12) Kuntres Chof Menachem Av: How to Add the “Alef”

12) Kuntres Chof Menachem Av: How to Add the “Alef”

The Rebbe mentions numerous times in these talks that everything that is necessary for the Geuloh is already here, we simply need to add the letter “alef” to the word gola (which means exile), thereby transforming it to Geuloh.  But what exactly does it mean to add an “alef” to the exile that we are in?

There are many levels to answering this question, the most basic of which is that it means revealing Hashem (the ruler of the world, “alufo shel olam“) in the world through Torah and Mitzvos.  Additionally, it means recognizing Hashem’s Divine Providence that is behind everything, even those things which appear to us as the opposite of good.

We find an even deeper and more comprehensive explanation in the Chassidic Discourse that was edited by the Rebbe and published in 1991 in honor of the Hillula (anniversary of the passing) of the Rebbe’s father, Levi Yitzchak Schneersohn.

The discourse discusses the source for the statement of our sages that a Jew must make 100 blessings every day.  The sages find scriptural support for this in a verse from parshas Ekev: “Now, Yisroel, what (“mah”) does Hashem your G-d want from you” (Devarim 10:12).  The sages say “don’t read mah (“what”) rather me’ah (“one hundred’)”.  This familiar technique of the sages doesn’t change the original meaning, of course, but adds another level.  In this case, they are adding the letter “alef” to the “mah” (which means “what”) and the result is the one hundred blessings (“me’ah”) that a Jew must say.

In chapter 3 of the discourse, the Rebbe explains the deeper significance of inserting an “alef”, which is surely applicable as well to the Rebbe’s instruction to add an “alef” to exile to transform gola into Geuloh.  To briefly summarize the Rebbe’s words:

“Mah symbolizes Malchus, which is the level where G-dly revelation can be internalized (in Chassidic terminology, the level of memaleh kol almin and the soul levels of Nefesh, Ruach, Neshoma).  In the  avodah of a Yid, this is the avodah of “you shall love Hashem your G-d with all of your heart” (b’chol levovecha) which derives from the external dimension of the soul’s intellect (chitzoniyus ha’seichel).  As implied by the term “all of your heart” it generates a feeling of love in the emotional attributes of the heart’s emotional attributes, but only there.

“Me’ah” is the level of Arich, a level that transcends us and can only be revealed in a transcendent, encompassing manner (sovev kol almin and the transcendent soul level of Chaya).  In our avodah this is the love “with all of your soul” (b’chol nafshecha) which derives from the internal dimension of the soul’s intellect (pnimiyus ha’seichel).  This love is felt in the intellect, and then automatically spreads out to affect all the soul’s powers and limbs.

How do we go from one level to the next, from “with all of your heart” (limited to the heart) to “with all of your soul” (which spreads to all the powers of the soul)?  It is through the avoda of “all of your might” (b’chol me’odecha), which reaches the “alef“, the supernal level of Atik which completely transcends the world (higher than both memaleh kol almin and sovev kol almin, the soul level of Yechida).  In avodah this is mesirus nefesh, to give one’s soul (either literally, or, in the way applicable in our generation: giving away one’s personal desires, mesirus haratzon, in order to fulfill the will of Hashem).  Because it transcends the other two levels, it is able to unite them and to draw down (the meaning of brocha, a blessing) the level of “me’ah” into the level of “mah“, that they should both be revealed in the person.

Clearly, this is understandable as regards the “alef” which we must insert into gola in order to make Geuloh: to awaken the level of Yechida, through serving Hashem “with all of your might”, having true mesirus nefesh to fulfill Hashem’s will, especially as it is revealed through “your servants, the prophets” and most especially the Novi of our generation.  This puts in the Alef and results in Geuloh!  Let’s not be lazy about this, because we have to bring Moshiach now!

Eikev 5751: To Awaken Hashem to Bring the Geuloh

Eikev 5751: To Awaken Hashem to Bring the Geuloh

This Shabbos blesses the upcoming month of Elul.  Elul is an acronym (rashei teivos) for “Ani leDodi v’Dodi Li“, which means “I am for my beloved, and my beloved is for me”.  First comes “I am for my beloved”, the effort that comes from below (from us towards Hashem), using our own powers (avodah b’koach atzmo).

This is related to the fundamental concept of creation: Hashem wants to give us the opportunity to earn our reward, to avoid the embarrassment of receiving “bread of shame” (nahma d’kisufa).  This requires not only that we do what we are supposed to do, but that we do it in a way of yegia, exertion, using our own powers.  And more than that, to go beyond what we are accustomed to do and serve Hashem with exceptional effort.  Through this (the effort of “Ani leDodi“) we cause the response: “v’Dodi li“, an awakening from Above and a drawing down from Above to below.

Not only is this a fundamental aspect of our task in life, it also applies even when a Yid has arrived at the end of his avodah (represented by Elul, the last of the months of the year).  Because in Elul we have both the “below to Above” and the resulting “Above to below”, and it is specifically when the Jew does the avodah from his own powers that it draws down from Above in a way that it is internalized (b’pnimiyus).  This is also hinted at in the final letter of the alef-beis, the letter Tav, which has a numerical value of 400 which alludes to the “400 shekel kesef” with which Avraham Avinu purchased the cave of Machpela to bury his wife Sara.  These 400 shekel represent, according to Chassidus, a powerful longing (“kesef”, silver, related to “kisufim”, longing) for Divine revelation.

Although the emphasis here is on our avodah from below, which is the avodah of the body, we really must have as well the avodah from Above which is the avodah of the neshoma.  The difference between them is that the avodah from below takes place in a measured way, an orderly progression from level to level.  In fact, even the revelation of the neshoma from Above must be according to the limitations of the body.  We cannot “overload the circuit” in our intense desire to reveal the neshoma, but rather the revelation of the neshoma occurs in accordance with the body’s ability to contain it.

Having said all that, the Rebbe proceeds to state that all which we have needed to do has been done.

The only thing which remains is – that the Holy One, blessed be He, will take out Bnei Yisroel from the golus and bring them to the Holy Land… and therefore Yidden request and shout again and again – and now even more powerfully than before – “Ad Mosai”?!  How much longer?!

The ultimate goal being the true and complete Geuloh (from Above to below) which will arrive at a unification of both aspects, that the lowest thing – golus – will become Geuloh – “gola” with the addition of an “alef”.  Even though the ultimate level comes from Above, and is dependent on Hashem, nonetheless the Geuloh is in our hands:

A Yid has the power to awaken himself, and to awaken other Yidden, and mainly to awaken, so to speak, the Holy One, blessed be He….  A Yid receives (in this place [770] and in this time [the Rebbe’s farbrengen]) the greatest potential, and thus he has both the greatest merit and obligation to request and to shout to the Almighty: Ad Mosai”?!  How much longer?!…Since we have already finished all the matters of “our deeds and our work”, and consequently we are shouting and demanding  “Ad Mosai”.  Immediately the question is asked: since all the matters have already been accomplished – how could it be that Moshiach still didn’t come?!…

The Rebbe proceeds to answer his own question by saying that since Moshiach still hasn’t come, then there might be one more thing that needs to be done, possibly in the area of spreading Chassidus, since Moshiach told the Baal Shem Tov that he will come when the wellsprings of the Baal Shem Tov spread forth.  Perhaps there is one more thing left to do, to reach those who are blind.  And this has been accomplished by the publication of the Tanya in Braille.  So since we did the last thing, Moshiach must come immediately.

Here we see clearly the Rebbe’s approach:  asserting that everything has been completed; but, even so, if Moshiach still hasn’t been revealed it  have means that we must try one more thing and maybe this will arouse Hashem to bring the Geuloh.  And surely this final thing will bring Moshiach, for if not — Ad Mosai”?!  How much longer?!

11) Kuntres 15 Av, 5751: An End to Darkness

11) Kuntres 15 Av, 5751: An End to Darkness

In honor of the 15th of Av, the maamor “קץ שם לחושך” (“He put a limit to the darkness” —  a posuk in Iyov) was released.

The Rebbe asks the question: since every created thing has a limit, why does this verse say that Hashem “put” a limit on the darkness, implying that otherwise it would not have had a limit?  The answer begins that in general, undesirable things (darkness) are pushed away by light.  But our posuk is telling us that after reaching the limit of the darkness, it won’t be the possibility for darkness.  This is the true Geuloh, which leaves no room for darkness.

The maamor then begins to get into deep concepts of chassidus, most of which we will not mention here.  Many of the Dvar Malchus sichos speak about the need to draw the makif into the pnimi, meaning to internalize in the intellect (seichel) that which is above the intellect.  For this there are two examples, brought in this maamor: Will (ratzon) which is enlothed in siechel; and Faith (Emunah) which is enclothed in seichel.  On their own, both Will and Faith, Ratzon and Emunah, are beyond the intellect, called in Chassidus “makif“.  But the manner in which they are internalized (brought into seichel) is quite different.

We find that Ratzon “forces” the intellect to come to the conclusions it wants.  The intellect understands things in the way that the Ratzon wants.  We see this in the ability of human beings to intellectually justify almost any behavior or goal that they want.   To “rationalize” something that is really not “rational” — this is the power of the Will to overpower the intellect so that it comes to the conclusions that the Ratzon wants.  The Ratzon is forcing and changing the Seichel, and the Seichel is being nullified in the face of the Ratzon.  Thus, it is not much of a chiddush that the Ratzon remains unchanged (the person still wants the same thing, because he “forced” his intellect to give him a good rational).

When bringing Emunah into seichel, however, the belief does not force the intellect.  The fact that his intellect will agree to what he believes in (to intellectually accept that his belief is true) is coming from the intellect, from the true and unbiased conclusion of his Seichel:

When he contemplates intellectually in order that his intellect will also be in accordance with his belief, he makes an effort that his contemplation and “intellectual back and forth” will be honest and unbiased (ע”פ אמיתת השכל), and nonetheless it does not cause a change is his Emunah [he does not “lose his faith” as a result of his effort to come to a rational understanding of the things he believes in]…because even after he understands the matter intellectually, his Emunah remains above his intellect.  

The Rebbe also brings here, in footnote 33 (on the words “honest and unbiased (ע”פ אמיתת השכל)” from the Rebbe Rashab:

“and since he knows that the thing [in which he believes] is in essence true, because his Emunah is on strong foundations, he is not afraid to delve deeply into the subject and he does not limit the power of his Seichel to inquire and seek and weigh each thing until he will come to the truth of the matter.”

The Rebbe is giving over something very relevant to the subject of Geuloh: it is not enough to have Emunah, this Emunah must be brought into Seichel.  This must be done honestly and truthfully (unlike when we bring Ratzon into Seichel, when the honesty of the intellect is compromised to the Ratzon).  This depends on our Emunah standing on strong, unshakable foundations, an Emunah which is not afraid to look honestly at the subject (and nonetheless, it will not be compromised from the challenges involved in trying to understand).  This is a sort of litmus test for us: do we really believe the Rebbe when he tells us that we are the last generation of golus and the first generation of Geuloh (and all that comes along with that)?  If so, we must take that Emunah and bring it into our understanding — which is the inyan of learning Moshiach and Geuloh.  If we find that we have to “force” our understanding, then our conclusions will not be true (probably because we are afraid that our Emunah is not so solid).  On the other hand, we cannot remain content with our Emunah above Seichel, we have a mandate to draw it down into the intellect.  (This recalls the Rebbe’s statement on 28 Sivan that we must “agree” that the Geuloh is here.)

The key to all this?  Bittul.  As the Rebbe states in the maamor:

It is known that Emunah is bittul and seichel is metzius, and it is understood that for Emunah to be enclothed in Seichel is Bittul being drawn into Metzius.  Since his intellectual effort is for the sake of his Emunah [and even this that his Seichel remains in its Metzius and is not nullified to the Emunah (like it is nullified to the Ratzon) is for the sake of the Emunah, in order that also the Seichel as it is in its Metzius will be in accordance with Emunah.

We could say that this is also how we are meant to influence others: not to “force” them to accept what they are being told (the opposite of Bittul, which nullifies the independence of the intellect); but, rather, to share with them the subject of the Emunah (that the Geuloh is here, the identity of Moshiach…) and to give them the tools to understand (which demands that we also must have these tools) and to reach the conclusion intellectually that these matters are in fact true.  In this way we and those around us will be able be “partners” (as the Rebbe says in the sicha of 28 Sivan) to truly agree that the Geuloh is here b’pashtus.

Va’Eschanon 5751: To See That Moshiach Was Born on Tisha B’Av

Va’Eschanon 5751: To See That Moshiach Was Born on Tisha B’Av

Shabbos Parshas Va’Eschanon is also “Shabbos Nachamu”, the first of the “seven [Sabbaths] of comforting”, named after the haftorah which begins with the words “Nachamu Nachamu ami” (Be comforted, be comforted, My people).

The double expression of “Nachamu” (double-comforting following the destruction of the Beis Hamikdosh (twice) on Tisha B’Av) implies a true, unlimited comforting after the destruction of Tisha B’Av.  (The Rebbe points out that: “Since the comforting is (not only words of comfort and the like, but rather) through the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdash.” — (one of the jobs of Moshiach.))

The first Beis Hamikdosh was primarily due to revelations from Above to below; the second was primarily an effort from below to Above.  The third Beis Hamikdosh, which is eternal, (because it) will be a union of those two qualities.  In other words (explained in footnote 52 in the original), the revelation of G-dliness that occurred in the first Beis Hamikdosh was so powerful that it nullified the worldly reality of those in this world; the second Beis Hamikdosh emphasized the integration of G-dly revelation into the worldly reality of those in this world.  These will be unified in the third.

This primary difference between these two directions is that the integration of G-dly revelation into the worldly reality of those in this world (in a way which does not “shatter” their reality) takes a long time.  Similar to the process of conquering and dividing Eretz Yisroel under Yehoshua, which took 14 years.

This is similar to the process of going from Tisha B’Av to the 15th of Av, of which our sages say “there were never Yomim Tovim for Yisroel like the 15th of Av….”  What happened to cause the 15th of Av to receive such a description?  The first, and main, event to happen on the 15th of Av is that those who were decreed to die in the desert ceased dying on that day.  To explain:

Those who accepted the testimony of the meraglim about the land of Israel and didn’t want to enter were condemned to die in the desert on that same day, Tisha B’Av, during the next 38 years.  Each year, on Tisha B’Av, those who reached 60 years old would dig graves, lie down, and would not wake up in the morning.  In the final year, the last group followed the same procedure only they were surprised to wake up the next morning!  They surmised that they had made a mistake in calculating the day of the month, so the next night they again lay down to die in their graves.  But the next morning they also awoke!  Thinking that they had erred in calculating the date, they did this again the next night, continuing until the night of the 15th when the full moon indicated that they had not erred in the date but, rather, the decree had been annulled by Hashem!

In other words: the decree had been annulled on Tisha B’Av itself, but it took until the 15th of Av for them to realize this, to internalize it and integrate it.  Similarly, the “birth of Moshiach” on Tisha B’Av is not recognized immediately, but takes a long time to be realized, internalized, and integrated.  The Rebbe expresses it that “when the moon is full it is known with certainty that Moshiach was already born on Tisha B’Av (similar to what we find regarding the establishment of the 15th of Av as a Yom Tov, even though the decree had been nullified on Tisha B’Av)”.  The moon hints at the Jewish people, and the full moon means to receive the light of the sun [Moshe Rabbeinu is likened to the sun] in a complete and perfect manner.

Saying that Moshiach is “born” on Tisha B’Av means a dimension of his revelation (not his physical birth, see the Maharal* and Abarbanel).  But even after Moshiach himself becomes spiritually “large”, the exile is drawn out in so that it will be in a complete and perfect manner also as regards its integration by those in this world.

So we understand from the Rebbe’s words that as far as the revelations from Above are concerned, Moshiach is here and nothing is lacking.  But nonetheless the state of golus continues because the process of our accepting and integrating this new reality is a time-consuming process (which, of course, is up to us!).

Thus, the instruction of the Rebbe here is to emphasize again the need to learn matters of Geuloh, especially in Pnimiyus Hatorah, in a way of “laboring” in Torah, “and may it be Hashem’s will that through contemplating these matters we should merit immediately to see the true and complete Geuloh — Immediately, mamash”!


* Footnote 93 refers to Netzach Yisroel by the Maharal of Prague, page 132 which speaks of the birth of Moshiach.  Towards the end of that page, the Maharal writes how Moshiach’s name is “Menachem”, the comforter, because just as the “comforter” must be distant and removed from the mourning of the one he is comforting, similarly Moshiach (Menachem) is distant and removed from the rest of the people due to his lofty and elevated spiritual level.

Golus — Even While the Light of Geuloh is Shining?

The human eye can perceive light.  But only when it has a wavelength between approximately 380 nanometers (seen as violet) and 750 nanometers (seen as red). But these light rays are only a small fraction of the very broad spectrum of rays that exist, from 0.0001 nanometers in wavelength to a full meter.  This covers Gamma rays, x-rays, ultraviolet, infrared, microwaves, and radio waves — none of which the human eye can perceive.

But this is not a science lesson — what does it have to do with Geuloh?

We will see that it is a basis for understanding how the Rebbe can say that the Geuloh is here, all the end times have passed, and yet we remain in golus.  On the face of it, there is no logical basis to say that something co-exists with its opposite.  Geuloh is the opposite of golus.  If we have one, we perforce do not have the other.  But let us look at what the Rebbe writes in the maamor of Kuntres 15 Menachem Av 5751 which opens with the words “An end was set for the darkness” (“Keitz sam l’choshech“) (originally spoken by the Rebbe on Tisha B’Av (nidcheh) 5724, twenty seven years earlier).

In section 9 of the maamor, the Rebbe describes the end (“ketz“) of the darkness of golus, which is brought about by a revelation of a new aspect of light (“ohr chodosh“).  This aspect of light has no connection with the world, and thus it is capable of completely nullifying the darkness (unlike the aspect of light which illuminates the worlds, which can only “push away” the darkness, but cannot nullify it.)  The Rebbe writes:

We must understand, seemingly, […] in the future Geuloh the darkness of golus will be nullified, because then there will be a revelation of a new light above connection with the worlds.  However, the world itself (as it is in its parameters, including the revelations that are connected to the worlds) will remain in golus, chas v’sholom.

The Rebbe is saying that the Geuloh is a revelation of a new light that, seemingly, cannot be perceived or grasped by the world since this light is completely beyond any connection with the world.  In other words, the Rebbe describes a Geuloh (=revelation of the new light) where the world remains in golus!  To use the example of the light-waves: even if someone will direct a tremendous burst of infrared light in your eyes, you won’t even blink because the wavelength of infrared is beyond the realm of human sight — your eyes are simply incapable of perceiving infrared light no matter how strong it might be.  The light is shining, and you will remain in darkness — Geuloh is here yet you are in golus!

In other words: the light of Geuloh is in fact here, but it hasn’t penetrated your senses yet and thus you remain in golus which means that the true and complete Geuloh didn’t happen yet.

The Rebbe introduced this concept with the word “seemingly”, which means that this won’t be the end of the story.  And the Rebbe continues:

Thus, it is understood that even though the nullification of the darkness of golus comes from the essence of the light, higher than the light which illuminates the worlds, nonetheless, the Geuloh will be (also) in the parameters of the world.  This is because the revelation of the essence of the light that will be in the future Geuloh will shine in a revealed way also in the light that illumines the worlds, and through this — in the worlds [themselves].

A big relief!  Seemingly, the worlds could remain in the darkness of golus even when the light of Geuloh is shining.  But, in fact, this “new light” will also illumine in the worlds, as described.  We might think that by writing this, the Rebbe is simply uprooting the “seemingly”, telling us that it is not part of the equation at all.  But, in the following (and final) section of the maamar, the Rebbe explains how the “new light” will shine in the worlds (which “seemingly” is not possible, since it is beyond connection with the parameters of the worlds):

…also the nullification of the darkness that will be in the future Geuloh will be in the world in its inner dimension (“b’pnimiyuso”).  That even though the nullification of the darkness that will be in the future comes about because of the revelation of a new light which is beyond connection with worlds, nonetheless, the world will be a vessel also for this light.  And through this will be fulfilled the intent for a dwelling place for Him, may He be blessed, in the lower worlds, that the lower (within its own parameters) will be a dwelling place for His essence.

The key words here are that the nullification of darkness “will be in the world b’pnimiyuso” — meaning that it will not be obvious, rather you will have to look for it “b’pnimiyus”, and “the world will be a vessel also for this light”.  This means that it is not “automatic” that the light of the Geuloh will also illuminate in the world (and automatically nullify the “seemingly” problematic “golus amidst Geuloh” issue) — rather, it comes about through our avoidoh.  Not only do we have avoidoh which draws down and reveals the “new light”, we also have an avoidoh which is to make ourselves (and the world) a vessel for perceiving this “new light”, and an avoidoh to “open our eyes” to this new perception.

(At the farbrengen of Parshas Mishpotim, 5714, the Rebbe told a story of the Rebbe Maharash taking his son (the Rebbe Rashab) on a tour of the heavenly realms.  Among the “sights” they saw was a chossid sitting in a brightly lit heavenly chamber with his eyes closed.  The great light in his chamber was generated by the many chapters of Tanya this chossid had memorized. But, despite all that light, his eyes were closed: he was lacking understanding.  The lesson for us, explained the Rebbe, is that we need to open our eyes; not just to repeat from memory, but to understand what we are learning.)

If we go back to our example of the light-waves: imagine that a person could develop his power of sight so that he would be able to perceive also infrared wavelengths, and also ultraviolet wavelengths!  But even so, he still has to open his eyes in order to allow the light in see what was previously unseen. So, too, by us: we have rectified the vessels to receive the light of Elokus, we simply have to let that light in.

This is the “problem”: the Geuloh is here, the “new light” is shining, and we have even succeeded in making the world a vessel for this light.  But as the Rebbe famously said numerous times: we need to open our eyes.  The direct way to do this is through learning the subjects of Moshiach and Geuloh.*  Tanya explains that the “eyes of the soul” refer to chochma, which is Torah.  The Rebbe also alludes to this in the beginning of the maamor:

It is known that every revelation is via Torah (“Torah Ohr” — “the Torah is light”).  From this it is understood, that since the nullification of the darkness of the golus is via light, therefore, in order to draw closer and speed up even more the future Geuloh, this is via the study of Torah in the subject of the light.  (Footnote 14: in addition to the fact that Torah in general is light, in particular Pnimyus Hatorah — via the study of Torah in the subject of light this is brought about even more so.)

To summarize: The light of the Geuloh is inherently beyond our grasp, nonetheless we can make ourselves and the world a vessel to perceive it as it shines within the familiar light of this world.  However, this will be “b’pnimiyus“, and in order to open our eyes to grasp this new light we have to open our eyes — via Torah.  Via Torah, particularly Pnimiyus HaTorah, we can grasp the inner dimension of what we see in the parameters of our world* and identify and perceive that the light of Geuloh is shining there.  But until then, until we bring in the light of Pnimiyus HaTorah, it is possible that we can remain in the darkness of golus (b’chitzoniyus) even as the light of Geuloh is shining full force!


* As the Rebbe says in Dvar Malchus parshas Chukas: “Through understanding Pnimiyus Hatorah and the soul of the matter, one is able to see there also the hidden good, even though one does not see this revealed, or one even sees the opposite (the opposite of good).”

Devarim 5751: Aquiring the Geuloh in the Closed Chest

Devarim 5751: Aquiring the Geuloh in the Closed Chest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Devarim 5751: One More Request for Moshiach

Devarim 5751: One More Request for Moshiach

In the year 5751, Tisha B’Av fell out on Shabbos (as it does this year, 5782).  In such a year, the fast, together with all other aspects of mourning the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash, are pushed off until the 10th (Sunday).  But the positive aspects of Tisha B’Av remain, which include it being an “auspicious time” (like every fast day) and also the birth of Moshiach.  Therefore, on Shabbos Tisha B’Av we are eating a feast!  Halacha permits one to sit and enjoy a repast as rich as Shlomo Hamelech’s even to the last moment before shkia (sunset) [unlike regular years, when we eat a mourner’s meal before the fast].

This itself is a taste of the Messianic Age, when all the fast days will be transformed to days of rejoicing, and as such our Shabbos meals on Tisha B’Av assume a Moshiach-like dimension of the feast of the Levyoson and Shor Habar (the Leviathan and Wild Bull).  On a deeper level: every year we re-experience the churban, the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash, and the mourning, and then in the afternoon, at Mincha-time, comes the comforting — the birth of Moshiach.  This year we have the birth of Moshiach (who builds the 3rd Beis Hamikdash which will never be destroyed) without the churban!  This hints that b’pnimiyus the destruction of the 1st and 2nd Beis Hamikdash were really only for the sake of the building of the 3rd, eternal Beis Hamikdash.

All of this was in fact present at the time of the churban, but it was concealed.  The inner positive aspects of Tisha B’Av, the birth of Moshiach, does not become revealed until the 15th of Av, which is when the moon is full, the moon being the aspect of Dovid Malka Mashicha. (This also hints at the Jewish people, when they reach full potential to receive the light (as the moon receives and reflects from the sun), reveal that Moshiach was actually born on Tisha B’Av.

The three weeks leading up to Tisha B’Av hint at the “three moichin” (3 aspects of Supernal Intellect) which themselves correspond to the lands of the three nations — Keni, Kenizi, Kadmoni — which were promised to Avraham Avinu (along with the land of 7 nations conquered by Yehoshua).  The Torah forbids us to have anything to do with these lands during the time of until Moshiach comes, but the fact that part of these lands were conquered by other nations (Sichon and Og) and then conquered and settled by the tribes of Gad, Reuven, and Menashe, is itself a hint that these three dimensions of the Supernal Intellect come together with the land of 7 nations, which refers to the seven midos.

Sefer Devarim is Moshe Rabbeinu addressing the Jewish nation before they will enter the land of Israel.  Moshe knew that Hashem had decreed upon him not to enter the land, but still he did not cease to beseech Hashem in prayer asking Him to allow him to enter the land, reaching 515 prayers (the numerical value of “Va’eschanon”, the parsha we read at Mincha).

From here there is also something for all generations to learn from… that without looking at all the prayers and requests that were until now, we need again and again to daven and request from the Eybershter “Ad Mosai” — “until when”.

…and as was said,  immediately mamash, today mamash, since all the matters have been completed, and the Beis Hamikdash stands ready Above, and similarly all the matters — “everything is ready for the feast”, everything is ready as if in a closed chest and they have given the chest and its key to every single Jew.  The only thing that we are waiting for — that a Jew will shout another shout, with another request and demand and another reminder: “Ad Mosai“?!…

How long are we prepared to wait?  Ad mosai?!

Matos-Masei 5751: The Reason For Golus is Rectified!

Matos-Masei 5751: The Reason For Golus is Rectified!

These parshiyos (read together in many years), contain the 42 journeys of Bnei Yisroel in the midbar prior to entering Eretz Yisroel.  These 42 journeys represent our sojourn in golus (both collectively, and individually).  Upon completing these journeys, the birurim of exile, we find ourselves holding at “Yarden Yericho” prepared to enter the land.

This is also the final reading from sefer Bamidbar, upon which the custom is to say “Chazak! Chazak! V’Nischazek!” (a declaration something along the lines of “be strong”).  The Rebbe connects “chazak” (strength) with the concept of “chazaka” — something which, after three times, has permanence and is unchanging.  This is connected with the 3rd Beis Hamikdosh which has the ultimate “chazakah” of being eternal.  In fact, “the intent and purpose of the churban and the golus (the purpose of the days “bein hameitzarim“) is in order to come to the level and perfection of the building of the future Beis Hamikdosh and the future Geuloh…emphasizing the inyan of “chazakah” — the 3rd Beis Hamikdosh and the 3rd Geuloh.”

The journeys in the midbar, the birurim of exile, represent the avoidah from below to Above.  As expressed in the earlier sichos, the process from Above to below is instantaneous but ephemeral (it does not last), whereas the process from below to Above can take time (according to the pace of those below), but it has permanence.  Our sages tell us that already, at the splitting of the sea, it was possible (if Bnei Yisroel would have merited) they would have gone straight into Eretz Yisroel and achieved the true and complete Geuloh, which has no golus after it.  From this the Rebbe derives that “there exists also now (after the churban and the exile) the inyan of the eternal Geuloh and the eternal Beis Hamikdosh in a way of strength and permanence (חוזק ותוקף), except that their strength and permanence are only from Above, and thus in the world of below (there can be and) there is a situation of churban and golus.”  Again the Rebbe is telling us how all the elements and revelations from Above are already in place, all that is needed is for us to become suitable recipients.

Fitting with this the Rebbe makes a dramatic statement.  During the prior years of the Rebbe’s leadership, the Rebbe would frequently repeat the statement of our Sages that the cause of the golus was senseless hatred (שינת חינם) and therefore the way to rectify this and end the golus is through “senseless love” of our fellow Jew (אהבת חינם).  In this sicha the Rebbe, astoundingly, states:

It should be added and emphasized the connection between Ahavas Yisroel and the future Geuloh — not (only) that the nullification of the golus is by nullifying the cause of golus (which came about due to the opposite of Ahavas Yisroel), for our situation after the completion of our deeds and our avoidah over the course of golus, and after completing all the 42 journeys in “the desert of the nations”, we find ourselves already “at Yarden Yericho” (the level of Moshiach, who judges by sense of smell [the word “to smell” shares the same root as the name Yericho]), on the threshold of the Geuloh.  Certainly the reason for the golus has already been rectified [emphasis added], and therefore, the emphasis on Ahavas Yisroel is — as a foretaste and beginning of the true and complete Geuloh which is connected with the point of unity [shared by all Yisroel] which is above differentiation, which is the same by every Yid, for it is a spark from the soul of Moshiach, the Yechida Klolis.

This “blockbuster” statement is one of many in these sichos where the Rebbe says “straight out” that a state of reality that existed for thousands of years no longer exists!  To be sure, the Rebbe is not saying that we are released, chas v’sholom, from acting with Ahavas Yisroel.  The Rebbe is telling us that our Ahavas Yisroel is no longer a corrective measure (to fix the cause of golus), but rather and expression of our current (but hidden) and future (to be revealed) state of oneness with every Yid!  Learning this should make it virtually impossible for us to demand anything less from ourselves than complete “Geuloh-dik” Ahavas Yisroel for every Jew — after all, we have already rectified the problem of “senseless hatred”, so why should it be difficult now to show “senseless love”?

The Rebbe closes the sicha by saying:

Simply — that in addition to the fact that we have already finished all the details of the 42 journeys in the desert of the nations during the time of golus, and that we are standing already at “Yarden Yericho”, “on the other side of Yarden Yericho to the East” [verse 34:15], we are crossing the [river] Yarden westward and entering Eretz Yisroel.  And in Eretz Yisroel itself we are going westward — to Yerushalayim the Holy city, and to the 3rd Beis Hamikdosh, until the Holy of Holies (on the west side of the Beis Hamikdosh) in which are found the Aron and the Luchos.

We can make no mistake where the Rebbe is placing us: on the gateway to Geuloh, with no turning back!

Pinchas 5751 — A Deeper Look at a “Pnimi”

Pinchas 5751 — A Deeper Look at a “Pnimi”

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

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

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

Now let’s look deeper.

The repeated references to “here” as our present “time and place” draws to mind the Maamor edited by the Rebbe and published a year earlier (found in “Meluket Daled“), beginning with the words גדול יהיה כבוד הבית הזה (“Gadol Yehiyeh Kavod haBayis Hazeh“).  In that maamor (sections 6-7-8) the Rebbe explains some very deep concepts behind the miraculous phenomenon that took place in the Kodesh haKodashim space in the Beis Hamikdash: in that space the size of the holy ark (the aron kodesh) took up no space (“makom ha’Aron eino min haMida“).

First, let us examine the phenomenon: The Kodesh haKodashim itself was 20 amos wide, and the aron was 2½ amos wide.  Under normal circumstances, if one would measure the distance from the wall to the edge of the aron one would find a distance of 8¾ amos in each direction.  But in actuality the distance measured was a full 10 amos from each side of the aron to the wall!  Although the aron measured a full 2½ amos, it didn’t take up any space in the room!

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

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

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

From here we can appreciate a deeper dimension of “make ‘here’ Eretz Yisroel”: the very concept of “here” as opposed to “there” is function of the name Elokim, the source of Tzimtzum and golus.  From the perspective of YKVK the terms “here” and “there” are irrelevant because all places are as one.  So the very fact that we are found “here” means we are in a world of Tzimtzum, a world of division and separation created by the name Elokim.  What must we do?  We must make “here” into Eretz Yisroel — the avoidah of revealing the true underlying Oneness (as it exists by the name YKVK) through being a Pnimiwho is completely involved in whichever avoidah he is presently doing (and he doesn’t think at the time that he’s doing it about another avoidah later)” which is a YKVK reality — there is no “now” and “then” since the YKVK reality is always found in the present moment (which includes all moments).

Through this avoidah of emulating the YKVK reality, a Yid …is making in this place (and time) a land in which YKVK  is openly recognizable.  The future revelation of YKVK (within Elokim) will reveal that the Tzimtzum is not real from the perspective of YKVK, and will bring about the unity of all places and all moments (the true meaning of the ingathering of the exiles from all four corners of the world).  This is the Eretz Yisroel reality (certainly as it will be in the future when Yerushalayim will spread out to all of Eretz Yisroel…), and the way we arrive to Eretz Yisroel (the revelation of the unity and Oneness of YKVK) is through the avoidah of being a Pnimi — living the moment in a way of all moments — in our thought, speech, and action!

Pinchas 5751 — Making “Here” Eretz Yisroel

Pinchas 5751 — Making “Here” Eretz Yisroel

A chosid once asked the Tzemach Tzedek for a brocha to go live in the Holy Land so that he could devote his life there to Torah study and avodas Hashem; the Tzemach Tzedek replied, “R’ Hillel (Paritcher, a legendary chosid called by the Rebbeim “half a Rebbe”) doesn’t lack Eretz Yisroel. Make here Eretz Yisroel.”

In this week’s Dvar Malchus the Rebbe connects this story with the description in parashas Pinchas of the distribution of Eretz Yisroel among the 12 tribes and how it relates to our individual avodah in the last moments of exile.

The purpose of our exile (individual and collective) is to refine and elevate the world at large, transforming it into the level of the Land of Israel, our part in the words of the midrash that in the Time to Come the land of Israel will spread out to all the lands.  However, at the same time Yerushalayim will spread out to all of the land of Israel (Israel remaining on a higher level than the rest of the world) and thus Moshiach will come to gather every Jew and bring him to Eretz Yisroel.

Given this, one might think that “making here Eretz Yisroel” is only an intermediary step to bring the Geuloh, when we will leave “here” and go to Eretz Yisroel itself.  One could come to diminish the importance of “making here Eretz Yisroel” because he has his eyes on the future when he will go with Moshiach to the Geuloh in the true Eretz Yisroel.  In fact, this would be a big mistake, explains the Rebbe.  Because the preparations for something must be done with the same complete focus, energy, and desire as we feel for the final goal.

Thus, devoting ourselves totally and completely to the task of “making here Eretz Yisroel” becomes a vessel to receive the desired goal: the true and complete Geuloh!  In fact, the Rebbe refers to this as “making ourselves accustomed” to the Geuloh even while we are still in exile.  This complete effort while still in exile is in fact what brings the Geuloh.

More than this: although each one has the obligation to make “here” (where he is, physically as well as spiritually) into Eretz Yisroel (“the land which wanted to do her Creator’s will”), we find that in Eretz Yisrael each portion contains within it all the other portions.  So, too, by each individual Yid — he contains within himself the entire world, and by doing his avodah completely, he is able to rectify the entire world, including all previous incarnations.  One little Jew can bring Geuloh to all the world and all generations!

Although we must strongly feel that “we want Moshiach now” — right now! — the Rebbe guides us how to proceed when still find ourselves in golus:

Since the Geuloh still didn’t come in this moment,and by Divine Providence we are still found “here”, in this time and place — without a doubt we need to capitalize on this and fulfill the instruction to “make here Eretz Yisroel”.

Thus, it is our task to publicize the injunction to “make here Eretz Yisroel” and to fulfill it in a complete manner, and through this we will actually bring the Geuloh in revealed actuality.