Va’era 5752: The Rectification of Death

In the second sicha printed for parshas Va’era 5752, the Rebbe elaborates on the statement of the sages that “one who dies on Erev Shabbos, it is a good sign for him”.

The Gemara describes that when R’ Yehuda haNosi took ill, R’ Chiya visited him and found him crying.  He asked him why he was crying (assuming that he was afraid of death).  R’ Chiya proceeded to give him a list of signs that portend well for the fate of a person after death (and their opposite): Dying amidst laughter is a good sign, while crying is a not good; one who dies on Erev Shabbos is a good sign, after Shabbos is not good.  (And several others.)

R’ Yehuda haNosi responded that he was crying (not from a fear of his fate after death, but rather) because of the Torah and Mitzvos he would no longer be able to perform.  Seemingly, the list of good signs brought by R’ Chiya (several of which applied to R’ Yehuda haNosi and were meant to comfort him), do not help the reason given by R’ Yehuda for his crying, because seemingly being unable to perform Torah and Mitzvos after ones passing is not affected by the good signs of how a person passes away.  (The Rebbe brings a proof for this from the story in the Gemara about Dovid haMelech, who asked to pass away on Erev Shabbos (because then one is not subject to “chibut hakever“), and Hashem refused him, telling him that even one day of his Torah learning was more dear to Him.)

Furthermore, the Rebbe asks on this whole discussion a fundamental question: “How is it possible to truthfully say (in Toras Emes, the Torah of truth) that “one who dies on Erev Shabbos it is a good sign for him” — a “good sign” in relation to the occurrence of death, the opposite of life, the ultimate opposite of good according to Torah?!”  Since the Torah defines “good” as fulfilling the will of Hashem through the performance of Torah and Mitzvos as a soul in a body, then death is the opposite of Good, since it is the the departure of the soul from the body and the performance of Torah and Mitzvos ceases (thus it was the reason for R’ Yehuda haNosi’s crying).

In answer the Rebbe explains that:

The “good sign” of “one who dies on Erev Shabbos” indicates and emphasizes the rectification of the undesirable aspect in the general inyan of death, and automatically the reason for R’ Yehuda haNossi’s crying over the interruption of Torah and Mitzvos is nullified (and rectified), as we will explain.

The Rebbe proceeds to explain that already on the very first Erev Shabbos, when Adam Harishon was created, there was already something similar to death that took place, as the verse states “Hashem brought a drowsiness upon the Man and caused him to sleep”.  Sleep is called “one-sixtieth of death” by our sages, for when a person sleeps his life force (chayus) is not visible (through movement, expressing ideas, etc.).  This is seemingly an undesirable state, but in fact it is a sign that there will be an increase in the individual’s chayus (life-force) when he wakes up, an incomparable increase.  In the case of Adam Harishon this resulted in the creation of his wife, Chava, after which they could bring unlimited generations into being–an incomparable increase of chayus compared to before he slept, from the limited to the unlimited.

This model also holds in the bigger picture of the 6,000 years of this world which correspond to the days of Creation (the 7th millennium corresponding to the 7th day, Shabbos).  The 6th millennium (which we are in presently) corresponds to “Erev Shabbos”, the end of the time of golus, and there is this inyan of sleeping through which is brought about a union on a higher level (according to Kabbalah this is the union of Z”A and Malchus, the Holy One, blessed be He, and Knesses Yisroel), corresponding to the sleep of Adam Harishon that resulted in an infinitely higher state of being.

Thus, one who “dies on Erev Shabbos” also refers to one who passes away in our time, the eve of the 7th millennium; it is like the sleep we mentioned above.  So it turns out that this death (on “Erev Shabbos” at the end of golus) is for the sake of an increase and renewal of life.  This has two explanations:

a) Our sages say “Yaakov Avinu did not die…just as his descendants are alive, so, too, he is alive”, that through the continuation of the life of his descendants (true life, in accordance with Torah) this brings about that “also he is alive”.  And more than this, that this inyan of “he is alive” in its true sense, meaning eternal existence, is revealed by the continuation and eternality of “his descendants are alive” after his passing [in other words, Yaakov’s eternal life is revealed specifically after he passes away (or, at least, seemed to pass away) by the fact that his descendants continue to live the true life of Torah]that specifically then it can be seen in a revealed way the eternality (the truth) of “he is alive”.  So it turns out that through death comes about an increase and renewal of life — the revelation of the eternality and truth of life.

b) And this is the main thing: that the concealment (histalkus) of the chayus that occurs at death is for the sake of an increase and renewal of chayus as a soul in a body — at the resurrection of the dead, for then there will be life of a soul in a body in eternal life.

This enables us to answer the question of how does telling R’ Yehuda haNosi that “one who dies on Erev Shabbos it is a good sign for him”: since on Erev Shabbos it is emphasized that the concealment (histalkus) of the chayus is for the sake of an increase and renewal of the chayus.  Thus, it turns out that

…the time of death coming on Erev Shabbos is in a way that emphasizes in a revealed way the good aspect alone, the increase and renewal of chayus, both through the increase of the eternality and the truth of the life through the fact that “his descendants are alive”, and also and mainly through the Resurrection of the dead right after the time of burial.

Thus, it turns out, that this “good sign” indicates and emphasizes the rectification of the undesirable aspect in death, and automatically the reason that Rebi [Yehuda haNosi] was crying over the nullification of Torah and Mitzvos is rectified as well, because when Tzaddikim arise at the Resurrection of the dead (at the beginning of Yemos Hamoshiach, forty years before the epoch of the Resurrection of the dead of all Bnei Yisroel) there is a continuation of the fulfillment of Torah and Mitzvos (and to the contrary: in a higher degree of perfection — “as mitzvos of Your will”, כמצות רצונך)

In other words, death on Erev Shabbos is a good sign also as regards the fulfillment of Torah and Mitzvos, for following on the heals of this death is the Resurrection of the dead which enables the fulfillment of Torah and Mitzvos as a soul in a body in a perfected and unlimited way, immeasurably greater than the way it was before the “death on Erev Shabbos”!

The Rebbe then takes this even further: that the main intention of this “good sign” is not literal death, chas v’sholom, but rather the avodah of the Yid in his lifetime as a soul in a body.  This is especially after it has already occurred literally with unique individuals, and through them it is sufficient to fulfill the obligation of the rest of Bnei Yisroel (so that the rest of us do not need to literally pass away in order to attain the higher level described above). Consequently, by the rest of Bnei Yisroel there will be only the spiritual avodah of “death” (meaning self-nullification, bittul), with a seamless continuation to eternal life (without any interruption in between) in the time to come.

Death on Erev Shabbos (the 6th millennium, our times) is only a concealment as a preparation for a revelation of a higher level of life–eternal life of the soul in the body, in the ultimate state of perfection!

Yud Shevat: “Yahrzeit” of a Living Man

Yud Shevat marks the yahrzeit and Hillula (anniversary of the passing) of the Previous Rebbe in 5710 (1950), the father-in-law of the Rebbe MH”M.  His resting place is in Montefiore Cemetery in Cambria Heights, NY, commonly referred to as “the Ohel”.

The Rebbe, MH”M, oversaw all the details, wrote the text of the gravestone, and even designed the Ohel structure itself (in a way that Kohanim could enter and avoid the halachic prohibition of being in proximity to a grave).  The Rebbe visited the Ohel on a twice-weekly basis, and often more frequently than that.

At the same time, the Rebbe continued to refer to his father-in-law as “Nosi Doreinu”, the leader of the generation, and the “Moshiach of the generation“.  The Rebbe asserted that “hu bachayim” (“he is alive”), like Yaakov Avinu who did not die.  Each year on the Previous Rebbe’s birthday, the Rebbe spoke about his father-in-law’s new chapter of Tehillim, just like anyone else who has a birthday and begins a new year of life.  The Rebbe spoke sharply that his father-in-law does not have an issue of inheritance because he is “fresher and more lively” each passing year.

Yud Shevat is the yarhzeit of of a living man, the Ohel is the gravesite of a living man.

If we don’t understand, the problem is ours to ponder and to research.  When we will understand how the gemora can state the “Moshe didn’t die” and “Yaakov didn’t die” and that after his passing Rebbi Yehuda Hanosi would appear at the home of his family on Shabbos night (and made Kiddush for them) — then surely we will begin understand the meaning of Yud Shevat and how eternal life is not contradicted by a yahrzeit nor by a gravestone.

יחי אדוננו מורנו ורבינו מלך המשיח לעולם ועד

Video Shiur: Va’era 5752

The Rebbe is Everything

Chabadinfo.com Exclusive: In the Sicha of Parshas Vaera 5752, the Rebbe explains what Yud Shvat is all about, and how we should prepare for this auspicious date, quoting the famous words of Rashi about Moshe Rabbeinu “הנשיא הוא הכל” – The Nasi (Rebbe) is everything ● Learn this week’s Sicha with ChabadInfo.com’s Weekly Shiur of the “Dvar Malchus” Sicha in English, presented by Rabbi Menachem Mendel Lipskier, Mashpia of Mesivta of Melbourne, Australia ● Watch Video

 

Bo-Beshallach, 5752: Hashem “Collects” Tzaddikim For a Greater Elevation

It is brought in the writings of the Arizal that the generation of the future Geulah is a gilgul (reincarnation) of the generation that came out of Egypt, and according to this, we are redeemed in the merit of the righteous women in our generation, for they themselves are the righteous women in whose merit we came out of Egypt.

What makes our generation special?  It is rooted in Nosi Hador, the leader of the generation:

The completion and perfection of the avodah (spiritual mission) of the Nosi Hador (on his Yom Hahillula [day of his passing–Yud Shevat]) is the completion and perfection of the avodah of the entire generation (for “the Nosi is everything” [Rashi on Chukas 21:21]), and since this generation is the final generation, then this is the completion and perfection of all of the avodah of Knesses Yisroel (woman) to make a dwelling place down below for Hashem, may He be blessed.

This relates to the concept of the “disappearance (סלוק) of Tzaddikim” (yahrzeit and Hillula) upon the completion and perfection of their avodah, as the verse states “My beloved went down to his garden…to collect roses”, upon which the Midrash expounds: “to hide away (לסלק) the Tzaddikim that are among Yisroel” (which means that they have completed their souls through Torah and Mitzvos [commentaries “Yafeh Kol” and “Yadei Moshe” on this midrash]). More importantly: this “disappearance” (“סלוק”) is for a much greater elevation (incomparably so) which will be in the world of the resurrection, “those who dwell in the dust arise and sing”, and the Tzaddikim (the “roses”) at their head, souls in bodies in this physical world, in the true and complete Geulah.

The Rebbe proceeds to mention the inyan of the “breaking out of all the spiritual lights” (“ispariyu v’isgaleen minei kol nehorin“) in connection with the histalkus of Nosi Hador, which occurs at the time of histalkus.  The Rebbe clarifies that “the inyan of histalkus is not disappearing  (סלוק), chas v’sholom, but rather the revelation of the encompassing light (ohr hasovev kol almin) in the aspect of exaltedness” [note 44].  The main point, says the Rebbe, is that this “breaking out of all the spiritual lights” is the culmination of all the avodah of his lifetime.

Further explaining the connection with righteous women, the Rebbe mentions Miriam and her rejoicing with tambourines at the splitting of the sea, and brings the Midrash that “Miriam is named for merirus [=bitterness]”, that the most difficult period of “they made their lives bitter through servitude [in Egypt]” began when Miriam was born, and after this (and through this bitterness) “the Holy One, blessed be He, appointed the redeemer, this is Miriam” (for Dovid Hamelech is a descendant of Miriam, and similarly Moshiach Tzidkeinu who descends from Dovid).  This is coming to tell us that “the Geulah was through this that Miriam greatly felt the pain and bitterness of exile.”  So, too, our bitterness over exile, and our anticipation of and yearning for the Geulah will bring it in actuality.  In fact, according to the degree of her bitterness over the golus was her great joy upon the redemption, so that she took a tambourine in her hand and led all the women in celebration.

This celebration occurred when “they saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore”, for it was at that time that the fear of the Egyptians ceased to plague Bnei Yisroel, which is the completion of the redemption of Yisroel and thus the joy over the redemption was also complete.

…we are assured that immediately the true and complete Geulah is coming, and the women begin immediately (in the last moments of golus) to sing (“with consummate modesty, of course”) with tambourines and instruments, rejoicing over the coming of the true and complete Geulah!

More specifically: together with the tefillah, the request and the demand from the Holy One, blessed be He, that the Geulah should come immediately mamash, which is with a feeling of pain and bitterness over the length of golus, which expresses itself in the cry from the depths of the heart “Ad mosai, ad mosai, ad mosai”!…  [=”until when?!”]  yet they [the righteous women] are imbued with the feeling of joy, and the greatest joy which is expressed in song due to the great trust that “behold, this one (“the King Moshiach”) comes”, and already has come!

This sicha was printed as a compilationof the talks of Shabbos Parshas Bo (6 Shevat 5752) and Shabbos Parshas Beshallach (13 Shevat 5752)

View the translation of Sichos in English