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.

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).”

Emor 5751: Turning Gola into Geulah

Emor 5751: Turning Gola into Geulah

In this sicha we see how important is the concept of transforming exile (gola) to Redemption (Geuloh).  The Rebbe brings out that we are not fighting the exile (gola) but rather transforming it as it is in its essence by inserting and revealing the Alef — the recognition of G-d’s presence.  In other words, the Rebbe is explaining that the Geuloh, which is ready to occur at any moment, is dependent upon our active recognition that everything is from Hashem.

If so, what is the chiddush here?  In the times of the Mishna, the sage Nochum ish Gamzu would respond to every undesirable event by saying “this too is for the good” (“gam zu letoiva”).  And in Igeres Hakodesh (siman 11) the Alter Rebbe writes that we must believe that everything is for the good; only because some things are beyond our conception they are imagined by us to be “bad”.

The chiddush could be said to be as follows: previously this belief that everything is from Hashem and everything is truly good (whether revealed or concealed) was something that was beyond our conception.  We could only believe in it as one believes in something that cannot be seen or perceived.  However, in our generation, on the brink of (and prepared for) the revelations of the Geuloh, we are able — through this avoidah of emunah — to actually bring it into our understanding and perceive it, and thus see it transpire in actuality.

These correspond to the three levels (three different ways of explaining the “alef”) which the Rebbe speaks about in this sicha:

  • The Master of the World (Alufo shel olam): G-dliness as it is found in the world;
  • Being imbued with wisdom (a’alfa chochma): referring to the Torah, which is higher than the world but somewhat related to the world;
  • Wonder (peleh): the letters alef, lamed, pay (which spell “alef“, and can be re-arranged to spell “peleh“, meaning “wonder”) refers to the level of G-dliness which completely transcends the world.

In the Rebbe’s words:

This represents the progression of G-dly revelation leading to the days of Moshiach: 1) G-dliness within the world, 2) G-dliness higher than, but still connected with the world, and 3) the revelation of G-d’s essence. Our service of G-d in golus (which consists of bringing the Alef into golah to bring the Geuloh) must correspond to these three levels. And through this we bring about these kinds of G-dly revelation alluded to by the letter Alef.

This means that we must reveal the presence of G-dliness within the world by using all physical objects for a holy purpose — “for the sake of Heaven” (to correspond to the level of G-dliness within the world). Furthermore, we must bring down and reveal the second level through learning Torah, and reveal the third level of peleh by learning Pnimiyus HaTorah, Chassidus, which corresponds to the level of peleh in Torah.

We can extend this idea further: in addition to the revelation of the level of peleh through the study of Chassidus, it is revealed through the very exile itself. The prophet Yeshayahu said (12:1), “On that day [(of redemption] you will say, ‘I thank you G-d for having been angry with me.’ ” This verse seems somewhat puzzling. Granted that we will be thankful for G-d’s nullification of exile — but this expression of appreciation would not really be wholehearted. One would praise G-d even more completely if there had been no exile to begin with!

In light of the above this can be easily understood. Redemption comes about from and is composed of the very exile itself. We are therefore thanking Him deeply for the exile since we realize that it has brought the highest revelations, including that corresponding to the level of peleh.

This level of peleh that the Rebbe is speaking of is not only wonders taking place in our physical world (such as the Gulf War), but the Rebbe specifies that this is also (and even moreso) to be found in Torah itself — to perceive the wonders of Torah.  And beyond that: within our very selves, that we have the ability to “wondrously” transform ourselves to the level of a complete Tzaddik!  This is a tremendous Chiddush, as the Rebbe explains, because in Tanya it is explained that many souls descend to the world only to struggle and never to achieve the goal of “be a tzaddik“.  Now, asserts the Rebbe, all we need to do is to “do our part” to fulfill the oath to which the soul is sworn (“be a tzaddik“) and every one of us can in fact become a tzaddik!

This will be hastened through the study of Torah, and of Chassidus in particular. This also includes looking into the face of your Rebbe, which helps one’s understanding, as the Gemara (Eruvin 13b) quotes R. Yehuda HaNasi as saying, “This that my sharpness exceeds that of my colleagues is because I saw R. Meir from the back; and if I would have seen him from the front, I would be even sharper.”

All this will help further purify the world and reveal G-dliness within it. It must be accompanied by the additional G-dly service of each particular Jew, by keeping away from evil and, furthermore, doing the utmost to fulfill the oath administered to his soul before birth, “You shall be a tzaddik.” One might object and point out that in Tanya itself it is written that not every individual can necessarily become a tzaddik, and that one doesn’t have complete free choice in this area. However, since the Jew has the essence of G-d within him, ultimately even this is within his reach. Furthermore, after all the purification, etc. of the Jewish people over the course of time, now every Jew is able to reach the level of tzaddik — similar to the way things will be in the Messianic Age.

All this contains straightforward guidance in what all Jews should be doing to further hasten the redemption — in all three levels alluded to by the letter alef. This means first of all revealing G-d’s presence in the world through using all worldly objects for a holy purpose, etc. In addition, there must be a special increase in Torah study — and particularly the study of Chassidus — in a way that it should be clearly understood in Chochmah, Binah, and Da’as. Included in this is also influencing others to follow suit.

It follows that the work is on our shoulders: we simply have to make a true effort to “be a tzaddik” and we will be amazed at the results.  We will bring about our own personal Geuloh, leading to the true and complete Geuloh of the entire Jewish nation, and the entire world!

Didan Notzach and Geuloh

Didan Notzach and Geuloh

The excitement surrounding the Rebbe’s victory of the seforim (5 Teives, 5747) is so intense that it begins even while we are still celebrating Chanukah. The day which the Rebbe referred to as “our side wins” (“Didan Notzach”) is a powerful dor hashvi’i celebration that rightly sweeps through Lubavitch. But beyond the farbrengens and the purchasing of seforim, the events of Didan Notzach and the sichos surrounding it deserve proper attention in order to understand at least something of the true magnitude of the victory. In particular, to recognize how 5 Teives represents the culmination in this physical world of the battle that has been going on since the times of the Alter Rebbe — the battle to bring the Geuloh.

 

The War of the Alter Rebbe

Hey Teives arrives a few days after the end of the month of Kislev, when everyone is still saturated with the story of the kitrug against the Alter Rebbe and against spreading Chassidus, Continue reading

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.