Tazria-Metzora 5751: The “Geuloh Illness”

Moshiach in Exile is Called “Metzora

In many years the Torah portions of Tazria and Metzora are read together on the same Shabbos.  Parshas Tazria begins with the words “a woman who gives seed and gives birth to a male” — according to Chassidus, this hints at the birth (revelation) of the soul of Moshiach.  Giving seed refers to our deeds and effort (“avodah”) in the time of exile, followed immediately by the sprouting — the complete Geuloh.

Metzora refers to Moshiach; as our sages say: he bears our sicknesses.  The name of Moshiach in the time of exile is “Metzora” (one suffering from the spiritual skin ailment called Tzoraas).  The opening words of this parsha, “This is the Torah of the metzora on the day of his purification” — the day of his purification, the day that the nega on his skin is healed, meaning when he (Moshiach) is revealed and redeems the children of Israel in the true and complete Geuloh.

What is the connection?  Tazria is birth, meaning the eternal Geuloh; Metzora is one who needs to be brought to purification.  Seemingly, if the eternal Geuloh is “born”, it is not related in any way to the state of a metzora, who is connected with illness and exile.  However, the content of parshas Tazria is all about the various types of lesions of a metzora, which pertains to exile.  And, parshas Metzora actually teaches the laws of the purification of the metzora, the inyan of Geuloh.  Seemingly, it should be reversed?!

Tzora’as — Illness After Completing Everything

It turns out that the order is of the parshiyos and their subjects is exact.  The illness of tzora’as becomes relevant only at the very end of golus.  The verse that begins to describe the illness of tzora’as states “A man [‘Adam’] who has a on the skin of his flesh…”, and the Zohar states that “Adam is a great level, the perfection of everything”.  If so, how could he be subject to illness?!  The answer is: although he has rectified everything in his inner dimensions, nonetheless, on the skin of his flesh the evil is still not refined, there remains waste material “on the ends of his garments”; but this is only an external matter which is not connected at all to the “essence” (etzem, atzmiyus) of the person, not even to his flesh (which changes through eating and drinking); it is only related to the skin which surrounds him externally.  In truth, the nega is only on the skin (from the word “nogea”, meaning to touch — not even the skin itself is really affected).  A completely superficial state of affairs.

It turns out that, according to pnimiyus haTorah, these negoyim (lesions) are actually a result of the lofty state of the “Adam” described above.  In fact, the negoyim themselves they are not tamei (impure and imparting impurity); only when they will be observed by a Kohen who will declare them impure will they become tameiThis is because in their source they derive from lofty spiritual lights (“oirois elyoinim”).  The word “nega” itself is a reversal of the letters of the word “oneg” which is the aspect of supernal pleasure.  As a rule, it is the loftiest things which fall to the lowest levels of impurity.  Their rectification of the negoyim is via the revelation of their true nature as lofty spiritual lights (“oirois elyoinim”), and by revealing this we nullify the external forces (“yenikas hachitzonim”).

Bittul Negates the Evil and Heals the Metzora

The subject of tzara’as and negoyim is connected with the concept of the lights of Tohu, a level beyond being constrained in vessels.  These lights, when revealed, bring about a yearning of the soul to escape limitation (ratzo), abandoning the responsibilities of this world (spiritual and otherwise).  The lofty lights of Tohu do not want to return (shov) to the vessels of holiness, they only seek to rise and escape limitation, which gives nurture to the klipos.  The cure for this is bittul, self-nullification to the point of completely nullifying one’s will “until the person is like a lifeless stone…like a servant before the King.”  It is specifically through our avoidah of bittul that the powerful lights of Tohu can be drawn into many vessels down below, which is how we create Hashem’s dwelling place down below (“dira b’tachtonim”).

This bittul is specifically accomplished through learning Torah.  We see that the verse says “this is the Torah of the metzora” (instead of “the purification” or something similar) — because the rectification of the metzora comes through involvement in Torah, which is the aspect of bittul.

Through Bittul We Transform Exile to Redemption

Exile (“golus”) is darkness and concealment; yet, in its source, it is very lofty.  From these very lofty levels descend the concealment and all the undesirable things of golus.  And even after it descends — having reached the level of impure things — it is only an external manifestation, like a nega which is external even to the skin of the person.  Rectification through our deeds and avodah is not a process of adding something new; rather, it is simply revealing the truth of the golus.  In other words, we are not nullifying golus, we are transforming golus to Geuloh.  This occurs by drawing down the alef and adding the alef to gola (“exile”) to make Geuloh (discussed in Parshas Shemini and Kuntres Chof Av).  (The Rebbe points out that the letters of “alef” אלף spell פלא “peleh” (“wonder”), as in “I will show you wonders” (the acronym for the year 5751).  We can add also this year, 5781, the year of “pla’os arenu.)

Thus we understand that Geuloh is not a matter in and of itself; Geuloh is a revelation of the true nature of golus.

Similarly, Metzora is used in reference to Moshiach — in a positive sense: the metzora is sent out of the camp and “dwells alone”, and, so too, Moshiach “dwells alone” because of his lofty level (“higher than the Patriarchs, higher than Moshe”, Midrash Tanchuma, Toldos 14).   The Rebbe takes note that after the gemora tells us that Moshiach’s name is Metzora, it enumerates how the students of Rabbi Shilo, Rabbi Yanai, etc., found verses indicating that the name of their own teacher was the name of Moshiach.  The Rebbe asserts that “we (Chassidim) follow in their way (as regards Rabboseinu Nessienu, and particularly my father-in-law the Rebbe, the Nossi of our generation) — ‘Yosef Yitzchok’ is the name [of Moshiach]….”

“Direct Path” to Revelation of Moshiach — Torah

The Rebbe quotes from the Alter Rebbe’s Likkutei Torah that “Adam reflects the perfection of everything, one whose actions are proper and he has rectified all matters that pertain to him…only the waste on the ends of his garments isn’t refined…due the state of golus”.  The Rebbe then adds that in our generation, the last generation of golus, which has already finished and completed the matters of avodah that needed to be done during the time of golus, “we can say that all of the Jewish people are on this level”!

The Rebbe then provides the “direct path” for one who has finished all the avodah to bring about the revelation and coming of Moshiach: “learning Torah…which can unify opposing directions and negate the inyan of golus.  Negating golus is itself Geuloh.”  Torah is the “direct path” to the revelation and coming of the Moshiach, as it combines both bittul and unquestioning obedience with internalized understanding.

The Rebbe specifies that the learning should focus on the subjects of Moshiach and Geuloh.  The Rebbe itemizes where to find these subjects: in the prophets, in tractates Sanhedrin and Sotah, in Midrashim, and — especially — in pnimiyus haTorah, beginning with the Zohar and particularly Chassidus, and particularly the Torah (maamarim and Likkutei Sichos) of the Leader of our Generation (Nosi Hador).  (As every Chosid knows, only the Rebbe himself has a series called “Likkutei Sichos”, and from this we find the Rebbe quietly and indirectly referring to himself as the Nosi Hador, whom the Rebbe identifies as the Moshiach of the generation.)


This sicha, when learned in the original, is incredibly rich and ground-breaking.  Nevertheless, we can summarize the main points as follows:

  • After the initial revelation of Moshiach (Tazria) follows the potential for tzora’as and the need for its purification; golus does not contradict that Moshiach and the Geuloh are here;
  • As far from Holiness as Yid in our era may appear, this is only the waste-matter on the most superficial levels; on the inner level his soul is completely rectified and ready for Geuloh;
  • The lesions indicating Tzora’as really derive from a very lofty source, all that is needed is to reveal that source.  Similarly the darkness of golus in truth derives from the loftiest of levels, and all that is needed is to add the “alef” and reveal its source;
  • Chassidim follow the lead of the students of Yanai and Shilo, finding ways to support the claim that the Rebbe is Moshiach;
  • The direct path to bring the Geuloh is to learn (especially in groups of ten) the subjects of Moshiach and Geuloh, particularly in the Torah of Moshiach himself.

(We should note that it was at this farbrengen that the declaration “Yechi Adoneinu Moreinu v’Rabbeinu Melech Hamoshiach L’Olom Vo’ed” was declared before the Rebbe for the first time.  For details from behind-the-scenes, see “The Facts Behind the Psak”

Balak 5751: To Recognize the Inner Good

In the year 5751 the fast of 17th Tammuz fell out on Shabbos parshas Balak.  In this sicha the Rebbe addresses the special quality of a fast that falls out on Shabbos, which causes the fast itself to be pushed off until the next day.

First, we must understand that although the fast itself is a matter of “discomfort which is the opposite of desire and pleasure, but its inner dimension (b’pnimiyus) it is a good thing, as stated in the verse ‘a day of Will to Hashem’.”  More specifically, the fast of the 17th of Tammuz is on the day of the month which has the numeric value (gematria) of “good” (טוב = 17).  The Rebbe finds this completely natural, “since the intent and ultimate purpose of the churban and the golus is only in order to come to the elevation and perfection of the (true and complete) Geuloh, meaning that the golus is an external matter, and it’s inner dimension is the Geuloh.”  From this, we understand that since the time of the churban itself, everything is for the purpose of the Geuloh.

Interesting to note that the Rebbe mentions four times in this sicha that there is an aspect of Geuloh which is to rectify the churban and golus, but additionally there is a higher level: “the level and perfection of the Geuloh in and of itself, pure Geuloh גאולה לטהרתה (even if prior to [the Geuloh] there is not a situation of churban and golus).”  (And the Rebbe adds that the chiddush here is that even in a state of churban and golus we can feel this aspect of “pure Geuloh”.)  This is mainly relevant to a fast which falls out on Shabbos (when the negative aspects are not felt), but also is relevant to our generation in particular: “the more we come closer to the true and complete Geuloh, the feeling of churban and golus in these days is diminished, and the feeling of preparation for Geuloh grows and increases, the “tov” that is in the 17th of Tammuz and the 3 weeks.”

The sicha now turns to the main point: the importance of learning the subjects of Moshiach and Geuloh, which enable us to “live with the times”.  Which times?  “The times of Yemos Hamoshiach, through this that the intellect becomes full and permeated with understanding and comprehension of the subject of Moshiach and Geuloh that is in Torah.  And from the intellect it spreads and imbues the feeling in the heart, until it reaches one’s thought, speech, and action in a way that suits this special time, when we are standing on the threshold of the Geuloh, and we point with our finger that ‘behold, this (the Melech Moshiach) comes.”  (And if someone will protest that our sages say that Moshiach only comes when we are distracted from the subject (בהסח הדעת), the Rebbe clarifies that the meaning of this expression is “above da’as, meaning that after this subject permeates his da’as (through thought and contemplation, etc.), it goes beyond (higher than) his da’as.”  We can explain this to mean that no matter how much we learn about Moshiach and Geuloh, even filling and permeating our understanding with these subjects, the Moshiach reality will always be far beyond our understanding, until it actually materializes.

The Rebbe specifically addresses those for whom it is difficult to internalize the idea that we are really on the threshold of the Geuloh, and that the way to deal with this is by learning the subjects of Moshiach and Geuloh — this enables a person to internalize the reality that the Rebbe is speaking about.  We see this in actuality, that those who learn the subject of Moshiach and Geuloh — regardless of where they were holding before — are much more sensitive to and aware of the unfolding Geuloh.

The importance of learning the subjects of Moshiach and Geuloh cannot be over-emphasized, and we will end with the words of the Rebbe’s secretary, R’ Leibel Groner, z”l:

The Rebbe told me to send a fax to R’ Chaim Gutnick in Australia who wrote a letter to the Rebbe (the Rebbe showed me the letter) saying, “Rebbe, have pity on us and tell us clearly what to do.” The Rebbe said to send him the last sicha that he said that Shabbos (Tazria-Metzora) in which he mentioned the steps that need to be taken.

“I am surprised,” said the Rebbe, “why he is asking what to do when I said it clearly.”  [In the sicha which the Rebbe instructed to be sent to R’ Gutnik, the Rebbe explains that the “direct way” to bring about the revelation and coming of Moshiach is by learning the subjects of Moshiach and Geuloh in Torah, especially by learning the maamorim and Likkutei Sichos of the leader of the generation.]

Since we still haven’t merited the hisgalus of Moshiach, each of us needs to make a spiritual accounting: have I made enough set times for learning Torah? Am I mehader in mitzvos? How can I add in my Ahavas Yisroel and tz’daka? Do I learn inyonei Moshiach and Geula?

We are not being asked to climb ladders to shomayim — the Geuloh is in fact “korov aleicha” (close to us); if we will only push ourselves to fulfill the instructions that Moshiach has given us, then “suddenly the Master will come”!