consented to send the spies.

For this reason, he sent twelve spies, one for each tribe, and chose a leader of that tribe. His intent was for the spies to explore the entire land of Eretz Yisrael and to see that there was a portion appropriate for each tribe. Therefore, he sent a leader of the tribe, an individual who knew the needs of his tribe, and could tell them upon his return that there was a portion of Eretz Yisraelappropriate for them.

And it was with this intent that the spies traveled together as a group throughout Eretz Yisrael. Since the land had not been divided into tribal portions as of yet, it was impossible to send each of the spies to explore the portion to be given to his tribe. Rather, it was necessary for them all to see the entire land, and to appreciate how the land as a whole was suitable for their tribe.

This also explains why their mission was not secret. Needless to say, it was made known to the Jews, for its entire purpose was to encourage them to desire to enterEretz Yisrael. Furthermore, it was not hidden from the Canaanites. Since it was not directed at military objectives, the spies had no reason to obscure their identity and mingle among the local people to discover whether they were afraid of the Jews or not. Similarly, they were confident that just as the conquest of Eretz Yisrael would be carried out in a miraculous manner, so too, they would be able to carry out their mission in a miraculous manner without having to be concerned with the danger of apprehension.

Yehoshua’s sending of spies, in contrast, had a clear military objective, to discover the most practical way to conquer Jericho. For this reason, he sent the spies secretly, sending two and not twelve (for thus they could hide easier). Needless to say, the mission was not publicized to the Canaanites, and even to the Jewish people, it was not made known (lest word of it leak outside).

Nor was it necessary to send the leaders of the people. Since the intent was not to convince the people at large of the land’s favorable qualities, there was no purpose in choosing leaders. (Indeed, doing so would make the mission public knowledge.) Rather, it was preferable to send individuals with military knowledge.

This also explains why the spies returned to Yehoshua without making a thorough investigation of Jericho. After Rachav told them that “the fear of you has fallen upon us. All the inhabitants of the land have melted with terror because of you… there is no courage remaining in any man,” they did not need to make any further explorations. They knew that the land could be conquered.

The above explanation also clarifies another problematic point regarding the mission of the spies sent by Moshe. Since the spies were the leaders of the Jewish people and unique individuals selected by Moshe himself. How is it possible that their mission led to such disastrous results?4

Based on the above, however, it can be explained that the spies’ mission did, in fact, accomplish its purpose. They came back and told the people that Eretz Yisraelwas a land of milk and honey and brought samples of the fine fruit that it produced. Thus the Jews knew from actual experience the positive qualities possessed by the land, and afterwards — albeit unfortunately, very many years afterwards — this knowledge allowed them to enter Eretz Yisrael with happiness and joy.

Furthermore, even immediately, in a spiritual sense, there was a positive dimension to their journey for the fact that Jews on a high spiritual level traveled throughEretz Yisrael was the first stage of the ultimate conquest of Eretz Yisrael.5 Thus their mission was part of the service of elevating the lower aspects of our material world.6

The mission of the spies sent by Moshe also teaches us another lesson. A spy was sent from each tribe, because each tribe has a unique approach to the service of G‑d. For example, the service of the tribe of Yissacharcentered on Torah study and that of Zevulun, on commercial activity the proceeds of which were used for tzedakah. Similarly, each other tribe had a path of service unique for it. In a correspondent manner, Eretz Yisrael is divided into twelve portions, one for each of the tribes, for the refinement of that portion of land is intrinsically related to the service of that particular tribe.7

Accordingly, it would seem more appropriate for each of the leaders to have investigated the portion of Eretz Yisrael8 appropriate for his particular tribe,9 and yet, we find that the opposite was true. All twelve spies traversed the entire land together. This emphasizes how the individual service of every Jew is interconnected with that of our people as a whole, for — as an expression of the mitzvah of ahavas Yisrael — one Jew helps another carry out his service. Furthermore, through the collective efforts of the entire Jewish people (as represented by their leaders), the refinement of the world is carried out in a more complete and more elevated manner.

* * *

2. Based on the above, we can understand the connection between Parshas Shelach and the month of Sivan, the month associated with the giving of the Torah. As mentioned, Parshas Shelach is always read towards the conclusion of the month of Sivan, and furthermore, the spies themselves began their journey on the 29th of Sivan.

The connection between the two revolves around the concept explained above, that the spies’ journey was a phase in the elevation and the refinement of the world. The refinement of the world is accomplished through the power of the Torah. Thus, the conclusion of the month of the giving of the Torah represents the extension of the Torah into the world at large and the refinement of the world that results from this activity.

The Torah is connected with the Jewish people as reflected in the fact that the name Yisrael is an acronym for the Hebrew words meaning, “There are 600,000 letters in the Torah.” Each Jewish soul has its letter in the Torah which serves as the source for its life-energy and vitality.

There are two laws concerning a Torah scroll that have significant parallels in our service of G‑d: a) Each letter in a Torah scroll must be surrounded by parchment and, b) a Torah scroll is incomplete unless it contains every single letter. From this, we can infer that each Jew has a service which is unique and specific to his particular soul, separate from that of other Jews. And, also, that the service of one Jew is incomplete until he joins together with the entire Jewish people. Similarly, there are two levels of refinement to be accomplished by the Jewish people: one that is the responsibility of each particular individual, and one to be accomplished by the people as a whole.

To explain: The concepts of oneness and division are intrinsic to the Torah and its mitzvos. The Torah is one, for it is G‑d’s wisdom and “He and His wisdom are one.” In contrast, there are 613 mitzvos. Since the mitzvos are G‑d’s directives for man’s conduct in the world at large, just as the world at large has 613 dimensions,10 so too, there are 613 different mitzvos.

More particularly, the contrast between oneness and division is reflected in the difference between Pnimiyus HaTorah (Torah’s mystic dimension) and Nigleh (the revealed teachings of Torah law). Nigleh is concerned with the refinement of the world, defining what is kosherand what is not, what is pure and what is impure. Accordingly, like the world, it is characterized by division, including the very basic division into sixty different tractates. In contrast, Pnimiyus HaTorahconcerns itself with G‑d, “Know the G‑d of your father.” Hence, just as G‑d is one, this Torah discipline is characterized by oneness.

The above is also reflected within the Jewish people. From the perspective of the soul, all the Jews are united. What divides them? Their bodies, in which their souls are enclothed to carry out the service of refining the world at large. More particularly, the conscious powers of the soul (intellect and emotion) are characterized by division, and it is the essence of the soul (the revelation of which is through the service of bittul) which reflects oneness.

The journey of the spies teaches us that our efforts to refine the world do not relate only to those aspects of the Jews and the Torah which are characterized by division, but also relate to the transcendental levels that reflect G‑d’s fundamental oneness.

In particular, it can be explained that these two approaches to the service of refinement, an approach that focuses on particular divisions and an approach which is characterized by oneness, reflect the difference between the mission of the spies sent by Moshe and those sent by Yehoshua. Moshe sent twelve spies, one for each of the services which characterize the Jewish people, and he charged them with exploring the entire land, i.e., all of its different particulars.11

In contrast, the mission of the spies sent by Yehoshua was characterized by oneness. Therefore, he sent spies only to Jericho, “the padlock of Eretz Yisrael,” i.e., a city which in essence included the entire country and thus relates to the approach of oneness.

Similarly, these spies were sent in response to G‑d’s command, i.e., as an expression of the quality of bittulwhich brings into revelation the essence of the soul, the quality present in all Jews without distinction. The dimension of oneness associated with this mission is also reflected by each of the terms used by the verse, “two men [to] spy in secret.”

“Two,” in contrast to twelve, reflects the two fundamental thrusts — positive activity and the negation of undesirable influences — which include the totality of our service. “Men,” as opposed to leaders, indicate an emphasis, not on the greatness of the qualities possessed by the individual, but rather on the essential qualities common to all men.

“[To] spy in secret” reveals a modest approach to the service of G‑d characteristic of the quality of bittul. One does not seek personal aggrandizement or publicity.

3. The above concepts receive further emphasis in terms of our Sages’ explanation that the two spies sent by Yehoshua were Caleb and Pinchas. Why Yehoshua sent Caleb is understandable. He was the only one of the spies (other than Yehoshua himself) sent by Moshe who accomplished his mission successfully. Why, however, was Pinchas chosen? As mentioned above, Yehoshua sent these spies to prepare for the conquest of Eretz Yisrael and the Levites (Pinchas’ tribe) were to take no part in this war of conquest.

This question can be resolved within the context of our Sages’ statement that, in the Era of the Redemption,Eretz Yisrael will be divided into thirteen portions, a portion to be set aside for each of the tribes, including the tribe of Levi.

In the present era, the tribe of Levi did not receive a portion in Eretz Yisrael or a portion in the spoils of war, because — as the Rambam writes — the Levites:

Were set aside to serve G‑d, to worship Him, and to instruct others in His straight paths and righteous judgments…. Therefore, they were separated from the ways of the world and do not wage war as the other Jews do, nor do they receive an inheritance…. Rather, they are G‑d’s legion, and He, blessed be He, provides for them.

This applies in the present era, when the material nature of the world prevents a person from being both totally dedicated to G‑d and simultaneously involved with worldly affairs. In the Era of the Redemption, however, when the world will be refined and “the world will be filled with the knowledge of G‑d as the waters fill up the ocean bed,” there will be no need for the Levites to set themselves aside from worldly involvement. And hence, they too will receive a portion of Eretz Yisrael.

It can be explained that the division of Eretz Yisrael into thirteen portions is associated with the transcendent oneness which will permeate the world in the Era of the Redemption for אחד (“one”) is numerically equivalent to thirteen. This will also be reflected by the fact that G‑d Himself will be the One who divides the land in the Era of the Redemption.12

At present, the refinement of the world relates to those levels of G‑dliness which reflect the division within the world at large. In the Era of the Redemption, in contrast, we will merit the revelation of the levels of G‑dliness which transcend the divisions of the world and reflect His oneness.

This universal oneness also relates to the tribe of Levi, for that tribe possesses a general quality relating to the entire Jewish people as the Rambam writes:

Not only the tribe of Levi, but each and every man who is motivated by the generosity of his spirit to stand before G‑d and serve Him… is sanctified as holy of holies. G‑d will be his lot and inheritance forever… as for the Priests and Levites.

As a foretaste, and in preparation for, the conquest ofEretz Yisrael in the Era of the Redemption, and to emphasize the quality of oneness, Yehoshua sent Pinchas as one of his two spies.

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4. The above concepts also share a connection to the concluding passage of Parshas Shelach, the passage which deals with the mitzvah of tzitzis. Tzitzis is amitzvah of general significance as reflected by our Sages’ statement that it is “equivalent to all the mitzvos”and the verse “and you shall see it and remember all themitzvos of G‑d.” On the surface, this is problematic; as mentioned above, mitzvos are the medium G‑d has granted us to relate to the particular elements of this world, and therefore, they are characterized by difference. If so, how can there be a mitzvah which is all-inclusive in nature?

The answer is that this in fact is the nature of all themitzvos. The inner dimension of all the mitzvos is that they are the Torah’s commands and thus, they all convey and communicate G‑d’s Oneness. Of all themitzvos, this is openly revealed in the mitzvah of tzitzisfor the numerical equivalent of the word, together with its physical form, eight strands and five knots, reflect a connection to all 613 mitzvos.

The mitzvah of tzitzis allows this oneness to be reflected in the observance of all the mitzvos, causing even those mitzvos which reflect the division and difference prevalent in the world at large to be characterized by a spirit of oneness. This is alluded to in the expression mentioned in the passage concerningtzitzis, “so that you remember and fulfill all of Mymitzvos,” i.e., this mitzvah makes one conscious that all the mitzvos are G‑d’s mitzvos, united with Him. Thustzitzis shares a connection to the mission of the spies whose journey was characterized by oneness as explained above.

The reading of this portion should inspire us to greater activities in the sphere of ahavas Yisrael, first and foremost, thinking about how to fulfill both the material and spiritual needs of our fellow Jews.13

This should also be expressed by activities which emphasize oneness among Jews in both of the two fundamental categories which characterize the service of the Jewish people, Yissachar — those individuals who devote themselves to Torah study — and Zevulun — those involved in worldly affairs. In regard to Yissachar, the Rambam writes that it is a mitzvah for a Torah sage to “teach all the students,” i.e., to extend his teachings to as many students as possible. Similarly, in regard to Zevulun, it is possible to give a donation to tzedakah on behalf of someone else and there are some rich people — may their number increase — who give donations on behalf of each member of the Jewish people.

Within the context of activities which emphasize the unity of the Jewish people, it is also worthy to mention the campaign to study the Rambam’s Mishneh Torah.This campaign unites many Jews throughout the world in the study of a single text. Similarly, in this vein, it is important to mention the spreading of the teachings ofChassidus outward. These teachings unite the inner dimensions of the Jews with the inner dimensions of the Torah, and thus, with the inner dimensions of G‑d. And it is the spreading of these teachings which will hasten the advent of the era in which “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of G‑d as the waters cover up the ocean bed.”

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5. The Haftorah concludes with the verse, “G‑d gave the entire land into our hands and all the inhabitants of the land have melted [in fear] of us.” This verse should serve as a directive for us at present. We should not return to the gentiles one inch of those portions of Eretz Yisraelwhich G‑d has given us. And this resolve to maintain full possession of Eretz Yisrael will lead us to the era when the size of Eretz Yisrael will be increased and it will encompass the lands of 10 nations. Then it will be divided into thirteen portions, the tribe of Levi also receiving a share as mentioned above. And we will proceed to the Beis HaMikdash and offer the Thanksgiving sacrifice in thanks for our redemption from exile. May this be in the immediate future



Similarly, as Rashi brings out, the two passages which precede the passage concerning tzitzis, the passages concerning a sin offering for idol worship and the execution of the person discovered to be collecting wood on Shabbos, are also of general import. Transgression of either of these prohibitions is considered to be equivalent to a failure to heed the Torah as a whole.

Indeed, G‑d performed a special miracle, causing many of the Canaanites to die, so that they would be concerned with mourning and would not pay much attention to the spies.

The Torah mentions that Moshe charged the spies to see “Are the people who live there strong or weak?… Are the cities where they live open or fortified?” This seems to indicate that his intent was also to prepare for the conquest of the land. From a deeper perspective, however, these questions can also be interpreted as referring to the investigation of the nature of the land. Our Sages teach that the nature of the inhabitants of the land is dependent on the land itself, “There is a land which produces mighty people and a land which produces weak people.” Thus when asking the spies to investigate whether the people of the land where mighty or not, Moshe was in fact asking them to explore the nature of the land.

Similarly, as Rashi explains, the question whether the people lived in fortified cities or not was also directed at discovering whether they were mighty or weak. If they were strong, they would not need fortified cities. Thus, this question also was intended to reveal the properties of the land itself.


In Likkutei Torah, the Alter Rebbe explains that, indeed, the spies’ unwillingness to enter Eretz Yisrael stemmed from their elevated spiritual level. “They were on a very elevated level and did not desire to lower themselves to carry out the mitzvos on the plane of deed…. Rather, they desired to remain in the desert” where they were involved with Torah study without any connection to worldly affairs.

It is related that “the spies do not have a portion in the World to Come.” This is also given a positive interpretation. Their level was so high that the World to Come could not serve as an appropriate reward for them.


When discussing the spiritual level of the spies, Rashi uses the expression, “At that time, they were kosher.” He does not use the term “righteous” for the word kosher contains an allusion which teaches us an important lesson.

Kosher (כשר) is an acronym for the Hebrew words כמוצא שלל רב (“As one who finds great spoil”). The elevation of the lower realms brought about by the spies’ mission was “great spoil” taken from the domain of the forces of evil, for it is through the transformation of the darkness of this world that the highest levels of G‑dly light are revealed.


This concept is also alluded to by the fact that the purpose (and as explained above, ultimately the result) of the spies’ mission was that the Jews would appreciate the positive qualities of Eretz Yisrael, through first-hand experience rather than faith. Faith is a revelation from above, as opposed to experience which is a product of activity within the world itself.

Eretz Yisrael contains all the different phenomena that are manifest in the world at large and thus includes the entire world within itself. Thus, the refinement of Eretz Yisrael brings about refinement in the entire world.

For this reason, Moshe did not send a representative of the tribe of Levi, for the tribe of Levi did not have a portion in Eretz Yisrael.

Although, as mentioned previously, each tribe did not know exactly where its portion in Eretz Yisrael was to be, there were certain tribes who had a general conception — and in certain instances, for example Zevulun, specific information — about the location of their portion in Eretz Yisrael from the blessings which Yaakov gave them before his death.

The world is a macrocosm of the human body. Just as there are 613 parts to the body (248 limbs and 365 sinews), so too, there are 613 portions in the world at large.

In this concept, it is possible to explain an inner meaning of the expression l’datechoh used by Rashi to convey the idea that G‑d left the sending of the spies to Moshe’s own discretion.Daas, knowledge, relates to difference, for all the particular elements of our emotional makeup have their source in this quality. Since the process of refinement to be accomplished by these spies had to do with the various particular divisions, it was dependent on the quality of Daas.

And for this reason, our Sages explain that each tribe will receive an inheritance that is identical in nature.

This commitment should be expressed verbally in our acceptance of fulfillment of the mitzvah, “Love your fellowman as yourself,” each morning.
Translation: Sichos In English