Devarim 5751: One More Request for Moshiach

In the year 5751, Tisha B’Av fell out on Shabbos.  In such a year, the fast, together with all other aspects of mourning the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash, are pushed off until the 10th (Sunday).  But the positive aspects of Tisha B’Av remain, which include it being an “auspicious time” (like every fast day) and also the birth of Moshiach.  Therefore, on Shabbos Tisha B’Av we are eating a feast!  Halacha permits one to sit and enjoy a repast as rich as Shlomo Hamelech’s even to the last moment before shkia (sunset) [unlike regular years, when we eat a mourner’s meal before the fast].

This itself is a taste of the Messianic Age, when all the fast days will be transformed to days of rejoicing, and as such our Shabbos meals on Tisha B’Av assume a Moshiach-like dimension of the feast of the Levyoson and Shor Habar (the Leviathan and Wild Bull).  On a deeper level: every year we re-experience the churban, the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash, and the mourning, and then in the afternoon, at Mincha-time, comes the comforting–the birth of Moshiach.  This year we have the birth of Moshiach (who builds the 3rd Beis Hamikdash which will never be destroyed) without the churban!  This hints that b’pnimiyus the destruction of the 1st and 2nd Beis Hamikdash were really only for the sake of the building of the 3rd, eternal Beis Hamikdash.

All of this was in fact present at the time of the churban, but it was concealed.  The inner positive aspects of Tisha B’Av, the birth of Moshiach, does not become revealed until the 15th of Av, which is when the moon is full, the moon being the aspect of Dovid Malka Mashicha. (This also hints at the Jewish people, when they reach full potential to receive the light (as the moon receives and reflects from the sun), reveal that Moshiach was actually born on Tisha B’Av.

The three weeks leading up to Tisha B’Av hint at the “three moichin” (3 aspects of Supernal Intellect) which themselves correspond to the lands of the three nations–Keni, Kenizi, Kadmoni–which were promised to Avraham Avinu (along with the land of 7 nations conquered by Yehoshua).  The Torah forbids us to have anything to do with these lands during the time of until Moshiach comes, but the fact that part of these lands were conquered by other nations (Sichon and Og) and then conquered and settled by the tribes of Gad, Reuven, and Menashe, is itself a hint that these three dimensions of the Supernal Intellect come together with the land of 7 nations, which refers to the seven midos.

Sefer Devarim is Moshe Rabbeinu addressing the Jewish nation before they will enter the land of Israel.  Moshe knew that Hashem had decreed upon him not to enter the land, but still he did not cease to beseech Hashem in prayer asking Him to allow him to enter the land, reaching 515 prayers (the numerical value of “Va’eschanon”, the parsha we read at Mincha).

From here there is also something for all generations to learn from…that without looking at all the prayers and requests that were until now, we need again and again to daven and request from the Eybershter “Ad Mosai”–“until when”.

…and as was said,  immediately mamash, today mamash, since all the matters have been completed, and the Beis Hamikdash stands ready Above, and similarly all the matters–“everything is ready for the feast”, everything is ready as if in a closed chest and they have given the chest and its key to every single Jew.  The only thing that we are waiting for — that a Jew will shout another shout, with another request and demand and another reminder: “Ad Mosai“?!…

Parshas Nitzavim, 5751: The Intrinsic Connection

The Rebbe brings out from a year where Rosh Hashana falls out on Monday and Tuesday an emphasis on the special value of the avodah of Yidden.  The world was created perfect, but it was a limited level of perfection, and it is only through the avodah of Yidden — an infinite neshoma enclothed in a limited physical body — that the world can transcend itself and achieve a higher level of perfection.  This is the idea, discussed in other sichos, of 10 and 11, where 10 is perfection and 11 transcends that original perfection.

The Rebbe also returns to the concept mentioned in last weeks sicha, that a Jew’s connection to Hashem is intrinsic and not dependent on his performance of Torah and Mitzvos.  Torah and Mitzvos simply serve to reveal  his intrinsic connection.  The Rebbe says that by emphasizing a Jew’s essential connection to Hashem this serves to in turn bring out a greater commitment to Torah and Mitzvos–because in truth a Jew really only does Torah and Mitzvos because this is an expression of his true nature.  In other words, we remove all aspects of fear of punishment and we find that he will do mitzvos even more enthusiastically!

And, as the Alter Rebbe said, that Moshiach’s arrival would be publicized in the newspapers, the Rebbe states:

May the Redemption come immediately, indeed, may it be that it has already come. For the newspapers have already written about Moshiach’s coming — may they continue to write more and may these articles be in the past tense for Moshiach’s coming will already be a reality.

[Ki] Savo 5751: Yisroel, “First Fruits” of the World

The midrash says that there are two “firsts”, Yisroel and the Torah, and we don’t know which came first.  Until we see that in the Torah it states “command bnei Yisroel”, “say to Bnei Yisroel” , now we know that Yisroel came first.  This is the concept of Bikkurim.

The Torah commands us that upon entering and settling Eretz Yisroel, we are to offer Bikkurim, the “first fruits” of the 7 species of which Eretz Yisroel is praised.  These first fruits, the initial blossoming of the seven species, are brought to the Beis Hamikdash in Yerushalayim, placed in a basket, presented to the Cohen and given to Hashem.

It turns out, then, that these first fruits achieve the highest purpose that is attainable — to be offered to Hashem in the Beis Hamikdash.  The purpose of having fruits in the world, of the world itself, is represented by the these fruits being offered to Hashem.  Eating them, enjoying them — all this is secondary.  That a Yid gives of his finest to Hashem — this is the real purpose.

The Yidden, the Torah tells us, are the Bikkurim of the world.  They are the purpose and ultimate reason for the world’s existence.  Not only did Hashem consult with the souls of the Yidden before creating the world, but the world was (and is) created for the Yidden.  The world is created by Hashem through the Torah, but for the sake of the Yidden.  The connection of Yidden to Hashem is direct, with actually no need for the Torah at all (because the Yid is also one with the Torah).  Then why is the Torah so critical?

The role of the Torah is that through keeping the Torah a Jew reveals that he is connected with Hashem in his very essence.  The Torah does not exist without Yidden to keep it, but a Yid exists even before he encounters the Torah.  And even if he is not keeping the Torah, chas v’sholom, he is still connected in his very essence with Hashem Himself.

The Rebbe elaborates at length in this sicha on the importance of each and every Yid, that a Jew’s true reality is that he is one with the Holy One, blessed be He, which is concealed until it is revealed by his becoming Bikkurim.  And the Torah says that the Bikkurim need to be in a container — this is the body which contains the neshoma.  One who has sufficient finacial means brings a container made of precious materials.  But one who does not have the means brings a simple container and this simple container is kept by the Cohen.  This shows that even the lowly material of which his container is made is elevated to be “before Hashem”.

The container [טנא] hints at the letters of Torah (טעמים, נקודות, אותיות), meaning that the neshoma’s “container” — the body — is really the letters of Torah which become the thought, speech and action of a Jew.  Even if this relates to “lowly things” (he only understands Torah in a physical way), this body is still a container for his Bikkurim and is elevated to be “before Hashem”.  Thus, every thought, every word of speech, and every action of a Yid is important and is in fact the very purpose of the existence of the world!  As regards this importance, the Rebbe says:

The preciousness of every Jew before the Holy One, blessed be He is unconditional, he does not need to be a Torah scholar, one who learns Torah or one who fulfills the Mitzvos or the like, but rather “anyone who wants [can approach the King when he is in the field (Elul)]” is able to greet the King, who “greets everyone with a pleasant countenance”.

This closeness to Hashem should cause one, especially in Elul, to take an accounting of his thought, speech, and action, because:

…even one thought, speech, or action which seems of little importance compared to the rest of his thoughts, speech, or actions–but even this thought, speech, or action is a part of his Bikkurim which are brought to the Beis Hamikdash, before Hashem your G-d — and the Cohen who will be in those days  is careful with his every movement — certainly [the Jew] will make every effort that even the smallest things, every detail of his conduct, will be done with the complete attention and carefulness.

In conjunction with this: being that we are in essence one with Hashem, when we have an awakening from below, we cause an awakening from Above–and in this way we are able to bring the Geulah!  In the Rebbe’s words:

Since a Jew is “one” with the Holy One, blessed be He…he has no private will, but rather in the words of the Mishnah (Pirkei Avos) — “make your will like His will in order that He will make His will like your will” — the will of the Holy One, blessed be He is the will of a Yid and the will of a Yid is the will of the Holy One, blessed be He.  Thus, it is in the power of every Jew to (influence the Holy One, blessed be He and to) nullify the golus and to bring the Geulah immediately!

If we want Hashem to bring an end to this Golus, who brings it about? Yidden, since we are one with Him!  And if we will have a true will to end Golus רצון אמיתי — then at that same moment Hashem will automatically bring an end to the Golus!

 

Ki Seitze: Adding “the” Mitzvah

The statement of the Rambam is well-known: every individual should consider that the fate of the world is in his hands. By performing a single mitzvah, one person can tilt the scales of judgement and bring salvation to the entire world.

In the Sicha of Ki Seitze 5751, the Rebbe describes how the reward for Mitzvos is, metaphorically, locked in a chest. This chest is in the possession of all Jews.*

Screenshot_2018-08-22-15-46-09-1-2

“Not only that, but he has the ability and the permission to open the chest (and to reveal the reward) any time he wants — by adding “one mitzvah” more, that through this [mitzvah] ‘he will tilt the scales…'”

Those who learn the Sichos are already familiar with this Rambam (the Rebbe showed an enthusiasm for this Rambam over the years). But, in general, the Rebbe adds a new dimension in his use of sources, and especially regarding the Sichos of Nun-Alef/Nun-Beis we should be on the lookout for new dimensions of understanding.

We offer the following insight:

The Rebbe here separates the words “one mitzvah” מצוה אחת from the rest of the quote from the Rambam, and the Rebbe adds the words “by adding one more mitzvah” (עי”ז שמוסיף עוד מצוה אחת).

To say “adding one more mitzvah” (עי”ז שמוסיף עוד מצוה אחת) implies something quite different than the Rambam’s wording of “performing one mitzvah” (עשה מצוה אחת).  Adding one more (עוד) implies a mitzvah that was not already fulfilled, that there is “one more mitzvah” that we can “add” which will bring the revelations of the true and complete Geulah.

In truth, there are many Mitzvos we haven’t fulfilled in actuality, since we lack the ability to bring korbonos. But there is one mitzvah that has not been fulfilled — and is possible to fulfill today — and it is a mitzvah fulfilled by the Jewish people as a whole.*

This is the mitzvah mentioned in last week’s parsha, Parshas Shoftim: the mitzvah to appoint a King שום תשים עליך מלך. Although it was fulfilled in earlier generations, our generation has not properly fulfilled it. More than that, the shleimos of this mitzvah was not reached through the appointing of Shaul Hamelech or Dovid Hamelech; rather its shleimos is the appointing of Melech haMoshiach — which is the responsibility of our generation, specifically!

This interpretation fits perfectly with what the Rebbe says here: because the opening of the “chest” that contains the reward of our Mitzvos (the revelation of Ohr Ein Sof in the world, as explained in the Sicha) is related to Yemos haMoshiach, and it is self-understood that in order for it to be Yemos haMoshiach there must be a Moshiach, whom the Jewish nation has a mitzvah to appoint over themselves, accepting his kingship.

So look at this portion of the Sicha again, and see how the Rebbe is saying that the “one mitzvah” which we can add, which will bring the lofty revelations we are longing for, is the mitzvah of appointing a King מינוי מלך!

Of course, this is a Mitzvah that falls on the shoulders of the entire Jewish nation as a whole, so it’s not enough that you and I and the bochurim in 770 accept the Rebbe as King, Melech haMoshiach, but requires the acceptance of his kingship by the Jewish nation. This is, lechoira, also the meaning of the Rebbe’s words in Noach 5752: the Geulah doesn’t depend on anything besides Moshiach himself.

אין הדבר תלוי אלא במשיח צדקינו עצמו

All that remains is to appoint the King!


*) It is possible, though not necessary, to say that the Rebbe means here the collective body2018-08-22 20.33.38 of all Yidden rather than each individual: “The reward that until now is “closed in a chest” is already found in the possession of the “worker” (each and every Jew).”

Ki Seitze, 5751: Tasting the Reward Now

Two parshas are read this Shabbos: Ki Seitze (“when you go out to war on your enemy”) in the morning, and in the afternoon the first section of “Ki Savo” (“when you will enter the land to inherit it and to settle it…”).  Thus, on one single Shabbos, we have two seemingly opposite lessons from the Torah: going to war against an enemy (the avodah of golus), and settling the land (the reward of the Messianic Era).

Since everything is guided by Divine Providence, we have to learn from this combination: that we can be a situation of doing the avodah of making a war on the enemy in the time of golus and yet at the same time be in a completely “settled” state, which is the reward for this avodah.

How can we accomplish this?

Through the knowledge that in essence a Jew is completely above the existence of any opposition — Hashem “consulted” with the souls of the Jewish people before creating the world, showing that we are in fact one with Hashem and above the world.  If so, then why would we agree to the creation of a world that contains “enemies” whom we will have to overcome in war? Because Hashem did not want to give us “bread of shame” (unearned reward), and therefore He created a world for us to earn the reward.  And our neshomos agreed.  In order to realize Hashem’s desire for a dwelling place in the lower realms, there must be lower realms where there is the possibility of war.  But the truth of the matter is: a Jew in his source, and even as he is enclothed in a physical body in this world — remains higher than the concept of any opposition.

When a Jew is aware that this is the true reality, then even his “going out to war against the enemy” is infused with the aspect of “settling the land”.  “Settling the land” implies Eretz Yisroel, a land which “desired (רצתה) to do perform the will of her Creator” — where there is no longer a “war” to fulfill Torah and Mitzvos, but rather one overcomes his evil inclination with ease.

The Rebbe adds that:

“the main thing –that the avodah is amidst ease and comfort in the simple sense, ease of the soul and ease of the body, which is achieved through the Holy One, blessed be He, giving to every single Jew all that he needs materially and spiritually, and with abundance.”

This includes all that a Jew needs in order to do the avodah itself, and after that as a reward for the avodah that he performs.  And this material (and spiritual) reward is a sampling of the physical reward that will be in the Messianic Era.  Not only that, but the Rebbe makes a revolutionary statement, that the verse “then their mouths will be filled with laughter” (explained by Chazal and Chassidic discourses as referring to the Time to Come) is applicable now!  “Then” is “now” in the present tense.  The rewards of the Time to Come, the Messianic Age, are available to us now.  Although they are “locked in a box”, every Jew can open the box whenever he wants.  How?  By performing one more mitzvah.  As the saying goes “the future is now” — but by the Rebbe this is not merely a slogan, it is the reality!

All this receives greater emphasis since the year the sicha was said was 5751 (תנש”א), the letters of which spell out the command “you will be exalted”, referring to Moshiach.  This is “both as regards the revelation and coming of Moshiach” (the distinction between these to concepts will be explained separately, G-d willing) “and as regards the wedding of Knesses Yisroel and the Holy One, blessed be He in the Messianic Era, and in the words of the [midrash] Yalkut Shimoni: ‘the year Melech HaMoshiach is revealed in him…he stands on the roof of the Beis Hamikdash …and says humble ones, the time of your redemption has arrived’.”  The Rebbe adds in the footnote the continuation of this Midrash: “And if you don’t believe, see via my light…at the same time the Holy One, blessed be He, shines the light of Melech Hamoshiach and of Yisroel and they all go to the light of Melech Hamoshiach and of Yisroel, and they [the nations of the world] come and lick the dust from beneath the feet of Melech Hamoshiach…”

We will make a divergence from the main body of the sicha in order to understand this.  It is important to note what the Midrash is telling us: that there will come a time following the initial revelation of Moshiach (“Moshiach is revealed in him” means the revelation of the soul of Moshiach in the one who has been anointed by Hashem to be Moshiach, explained in our post on Parshas Naso) when nonetheless the Jewish people will not be prepared to believe him when he says that indeed the time of their redemption has arrived.  How do they get out of their own lack of confidence in themselves and in the words of Moshiach?  The Midrash says “see via my light” (ראו באורי שזרח עליכם), that through Moshiach’s light, meaning wisdom — the Torah that Moshiach teaches — they will be able to see the reality that Moshiach is describing to them.

Through our effort to learn and understand the Torah that Moshiach is revealing to us, we will merit to see the reality that he is describing to us: the reality that “the time of your redemption has arrived”!

Shoftim 5751: Prophecy Before the Geuloh

The sicha of this week, parshas Shoftim, is unquestionably one of the most significant talks the Rebbe ever gave.

The Rebbe opens the sicha by reiterating that since we have already finished all the work that was required of us in the time exile, and we are “all standing ready” to greet Moshiach, we are now already holding at the time of the fulfillment of the prophetic promise “I will return your judges…and your advisers”.

Explaining the difference between them: a judge is higher than the one whom he is judging, and has no need to explain his rulings.  He issues a ruling at it must be obeyed.  (And if there is resistance to fulfilling the ruling of the judge, there are police forces to execute his judgments).  An adviser is on the same level as the one he is advising, and his role is to explain the judge’s ruling in a way that makes sense to the person, so that he can see how it is in his own best interest to fulfill the rulings of the judge, which brings about that he will fulfill them eagerly and willingly, with no need for police enforcement.  (In the terminology of Chassidus: one obeys the judge out of bittul and kabbalas ‘ol, in a manner of makif; whereas the adviser enables the person to obey the judge with his own understanding, so that it comes into pnimiyus.)

Since the combination of judges and advisers is part of the prophecy of the Messianic era (as opposed to judges and police, as in the time of exile), we have to start preparing ourselves now by living in this manner already.  This makes us into a vessel to receive these revelations, and also speeds them up.

These two dimensions are also reflected in the difference between Torah and Prophecy (Nevuah): Torah is a decree from Above to below, the fulfillment of which does not depend on its reasoning being understood (for it is really Hashem’s reasoning, which truthfully we cannot understand).  Prophecy, however, is enclothed in the thought and intellect of the prophet, which means that it is truly unified with human intellect.  The Rambam writes that prophecy will return to the Jewish people before the Geuloh as a preparation for Moshiach.  The Rebbe notes that even the absence of prophecy in the intermediate time is referred to by a term (“nistalka ruach hakodesh miYisroel“) which implies and lack of the ability to receive it, but does not mean that prophecy was nullified.  Thus, the Rambam writes about prophecy in his code of Jewish law which is applicable to all times and all places, because in truth prophecy is essentially applicable to all times and all places.

Then the Rebbe makes a dramatic statement:

“Every prophet is a continuation of the prophecy and Torah of Moshe Rabbeinu…and in our generation [this is] the Nosi of our generation, my father-in-law the Rebbe…that through our Rebbeim ‘prophecy will return to Yisroel’, they themselves are the prophets of our generation.”

Also, through the tasting of pnimiyus Hatorah now, the Jewish people and the whole world become a vessel (in an inner way) for the inner revelation of Torah that will come afterwards by Moshiach Tzidkienu.  And in our generation the spreading of the wellsprings outward [which is what brings Moshiach, as the Baal Shem Tov writes in his famous letter] to all corners of the world has been fulfilled in its entirety.

The Rebbe then makes another dramatic statement, this time a clear directive for all of us:

“There needs to be an avodah that matches the state of Geuloh: to publicize to himself and to all those whom he can reach–that they need to accept upon themselves, and to take upon themselves (more strongly) the directives and advice of “your judges” and “your advisers” who are in our generation — “our Rabbis are our kings” in general, and in particular the Nosi of our generation — who comes in continuation to the Rebbeim who preceded him — the judge of our generation and the adviser of our generation and the prophet of our generation,

“And the Torah commands us to believe in him and to obey him, not only because he can give signs of predicting the future, but because of the Mitzvah that Moshe commanded us in the Torah… And more than this: A prophet upon whom another prophet testifies that he is a prophet — as this regards the Nosi of our generation, and is continued in the generation that follows him through his students, etc. — we assume he is a prophet and do not need to examine him…and the Torah forbids us to doubt him or to ponder if his prophecy might not be true…

“And there is a directive in all of the above, that it must be publicized to all the people of the generation, that we have merited that the Holy One, blessed be He, selected and appointed an individual with free will, that he himself is immeasurably higher than the people of the generation, that he will be ‘your judges’ and ‘your advisers’ and the prophet of the generation, who will give guidance and advice regarding the service of the entire Jewish people and all the people of this generation, in all matters of Torah and Mitzvos, and as regards general daily life…until — the main prophecy — the prophecy* of ‘immediately to tshuva, immediately to Geuloh’, and immediately ‘behold, this one (Moshiach) comes’.”

If these words were not sufficiently awe-inspiring and shocking, the Rebbe adds in the footnote that the “prophecy of ‘immediately to tshuva, immediately to Geuloh’ is not only as a sage and judge but rather as a prophet, for this is with absolute certainty–see the short discourses of the Alter Rebbe, page 355-6.”  In that short discourse, the Alter Rebbe explains that the things which a sage can grasp are very lofty, but they are so lofty in the spiritual realms that it is not certain if (or when) they will descend and take shape in our physical world.  On the other hand, the vision of a prophet is of things that are already in this physical world and therefore the words of a prophet are certain, because he sees that they are already here.

Thus, we see: the Rebbe (as a continuation of the Previous Rebbe, and all the previous Rebbeim back to the Baal Shem Tov) is a prophet; his statements about us being in the final moments of golus, on the cusp of the Geuloh, are a prophecy — which means that they have already taken shape in this physical world. Not only will they take place in the future, but in truth they are already here and unfolding!  And we are directed to publicize this to all the people of the generation.

May we merit to fulfill the Rebbe’s will.

Re’eh 5751: Publicize Geuloh in Every Place

The name “Elul”, the month which begins on Shabbos Parshas Re’eh this year (as it did in 5751 when this sicha was spoken), famously stands for “Ani L‘dodi V‘dodi Li”, “I am for my Beloved, and my Beloved is for me”.  The first part of this verse, “I am for my Beloved”, refers to the avodah from below to Above, the second part (“and my Beloved is for me”) reflects the awakening from Above which follows.  In other words, in Elul we serve Hashem from our own power (taking a spiritual accounting, repenting for what is lacking, and making spiritual improvements) and this generates the Awakening from Above which are the lofty revelations of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

The Shelah writes that there is a connection between every parsha and the days when it comes out, meaning in our case a connection between parshas Re’eh and the month of Elul.  But whereas the emphasis in Elul is the avodah from below to Above, the very first verse of our parsha is the opposite: “See I am giving you today blessing”, from Above to below.  These are completely opposite?!  The Rebbe explains this seeming contradiction by first pointing out that although Elul is a month of avodah from below, but the initial letters of Elul include both aspects–below to Above (“I am for my Beloved”) and Above to below (“my Beloved is for me”).  More than that, the avodah of Elul itself includes both.  It is explained in Chassidus that in the month of Elul “the King is in the field”, meaning that there is a lofty–but hidden–revelation from Above which gives the potential to each and every Jew to bring himself, through his own effort from below, to be suitable to enter the King’s royal chambers on Rosh Hashanah.  Thus, the avodah of Elul is inclusive of both inyonim.

The Rebbe notes that:

The avodah of the person from below to Above (“I am for my Beloved”) is (not on a lower level, as implied by it coming from “below”, which is limited by the limitations and state of the person, but rather it is actually) a higher level (“Above”) which is above all limitation.  This is because as regards the true inner state of the Jew, the neshoma of the Jew, which is “truly a piece of G-dliness Above”, the level of Yechida, is in fact in a perfect state of unity with the Holy One, blessed be He.

All he needs to do is to reveal his true reality, that he is one with the Holy One, blessed be He.  This is accomplished by serving Hashem in a way which transcends limitation, avodah which comes from the essence of his existence, which is that he is one with the Holy One, blessed be He.  And because this is the essence of the existence of every Jew, it is relevant even at the beginning of his avodah.

Having said all that, the Rebbe proceeds to give “standing orders”:

It is incumbent to publicize and awaken in every place the avodah of Elul and, with particular emphasis, the inyan of Geuloh, which in fact permeates all of this avodah.  All must be permeated and done with the spirit of the Geuloh (including, and especially, through learning Torah on the subjects of Geuloh and the Beis haMikdash), amidst anticipation and complete certainty that immediately we are seeing with fleshly eyes that “Behold, this one (Melech Hamoshiach) comes”.

Simply put: to proclaim and to publicize in every place — with words that come from the heart — that the Holy One, blessed be He says (through his servants the Prophets) to every single Jew “See, I am giving before you today blessing”, until that literally today mamash we see with fleshly eyes the blessing of the true and complete Geuloh.

[And we should add and emphasize that this declaring and publicizing of the above must be also via those who claim that they still didn’t completely “get it”, meaning completely grasping and understanding in a conscious manner.  Since they also are complete in their belief, they are able (and thus, they must) publicize these things to others, beginning with their families (for surely they need not “suffer” from the fact that this matter is still not sitting well with him intellectually), and also all those who are found around him, every single Jew, and certainly through the proper effort the words will be accepted and will bring about the desired effect, including also in the one who is proclaiming and publicizing, that by him it will be internalized properly, etc.].

I have to proclaim and publicize even if I’m not completely with it?  Yes, even one who is not completely with it.

Perhaps if all of us took these words of the Rebbe seriously and acted on them properly, we would already see it with fleshly eyes.  It’s still not too late — “Today, if you will heed his voice“.

Yechi Adoneinu Moreinu v’Rabbeinu, Melech Hamoshiach, l’olam vo’ed!

12) Kuntres Chof Menachem Av: How to Add the “Alef”

The Rebbe mentions numerous times in these talks that everything that is necessary for the Geuloh is already here, we simply need to add the letter “alef” to the word gola (which means exile), thereby transforming it to Geuloh.  But what exactly does it mean to add an “alef” to the exile that we are in?

There are many levels to answering this question, the most basic of which is that it means revealing Hashem (the ruler of the world, “alufo shel olam“) in the world through Torah and Mitzvos.  Additionally, it means recognizing Hashem’s Divine Providence that is behind everything, even those things which appear to us as the opposite of good.

We find an even deeper and more comprehensive explanation in the Chassidic Discourse that was edited by the Rebbe and published in 1991 in honor of the Hillula (anniversary of the passing) of the Rebbe’s father, Levi Yitzchak Schneersohn.

The discourse discusses the source for the statement of our sages that a Jew must make 100 blessings every day.  The sages find scriptural support for this in a verse from parshas Ekev: “Now, Yisroel, what (“mah”) does Hashem your G-d want from you” (Devarim 10:12).  The sages say “don’t read mah (“what”) rather me’ah (“one hundred’)”.  This familiar technique of the sages doesn’t change the original meaning, of course, but adds another level.  In this case, they are adding the letter “alef” to the “mah” (which means “what”) and the result is the one hundred blessings (“me’ah”) that a Jew must say.

In chapter 3 of the discourse, the Rebbe explains the deeper significance of inserting an “alef”, which is surely applicable as well to the Rebbe’s instruction to add an “alef” to exile to transform gola into Geuloh.  To briefly summarize the Rebbe’s words:

“Mah symbolizes Malchus, which is the level where G-dly revelation can be internalized (in Chassidic terminology, the level of memaleh kol almin and the soul levels of Nefesh, Ruach, Neshoma).  In the  avodah of a Yid, this is the avodah of “you shall love Hashem your G-d with all of your heart” (b’chol levovecha) which derives from the external dimension of the soul’s intellect (chitzoniyus ha’seichel).  As implied by the term “all of your heart” it generates a feeling of love in the emotional attributes of the heart’s emotional attributes, but only there.

“Me’ah” is the level of Arich, a level that transcends us and can only be revealed in a transcendent, encompassing manner (sovev kol almin and the transcendent soul level of Chaya).  In our avodah this is the love “with all of your soul” (b’chol nafshecha) which derives from the internal dimension of the soul’s intellect (pnimiyus ha’seichel).  This love is felt in the intellect, and then automatically spreads out to affect all the soul’s powers and limbs.

How do we go from one level to the next, from “with all of your heart” (limited to the heart) to “with all of your soul” (which spreads to all the powers of the soul)?  It is through the avoda of “all of your might” (b’chol me’odecha), which reaches the “alef“, the supernal level of Atik which completely transcends the world (higher than both memaleh kol almin and sovev kol almin, the soul level of Yechida).  In avodah this is mesirus nefesh, to give one’s soul (either literally, or, in the way applicable in our generation: giving away one’s personal desires, mesirus haratzon, in order to fulfill the will of Hashem).  Because it transcends the other two levels, it is able to unite them and to draw down (the meaning of brocha, a blessing) the level of “me’ah” into the level of “mah“, that they should both be revealed in the person.

Clearly, this is understandable as regards the “alef” which we must insert into gola in order to make Geuloh: to awaken the level of Yechida, through serving Hashem “with all of your might”, having true mesirus nefesh to fulfill Hashem’s will, especially as it is revealed through “your servants, the prophets” and most especially the Novi of our generation.  This puts in the Alef and results in Geuloh!  Let’s not be lazy about this, because we have to bring Moshiach now!

Eikev 5751: To Awaken Hashem to Bring the Geuloh

This Shabbos blesses the upcoming month of Elul.  Elul is an acronym (rashei teivos) for “Ani leDodi v’Dodi Li“, which means “I am for my beloved, and my beloved is for me”.  First comes “I am for my beloved”, the effort that comes from below (from us towards Hashem), using our own powers (avodah b’koach atzmo).

This is related to the fundamental concept of creation: Hashem wants to give us the opportunity to earn our reward, to avoid the embarrassment of receiving “bread of shame” (nahma d’kisufa).  This requires not only that we do what we are supposed to do, but that we do it in a way of yegia, exertion, using our own powers.  And more than that, to go beyond what we are accustomed to do and serve Hashem with exceptional effort.  Through this (the effort of “Ani leDodi“) we cause the response: “v’Dodi li“, an awakening from Above and a drawing down from Above to below.

Not only is this a fundamental aspect of our task in life, it also applies even when a Yid has arrived at the end of his avodah (represented by Elul, the last of the months of the year).  Because in Elul we have both the “below to Above” and the resulting “Above to below”, and it is specifically when the Jew does the avodah from his own powers that it draws down from Above in a way that it is internalized (b’pnimiyus).  This is also hinted at in the final letter of the alef-beis, the letter Tav, which has a numerical value of 400 which alludes to the “400 shekel kesef” with which Avraham Avinu purchased the cave of Machpela to bury his wife Sara.  These 400 shekel represent, according to Chassidus, a powerful longing (“kesef”, silver, related to “kisufim”, longing) for Divine revelation.

Although the emphasis here is on our avodah from below, which is the avodah of the body, we really must have as well the avodah from Above which is the avodah of the neshoma.  The difference between them is that the avodah from below takes place in a measured way, an orderly progression from level to level.  In fact, even the revelation of the neshoma from Above must be according to the limitations of the body.  We cannot “overload the circuit” in our intense desire to reveal the neshoma, but rather the revelation of the neshoma occurs in accordance with the body’s ability to contain it.

Having said all that, the Rebbe proceeds to state that all which we have needed to do has been done.

The only thing which remains is – that the Holy One, blessed be He, will take out Bnei Yisroel from the golus and bring them to the Holy Land… and therefore Yidden request and shout again and again – and now even more powerfully than before – “Ad Mosai”?!  How much longer?!

The ultimate goal being the true and complete Geuloh (from Above to below) which will arrive at a unification of both aspects, that the lowest thing – golus – will become Geuloh – “gola” with the addition of an “alef”.  Even though the ultimate level comes from Above, and is dependent on Hashem, nonetheless the Geuloh is in our hands:

A Yid has the power to awaken himself, and to awaken other Yidden, and mainly to awaken, so to speak, the Holy One, blessed be He….  A Yid receives (in this place [770] and in this time [the Rebbe’s farbrengen]) the greatest potential, and thus he has both the greatest merit and obligation to request and to shout to the Almighty: Ad Mosai”?!  How much longer?!…Since we have already finished all the matters of “our deeds and our work”, and consequently we are shouting and demanding  “Ad Mosai”.  Immediately the question is asked: since all the matters have already been accomplished – how could it be that Moshiach still didn’t come?!…

The Rebbe proceeds to answer his own question by saying that since Moshiach still hasn’t come, then there might be one more thing that needs to be done, possibly in the area of spreading Chassidus, since Moshiach told the Baal Shem Tov that he will come when the wellsprings of the Baal Shem Tov spread forth.  Perhaps there is one more thing left to do, to reach those who are blind.  And this has been accomplished by the publication of the Tanya in Braille.  So since we did the last thing, Moshiach must come immediately.

Here we see clearly the Rebbe’s approach:  asserting that everything has been completed; but, even so, if Moshiach still hasn’t been revealed it  have means that we must try one more thing and maybe this will arouse Hashem to bring the Geuloh.  And surely this final thing will bring Moshiach, for if not — Ad Mosai”?!  How much longer?!

Shabbos Nachamu, 5751: Why Golus is So Long

The name of this first Shabbos after the fast of Tisha b’Av is called “Shabbos Nachamu”, named after the haftora in which we read the words “Nachamu, nachamu ami” (“nachmu” meaning “be comforted”).  It is the comforting that follows the  mourning period over the destruction of the first and second Beis Hamikdash.  The true comfort,  says the Rebbe, is the rebuilding of the Third, eternal, Beis Hamikdash.

The reason the haftora says “nachamu” twice is to emphasize that this comforting, meaning the Geulah, is coming in two directions: from Above to below and from below to Above, each of which corresponds to the destruction of one of the Beis HaMikdash.  The first Beis Hamikdash was characterized by great, miraculous revelations from Above, but it was not eternal because these great revelations were not internalized in the world; the second Beis Hamikdash showed the emphasis on the effort from below, and thus it stood longer, but lacking the lofty miracles and G-dly revelation of the first, it, too, was unable to endure.  The third Beis Hamikdash is eternal because it fuses both of these directions into one.  Not only both of them, but a unification of the two into one reality.

An example of this, the Rebbe writes, is the unification of the “new Torah that will come forth from Me” (תורה חדשה מאתי תיצא), the Torah of Moshiach, the highest (unlimited) level of Hashem’s Torah, will be completely integrated with and grasped by human understanding, to the point that the two aspects will be unified.  Unlike today, when our sages say that Hashem says the Torah and when we learn we are repeating after Him, or, conversely “anyone who reads and reviews [Torah], the Holy One reads and reviews after him”, in the future they will be as one.

The Geulah is a revelation of the unlimited, and thus it will occur an in instant.  But that is the revelation from Above.  The other side of the coin, the integration into the world, takes time, just as entering Eretz Yisroel under the leadership of Yehoshua took 14 years to conquer, divide, and settle.  The world must be refined in order to make it into Eretz Yisroel (see the sicha of Parshas Pinchas), and this refinement takes place in golus and thus golus takes a long time.  However,  when the refinement and the golus are finished, and the world integrates the lofty revelations of the Geulah, then the Geulah comes instantly: we enter Eretz Yisroel in its most perfect form, consisting of the land of Ten Nations (for more on this, see Kuntres Between Golus to Geulah) in a complete and instantaneous way, as we see in Parshas Ki Savo that there is no break between “When you will come into the land” and (immediately) “and you will inherit and settle it”, until even the bringing of Bikkurim (first fruits) is immediate, since there will be the fulfillment of the Prophetic promise that “the plowman shall meet the reaper and the treader of the grapes, etc.” (Amos 9:13)

All of this is the idea of the instantaneous revelation of that which is already complete, including the work “from below to above”.  The Rebbe offers an example from the Fifteenth of Av, which was Erev Shabbos in the year the Sicha was said (and also this year, 5778): the Gemara says that there were never such Festivals for the Jewish people as the Fifteenth of Av and Yom Hakippurim.  What happened on the 15th of Av?

It is explained that as a result of the sin of the Meraglim (on Tisha B’Av) and the refusal of the Jewish People to enter the Land of Israel, Hashem decreed that all those between the ages of 20-60 would die in the desert over the course of 40 years.  Each year on Tisha B’Av those who reached the age of 60 would dig graves for themselves, lay down in the graves, and pass away overnight.  In the 40th year the youngest of those who were included in the decree (having reached age 60) did the same.  However, Hashem had nullified the decree, so in the morning they awoke and found themselves alive.Not realizing they had been redeemed, they concluded that they had erred in the date, that it wasn’t yet Tisha B’Av, so the next night they also lay down in their graves, only to wake up the following morning, also.  This repeated itself night after night until the night of the 15th when the moon is full and they realized that they did not make a mistake with the date but rather the decree had been nullified.  Their joy at this realization makes the 15th of Av into a Yom Tov.

The Rebbe asks: We understand that the first year they celebrated on the 15th of Av because only then did they become aware that the decree had been nullified.  But in fact the decree had been nullified six days before on Tisha B’Av, so why do we continue to celebrate every year on the 15th?  The answer is that the joy is due not to the nullification of the decree, but rather to when it became revealed to them, and this revelation occurred on the 15th. (sources)

…the birth of Moshiach is specifically in the moment following the destruction…and not only that, but after he becomes big…the destruction and the golus continue for some time, until even the longest time — as the purpose in this is that there should be the complete perfection of the Geulah both from the side of the “Above” and from the side of “below”, and from both of them together.

The Rebbe points out that our sages say that Moshiach is born on Tisha B’Av, the “nullification of the decree of death” took place on Tisha B’Av, but the Geulah is at that point when Moshiach is revealed to the people, when they themselves grasp what has already happened.  And when they do, there is no need to wait for anything to develop–it is all fully developed.  Thus the day that represents this is the 15th of Av, when the moon is at full revelation (for more on this concept, see the sicha of Parshas Vayishlach, 5752)

From this we understand why the golus continues even after all the revelations from Above have been drawn down: because there must still be “the perfection of the Geulah from the side of ‘below’ and from both [‘Above’ and ‘below’] together”.

If so, what is the way to speed up this process?  What is the “practical directive” from all of this?

The Rebbe says clearly (and not for the first time) that:

There is a special emphasis on adding in the learning of Torah on the subject of the Geulah — both in the revealed aspect of Torah, and especially in the sefer of the Rambam…and also in Pnimiyus Hatorah.  In addition to the fact that in general the study of Pnimiyus Hatorah brings closer the Geulah…there is a special quality in studying those parts of Pnimiyus Hatorah that explain matters of the Geulah.

Through the learning and contemplation of these subjects, we should merit immediately to see the third Geulah and the third Beis Hamikdash in actuality, and really immediately!