6) 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 of 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?  By diligently laboring to understand this dimension of Torah, and asking Hashem to please “Open my eyes…”!

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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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”.

5) 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).  Contrasting this: 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 a way of 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.

Emor 5751: Turning Gola into Geulah

In this sicha we see how important is the concept of transforming exile (gola) to Redemption (Geuloh).  The Rebbe brings out that we are not fighting the exile (gola) but rather transforming it as it is in its essence by inserting and revealing the Alef — the recognition of G-d’s presence.  In other words, the Rebbe is explaining that the Geuloh, which is ready to occur at any moment, is dependent upon our active recognition that everything is from Hashem.

If so, what is the chiddush here?  In the times of the Mishna, the sage Nochum ish Gamzu would respond to every undesirable event by saying “this too is for the good” (“gam zu letoiva”).  And in Igeres Hakodesh (siman 11) the Alter Rebbe writes that we must believe that everything is for the good; only because some things are beyond our conception they are imagined by us to be “bad”.

The chiddush could be said to be as follows: previously this belief that everything is from Hashem and everything is truly good (whether revealed or concealed) was something that was beyond our conception.  We could only believe in it as one believes in something that cannot be seen or perceived.  However, in our generation, on the brink of (and prepared for) the revelations of the Geuloh, we are able — through this avoidah of emunah — to actually bring it into our understanding and perceive it, and thus see it transpire in actuality.

These correspond to the three levels (three different ways of explaining the “alef”) which the Rebbe speaks about in this sicha:

  • The Master of the World (Alufo shel olam): G-dliness as it is found in the world;
  • Being imbued with wisdom (a’alfa chochma): referring to the Torah, which is higher than the world but somewhat related to the world;
  • Wonder (peleh): the letters alef, lamed, pay (which spell “alef“, and can be re-arranged to spell “peleh“, meaning “wonder”) refers to the level of G-dliness which completely transcends the world.

In the Rebbe’s words:

This represents the progression of G-dly revelation leading to the days of Moshiach: 1) G-dliness within the world, 2) G-dliness higher than, but still connected with the world, and 3) the revelation of G-d’s essence. Our service of G-d in golus (which consists of bringing the Alef into golah to bring the Geuloh) must correspond to these three levels. And through this we bring about these kinds of G-dly revelation alluded to by the letter Alef.

This means that we must reveal the presence of G-dliness within the world by using all physical objects for a holy purpose — “for the sake of Heaven” (to correspond to the level of G-dliness within the world). Furthermore, we must bring down and reveal the second level through learning Torah, and reveal the third level of peleh by learning Pnimiyus HaTorah, Chassidus, which corresponds to the level of peleh in Torah.

We can extend this idea further: in addition to the revelation of the level of peleh through the study of Chassidus, it is revealed through the very exile itself. The prophet Yeshayahu said (12:1), “On that day [(of redemption] you will say, ‘I thank you G-d for having been angry with me.’ ” This verse seems somewhat puzzling. Granted that we will be thankful for G-d’s nullification of exile — but this expression of appreciation would not really be wholehearted. One would praise G-d even more completely if there had been no exile to begin with!

In light of the above this can be easily understood. Redemption comes about from and is composed of the very exile itself. We are therefore thanking Him deeply for the exile since we realize that it has brought the highest revelations, including that corresponding to the level of peleh.

This level of peleh that the Rebbe is speaking of is not only wonders taking place in our physical world (such as the Gulf War), but the Rebbe specifies that this is also (and even moreso) to be found in Torah itself — to perceive the wonders of Torah.  And beyond that: within our very selves, that we have the ability to “wondrously” transform ourselves to the level of a complete Tzaddik!  This is a tremendous Chiddush, as the Rebbe explains, because in Tanya it is explained that many souls descend to the world only to struggle and never to achieve the goal of “be a tzaddik“.  Now, asserts the Rebbe, all we need to do is to “do our part” to fulfill the oath to which the soul is sworn (“be a tzaddik“) and every one of us can in fact become a tzaddik!

This 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, as the Gemara (Eruvin 13b) quotes R. Yehuda HaNasi as saying, “This that my sharpness exceeds that of my colleagues is because I saw R. Meir from the back; and if I would have seen him from the front, I would be even sharper.”

All this will help further purify the world and reveal G-dliness within it. It must be accompanied by the additional G-dly service of each particular Jew, by keeping away from evil and, furthermore, doing the utmost to fulfill the oath administered to his soul before birth, “You shall be a tzaddik.” One might object and point out that in Tanya itself it is written that not every individual can necessarily become a tzaddik, and that one doesn’t have complete free choice in this area. However, since the Jew has the essence of G-d within him, ultimately even this is within his reach. Furthermore, after all the purification, etc. of the Jewish people over the course of time, now every Jew is able to reach the level of tzaddik — similar to the way things will be in the Messianic Age.

All this contains straightforward guidance in what all Jews should be doing to further hasten the redemption — in all three levels alluded to by the letter alef. This means first of all revealing G-d’s presence in the world through using all worldly objects for a holy purpose, etc. In addition, there must be a special increase in Torah study — and particularly the study of Chassidus — in a way that it should be clearly understood in Chochmah, Binah, and Da’as. Included in this is also influencing others to follow suit.

It follows that the work is on our shoulders: we simply have to make a true effort to “be a tzaddik” and we will be amazed at the results.  We will bring about our own personal Geuloh, leading to the true and complete Geuloh of the entire Jewish nation, and the entire world!

Emor 5751: You Can Now Be a Tzaddik

Briefly, we have a major novelty (chiddush) in this sicha, indicating that our reality is no longer limited in the way earlier generations were limited (we will see similar insights in parshas Vayigash, be”H).  Before we get to this, it is very noteworthy the Rebbe’s statement about the importance of looking at the face of the Rebbe as being included as part of learning Torah, which speeds the Geuloh:

[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, as the Gemara (Eruvin 13b) quotes R. Yehudah HaNasi as saying, “This that my sharpness exceeds that of my colleagues is because I saw R. Meir from the back; and if I would have seen him from the front, I would be even sharper.”

As regards the novelty(chiddush), all students of Tanya know two things: Firstly, every single Jew must endeavor to fulfill the oath that his soul swore before coming down to the world (“Be a Tzaddik”); and secondly, as stated in Tanya, that try as one might, one may never reach this level because it is not dependent on ones merits.  Some souls are born to struggle but not to achieve the goal of being a true Tzaddik (one who has overcome and transformed his evil inclination).  Here the Rebbe informs us that there is now nothing standing in our way of achieving the objective! You and I, every Jew, if we will truly make the effort we can succeed to be victorious over our evil inclinations:

All this will help further purify the world and reveal G‑dliness within it. It must be accompanied by the additional G‑dly service of each particular Jew, by keeping away from evil and, furthermore, doing the utmost to fulfill the oath administered to his soul before birth, “You shall be a Tzaddik.” One might object and point out that in Tanya itself it is written that not every individual can necessarily become a Tzaddik, and that one doesn’t have complete free choice in this area. However, since the Jew has the essence of G‑d within him, ultimately even this is within his reach. Furthermore, after all the purification, etc. of the Jewish people over the course of time, now every Jew is able to reach the level of Tzaddik — similar to the way things will be in the Messianic Age.

The excuse that being a Tzaddik is “beyond my reach” and “halevai beinoni” (“if only I could reach the intermediate level”) is no longer valid! Today we are truly in a period of “I tried and I found” (“yagaati u-matzosi“).


Full sicha in English
Full sicha in Laha”k

4) Kuntres Beis Iyar, 5751: Why Concealment

[The discourse presented here was edited by the Rebbe and printed for Beis Iyar 5751 (1991), and with retrospect we can see how it is meant to guide us and strengthen us through the present time (even more so than when it was published), as will be explained, בע”ה.

The haftorah that is read when Shabbos falls out in Erev Rosh Chodesh (the day before the new month when the moon is completely concealed) begins with the verse: “Yehonosan said to him: tomorrow is [Rosh] Chodesh and you will be remembered (נפקדת) because your place will be vacant (כי יפקד מושבך).”

The words of this verse demand explanation: why are words from the same root — נפקדת and כי יפקוד — used for completely opposite concepts? “You will be remembered” is seemingly quite the opposite from “your place will be vacant”, which implies that he will be missing?!  To explain this, the Rebbe mentions several concepts which we will touch upon here only superficially (but the wise will investigate and find deeper things…).

Firstly, the Rebbe explains that the entire “drama” in this haftorah involving Shaul Hamelech, his son Yehonosan, and Dovid Hamelech are, on a deeper level, referring to the unification of the 6 higher sefiros and the 7th (in the language of kabbalah Z”A and Malchus (ז”א ומלכות) which are likened to husband and wife) .  Thus the word נפקדת also means the union which can bring forth children, relating to the union of husband and wife.  This unification of the sefiros takes place through the intellectual attribute of Bina, which is from a higher level.  This can be read as a hint to what the Rebbe describes as the “direct way” to bring the Geuloh in actuality: by learning (the power of Bina) the subjects of Moshiach and Geuloh.

Further, the Rebbe explains how the name נתן (last three letters of Yehonosan) refer to Malchus on the level described as sea (ים, which conceals the sefiros), whereas Dovid is Malchus on the level described as dry land (ארץ, where things are revealed).  The verse “Yehonosan said to him [to Dovid]…” refers to transforming the sea to dry land (as occurred at the spitting of the sea).  Interesting to note that the gematria of the words in the verse of crossing the sea — ויבֹאו בני ישראל בתוך הים ביבשה — has the same value as the declaration יחי אדוננו מורנו ורבינו מלך המשיח לעולם ועד.  (Which was declared before the Rebbe for the first time on the Shabbos following the release of this maamor in 5751!)

All of the above is in connection with Erev Rosh Chodesh, when the moon is concealed. This reflects a state of complete self-nullification (bittul) which brings about the birth of the new moon on the following day: the unification of the sun and the moon (mashpia and mekabel).  How can the bittul of Erev Rosh Chodesh accomplish this amazing unification?  Because the bittul of the time when the moon is concealed draws down from the level of Kesser (כתר), the level which is entirely above the chain of worlds (סדר השתלשלות).

Look closely: a period of concealment which appears to be quite a negative phenomenon is actually a time when the highest levels are being drawn down!  This is in order to bring about the Divinely desired unification of mashpia and mekabel (Hashem and Yisroel, Rebbe and Chassidim) through the power of Bina (learning and understanding).  This learning and understanding brings about the internalization of the lofty levels that are drawn down at the time of concealment — an experience which is likened to the splitting of the sea, when the concealment itself is transformed to revelation (and the verse has the same gematria as the declaration of “Yechi Hamelech…”)  (Can we sense that the Rebbe is explaining for us what is happening b’pnimiyus as we live through the “Erev Rosh Chodesh” of the post Gimmel Tammuz era?)

Returning to the maamor, the verse starts with the words “And Yehonosan said” (the drawing down of the lofty lights of Atzilus) and them is followed by “tomorrow is [Rosh] Chodesh”, meaning Erev Rosh Chodesh when the moon is in a state of concealment. First the lofty lights are given, after that the concealment takes place.  (First the lofty lights of the Sichos of 5751-52, as a preparation for the concealment of 27 Adar and 3 Tammuz.)

In fact, the Rebbe explains that in the path from coming out of Mitzrayim (in Nissan) to Matan Torah (in Sivan) Erev Rosh Chodesh occurs twice, for the months of Iyar and Sivan. Erev Rosh Chodesh Sivan is a giving of power (נתינת כוח)  for the union (נפקדת) that occurs via the giving of the Torah. Erev Rosh Chodesh Iyar (when this discourse was originally said) is a נתינת כוח giving of power for ויפקד מושבך — the time of concealment, as described at length above.

Learning the discourse itself will surely help the reader to put all these concepts in their proper place, and understand how the Rebbe (in this discourse and in many of the Sichos of this period) is preparing us for the crucial avoidah that takes place in a situation of concealment — avoidah that brings about a revelation of the unification of the mashpia and the mekabel and an end to that very concealment itself!

Achrei-Kedoshim 5751: Using Out Golus to Make Geulah

Geulah is made from Golus (Exile)

With the heady excitement that comes when one begins to feel what the Rebbe has been expressing in the recent sichos — that we are truly on the cusp of the coming of Moshiach and the revelations of the true and complete Geuloh — it could be possible to feel the desire to throw off the responsibilities of Golus and charge head-first and full-speed into Geuloh .  For example, abandoning one’s job and devoting 24 hours a day to spreading the news of the redemption and learning the subject of Moshiach and Geuloh .  (After all, the Rebbe said in the previous sicha that this learning is the direct path to bringing the Geuloh , so why delay it by attending to earthly needs such as a job and a house?)  Such “over-the-top”  behavior, explains the Rebbe, is not the way to bring Moshiach.  Or, from the other side, one could be worried that all of one’s efforts in worldly matters will go to waste with the coming of Moshiach, and this fear is also put to rest in this sicha.

As mentioned in the previous sichos, the Geuloh (redemption) is the word exile (GOLA) with the addition of the letter “alef”, representing the revelation of Hashem in exile itself.  This is the concept of the Rambam that with the coming of Moshiach (in the first stage, at least) nothing will change in the conduct of the world — the world will conduct itself naturally — the only difference is that we will not be subjugated to physicality and the laws of nature as before.  However, this itself is no small matter!  What is means is that the miraculous will occur within the parameters of nature.  But reality is now miraculous.  In the words of the Rebbe:

 Redemption does not mean that we abandon all the activities which we carry out in the exile. On the contrary, by definition, the word implies that during the exile certain activities were carried out under subjugation to other forces, and in the Era of the Redemption, we will be freed from this subjugation.

The redemption will involve freeing all the elements of existence that have been subjugated in the exile. Nothing will be lost.  On the contrary, everything will be redeemed. Every single Jew will be redeemed. We will leave “with our youth and with our elders… with our sons and with our daughters.” And “their gold and silver will accompany them.” All the positive activities and achievements of the Jews (and also the non-Jews) in the exile will not be nullified. What will be nullified is the concealment of the world’s true inner being which is brought on by the material substance of the world and the subjugation to the rules of nature that exists at present. But all the positive aspects of the exile will remain, and indeed will be elevated.

The Rebbe continues then to speak about the need for the world–that it is by our effect on the world and the nations of the world that we bring about not only their elevation but also the elevation of our souls, the reason for which our souls were sent into this low world in the first place.  In other words, one might think “Moshiach is about to come, I need to abandon all worldly pursuits.”  Says the Rebbe: No!  On the contrary–continue these pursuits in the manner dictated by Torah and know that in this way you are inserting into them the “Alef” and they are thereby transformed from a state of Golus to a state of Geuloh.  Don’t run and hide from the world, but go out and “conquer” the world.  Don’t make a war against the world, make a war against the aspect of darkness and concealment that is in the world.  How?  By combating the darkness with the light of Torah and Mitzvos, most of which involve physical things.

This is connected with the fact that the Jews are a “Priestly Nation”.  The High Priest required 8 special garments to enter the Holy of Holies, garments which the Torah describes as “honor and splendor”, and if he is lacking any of these garments his service is invalid.  Even though these garments are only external — for “honor and splendor” — nonetheless if they are lacking his service is invalid.  It follows that each Jew, as a member of the Nation of Priests, must be garbed in garments “honor and splendor” in order to show externally his true status.  This corresponds to the previous sicha where the Rebbe speaks about our generation being on the level of Rabbeinu Hakadosh who was internally perfect and only endured suffering due to the unrefined waste on the edge of his garments.  It will be recalled that according to Chassidus, “garments” of the soul refer to our thought, speech, and action.  These must be for “honor and splendor” as we approach the Geuloh.  In the Rebbe’s words:

The priests’ service was performed wearing the priestly garments that were to be donned, “for honor and for beauty.”  This reflects how these two qualities, materialistic elements of our physical environment, are employed for the sake of the service of G‑d.

In a complete sense, this was reflected in the High Priest’s service for he wore eight priestly garments, wearing “the golden garments” in addition to the four garments worn by the common priests. A parallel to this concept is reflected in the idea that a High Priest is required to be wealthier than all the other priests. This is a clear indication of how his additional holiness must be reflected within the material elements of our world.

The nature of the world has begun to assist Jews to fulfill Torah and mitzvos, as evidenced by the changes in Russia.  Furthermore, “We see in fact that the nature of the world encourages such activities and in that context, it is worthy to mention the discovery of jewels in a far removed corner of the world. These jewels will be used for “bride’s ornaments”, to increase the merit of the Jewish people through gifts to tzedakah.”  This comes to show that the Rebbe is speaking very clearly about events in our physical world.

This extends also to the Nations of the World, that there is an imperative to teach the 7 Noahide Laws.  We see already that the Nations of the World have begun to change.  Whereas in the past they engaged in bloody wars of conquest against each other and only the Jewish nation (the smallest of all nations) was quietly busy with acts of kindness, today we see that many nations, lead by the United States, engage in acts of kindness even when there is no apparent benefit.  (The Rebbe mentions here the recent humanitarian aid given by the United States to impoverished citizens of a distant nation, perhaps a reference to protection from Saddam Hussein offered to the Kurds in mid-April, 1991, shortly before this sicha was said; or perhaps a prophecy of the relief efforts that would take place later in the year in Somalia).

We can see the thread running through the sichas: bringing G-dliness into action in this physical world, thereby elevating the world and making it a vessel for even greater revelations (miracles above nature, as in the 2nd period of the Messianic Era, including the resurrection of the dead).

Tazria-Metzora 5751: Spiritually Complete But Still Suffering Exile

Dvar Malchus Tzaria-Metzora 5751

This Generation is Completely Rectified; Remaining External Signs of Disease Can Be Rectified Through Torah—Learning About Moshiach Speeds Geulah.

For this sicha it is necessary to define the following terms: Tzora’as—a supernatural illness where certain types of lesions appear on the skin (not the physical disease of “leprosy”); Metzora—One who suffers from this illness (sometimes called a ‘leper’); Nega (plural: Negoyim)—the general name of the lesions associated with the disease.

Moshiach in Exile is Called “Metzora

With the completion of the month of Nissan of the year 5751 [when the sicha was spoken] “all the end times have passed” (“kolu kol hakitzin”): both ketz hayamim and keitz hayemin, in a simple sense (”kipshuto mamash”).   [Ketz Hayamim=the end of the “left side” of klipa; Ketz Hayemin=the end (meaning: the starting point) of the “right side” of holiness.]  This is in addition to the fact that the statement “kolu kol hakitzin” was said in the times of the Gemara. [The Rebbe is making clear that he is not merely quoting the gemara, but that something new has taken place that was not included in the intent of the sages.  The “Ketz HaYemin” is a most noteworthy expression, indicating more than the just end of exile, but also the beginning (although still concealed) of Geulah.]  The parsha Tazria begins with the words “a woman who gives seed and gives birth to a male”—this hints at the birth (revelation) of the soul of Moshiach.  Giving seed, this refers to our deeds and effort (“avodah”) in the time of exile, followed immediately by the sprouting—the complete Geulah.

Metzora refers to Moshiach; as our sages say: he bears our sicknesses.  The name of Moshiach in the time of exile is “Metzora”.  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 his nega (skin lesion associated with tzora’as) is healed, meaning his condition when he is revealed and redeems the children of Israel in the true Geulah.

What is the connection?  Tazria is birth, meaning Geulah; metzora is one who needs to be brought to purification.  Seemingly, if the eternal Geulah is born, it is not related in any way to the state of a metzora, who is connected with exile.  However, the content of parshas Tazria is all about the various types of lesions of a metzora, a matter of exile.  And parshas Metzora teaches the laws of the purification of the metzora—the matter of Geulah.  Seemingly, it should be reversed.

Tzora’as—Illness After Completing Everything

The verse that begins to describe the illness of tzora’as states “A man who has a on the skin of his flesh…”  The word for man here is “Adam”, “Adam is a great level, the perfection of everything” (Zohar Tazria, 48a).  Although he has rectified everything, nonetheless, on the skin of his flesh the evil is still not refined, the waste material remains.  He has refined his nefesh and his body, only the ends of his garments are still not refined; but this is only an external matter.  [Let us recall that according to Chassidus the garments of the soul are thought, speech, and action.] This condition 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.  And even this—there is a nega present on the skin (from the word “nogea”, meaning to touch—not even the skin itself is really affected).

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Shemini 5751: Unifying the Limited and the Unlimited

Periodically parshas Shemini (“Eighth”, referring to the 8th day of setting up the Mishkan in the desert) is read 8 times (this occurs outside of Eretz Yisroel in a non-leap year when Pesach falls out on Shabbos).  This gives rise to the expression “Shemini Shmoneh Shmeina”, meaning “[When parshas] Shemini (“Eighth”) [is read] Shmoneh [eight times, then the year will be] Shmeina [fat]” — with material and spiritual abundance.  (And is drawn into all the years until the next time it will be read 8 times.)

The “eighth” that is mentioned in this parsha is the beginning of the indwelling of the Shechina in the Mishkan. The world derives from 7,  which represents G-dly light as it is enclothed in the Creation. The number 8 represents the G-dly light above Creation, and it is specifically on the 8th day that we find the Shechina being revealed in the Mishkan.

Ultimate Purpose of Creation

Hashem’s intent in creating the world is that the G-dly light that is above the world (represented by Shemini, 8th) will not remain separate but rather will be drawn down to be revealed in the world in a way that the world, on its own terms, will be able to receive this revelation.  This means the revelation above limitation being unified with limitation itself. When these two aspects are unified, the recipient beomes a vessel to accept this revelation in an internalized way — the revelation of the Shechina in “the work of your hands”, the Mishkan.

This is exemplified in the words of the Sages that the place of the Aron Kodesh (containing the Luchos) transcended limitation (“eino min hamida”).  The Aron itself had precise measurements, but the place transcended limitation, meaning limitation and unlimited together, that the unlimited can be grasped by within the bounds of the lower (limited) entity.  The Rebbe explains this in another Sicha:

The Talmud states that “the position occupied by the Aron did not take up any space.” That is, the Aron had definite physical dimensions — 2½ cubits length, 1½ cubits width, 1½ cubits height. Logically then, when placed in the Holy of Holies, the Aron should have occupied this amount of space. Yet, the Talmud tells us, it took up no space at all! This is logically impossible — for it is the synthesis of two opposites: the finite and the infinite. Yet in the case of the Aron, it existed… Not only did the Aron transcend the limits of nature (itself a great miracle, since the Aron was made of physical gold), but simultaneously the finite and infinite co-existed together in it: the Aron had definite physical limits, yet took up no space…Its concept is made possible from a level that transcends both of them, allowing the synthesis of these two opposites. (From sicha of 23 Elul, 5742)

We find this as well in the avodah of a Jew — there is his limited and measured avodah, as befits his level, to make himself into a vessel to internalize the revelations.  And additionally there is the avodah of “with all your might” (b’chol me’odecha) — a vessel to receive G-dliness above the limitations of the person.  The ultimate goal is the unification of these 2 forms of avodah.  To summarize: Shemini (8th) is the unlimited, whereas  Shmoneh (the number 8) is the unlimited as it is contained in the qualities of limitation (7): the unification of limited and unlimited, the ultimate intent of Creation.

The revelation of the level of G-dliness that is above the limitation of world is specifically via the avodah from below to above — within the limitations of the world.  As with the 8 which comes specifically from the 7 that precede it.  Thus we find that the limited and measured avodah is connected (in its source) with the highest level (above the source of the unlimited).  Similar to what we find with the Aron — the concept of “eino min hamida” (transcending limitation), comes specifically because the Aron had defined measurements.

Transforming the Exile (“gola”) Into Geuloh

Chesed and Gevurah are the spiritual root of limited and unlimited.  Chesed, is the attribute of “kindness” and giving.  Gevurah, the opposite.  The Alter Rebbe explains that it is  not tzimtzum (contraction and limitation), but rather the attribute of “might” that can overpower other forces (“hisgabrus haChayus”).  Gevurah is not the absence of Chesed, but rather a higher level of might that can conceal the ChesedGevurah brings about exile, but is itself a powerful level of Kedusha, as explained in Chassidus regarding the special quality of “the light that comes from the darkness”.

Geuloh, as explained many times in the Rebbe’s Sichos, is attained by adding to the word “gola” (exile) the letter “alef” (representing the Holy One, blessed be He “Alufo shel olam”).  This adding of the letter “alef” is accomplished via “our deeds and our avodah during the time of exile” upon which the Geuloh is dependent.  Through this, the exile itself (“gola”) becomes Geuloh.

 The main thing is that through “our deeds and our Avodah during the duration of exile” we bring the Geuloh.  It is specifically the concealments and limitations of exile which give the strength to bring Geuloh.

This is similar to statement of our Sages: “everyone who fulfills the Torah amidst poverty will in the end fulfill it amidst wealth.”  Via the poverty of exile, “there is no one who is poor except in knowledge” (“ein oni ela b’da’as”), we receive the true wealth of knowledge and wealth in the simple sense — in the true and complete Geuloh.  This is especially since we have already fulfilled any obligations to endure the limitation of “poverty” (in the previous generations) [meaning — primarily — poverty of knowledge].  Now there is freedom and abundance (“harchava”) in a simple sense from the kingship of the nations.  [For more explanation, see Inyonei Moshiach and Geulah #8.]

Thus, we can learn Torah and fulfill Mitzvos in a relaxed state of mind and body (“menuchas hanefesh and menuchas haguf”) with “wealth” in Torah — via the printing of many seforim, some of which had been hidden until now.  For this reason the Geuloh will have both the positive quality of Geuloh and the positive quality of Golus (the quality of avodah performed via compelling one’s self (“hiskafya”), limitation and constriction, “amidst poverty”…)

Geuloh Hasn’t Come — Proof That it Depends on Us

Since the Geuloh hasn’t yet come, this itself is proof that it is dependent on “our deeds and our avodah” of this generation.  It is specifically through avodah amidst boundaries and limitation and concealment (which derive from Gevuros), because amazing powers are hidden away within them — powers which can bring the Geuloh.

There is a rule that “The Holy One, blessed be He, does not demand of us more than we have the power to accomplish, so therefore we have the power to bring the Geuloh (since that is what is demanded of us).  To be a partner with Hashem in this, not just to help.  A partner implies being involved in all the details in a complete manner.  Since a Jew is a part of G-dliness (chelek Eloka) he possesses the greatest powers to bring about the greatest things — until even the command “be Holy because I am Holy”, upon which our Sages comment “Holy, like Me” — with certainty!

Shemini5751_AddInTorah

All of us have the responsibility to add in avodah to bring Moshiach in actuality.  There is no room to rely on others — each one needs to do the avodah of “to serve my Master” by himself, and he is given the powers to do this.  How so?  By adding in Torah and Mitzvos — the revealed and the Pnimiyus, and fulfilling Mitzvos in an exemplary manner and influencing others to do the same.  Spreading Torah and Yiddishkeit and the wellsprings of Chassidus outward, the latter especially brings about “the Master comes” — this is the King Moshiach.  And all of this amidst anticipation and yearning for the Geuloh.Shemini5751_AddInTorah2