Tzav 5751: Moshe “the G-dly Man” Has Power to Redeem Us

The sicha opens by mentioning that this Shabbos was Shabbos Hagadol, the Shabbos when we commemorate what the Shulchan Aruch calls “the beginning of the Geuloh and the miracles”.  This does not refer to the 10 plagues (9 of which already occurred by this time), but to the armed revolt of the first-born Egyptians who demanded from Pharoah and the elders of Mitzrayim that they let the Bnei Yisroel leave Egypt.  When Pharoah refused, the first-born took up arms and killed 600,000 Mitzriim.  The Rebbe is connecting this with the Gulf War (which ended 2 weeks before Shabbos Parshas Tzav), when the “first-born” (the strongest nations) took up arms against a tyrant who was threatening the Jewish nation.  Recall the words of the Shulchan Aruch: “the beginning of the Geuloh and the miracles”.

But the focus of this sicha is on the redeemer, on Moshe Rabbeinu.  What makes him singularly capable of redeeming the Yidden from golus Mitzrayim?  (And since “the first redeemer is the last redeemer” (Moshiach) — this applies also to the final redemption.)

The Rebbe explains that Moshe is uniquely qualified, and endowed with the ability, to bring the Geuloh.   To understand this, the Rebbe defines for us the meaning of Geuloh: “the revelation of G-dliness down below in the redemption from Egypt is in order that Yidden, as they are found in the world, can see, and recognize, and know the Eybershter.” Seeing the miracles (which began on Shabbos Hagadol) enable Yidden to have a Geuloh, “freeing them from the limitations of world, the enslavement to worldly assumptions and servitude to the various limitations of world.” The miracles Hashem shows us are not an end to themselves, but are motivating and enabling us to march out of our state of golus by ourselves.

All of this comes about through Moshe Ish HaElokim — Moshe the G-dly Man (Tehillim, kapital 90).  By referring to him as a G-dly Man (איש האלקים) the Torah is indicating that Moshe unifies two levels: power above the world (Elokim) and the level of enclothing in the world (man).  Thus Moshe, possessing both these levels (“ish” and “Elokim”), is a connecting intermediary (ממוצה המחבר) who connects G-dliness with the world (being that he is openly connected to G-dliness even as he is also enclothed in the world).

More than that, the Rebbe explains a second “unification” indicated in the expression “Moshe ish haElokim”: the level of “Moshe” and the level of “Ish HaElokim”.  Moshe is the name he received when he was pulled from the waters of the Nile by Basya bas Pharoah: “I drew him from the water” (מן המים משיתיהו).  As explained in Chassidus, this is referring to the lofty level of Moshe’s neshoma, that it derives from the highest, hidden worlds (עלמא דאתכסיא), the world of Tohu which is likened to water.  According to this explanation, the level of “Moshe” is entirely above the world, G-dliness that has no relationship with the world.  “Ish HaElokim” (here we look at it as a single title) refers to the unification of “Ish” and “Elokim”, meaning the unification of world with the level of G-dliness that has a connection to world.  Moshe Ish haElokim unifies all these levels.

Although not mentioned in this sicha, the Rebbe explains in a maamar just how lofty the aspect of “Moshe” really is — not only higher than Elokim, but also higher than YKVK.  And the various levels of YKVK:

Sefer Hamaamarim 5718, parshas Shemini

Moshe reaches the Essence, Atzmus (עצמות) mamash.  The verse that states “and Yisroel saw the mighty hand that Hashem had used in Mitzrayim…[and they believed in Hashem] and in Moshe His servant” goes from the lower levels to the higher levels: “That Hashem did…” this is the lower name YKVK; “and the people saw Hashem…” this is the higher name YKVK; “and they believed in Hashem” this is the name YKVK that is in Atzmus.  And after that it says “and in Moshe His servant”, from which it is understood that Moshe is higher even than the aspect of YKVK that is in Atzmus.  And therefore he has the power to unify and to draw down the aspect of YKVK that is in Atzmus [into the world] that it should shine openly.

This loftiness of Moshe generates not only miracles that are enclothed in nature (the name Elokim) but miracles completely above the way of nature.  And all of this is for us: that we will “…see, and recognize, and know the Eybershter…” and thus be freed from “the limitations of world, the enslavement to worldly assumptions and servitude to the various limitations of world”.

All of the above is meant to lead us to perform our service of Hashem in a miraculous manner.  We must reveal the “Tzaddik” within us — not only the “Tzaddi”, but the “Tzaddik” (with the addition of the letter Kuf ק).  This implies using free choice to choose the side of holiness (“Tzadi” — “My side”), which has the power to elevate even those aspects which are “below the line”, just as the letter “kuf” has a leg which reaches “below the line”.  When the Yidden, who have free choice (due to being enclothed in wordly bodies), choose the side of holiness, their choice adds the “kuf” to “Tzadi”, making “Tzaddik”; this gives the power to transform the world and it’s inhabitants, that they should also agree.

Again, the Rebbe is repeating to us that the Geuloh is not a passive fireworks show of miracles, but rather it gives us the “green light” to get to work and reveal the redemption through our own actions.  This is assisted by our recognition of the miraculous state of the world, which occurs through Moshe the G-dly man, the first redeemer and the last redeemer.

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.”

Introduction to the cycle of Dvar Malchus

Introduction to the cycle of Dvar Malchus

“Rav Asi asked, ‘Why do little school children begin their Chumash learning with Vayikra and not with Bereishis? It is because little children are pure and unblemished, and the sacrifices are pure and unblemished. The pure ones begin their learning with the study of the pure.'” (Vayikra Rabbah, Tzav 7:3)

The cycle of Dvar Malchus refers to the twelve months of sichos which the Rebbe said between 5751-52 (1991-92), the latest words (“Mishna achrona”) that we have from the Rebbe.  Notably, the cycle begins with the sicha of Parashas Vayikra, 5751.  Although the Torah of Moshiach will only be revealed to us together with the revelations of the true and complete Geulah, these sichos are a “taste” of the “new Torah that will come forth from Me” (Yeshayahu 51:4; Vayikra Rabbah 13:3) and fittingly we start learning from parshas Vayikra.  Furthermore, the sicha describes a connection to Simchas Torah, which is the day when we begin reading the Torah anew (finishing with “V’zos Habrocha” and beginning with “Bereishis”).

Some background: The year 5750 (1990-91) was termed by the Rebbe “it will be a year of miracles” based on the letters that form the Hebrew year.  The year 1990 saw the beginning of the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the outbreak of the first Gulf War.  The year 5751 received the name “it will be year of ‘I will show wonders’”. 

By the time we reach Parshas Vayikra, 5751 (March 1991), the Gulf War has ended (on Purim, two weeks earlier); the events in the disintegration of the Soviet Union will lead, in June (Rosh Chodesh Tammuz), to the election of Boris Yeltsin and the end of the Communist Regime, effectively ceasing to exist upon the resignation of President Gorbachev in late August (Shabbos Ki Seitze).  This new reality—the defeat of Sadaam Hussein in Iraq (and the over miracles witnessed in Israel during that war) and the collapse of the Soviet Union (bringing an end to the Cold War and the nuclear arms race)—is the background to these sichos.

As the Rebbe often explains, events in the physical world are a consequence of what occurs spiritually, the realm of the Jewish souls.  If we see the fall of the earthly “iron curtain” it is because the spiritual “iron curtain” (“mechitza shel barzel”) which separated Israel from their Father in Heaven has fallen.  If an evil dictator who threatened to annihilate, G-d forbid, Jews young and old is defeated and rendered powerless without a Jew firing a weapon, this is because the same drama is playing out spiritually.  These sichos are to guide us in this “new world order”—a new earthly world order, reflecting a new spiritual world order. Continue reading

Kuntres Lag B’Omer: Open My Eyes

This discourse starts with the words of Tehillim “Open my eyes and I shall gaze at [hidden] wonders from Your Torah” (“גל עיני ואביטה נפלאות מתורתך”).  This should immediately grab our attention, since the Rebbe called this year “I will show wonders” (“אראנו נפלאות”) and over the year would proceed to explain that all we need to do is “open our eyes”.  In this discourse the Rebbe explains to us what this means.

The verse mentioned above has a connection with Lag B’Omer (when the maamor was originally said, and when, 14 years later, it was published in 5751).  Because the word גל (“Gal” — Open [my eyes]”) contains the same letters as “Lag” B’Omer ל”ג בעומר.

Lag B’Omer is not only the day that Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai appeared (to fleshly eyes) to pass away, but it was the day of “the main revelation” of the inner dimension of Torah.  As brought in the Zohar that Rashbi revealed “holy words that he had not revealed over the course of his life (because the things he revealed [at the time of his passing] were the highest matters, that even Rashbi had been afraid to reveal then prior to this”.   Who fails to see the bold hint here —  that the Rebbe, in the year before our fleshly eyes perceived 27 Adar and Gimmel Tammuz, is revealing the us (in Dvar Malchus) things which had not been revealed previously.

The Rebbe proceeds to address a simple question: if the inner dimension of Torah is concealed from us, then the request should be “reveal to me” the hidden matters.  But the verse requests instead “open my eyes” — implying that the concealment is due to the eyes and not to the matters being hidden from sight.

The answer is that the Torah was given in order that we will become elevated, becoming vessels in which Elokus can be revealed. And specifically in those matters which apply “down below” (such as eating, drinking, business, etc.).  In terms of “Your Torah” (to quote the posuk) this means perceiving the hidden dimension of Torah within the revealed dimension; the deep intentions (כוונות) which are enclothed in the mitzvos. In fact, the main refinement and purification of the lower beings (the main intent of the giving of the Torah, as mentioned above) takes place via the intentions of the mitzvos.

All of this is related to Rashbi and Lag B’Omer, as the other verse that contains a hint to this day is “this witness-mound of stones” (עד הגל הזה) that Yaakov Avinu built as a mechitza for Lavan that neither of them would cross.  As the Rebbe explains here, this mound of stones was never meant to be permanent (as opposed to a wall, which has permanence).  Rather, this mound of stones (“Tzimtzum” and concealment) was only constructed in order that Yisroel will do the work to remove it, and to reveal the inner dimension of the Tzimtzum itself.  This recognition — that the Tzimtzum is really for the sake of revelation (we could say by way of a moshol: like the father who hides from his son on order that the son will search for and find him) — is the accomplishment Rashbi, who refined this mechitza and brought about that the highest revelations could be perceived also in the lowest worlds.

This means that:

…the seeing of the wonders of Torah should be (not only because the wonders will be revealed, but rather)  because the Holy One, blessed be He, will open up the person’s eyes and the person will see the wonders of Torah in his own matters…that the Tzimtzum [the concealment which allows the dimension of “his own matters” to come into being] is really for the sake of revelation.”

In other words, the message of the year 5751, the year of “I will show wonders”, is that within matters that derive from the Tzimtzum itself, we should perceive the loftiest revelations of Elokus — in the  revealed world, in the revealed dimension of Torah.  And how can we possibly succeed to do that properly?  Through turning to Hashem and asking: “Open my eyes…”!

Behar-Bechukosai: Dwelling Place — Below

Consistent with the theme that runs through almost all the Sichos of Dvar Malchus, the Rebbe address in this Sicha the split between Above and Below, “Oneness” and multiplicity. Paraphrasing the Mishna in Pirkei Avos: the dimension of “one utterance” and that of “ten utterances”.

The aspect of “one utterance” (through which the world could have been created) refers to the higher dimension, where the simple Oneness of G-dliness is the only reality, and any created entity is completely nullified to that Oneness, losing all individual importance.

The aspect of “ten utterances” (through which the world was created) refers to the lower reality where every entity has it’s own role and unique importance distinct from the greater unity and Oneness. This dimension of reality, however, can impose upon — and even conceal — the Oneness that underlies and permeates Creation.

In other words, “one utterance” brings a complete nullification of the world, whereas the “ten utterances” are what generate the reality of world (although in a way where the world is permeated with Holiness drawn down from Above).  The “problem” here is that each one cancels out the other, which is not the Divine intent.  Says the Rebbe:

..the true perfection is the combination of the two together — that also the level of G-dliness that is above the world (“one utterance”) is drawn down and revealed and permeates the multiplicity of the individual created begins (“ten utterances”).  Through this the intent of Creation is fulfilled, that the Holy One desired a dwelling place in the lower realms.

What is the true definition of the famous expression דירה בתחתונים (a “dwelling place in the lower realms”)?  It is the unification of the Upper and Lower dimensions.  Not in a way that the Higher dimension (עליונים) descends from it’s lofty level, for then it is no longer truly Higher; and not in a way where the Lower ascends from it’s own level, for then it is no longer truly Lower.  Rather: “The Upper as it is in its loftiness becomes united with the Lower as it is in its lowliness…”

In other words, Torah and G-dliness remain lofty (not sacrificing their inherent loftiness and Holiness in order to fit into the limitations of the earthly perspective); man remains earthly (physically eating, drinking, sleeping, etc.) — but these same “earthly” matters of the man down below become permeated with the loftiest dimensions of Above. When we achieve this, we have created a dwelling place (for Hashem’s essence, His “true self”, so to speak) in the lower realms (which remain earthly and lowly).

This is the purpose of the Giving of the Torah. But the Torah cannot only be “given” by Hashem, it must also be “received” by us.  In order to become a proper vessel to receive the Torah (especially that level of Torah which is above the world and man) a person must leave his reality through complete self-nullification (תכלית הביטול). This self-nullification will express itself through the impossibility of machloikes, since the reason for machloikes is one’s ישות lack of self-nullification. In this way one becomes fitting and prepared to receive the level of the Torah that is above any connection to the world, which is the level of Torah that will be revealed in the true and complete Geuloh.
That is the preparation to receive this level of the Torah; but to actually receive it means that through learning with understanding and comprehension it will permeate and become the person’s reality. And through this:

Immediately we will see that Moshiach is already found among us, and every single Jew will point with his finger and say “Behold, this one (is the Melech haMoshiach, and he already) came”.

Keep Your Eyes on the Rebbe!

In the Sicha of Parshas Emor, that Rebbe made the following enigmatic statement:

[The Geulah and building of the 3rd Beis Hamikdash] will be hastened through the study of Torah, and of Chassidus in particular. This also includes looking into the face of your Rebbe, which helps one’s understanding…

This concept is found in the Gemara (as brought in the Sicha of Emor), and the Rebbe himself wrote (in the early years of his leadership) that a person should imagine the face of the Previous Rebbe or look at his photo, explaining the benefits that come from this.  So why mention it seemingly “out of context” in a Sicha in 5751?

It can be understood that the Rebbe is not only saying to look at the Rebbe’s visage, whether in person or via a photo, but something more than this.  The Rebbe is giving us advice how to better understand these Sichos of 5751-52, where the Rebbe is speaking openly about Moshiach in unprecedented ways: when we are learning here about Moshiach, we need to know whom we are talking about; that this is not just “learning Torah lishmah”, but has very practical ramifications. How will we properly understand what the Rebbe is trying to tell us about the identify of Moshiach, and whether we are waiting for him to come or if he has already come? Simple: Keep your eyes on the Rebbe!

Read the following words from the Sicha of Behar-Bechukosai as they are without “looking at the face of the Rebbe”, then read them again with the Rebbe in mind — you will understand very well the “enigmatic” advice “which helps one’s understanding“:

Immediately we will see that Moshiach is already found among us, and every single Jew will point with his finger and say “Behold, this one (is the Melech haMoshiach, and he already) came”.

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Kuntres 13 Iyar: Like Which Brother?

This Chassidic discourse was printed in honor of the Yahrtzeit of the Rebbe’s brother, Yisroel Aryeh Leib.  Fittingly, it begins with the words of the posuk “Oh, that you were like a brother to me,” (Shir Hashirim, 8:1). Rashi comments that this verse refers to the way Yosef dealt kindly with his brothers even though they had mistreated him (by selling him as a slave to Egypt).  Contrastingly, there is a midrash which says that the verse refers to his beloved brother Binyomin, who, unlike his older brothers, had no hand in selling Yosef down to Egypt.

The discourse goes into depth about the nature of free choice, and the responsibility of Yosef’s brothers for selling him even though later Yosef reveals that it was divinely orchestrated for the good —  so that Yosef should rise to power in Egypt and be in a position to provide for his family when they sought respite from the famine in the land of Canaan.  However, we are now only going to focus on the part of the discourse that shows an open connection to the sichos of Dvar Malchus.

The verse “Oh, that you were like a brother to me,” is a request from the Jewish people to Hashem — to relate to us like a brother.  It is understood why we would interpret it to be referring to the brothers who sold him: the brothers did evil to Yosef but he repaid them with kindness.  Similarly, we request from Hashem that even though we have “done evil to Him” through our sins, He should repay us with kindness.  However, as we know from the story in chumash, Yosef’s kindness followed the trials and tribulations that he put the brothers through in order to bring them to do tshuva and acknowledge their sin.  By asking for Hashem to relate to us like Yosef to Binyomin, who had no hand in the sale of Yosef, we are asking for open and revealed good without any “trials and tribulations”.

The difference between the two interpretations (whether the verse is referring to Yosef’s conduct to his 10 brothers or to Binyomin) will be understood as the difference between a number of contrasting concepts, all of which contain a common thread.

On the one hand we have the lofty revelation of Yetzias Mitzrayim, which was an awakening from Above (not something Bnei Yisroel earned from their own efforts).  But, as lofty as it is, it remained essential “makif” and was not internalized.  On the other hand, we have Sefiras Ha’Omer (in the days following our going out of Mitzrayim), which is our own effort at refining ourselves.  It is not as lofty as when Hashem revealed Himself and took us out of Mitzrayim, but because it is our own avoidah it is internalized in a settled way (בפנימיות ובהתישבות).

The discourse goes on to find the same relationship between the avoidah of tshuvah (leaving one’s reality, the bittul of one who lacks all qualities) and the avoidah of Tzaddikim (having bittul that does not negate their existence, humility where one is aware of his abilities).  In short: powerful and lofty but remains “outside” the person, contrasted with a not-as-lofty revelation that is internalized.  It is specifically this aspect of being internalized that fulfills Hashem’s desire for a dwelling place down below (דירה בתחתונים).

Based on this, we can understand the two interpretations of our verse: the interpretation that “brother” refers to Yosef as he conducted himself with his brothers who sold him represents our request for the loftiest revelations (Yetzias Mitzrayim and the avoidah of Baalei Tshuva).  The other interpretation, which says that it refers to Binyomin, reflects a request for an internalized, settled revelation (Sefiras Ha’Omer and the avoidah of Tzaddikim).

Since both interpretations are going on the same verse, they are really not contradictory — they are complementary.  Meaning that our real request is for the highest revelations, but that these highest revelations should be internalized in a settled way — all of the benefits without any of the drawbacks!

This is the avoidah that the Rebbe has given us with the famous words of the Sicha of 28 Nissan: “oirois d’Tohu but in keilim d’Tikkun”.  (In a later Sicha of 22 Shevat, this is described as the unification of the aspect of “10” and the aspect of “11”.)  Our avoidah to bring the Geuloh is not that of Baal Tshuvah nor that of a Tzaddik;  rather, ours is an avoidah that combines these two dimensions, demanding that we constantly transcend ourselves like a Baal Tshuvah, and then internalize it so it is as natural as the avoidah of Tzaddikim.