Maamar 18 Nissan: Guarding the Intellectual Soul

What is easier: keeping a powerful beast like a cow or a bull locked up in it’s pen, or a bird? Which requires “additional guarding”?

Although a bird possesses nothing of the power that the bull has, it has an additional ability that even the most powerful beast lacks — the power of flight. Thus, fences are sufficient to keep a mighty bull locked up, but a tiny bird is not properly guarded unless the walls are capped by a roof.

In Halocho this expresses itself in the laws regarding courtyards — that a large courtyard that is not covered by a roof is considered a carmelis (by Rabbinic decree, even though according to Torah it is a private domain (reshus hayochid)), but if it is covered with a roof then it remains a private domain according to Rabbinic opinion as well.

The maamor printed for 18 Nissan, 5751 (anniversary of the Rebbe’s Bris Mila)  explains this in terms of our Divine service: the animal for which fences are sufficient is our animal soul; the bird that requires a roof is our Intellectual Soul (Nefesh Hasichlis).  The animal soul, while powerful, has four legs on the ground and looks down — it’s only attraction and interest is gashmiyus.  It is enough to build fences to pen it in.  But the Nefesh Hasichlis, while it is a human intellect which relates to worldly things, possesses an inclination to “fly away” to contemplate things which are of a higher nature. Thus it needs a roof as well.

What is this roof?

In our Divine service, the “roof” is the wonderment (הפלאה) we feel when contemplating and realizing that the lofty things we are studying (and through study, grasping) are in fact beyond our grasp because they are G-dliness. G-dliness is without bounds, but whatever we understand with our human intellect (the Nefesh Hasichlis) is limited, and thus or understanding is not the “real thing”.  Keeping this in mind puts a “roof” of self-nullification (bittul) on our intellectual efforts so they don’t get carried away with themselves and “fly off” from the realm of the Oneness of Hashem (reshus hayochid) and enter the realm of self-importance and pride (ישות וגאווה).

How does this relate to our Sichos of 5751-52?

The avodah of Chassidim since the revelation of Chasidus was primarily in the realm of emotional attributes (midos) — battling and striving to transform the animal soul. Learning Chassidus was a major component of this avodah, but the revelations of Chassidus kept to the boundaries of Torah and Mitzvos — Tikkun.

In the Sichos of 5751-52, when the Rebbe will demand “do all that you can to draw down the lights of Tohu (but in a way of vessels of Tikkun)”, the revelations cross the border from the Torah and Mitzvos of the time of golus (limited, but familiar to our human outlook and understanding) to the first stage of the Messianic era (ימות המשיח) and elevate us to a new (and unfamiliar) level of understanding and a new outlook.

The work of transforming the animal soul, the Rebbe informs us, is completed (and if we don’t see this, it is only because we haven’t made the proper effort to reveal it), and we begin the shift to transforming our consciousness, the realm of the Intellectual Soul.

So right from the beginning of this seismic shift in the pnimiyus of our avodah, the Rebbe published this maamar to give us a “heads up” that while keeping the behema (the animal soul) only required fences, the next step of “opening the eyes” of the Intellectual Soul requires a roof as well if we are to keep ourselves within the private realm, the “reshus hayochid“.

Internalizing concepts such as: we can now “fill our mouths with laughter”; we have reached the time for receiving the reward of our Divine service; Yidden and Hashem are really One thing; Mitzvos will be nullified in the future; the created “yesh” is in essence the true “Yesh” of Hashem’s essence; etc., require one to “cover” his intellectual efforts in these concepts with a “roof” of bittul so that his Intellectual Soul will not “fly away” and take these ideas to the wrong place.

(We could further say that through this discourse the Rebbe gave Chassidim the power to do this lechatchila, and to understand the Sichos in the proper way, consistent with Halacha — as we see is the case across Lubavitch!)

Sicha of 20 Menachem Av, 5751

1. Tonight is the night following the fourth day of Parshas Eikev. In accordance with the concept that each of the seven aliyos of the weekly Torah reading are associated with the seven days of the week, today is associated with the fourth aliyah.1 More particularly, since this is the conclusion of the fourth day of the week, the present time is associated with the conclusion of that reading.

Herein we see a connection to the present day, the yahrzeit of a tzaddik [Trans. Note: the Rebbe Shlita’s father, Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Schneerson] who sacrificed his life for the spreading of the Torah and its mitzvos who merited (for not all tzaddikim merit this) to be given the most extreme punishment in this world.

This Torah reading describes the uniqueness of the tribe of Levi. As theRambam writes, this uniqueness is not reserved only for those whose lineage is from that tribe but includes, “each and every person… who the openness of his heart dictates” to rise above the material concerns of this world and make “G‑dhis portion and his inheritance,”2 i.e., to dedicate himself to the study of the Torah and the performance of the mitzvos.

This approach was see through the life of my father. Although the Russian government at that time pressured other Rabbis to issue proclamations declaring their support for the government and their willingness to accept its authority, my father conducted himself as a Rav3 did in previous generations, “teaching Your law to Yaakov, and Your Torah to Yisrael.”4

Furthermore, he did this with mesirus nefesh, challenging the Russian government. In particular, this is reflected in his journey to the Russian capital to receive permission to bake matzos in a kosher manner.5 This journey was successful and they agreed to accept his rulings regarding the kashrus of these matzos. Although this caused financial loss to the government — and that was considered a very serious matter at that time — my father refused to authorize the use of any flour that was not supervised by his mashgichim, mashgichim who would not bend despite the pressure they were subjected to. The matzos which were baked under his supervision were then spread throughout Russia, the country in which most of the Jews of that generation resided.

The punishment which he suffered, exile, is considered equivalent to death and in some respects, more severe than death. Nevertheless, although he knew of the possibility of such punishment, he continued his efforts to spread Yiddishkeit, and furthermore, did so while in exile itself. Moreover, he was recognized for his wisdom by non-Jews, and when they asked him for advice, he also endeavored to influence them to fulfill their seven mitzvos. And to the extent possible at that time, he achieved this.

In this context, we can understand the relevance of verse from the Torah passage connected with the present day, “G‑d designated the tribe of Levi to stand before Him and serve Him… until this present day.” For the relevance of this verse in our contemporary situation, can only be understood within the context of the extended identity of the tribe of Levi as mentioned earlier in the name of the Rambam. For in the Diaspora, the uniqueness of the tribe of Levi is not expressed on the present day. It is expressed on the festivals when theLevites wash the hands of the Priests before they recite the Priestly Blessing. In the Diaspora, however, where most of the Jews are found and where the grave of the Previous Rebbe, the leader of our generation is located, the Priestly Blessing is recited only on festivals. So that it is only through the expanded meaning, that we can see the service of the Levites on “this present day.”

And this is the lesson we should derive: To involve ourselves in the service of spreading Yiddishkeit and the observance of the Torah and its mitzvos withmesirus nefesh. For it was with mesirus nefesh that the Levites served in the Sanctuary and then in the Beis HaMikdash. And so will they serve in the ThirdBeis HaMikdash.6

This was my father’s desire: To spread Yiddishkeit in his own community and throughout the entire Jewish people and to do so with mesirus nefesh. Thus seeing that his yahrzeit and the description of his efforts will motivate others — men, women, and children — to make a similar commitment, will surely bring him satisfaction.

Herein we also see a connection to the tribe of Levi, for in the census of the tribe of Levi were also included infants. From the time that it was clear that they would survive, the children of the tribe of Levi were included in the census.

This relates to Jewish education. A parent must educate his children from their earliest ages. He must be conscious of “the part of G‑d from Above” present within his children’s souls, and therefore dedicate himself to their education withmesirus nefesh. This includes making his children aware that their mission in the world is to be a living example of how one lives in preparation for the construction of the Third Beis HaMikdash, by performing certain activities — e.g., giving tzedakah — which will hasten the construction of that Beis HaMikdash. And by being a living example and speaking to other children with heartfelt words, they will influence them to emulate their conduct.

This process of education must begin “from the time it is clear that the child will survive,” and even before then. This is particularly relevant in the present generation, for in the very near future, we will proceed to greet Mashiach. This will be hastened by the distribution of money to be given to tzedakah, fortzedakah brings the redemption near.

FOOTNOTES
1. The significance of this aliyah is reflected in that there are three aliyos which precede it and three aliyos which follow it. Thus, it is the middle aliyah and relates to the middle vector whichKabbalah explains to be the most important vector. For this reason, we see that when two parshiyos are combined, it is the fourth aliyah which combines them, containing portions of both parshiyos. Herein is also a connection to the Future Redemption which will be the fourth redemption.
2. This verse continues “G‑d is my portion and my cup; You support my lot.” The concept of lots is associated with the service of mesirus nefesh and thus reflects a further connection to my father who displayed great mesirus nefesh in the face of the Russian persecution.
3. In this context, it is said “Who are our kings? Our Rabbis.” This is surely true in regard to a tzaddik, who was held in awe like an actual king.

4. Significantly, this blessing was given to the tribe of Levi. However, since at the conclusion of the blessings which Moshe gave, he included all the tribes together, the potential was granted for the blessings given one tribe to be shared with another.

The blessings which Moshe gave are also connected with the blessings given by Yaakov to his children in Egypt. And it was in Egypt that Yaakov expressed his true qualities, as reflected in the verse, “And Yaakov lived in the land of Egypt.” This was expressed in his self-sacrifice in ensuring that the Egyptians did not make a false deity of him. Although the nations of the world had accepted the belief in G‑d, the Egyptians were “more perverted than all the nations of the world” and would possibly commit such a transgression.For this reason, Yaakov took all the precautions necessary to make sure that the Egyptians did not make him a false deity, even if this meant troubling Pharaoh in regard to helping insure for his burial in Eretz Yisrael. Although Pharaoh was a king — and we are obligated to honor kings — Yaakov troubled him to help in this mission.

5. And the kashrus of the matzos influence a person to eat kosher food throughout the entire year.
6. This refers to the first period of the Era of the Redemption. In the second period of the Era of the Redemption, there are opinions that the service in the Beis HaMikdash will change and the firstborn will become Priests and the Priests will serve as Levites (as theAriZal comments on the phrase “the Priests, the Levites”). There is reason to support this opinion, for then all sins — including the sin of the Golden Calf, for which the service in the Sanctuary was taken from the firstborn — will have been rectified. At present, however, we are still a moment before the redemption, and thus well before this change takes place if in fact it does.
Translation: Sichos In English