Miketz (Chanukah) 5752: Oil and the Annointed One

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kuntres 19 Kislev: The Power of Chassidim

Kuntres 19 Kislev: The Power of Chassidim

This maamor, originally spoken on Yud Tes Kislev 5726, is based on the familiar posuk “Podah v’sholom nafshi“, but it provides a completely different perspective than the maamor released a week earlier (for 10-14 Kislev, 5752).  Here, the Rebbe explains according to the words of our Sages that Hashem states: “whoever labors in Torah and in acts of Kindness (Gemilus Chassodim) and davens with the community, I consider it as though he redeemed me and my children from the nations of the world.”

Firstly, the Rebbe groups them as two: Torah and Gemilus Chassodim drawing down from Above, and Tefillah rising from below to Above.  The Rebbe describes the difference between Brocha (drawn down from Above) and Tefillah (from below), based on the verse “Your Chassidim will bless you” חסידיך יברכוך as explained by the Rebbe Rashab: that specifically Chassidim have the power to draw down brocha in a way that the Divine light illuminates Malchus (the lowest level, which “possesses nothing of its own”).

The advantage of a brocha (generally given by Tzaddikim) is that it has the power of a command: that one who is standing above the hashpo’ah can command that it descend to the recipient (despite the fact that there are obstacles preventing it from descending).  Thus, a brocha is a certainty.  The disadvantage is that it only relates to hashpo’ah that is already “in the pipeline”, for which there is already a Divine Will.

The advantage of Tefillah is that is has the power of “Yehi ratzon” — to create a new Divine Will.  Where previously an individual was ill, Tefillah can bring about a new ratzon that the individual will be healthy.  The disadvantage is that it is not guaranteed — sometimes the Tefillah is answered (and drawn down into the world), sometimes not.

The power of Chassidim is that they can draw down the power of both together: the new ratzon brought about through Tefillah with the certainty of a command found in a brocha.  This is because they draw down from the level of submission, hoda’ah, which is above intellect and understanding.  This level of brocha is similar to what is drawn down by Torah.  Torah can bring about a change in the world, something new which wasn’t before, as we find by Rashbi that during a decree of drought he brought down rain by saying Torah (changing Divine Will and nullifying the decree).  All this in a way that the change occurs automatically, without effort from below, with no need for a command.

This is also related to Chesed and Tzedaka (Chassidim and Tzaddikim): Tzedaka means providing a person with what is lacking for him, “but you are not commanded to make him rich”.  Chesed goes beyond that, one can even make a person wealthy.  Similarly, the level of Chosid (one who goes “above and beyond” in his service of Hashem) is able to draw down so much that he can make Malchus “wealthy”, and even beyond wealth, taking even the one who is already wealthy (lacking nothing) to an entirely new level.  This wealth, on a completely new level, is what nullifies the opponent, the menaged (the content of the posuk Podah v’Sholom).  There is a level where there is no war, but there is still a menaged; beyond that is the level of “sholom” (of l’asid lavo) where there isn’t even a menaged (see the previous maamar) — because even the sparks of holiness that “became evil” and lost all feeling for G-dliness will be affected.

These levels reflect differing levels of bittul: in Tefillah the individual feels himself separate from Elokus; higher than this is the Brocha commanded by a Tzaddik, where the individual’s reality is G-dliness, but the world remains a separate reality; the highest level is the level of Torah, where the results are automatic, because it represents a revelation of Atzmus — the reality of Elokus is the only reality and thus there isn’t even a need for a command.  This is also the level drawn down by “Your Chassidim will bless you” חסידיך יברכוך.

Through learning Pnimiyus Hatorah this nullifies the enemy (corresponding to the third level — where there is no reality besides Elokus).  This is connected with Yud Tes Kislev and the release of the Alter Rebbe which is the vindication of spreading the wellsprings outward.  That the maayonos will reach even the “outside”, and not only the waters of the wellsprings but the wellsprings themselves.  This is the spreading of the wellsprings that brings Moshiach, for it draws down the highest levels to the lowest levels (Pnimiyus haKesser to Malchus sh’b’Malchus), and itself is like the three levels that were described above: the one who labors in Torah and in Gemilus Chassodim and davens with the community.  “And through this ‘he redeems me and my children from among the nations’, at which time will take place the promise ‘I will remove the spirit of impurity from the earth’, and Hashem will be King over all the Earth, on that day Hashem will be one and His name will be one.”

 

 

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

In particular in these days — the days of Moshiach — in which we are found now, we need only to “open up the eyes”, and then we see that we are already found in the true and complete Geuloh in the simple meaning of the words, and all of bnei Yisroel are ready in all the details “to approach and to sit down at the table”, a table set with all the delicacies and all good things, beginning with matters of Geuloh, Levyoson and the Shor haBar and the aged wine, and more and primarily, “to know Hashem”, “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of Hashem as water covers the seas.”

 

Sefer Hasichos 5752 page 173

Sefer Hasichos, 5752, p. 173

Vayeishev 5752: France is Refined, the World is Refined

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vayishlach 5752: The Job After the Birurim Are Completed

The sicha of Vayishlach 5752 contains several threads, each of considerable significance.

Firstly, the Rebbe explains the concept of the diminution of the moon — that the full moon on the 15th of the lunar month, when the moon fully receives and reflects the light of the sun, is followed by a decrease in the light until it completely disappears from sight. However, this period of diminution of the light of the moon is really only as far as the revelation of the moon is concerned.  But the fact that we continue to count the days up (16th, 17th, 18th, etc.) hints that in fact the moon is really reaching a higher level, coming closer to the sun (the mashpia) until it ultimately unifies with it and becomes a mashpia itself.  “The complete perfection of the moon is when the it becomes like the sun and no longer needs to receive the light of the sun.

The unification of the sun and the moon, the mashpia and the mekabel, requires the moon to be completely nullified, resulting in “the essence being revealed” (etzem b’hisgalus).  This is a metaphor for the relationship of the Jewish people to Hashem, that when Yisroel is completely nullified to Hashem they become unified and they themselves become like Him, both being equal “one crown for both of them”.  All this takes place after the process of refinement (avodas habirurim) is completed.

This brings us to the next significant thread of this sicha, where the Rebbe states that the refinement of the sparks of Tohu (related to Esav in our parsha) has been completed, and “all the matters of avodah have been finished and completed, also as regards (and in) the world.”  Although this appears in many of the sichos of Dvar Malchus, in our sicha of Vayishlach the Rebbe addresses the question: if everything has been done, what do we do now?  The answer is found in the conduct of Yaakov towards Esav in our parsha.  Returning from living with Lavan in Charan, Yaakov was ready for Moshiach and anticipated that Esav, too, was ready.  Thus, what Yaakov did is what we are doing.  The verses tell us how Yaakov sent excessive gifts to Esav, and bowed down 7 times.  In Torah Ohr, the Alter Rebbe explains  what this means spiritually, which the Rebbe summarizes as follows:

“Yaakov sent messengers before him to Esav his brother” — that Yaakov, whose source is from the world of Tikkun, sent messengers literally “before him“, to the level that is higher than him, to Esav his brother who has his source in the world of Tohu (since, due to his relationship to Yaakov, we are referring to Esav after he was refined and returned to his source, the transcendentlevel of Tohu).  This was “in order to draw down the transcendent level of Tohu to him below in Tikkun, which is the aspect of internalized light, that the transcendent will shine forth internally and they will be unified together.  This is also the meaning of the unification of the moon and the sun (Yaakov and Esav, inner light and transcendent light, memaleh kol almin and sovev kol almin), until the moon no longer receives from the sun (since the the refinement of the sparks of Tohu has already been finished and completed,  which was the reason that the moon was originally diminished to be a receiver, as explained earlier in the sicha), but rather the light of the moon becomes like the light of the sun, that both are equal.

(Footnote 89): We learn out from the avodah of Yaakov after he thought that Esav was already refined, and even after the messengers returned and informed him that Esave was not yet refined — he did not get involved in “avodas habirurim” (to refine Esav), but rather he became involved in “the elevation of the ‘lower waters’ to draw down the ‘masculine waters’ of the transcendent level of Tohu‘ [hala’as Ma”n lehamshich Ma”d d’makif d’Tohu] via his offering.  [More explanation is required, but time does not allow us to do so here and now.  See Torah Ohr on our parsha.]

The Rebbe continues and connects this with the refinement of the nation of France, in loshon kodesh “Tzorfas” which has the numerical value of 770, that this represents the completion of the process of refining the world.  “From this it is understood that literally in our times we need only to open the eyes and to see the reality b’poel mamash.”  (Footnote 112): “That is to say, not only this that the avodah of refinement has been completed and that we need to bring about a revelation of this in the world, but rather more than this, that there is already revealed [such a revelation] in actuality, and we need only to open the eyes, because already you have been given…eyes to see.'”

Kuntres Yud/Yud Daled Kislev, 5752: Reveal the Yechida

Kuntres Yud/Yud Daled Kislev, 5752: Reveal the Yechida

Famous are the numerous maamorim over the years explaining the posuk “Padoh v’sholom nafshi“, the verse which the Alter Rebbe was reading when he was notified of his release from Russian prison on Yud-Tes Kislev, 5559.  This verse is also relevant to the release of his son, the Mitteler Rebbe, from arrest on Yud Kislev, some  28 years later.  The maamor in this kuntres was said on Yud Kislev 5722 (the 3rd maamor of that farbrengen!) and edited and printed in 5752 in honor of that date (and also in honor of Yud-Daled Kislev, the Rebbe’s wedding anniversary).

The verse states: “He redeemed my soul with peace from the battle that came upon me, because the many were with me.”

The common thread in almost all of the maamorim, beginning with the maamor of the Mitteler Rebbe, focuses on the concept of being redeemed from battle in a way of peace, which is seemingly an oxymoron — if there is peace there is no battle!  The explanation is that in fact there is a battle, a battle between the nefesh Elokis (the G-dly soul) and the nefesh habahamis (the animal soul we possess).  One may attempt to overcome his animal soul using his intellect (the lower levels of his G-dly soul, nefesh, ruach, neshoma), or overpowering it with force of will, ratzon (from the level of Chaya), but in these cases the Animal Soul can fight back with its own intellect and force of will — a battle.  Only when one reveals his yechida, the highest level of his soul, can he nullify the struggle of the Animal Soul and thus win the battle “in peace” —  “Padoh v’sholom”.

In this maamor the Rebbe explains that there are two aspects of “sholom” (בשלום — ב’ שלום): from Above to below, and from below to Above.  When there is a revelation of Ohr from Above which overwhelms and nullifies the Animal Soul, the Animal Soul ceases to oppose the G-dly Soul, but it doesn’t change the Animal Soul itself: it nullifies its reality, but doesn’t change it.  The change occurs through the struggle of the G-dly Soul to overcome and transform the Animal Soul, bringing it to realize on its own terms that it should love Hashem.  But even so, the Animal Soul will still remain a potential adversary.  We should by now be familiar with the Rebbe’s approach: that we need both aspects, from Above to below and from below to Above; and not just independently, but a unification of the two lines of influence.

The Rebbe brings the story of the Chossid of the Tzemach Tzedek, who complained in Yechidus (private audience) that others were “trampling on him” in the Beis Midrash.  The Rebbe points our attention to the fact that this Chossid’s self-importance (yeshus) was not only manifesting itself in the “mikdash me’at” of the Beis Midrash, but even in the private chamber of the Rebbe!  Despite the manifestation of the Shechina in those places, this Chossid’s yeshus remained intact.  This illustrates the necessity for avoidah, the work from below to Above (because despite the great revelations from Above a person can remain unchanged).  As expressed elsewhere (see, for example, the sicha of Vayeira): the lofty revelations from Above only become revealed to one who makes himself into a vessel to receive them.

Nitzutzos and Hisnagdus


In the final two oisios of the maamar, the Rebbe explains the continuation of the posuk: “…because the many were with me“.  The intent behind the descent of the nitzutzos, the Divine sparks, below is in order that they will be refined and return to their source (and even higher).  Because of this:

…It is not possible (אין שייך) that there should be any resistance or opposition (from the nitzutzos) to their refinement.  The fact that it is possible for there to be resistance and opposition is only from the side of the person (who is responsible for the refinement), for he has free choice.  But as far as the nitzutzos are concerned — there is no choice involved (they must be refined).

…And more than this: the nitzutzos want and yearn to be refined.  This is the meaning of “the many were with me”, that the nitzutzos found in the aspect of “the many” (רבים — implying those elements in the world which are opposed to G-dliness) yearn for their refinement… It is only because these nitzutzos are in golus in the aspect of “the many” that this is not revealed.  To such a degree that sometimes it appears that the individual and the worldly matters (not only that they don’t assist, but rather) interfere with his avoidas Hashem.  Because the concealment of the nitzutzos is the ultimate concealment, expressed as “a concealment that is not in existence”.  But via the avoidah of “the many were with me”, the awakening of the Yechida, the essence of the soul (עצם הנפש) which is higher than our reality, this “concealment that is not in existence” of the nitzutos is awakened and is revealed, together with their yearning to be refined, and then it is seen openly that the matters of the world (not only do not interfere, but rather) assist in avoidas Hashem.

This awakening of the Yechida contains within it both of the levels that were mentioned earlier: from Above to below and from below to Above, in a way where each one contains an aspect of the other.  Since the nitzutzos have a desire to be refined (from Above) — this is the admixture of “from below” in the revelation of Ohr from Above.  And similarly the refinement from below is in a way where the opposition is nullified (an aspect of “from Above”), for the same reason: the desire of the nitzutzos to be refined. When we awaken our Yechida, we reveal that in truth there is no opposition from the world (including the nations of the world) to a Jew serving Hashem, even if this truth was completely hidden before.

All of this takes place via the revelation of the Yechida, which we can bring about “by thinking about the inyan of the Yechida [and the resolution that his conduct will be fitting with the aspect of Yechida in his nefesh], the redemption of his G-dly soul from the war with the Animal Soul in a way of peace.”  One could say that “thinking about the inyan of the Yechida” is fulfilled by thinking about Moshiach (who possesses a soul which is the “yechida klolis” of the entire Jewish people), and making the commitment to conduct himself as Moshiach desires.  (Obviously, this can be done more completely when one is aware of Moshiach’s identity and his opinion on how a Jew should conduct himself in various matters.)  The Rebbe hints at this explanation in the closing words of the maamor“then (l’asid lavo) there will be the revelation of the Yechida via Moshiach, who is the aspect of the Yechida Klolis…”, and the work is in our hands!

 

Vayishlach 5752: The Moon Becomes Like the Sun

Our sages tell us that the Jewish people are likened to the moon and thus we count according to the moon.  The months of the Jewish calendar begin with the birth of the new moon each month.  This means that the 15th of every month is the date of the full moon.  What is a full moon?  It is the time when the moon reaches the state of maximum revelation, reflecting the light of the sun to its utmost.   This is called shleimus halevana, the moon being “full” and “complete”.  This process of the waxing of the moon until it reaches completeness is illustrated by the increasing number of the day of the month: 1, 2, 3, etc., until the 15th.  The ascending number corresponds to the ascending completeness of the moon’s revelation.

The true completeness of the moon, explains the Rebbe, is not truly found on the 15th of the month (the full moon), because then the moon is is only at maximum capacity as a mekabel, a receiver (and reflector) of light from the sun.  The true shleimus, the true completeness of the moon is when the moon becomes similar to the sun — a mashpia — and no longer needs to receive light from the sun.

By examining the astronomical properties of the movement of the moon we will understand this more deeply: the first half of the month, when the revelation of the light of the moon is increasing daily, the moon itself is actually moving further away from the sun.  The further it gets from the sun, the greater its light.  In the second half of the month it moves closer to the sun, and as it gets closer its visible light diminishes.  This is because the closer the mekabel is to the mashpia, the less he is able to “shine forth”, due to the great self-nullification, bitul, it has in order to receive.  What occurs in the second half of the month, the Rebbe explains, is that the moon comes closer to the sun in order to achieve the union of the two of them in the following month.  While the light of the moon diminishes at this time, in truth light is only a glimmer of the essence.  And as the moon approaches the sun, its essence is coming closer to revelation.  When is the essence revealed?

When the mekabel is unified with the mashpia to such a degree that it also becomes a mashpia, and there ceases to be a relationship of giver/recipient between them, that both of them are equal — then the essence is revealed.

So it turns out that as great as the revelation of the full moon may be, it is only as regards the moon as a mekabel from the sun.  But the true shliemus of the moon begins its approach in the second half of the month — as it comes closer to the sun and is transforming into a mashpia itself.  For this reason, we continue to count up (16, 17, 18, etc.) even as the moon wanes and its illumination diminishes — because on a deeper level it is still climbing to higher levels.

It is for this reason that we find that the holidays of the Torah are on the 15th of the month when the moon is full (or, in the case of Shavuos — in the 1st half of the month, when the light of the moon is increasing).  But Yud Tes Kislev, the Matan Torah of Toras haChassidus, falls out on the 19th, in the second half of the month.  This is because the revelation of Chassidus is a beginning and a taste of the Torah of Moshiach (“Torah chadasha m’iti seitzeh“) which is connected with the revelation of the essence (which is what is taking place by the moon in the second half of the month).

This is also connected with the weekly parsha, where Yaakov has finished refining the sparks of holiness that were trapped in the realm of Lovon his father-in-law and is now going to greet Esav.  This parsha is speaking about the time, at the end of golus, when the avodah of birurim will be finished.  Yaakov is ready for the days of Moshiach,to unify with Esav (representing the unification of the neshoma and the body, and also the Holy One, blessed be He and Yisroel).

Thus the difference between Yaakov as he is involved in the service of refinement and Yaakov as he is prepared for the Redemption, parallels the difference between the moon as it receives light from the sun and as it will be in the Era of the Redemption, when it will be equal to the sun.

When Yaakov confronted Eisav, although Yaakov was prepared for the Redemption Eisav was not, and the task of refining Eisav and the material worlds associated with him had to continue for centuries. In the present age, however, to borrow an expression from the Previous Rebbe, “We have already polished the buttons.” The task of refinement which was entrusted to the Jews has been completed.

Thus we are now living in a new era with a new service. Instead of concentrating on the refinement of the world, our efforts must focus on revealing the Redemption. The Era of Redemption, which is described with the analogy of a feast, is a present reality, all that is necessary is for us to open our eyes and see.

So it turns out that this week’s parsha is speaking directly about our times — the end of golus when we have completed avodas habirurim (work of refinement) and are ready to be transformed from mekabel to mashpia by revealing the unity of the Holy One, blessed be He, and Yisroel.  Furthermore:

From this it is understood that the continuation of the avodah that follows (as long as Moshiach Tzidkeinu is delayed for whatever reason (completely unknown and not understood)) is not avodas habirurim (for avodas habirurim has already been completed and finished) but rather, it is a special avodah to bring the revelation in actuality in the world.

[For those who are familiar with the terminology of Chassidus (explained in Torah Ohr on our parsha), the Rebbe notes (footnote 89) that this present avodah is similar to what Yaakov attempted to do when he went to greet Esav — dividing his camp into two camps, sending abundant gifts to Esav, and bowing before him.  “He did not involve himself in avodas habirurim (to refine Esav), but rather he involved himself in ‘hala’as ma”n to elicit ma”d of Tohu’ via his offering” which he sent to Esav.  This itself is worthy of a separate essay.  But , simply put, he made an effort from below-to-Above in way that it will awaken from the supernal source of Esav an outpouring of the lights of Tohu, recalling the Rebbe’s words of Koach Nissan: that we must drawn down the lights of Tohu into vessels of Tikkun.  All of this requires further explanation.]

The Rebbe continues and connects this with the refinement of the nation of France, in loshon kodesh “Tzorfas” which has the numerical value of 770, that this represents the completion of the process of refining the world.

From this it is understood that literally in our times we need only to open the eyes and to see the reality b’poel mamash.”  (Footnote 112): That is to say, not only this that the avodah of refinement has been completed and that we need to bring about a revelation of this in the world, but rather more than this, that there is already revealed [such a revelation] in actuality, and we need only to open the eyes, because already you have been given…eyes to see.’

Vayishlach 5752 in English

Vayishlach 5752 in Loshon Kodesh