Re’eh: It’s All Good, Including the Curses!

Re’eh: It’s All Good, Including the Curses!

Our parsha begins with the verse “Behold (re’eh), I am placing before you today a blessing and a curse.”  The Rebbe, very noticeably, does not include that last word (“curse”) when discussing the verse in our Sicha.  The point will become clear as we examine how the Rebbe illustrates this with a story from the gemora.

In tractate Moed Koton the gemora tells how Rebbi Shimon, the famous Rashbi, instructed his son Elazar to approach two sages they encountered and to request their blessings.  Elazar obeyed his father and asked them for their blessings.  The two sages were happy to oblige, but their blessings don’t sound like blessings at all!  Among their choice words: “You should sow but not reap… confusion should reign at your table…” — These are blessings?!

The son returned to his father and complained that not only didn’t these sages give him blessings, but their words left him disturbed!  Rashbi asked his son what they said, and he told him.  Rashbi then proceeded to “translate” for his son the blessings hidden behind the words (“you should bear sons and they should not die… Confusion should reign at your table due to being blessed with many children.”)

This episode serves as an example for how the Rebbe is interpreting the verse in our parsha:

First of all, we must appreciate and understand that everything that Hashem places before us is actually blessing, including those things that appear to us as the opposite of blessings.  Additionally, we need to appreciate that when we don’t see the blessing it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist, but rather that it is concealed.  There are revealed blessings and concealed blessings. 

Why would Hashem place before us something that doesn’t appear like a blessing? 

The Rebbe answers that this is because concealed blessings are actually much greater!  (As we will declare in the time of the Geuloh — “thank You Hashem that you displayed anger with me”, Yeshayahu 12:1)   Revealed blessings are given from Above to below, like a free gift.  But there is a higher level of blessing that comes through transforming the “curse” to a “blessing” — via the avoidah of the Yid down below.  The Rebbe brings the words of the Tzemach Tzedek: “…just as tshuvah is higher than the aspect of a Tzaddik, [so, too] through this that the darkness is transformed to light [via tshuvah]…this that the evil is transformed to good this is higher than the level of good itself.”  Although it appears as darkness and evil — a curse — this is only externally; its true inner dimension is actually a blessing.  So, in fact, there are no real curses — only concealed blessings that need to be transformed externally to reveal their inner, hidden intent.

This might not sound new to those who have learned the 11th epistle in Igeres Hakodesh in sefer haTanya.  There, the Alter Rebbe writes: 

In fact, however, no evil descends from above and everything is good, though it is not apprehended because of its immense and abundant goodness. And this is the essence of the faith for which man was created: to believe that “There is no place void of Him” and “In the light of the King’s countenance there is life,”… By believing this truly, everything becomes good even in appearance.

It seems that the Rebbe is just offering us an additional explanation of concepts that we have been learning for over 200 years.  There is, however, a small but very significant change in wording between the Alter Rebbe in Tanya and the Rebbe in Dvar Malchus.  The Alter Rebbe uses the terminology of “belief”: “the faith for which man was created, to believe….  By believing this….”.  Belief, emunah, is a lofty power of the soul, higher than intellect.  By definition one believes in something when he does not have knowledge of that thing and does not understand it (knowledge and understanding — powers of the intellect).  The Alter Rebbe teaches how a Jew must believe that everything is good because he cannot know or understand this intellectually.  The Rebbe, however, takes us on a quantum leap:

It is possible and is necessary that it be not only on the level of “hearing”, but also on the level of “seeing”… all the aspects of blessings, both revealed blessings and also the most concealed blessings…  This means to say that the approach to the general avoidah of the person is with a knowledge and recognition [emphasis added] that in his inner dimension he is given the revelation of the aspect of “I am Who I am” [Hashem’s essence, enabling him to serve Hashem without limitation, such as the apparent limitation of concealed blessings]… 

The Rebbe is telling us a tremendous chiddush in fitting with the general tone of the Dvar Malchus sichos and the crucial message that avoidas habirurim has been finished.  The chiddush is as follows:

It has always been true that everything is good and no evil descends from Above.  However, at the time the Alter Rebbe wrote the Tanya the human intellect was not yet able to truly grasp this.  Thus, we were instructed to simply believe that the apparent “curses” were in fact blessings.  In our generation, the Rebbe informs us that we already have “a heart to know, eyes to see, and ears to hear”, and demands of us not only to believe but to know and recognize that the “curses” are actually concealed blessings.  And even more than that: to see that the concealed blessings are not really curses.  (Based on the opening word of the verse: re’eh = “behold”). 

What was not possible for the generation of the Alter Rebbe (and thus was not demanded of them) is possible for us, and thus demanded of us!  And the Rebbe has already explained that the “direct way” to accomplish all of these things is by learning Chassidus, the inner dimension of Torah (which opens our eyes to the inner dimension of reality), and particularly the subjects of Moshiach and Geuloh which draw the light of Geuloh into the vessels of our intellect (as noted in Kuntres 15 Menachem Av).  Fulfill the Rebbe’s instructions and you yourself will see only blessings, and you will succeed to transform even the most deeply concealed blessings to revealed good!

10) Kuntres 12-13 Tammuz: How We Can Burn Down Golus!

10) Kuntres 12-13 Tammuz: How We Can Burn Down Golus!

The maamor released for 12-13 Tammuz 5751 was originally said on 12 Tammuz 5729, a day before the maamor that was released on Yud Alef Nissan, 5751 (three months earlier).  Both maamorim speak about the “prayer of the rich man”.  Here, the Rebbe stresses the the connection between Yisroel and Moshe Rabbeinu, and adds the distinction that Moshe’s connection with Yisroel is his inward dimension (pnimiyus),  and everything else is secondary and external (chitzoniyus).  “All of his levels, including that he was also wealthy in ruchniyus, they are secondary, the external [chitzoniyus] dimension, relative to the fact that he is the shepherd of Yisroel…”  This, of course, is true also of the extension of Moshe in every generation — the Rebbeim — and now the Rebbe explains how this applies to the Geuloh of 12-13 Tammuz (and 19 Kislev):

Through the imprisonments that preceded the Geuloh of 19 Kislev and the Geuloh of 12 Tammuz came a great elevation, which is like the additional light that comes from the darkness.  Seemingly, since as regards the Nessiim it’s not possible to say that even while they were imprisoned there was a state of darkness by them [as the [Rebbe Rayatz] said about the imprisonment of the Alter Rebbe, that it was with his agreement, from which it is understood that by them all the concealments of imprisonment were only in chitzoniyus], then how could there come about an “additional light from darkness”?  We can say that since the main inyan of the Nessiim is that they are the shepherds of Yisroel, therefore, the concealments of the imprisonment as it was experienced by Yisroel is also found by the Nessiim.

This reveals to us how Moshiach can be holding by all the giluyim we can imagine and more, and yet he “bears our sufferings” and himself endures terrible suffering (as stated in Midrashim) — because of his identification with Yisroel who have not yet come out of Golus!  This means that our effort to bring an end to Golus is a great rachmones on the Rebbe!

The maamor begins with the verse from parshas Chukas about the Pora Adumoh (red heifer), and the Rebbe explains that the burning of the Pora Adumoh is also a metaphor for burning down golus.  What’s the connection?  How do we “burn down” the golus?

The Rebbe explains that the mitzvah of Pora Adumoh is “the” mitzvah, which is not understood and therefore must be performed with the most complete level of kabolos ‘ol.  But since Moshe Rabbeinu himself did understand the mitzvah, where does kabolos ‘ol come in for him, and how can he, through this mitzvah, draw it down to all of Israel?  The Rebbe explains that this is the concept of bittul and kabolos ‘ol in seichel.  

The inyan of seichel derives from the level of memaleh kol almin, which is the inyan of nature.

Emunah, belief in things that are above seichel, derives from the level of sovev, which is the inyan of miracles.

Generally speaking, seichel obscures emunah, nature obscures miracles.  The way to overcome this is through the revelation of Atzmus, which is truly unlimited and has the power to unify opposites.  The imprisonment and Geuloh  of 12 Tammuz drew down the level of Atzmus, which in fact brought about a unification of opposites, to such an extent that those who hated and imprisoned the Rebbe Rayatz were forced to release him, even as they remained in power, a miracle enclothed in nature.  How does this connect with burning down golus and the burning of the Pora Adumoh?

As regards the Pora Adumoh, we find that the closeness between Moshe and Yisroel goes in both directions: the mitzvah being a “chok“, the reason for it not being understood, is primarily by Yisroel and is drawn from Yisroel to Moshe (“take for you” in our posuk), so that also for Moshe it is a “chok” (even though he in fact knows the reason).  But as regards fulfilling the mitzvah with bittul and kabolos ‘ol, this is something Yisroel receives from Moshe.  The Rebbe adds that “We could say that via the fact that Moshe knew the reason for Pora Adumoh, and that the bittul of kabolos ‘ol is drawn into his comprehension (הסגה) this gives the power to every single Yid that emunah and kabolos ‘ol can exist also in his seichel.”  In other words, this mitzvah is what enables us to unify the opposites of seichel and emunah, nature and miracles, as the Rebbe explains:

His kabolos ‘ol is in a way that not only does he fulfill Hashem’s command (even when he doesn’t understand), but also he doesn’t question it at all (אינו מהרהר כלל), because the inyan of kabolos ‘ol is settled in his mind.  And we can connect this with the Midrash that that the Pora Adumoh hints at the exiles…because through this that kabolos ‘ol above intellect is settled in his seichel, this is a preparation for the Geuloh and the revelation of G-dliness that will occur… and through this that he doesn’t question…this is the burning of (the Pora Adumoh which hints at) the golus….

Meaning that when we utilize the power of this mitzvah — to have bittul and kabolos ‘ol settled in our intellect, to such an extent that our lack of understanding doesn’t bring us to question at all (and surely not to insist that we do understand things which are not fully understood) — we succeed in unifying seichel with emunah above seichel, unifiying nature and miracles (in our avoidas Hashem and in the world), thereby burning down the golus!  In this way we have the power to bring the true and complete Geuloh, and to finally redeem the Rebbe himself from our sufferings, in a way of “additional light from the darkness”!

10) Kuntres 12-13 Tammuz: How We Can Burn Down Golus!

10) Kuntres 12-13 Tammuz: How We Can Burn Down Golus!

The maamor released for 12-13 Tammuz 5751 was originally said on 12 Tammuz 5729, a day before the maamor that was released on Yud Alef Nissan, 5751 (three months earlier).  Both maamorim speak about the “prayer of the rich man”.  Here, the Rebbe stresses the the connection between Yisroel and Moshe Rabbeinu, and adds the distinction that Moshe’s connection with Yisroel is his inward dimension (pnimiyus),  and everything else is secondary and external (chitzoniyus).  “All of his levels, including that he was also wealthy in ruchniyus, they are secondary, the external [chitzoniyus] dimension, relative to the fact that he is the shepherd of Yisroel…”  This, of course, is true also of the extension of Moshe in every generation — the Rebbeim — and now the Rebbe explains how this applies to the Geuloh of 12-13 Tammuz (and 19 Kislev):

Through the imprisonments that preceded the Geuloh of 19 Kislev and the Geuloh of 12 Tammuz came a great elevation, which is like the additional light that comes from the darkness.  Seemingly, since as regards the Nessiim it’s not possible to say that even while they were imprisoned there was a state of darkness by them [as the [Rebbe Rayatz] said about the imprisonment of the Alter Rebbe, that it was with his agreement, from which it is understood that by them all the concealments of imprisonment were only in chitzoniyus], then how could there come about an “additional light from darkness”?  We can say that since the main inyan of the Nessiim is that they are the shepherds of Yisroel, therefore, the concealments of the imprisonment as it was experienced by Yisroel is also found by the Nessiim.

This reveals to us how Moshiach can be holding by all the giluyim we can imagine and more, and yet he “bears our sufferings” and himself endures terrible suffering (as stated in Midrashim) — because of his identification with Yisroel who have not yet come out of Golus!  This means that our effort to bring an end to Golus is a great rachmones on the Rebbe!

The maamor begins with the verse from parshas Chukas about the Pora Adumoh (red heifer), and the Rebbe explains that the burning of the Pora Adumoh is also a metaphor for burning down golus.  What’s the connection?  How do we “burn down” the golus?

The Rebbe explains that the mitzvah of Pora Adumoh is “the” mitzvah, which is not understood and therefore must be performed with the most complete level of kabolos ‘ol.  But since Moshe Rabbeinu himself did understand the mitzvah, where does kabolos ‘ol come in for him, and how can he, through this mitzvah, draw it down to all of Israel?  The Rebbe explains that this is the concept of bittul and kabolos ‘ol in seichel.  

The inyan of seichel derives from the level of memaleh kol almin, which is the inyan of nature.

Emunah, belief in things that are above seichel, derives from the level of sovev, which is the inyan of miracles.

Generally speaking, seichel obscures emunah, nature obscures miracles.  The way to overcome this is through the revelation of Atzmus, which is truly unlimited and has the power to unify opposites.  The imprisonment and Geuloh  of 12 Tammuz drew down the level of Atzmus, which in fact brought about a unification of opposites, to such an extent that those who hated and imprisoned the Rebbe Rayatz were forced to release him, even as they remained in power, a miracle enclothed in nature.  How does this connect with burning down golus and the burning of the Pora Adumoh?

As regards the Pora Adumoh, we find that the closeness between Moshe and Yisroel goes in both directions: the mitzvah being a “chok“, the reason for it not being understood, is primarily by Yisroel and is drawn from Yisroel to Moshe (“take for you” in our posuk), so that also for Moshe it is a “chok” (even though he in fact knows the reason).  But as regards fulfilling the mitzvah with bittul and kabolos ‘ol, this is something Yisroel receives from Moshe.  The Rebbe adds that “We could say that via the fact that Moshe knew the reason for Pora Adumoh, and that the bittul of kabolos ‘ol is drawn into his comprehension (הסגה) this gives the power to every single Yid that emunah and kabolos ‘ol can exist also in his seichel.”  In other words, this mitzvah is what enables us to unify the opposites of seichel and emunah, nature and miracles, as the Rebbe explains:

His kabolos ‘ol is in a way that not only does he fulfill Hashem’s command (even when he doesn’t understand), but also he doesn’t question it at all (אינו מהרהר כלל), because the inyan of kabolos ‘ol is settled in his mind.  And we can connect this with the Midrash that that the Pora Adumoh hints at the exiles…because through this that kabolos ‘ol above intellect is settled in his seichel, this is a preparation for the Geuloh and the revelation of G-dliness that will occur… and through this that he doesn’t question…this is the burning of (the Pora Adumoh which hints at) the golus….

Meaning that when we utilize the power of this mitzvah — to have bittul and kabolos ‘ol settled in our intellect, to such an extent that our lack of understanding doesn’t bring us to question at all (and surely not to insist that we do understand things which are not fully understood) — we succeed in unifying seichel with emunah above seichel, unifiying nature and miracles (in our avoidas Hashem and in the world), thereby burning down the golus!  In this way we have the power to bring the true and complete Geuloh, and to finally redeem the Rebbe himself from our sufferings, in a way of “additional light from the darkness”!