Bamidbar: How to Reach Hashem’s Essence

Bamidbar: How to Reach Hashem’s Essence

The sicha of Shabbos Parshas Bamidbar is an anomaly in the Dvar Malchus sichos, because here the Rebbe doesn’t mention the word Moshiach or Geuloh at all until the very end of the sicha.  Nonetheless, when we examine what the Rebbe does address here, we find that the Rebbe really is teaching us a vital element in actualizing the Geuloh.

There is a concept in Pnimiyus Hatorah called “ratzo v’shov“, which refers to two divergent directions in serving Hashem: “ratzo” means the desire of the neshoma to run away and escape the bonds of the world and the physical limitations of the body.  This is described in Tanya as the nature of the neshoma, like a flame that seeks to rise up and separate from the wick even at the expense of its own existence.  On the other hand, there is the direction of “shov“, which means to return to this world in order to fulfill Hashem’s Will which are Torah and Mitzvos in this world.  How does a Yid manage to unify these two opposites?  If my desire is to escape the world, then every moment in the world is against my will and therefore unpleasant.  But if my desire is to be in the world and fulfill Hashem’s Will here in the world, then I surely don’t want to escape and run away.  How are we supposed to fulfill both “ratzo” and “shov“?!

The way to do this, explains the Rebbe, is to transcend either of these two specifics of serving Hashem and to be tuned in to their underlying commonality: they are both the Will of Hashem.  Meaning, that if we want to escape the world, we won’t be enthusiastic to be here; and if we want to be here, we won’t be enthusiastic to transcend the world and its limitations.  But — if we want to fulfill Hashem’s Will, then we will want to do whatever He wants.  When His Will is “ratzo“, we will be happy with that direction; when His Will is “shov“, we will be happy also — since either way we are fulfilling His Will!  As the Alter Rebbe said: if we were instructed by Hashem to chop trees, we would also do this willingly and happily.

The Rebbe says that the mitzvah to love Hashem contains both ratzo and shov.  To illustrate: if a child likes to go out, he will be happy when his father sends him on an errand,  but he could be bored at home.  A child who loves being near his father and learning from him will prefer to stay home, and will not be enthusiastic about having to leave his father’s side to fulfill and errand.  But the child who truly loves his father and wants to do what his father wants will be happy either way, because either way he is doing what his father wants!

The key to this, explains the Rebbe, is the through self-nullification — bittul.  When a Yid has bittul to Hashem, he relates to Will of Hashem that underlies all the mitzvos regardless if they are ratzo or shov.  This bittul allows him to have a relationship with essence of the King himself — the highest level, which is the inyan of Geuloh.  If our interest is in the King’s matters themselves, we are missing the King.  When our interest and desire is the King himself, then automatically all of his matters are of equal importance to us.

The Rebbe then connects all this with the idea that a King, “Melech”, is an anacronym for “brain, heart, liver” (Moach, Lev, Kaved — Melech).  The brain is generally quiet and settled, tranquil and without movement, inner-focused.  The heart is constantly beating (representing the movements of ratzo and shov), never at rest and sending blood to the whole body.  Through bittul, we can synthesize the opposite natures of these two organs (the brain and the heart), and bring to bear the principle that the brain rules over the heart (מח שליט על הלב) and through this bring the tranquility to bear also on the lively and active heart, meaning that even our excited ratzo and shov will be permeated by an overarching tranquility in all its aspects.

We might understand this to mean that even as we should strive to acquire a heated, even fiery, interest and desire for Geuloh and to bring the Geuloh in actuality, and even to be “completely shaken up” (אינגאנצען צוטרייסלט) if there remains even one corner of the world where the Geuloh has not yet reached — yet through bittul we can permeate all of this with the settled tranquility that comes from the brain which understands that everything is with Divine purpose, and thus be able to synthesize them and do whatever is called for with similar alacrity and focus.  We will be able to fulfill all aspects of our shlichus equally: davening and fulfilling Mitzvos as we should; learning Torah (and especially the subjects of Moshiach and Geuloh) with proper effort to transcend the prior limits of our understanding; teaching alef-beis to a child; going out to the streets and putting on tefillin with another Jew; etc., etc. — all will be equal because our bittul brings us to be interested in connecting to the King’s essence, fulfilling the Will of the King, and bringing about the true and complete Geuloh.