Vayikra 5751: Miraculous Conduct

The sicha of Parshas Vayikra is the first sicha of the Dvar Malchus cycle (the sichos from Vayikra 5751 until Vayakhel 5752).  The focus of this sicha is a recurring theme in all the sichos from these 12 months: drawing the miraculous (which transcends nature) into the natural order of things.

The demonstration of this in our sicha is the special occurrence that occurs once in a few years: Rosh Chodesh Nissan comes out on Shabbos.  In such a year, three Sefer Torahs are removed from the Aron Kodesh to be read: the regular Sefer for the parsha, a second sefer for Rosh Chodesh, and a third sefer for the annual reading of  “Parshas Parah” prior to Pesach. The only other times 3 sefer Torahs are taken out are Simchas Torah (every year) and Shabbos Chanukah on Rosh Chodesh (not the case every year).

The 3 sefer Torahs of Simchas Torah are described by the Rebbe as “t’midin“, a regular offering in the consistent, fixed order of things.  The 3 sefer Torahs of Shabbos Rosh Chodesh Nissan in such a year as 5751, an infrequent occurrence, is in the category of “musafin“, something “additional” to the usual order of things. It is also implicit in the nature of the readings on those days: on Simchas Torah we read “Bereishis”, Hashem creating the world as it conducts itself according to nature; and, on Rosh Chodesh Nissan the first mitzva (counting the months) “החודש הזה לכם”, which the Rebbe refers to as the miraculous conduct of the world.  Not only that, but Nissan is called “the month of Redemption”, implying also a Redemption from conduct in accordance with nature, transcending those limitations and proceeding to miraculous conduct.

The Rebbe, as one might expect, emphasizes the unification of these two dimensions:

“the ‘miraculous conduct’ is drawn down and permeates (also) in the matters of the world in actual action… that the avoidah of actual deed in the matters of the world is not in the usual way, like natural conduct, but rather like miraculous conduct, above his nature and the manner to which he is accustomed.”

The Rebbe, before our very eyes, has shifted the meaning of “miraculous” onto us.  This year of 5751, “it will be a year that I will show wonders” (תהא שנת נפלאות אראנו), follows the “year of miracles”, 5750 (תהא שנת ניסים), in which there were the miracles of the Gulf War, the end of Communism, the breakup of the Soviet Union, and swords into plowshares — great wonders “out there” in the world. But here in this Sicha the Rebbe is letting us know that the real focus is our miraculous conduct in Torah and Mitzvos — going beyond our own nature, beyond that to which we are accustomed, that our performance of Mitzvos should be “miraculous” compared to our nature and regular conduct (comparable to 3 sefer Torahs of Shabbos Rosh Chodesh Nissan).  In the Rebbe’s words: “the addition and meaning in avoidah in a way of  ‘miraculous conduct’ in the avoidah of each and every Jew…until the perfection of the avoidah…” 

The Rebbe even provides us with a practical example: giving tzedaka in a way that transcends limitations:

… Even after he has given properly for holiday needs (צרכי החג) — he needs to make an accounting that reflects the additional blessing he will receive from Hashem in the meantime [as a result of the tzedaka he gave for holiday needs], and therefore his maaser and chomesh obligation [tithing 10% and 20%] has increased as well, and thus he needs to increase what he gives for holiday needs. And more than this: he can and must add in giving for holiday needs (beyond maaser and chomesh) even before he sees the results of the increased blessing. The more he will increase his giving for the needs of the holiday, likewise the blessing of Hashem will increase with abundant wealth

Based on what was explained previously, the miracle is not the “abundant wealth” one will receive, but rather the miraculous conduct of giving tzedaka beyond his accustomed manner (which is what draws down the abundant wealth). In other words: we are the miracle. (And if we are not, then we had better to get to work and become the miracle in our performance of Mitzvos!)

The Rebbe’s emphasis here is on doing things “not in the usual way…but rather…above his nature and the manner to which he is accustomed.” We can recognize how this is a fitting “opening statement” to the sichos of Dvar Malchus, in which the Rebbe introduces us to the concept of “living with Geuloh”, transcending the previous generations in this respect.  And even  more fitting when we contemplate that these sichos of Dvar Malchus are also a prelude to the events of Chof-Zayin Adar and Gimmel Tammuz, which brought about a dramatic “paradigm shift”: the centrality of “taking orders” becoming eclipsed by the necessity of “taking initiative” — a shift which demands going “above his nature and the manner to which he is accustomed.”

18 Nissan 5751: Tzivos Hashem

1. We are in the midst of the Pesach festival, “the Season of our Freedom,” i.e., a time when every single Jew experiences freedom. The exodus from Egypt (through which the Jews were granted their freedom) is not merely a historical event, something which happened to our ancestors, but rather an exodus and an experience of freedom which every Jew actually lives.

Thus, the Haggadah tells us, “In each and every generation, (and more particularly, every single day,) a person is obligated to see himself as if he left Egypt.” He, himself, together with his parents, grandparents, children, and grandchildren, leaves Egypt on this very night. Furthermore, the reliving of the exodus is not only confined to speech, but is expressed in deed, in the drinking of the four cups of wine and the eating of matzah.

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