Shoftim 5751: Prophecy Before the Geuloh

The sicha of this week, parshas Shoftim, is unquestionably one of the most significant talks the Rebbe ever gave.

The Rebbe opens the sicha by reiterating that since we have already finished all the work that was required of us in the time exile, and we are “all standing ready” to greet Moshiach, we are now already holding at the time of the fulfillment of the prophetic promise “I will return your judges…and your advisers”.

Explaining the difference between them: a judge is higher than the one whom he is judging, and has no need to explain his rulings.  He issues a ruling at it must be obeyed.  (And if there is resistance to fulfilling the ruling of the judge, there are police forces to execute his judgments).  An adviser is on the same level as the one he is advising, and his role is to explain the judge’s ruling in a way that makes sense to the person, so that he can see how it is in his own best interest to fulfill the rulings of the judge, which brings about that he will fulfill them eagerly and willingly, with no need for police enforcement.  (In the terminology of Chassidus: one obeys the judge out of bittul and kabbalas ‘ol, in a manner of makif; whereas the adviser enables the person to obey the judge with his own understanding, so that it comes into pnimiyus.)

Since the combination of judges and advisers is part of the prophecy of the Messianic era (as opposed to judges and police, as in the time of exile), we have to start preparing ourselves now by living in this manner already.  This makes us into a vessel to receive these revelations, and also speeds them up.

These two dimensions are also reflected in the difference between Torah and Prophecy (Nevuah): Torah is a decree from Above to below, the fulfillment of which does not depend on its reasoning being understood (for it is really Hashem’s reasoning, which truthfully we cannot understand).  Prophecy, however, is enclothed in the thought and intellect of the prophet, which means that it is truly unified with human intellect.  The Rambam writes that prophecy will return to the Jewish people before the Geuloh as a preparation for Moshiach.  The Rebbe notes that even the absence of prophecy in the intermediate time is referred to by a term (“nistalka ruach hakodesh miYisroel“) which implies and lack of the ability to receive it, but does not mean that prophecy was nullified.  Thus, the Rambam writes about prophecy in his code of Jewish law which is applicable to all times and all places, because in truth prophecy is essentially applicable to all times and all places.

Then the Rebbe makes a dramatic statement:

“Every prophet is a continuation of the prophecy and Torah of Moshe Rabbeinu…and in our generation [this is] the Nosi of our generation, my father-in-law the Rebbe…that through our Rebbeim ‘prophecy will return to Yisroel’, they themselves are the prophets of our generation.”

Also, through the tasting of pnimiyus Hatorah now, the Jewish people and the whole world become a vessel (in an inner way) for the inner revelation of Torah that will come afterwards by Moshiach Tzidkienu.  And in our generation the spreading of the wellsprings outward [which is what brings Moshiach, as the Baal Shem Tov writes in his famous letter] to all corners of the world has been fulfilled in its entirety.

The Rebbe then makes another dramatic statement, this time a clear directive for all of us:

“There needs to be an avodah that matches the state of Geuloh: to publicize to himself and to all those whom he can reach–that they need to accept upon themselves, and to take upon themselves (more strongly) the directives and advice of “your judges” and “your advisers” who are in our generation — “our Rabbis are our kings” in general, and in particular the Nosi of our generation — who comes in continuation to the Rebbeim who preceded him — the judge of our generation and the adviser of our generation and the prophet of our generation,

“And the Torah commands us to believe in him and to obey him, not only because he can give signs of predicting the future, but because of the Mitzvah that Moshe commanded us in the Torah… And more than this: A prophet upon whom another prophet testifies that he is a prophet — as this regards the Nosi of our generation, and is continued in the generation that follows him through his students, etc. — we assume he is a prophet and do not need to examine him…and the Torah forbids us to doubt him or to ponder if his prophecy might not be true…

“And there is a directive in all of the above, that it must be publicized to all the people of the generation, that we have merited that the Holy One, blessed be He, selected and appointed an individual with free will, that he himself is immeasurably higher than the people of the generation, that he will be ‘your judges’ and ‘your advisers’ and the prophet of the generation, who will give guidance and advice regarding the service of the entire Jewish people and all the people of this generation, in all matters of Torah and Mitzvos, and as regards general daily life…until — the main prophecy — the prophecy* of ‘immediately to tshuva, immediately to Geuloh’, and immediately ‘behold, this one (Moshiach) comes’.”

If these words were not sufficiently awe-inspiring and shocking, the Rebbe adds in the footnote that the “prophecy of ‘immediately to tshuva, immediately to Geuloh’ is not only as a sage and judge but rather as a prophet, for this is with absolute certainty–see the short discourses of the Alter Rebbe, page 355-6.”  In that short discourse, the Alter Rebbe explains that the things which a sage can grasp are very lofty, but they are so lofty in the spiritual realms that it is not certain if (or when) they will descend and take shape in our physical world.  On the other hand, the vision of a prophet is of things that are already in this physical world and therefore the words of a prophet are certain, because he sees that they are already here.

Thus, we see: the Rebbe (as a continuation of the Previous Rebbe, and all the previous Rebbeim back to the Baal Shem Tov) is a prophet; his statements about us being in the final moments of golus, on the cusp of the Geuloh, are a prophecy — which means that they have already taken shape in this physical world. Not only will they take place in the future, but in truth they are already here and unfolding!  And we are directed to publicize this to all the people of the generation.

May we merit to fulfill the Rebbe’s will.

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!

Re’eh 5751: Publicize Geuloh in Every Place

The name “Elul”, the month which begins in some years on Shabbos Parshas Re’eh (as it did in 5751 when this sicha was spoken), famously stands for “Ani L‘dodi V‘dodi Li”, “I am for my Beloved, and my Beloved is for me”.  The first part of this verse, “I am for my Beloved”, refers to the avodah from below to Above, the second part (“and my Beloved is for me”) reflects the awakening from Above which follows.  In other words, in Elul we serve Hashem from our own power (taking a spiritual accounting, repenting for what is lacking, and making spiritual improvements) and this generates the Awakening from Above which are the lofty revelations of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

The Shelah writes that there is a connection between every parsha and the days when it comes out, meaning in our case a connection between parshas Re’eh and the month of Elul.  But whereas the emphasis in Elul is the avodah from below to Above, the very first verse of our parsha is the opposite: “See I am giving you today blessing”, from Above to below.  These are completely opposite?!  The Rebbe explains this seeming contradiction by first pointing out that although Elul is a month of avodah from below, but the initial letters of Elul include both aspects–below to Above (“I am for my Beloved”) and Above to below (“my Beloved is for me”).  More than that, the avodah of Elul itself includes both.  It is explained in Chassidus that in the month of Elul “the King is in the field”, meaning that there is a lofty–but hidden–revelation from Above which gives the potential to each and every Jew to bring himself, through his own effort from below, to be suitable to enter the King’s royal chambers on Rosh Hashanah.  Thus, the avodah of Elul is inclusive of both inyonim.

The Rebbe notes that:

The avodah of the person from below to Above (“I am for my Beloved”) is (not on a lower level, as implied by it coming from “below”, which is limited by the limitations and state of the person, but rather it is actually) a higher level (“Above”) which is above all limitation.  This is because as regards the true inner state of the Jew, the neshoma of the Jew, which is “truly a piece of G-dliness Above”, the level of Yechida, is in fact in a perfect state of unity with the Holy One, blessed be He.

All he needs to do is to reveal his true reality, that he is one with the Holy One, blessed be He.  This is accomplished by serving Hashem in a way which transcends limitation, avodah which comes from the essence of his existence, which is that he is one with the Holy One, blessed be He.  And because this is the essence of the existence of every Jew, it is relevant even at the beginning of his avodah.

Having said all that, the Rebbe proceeds to give “standing orders”:

It is incumbent to publicize and awaken in every place the avodah of Elul and, with particular emphasis, the inyan of Geuloh, which in fact permeates all of this avodah.  All must be permeated and done with the spirit of the Geuloh (including, and especially, through learning Torah on the subjects of Geuloh and the Beis haMikdash), amidst anticipation and complete certainty that immediately we are seeing with fleshly eyes that “Behold, this one (Melech Hamoshiach) comes”.

Simply put: to proclaim and to publicize in every place — with words that come from the heart — that the Holy One, blessed be He says (through his servants the Prophets) to every single Jew “See, I am giving before you today blessing”, until that literally today mamash we see with fleshly eyes the blessing of the true and complete Geuloh.

[And we should add and emphasize that this declaring and publicizing of the above must be also via those who claim that they still didn’t completely “get it”, meaning completely grasping and understanding in a conscious manner.  Since they also are complete in their belief, they are able (and thus, they must) publicize these things to others, beginning with their families (for surely they need not “suffer” from the fact that this matter is still not sitting well with him intellectually), and also all those who are found around him, every single Jew, and certainly through the proper effort the words will be accepted and will bring about the desired effect, including also in the one who is proclaiming and publicizing, that by him it will be internalized properly, etc.].

I have to proclaim and publicize even if I’m not completely with it?  Yes, even one who is not completely with it.

Perhaps if all of us took these words of the Rebbe seriously and acted on them properly, we would already see it with fleshly eyes.  It’s still not too late — “Today, if you will heed his voice“.

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.

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?!

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 Geulah, 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 Geulah — 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.

Devarim 5751: Aquiring the Geuloh in the Closed Chest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Devarim 5751: One More Request for Moshiach

In the year 5751, Tisha B’Av fell out on Shabbos.  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“?!…

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!