In this sicha we see how important this concept is–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 Geulah, 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, Nochum ish Gamzu would respond to every undesirable event by saying “this too (“gam zu”) is for the good”, and the 11th letter in the Holy Tanya’s Igeres Hakodesh states that we must believe that everything is for the good, only that somethings are beyond our conception and thus are imagined by us to be “bad”.
The chiddush could be said to be that previously this was something that was beyond our conception, we could only believe in it as one believes in something that cannot be perceived. However, in our generation, on the brink of (and prepared for) the revelations of the Final Redemption, we are able through this avodah of emunah to actually bring it into our understanding and perceive it, and thus see it transpire in actuality.
These are the three levels (three different ways of explaining the “alef”) which the Rebbe speaks about here: Alufo shel Olam–G-dliness as it is found in the world; a’alfa chochma (to be imbued with wisdom)–referring to the Torah, which is higher than the world but somewhat related to the world; and the letters alef, lamed, pay (which spell “alef”, and can be re-arranged to spell “peleh“, meaning “wonder”)–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 geulah) 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 the Holy 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 we simply have to make a true effort to “be a tzaddik” and we will be amazed at the results–our personal Geulah, leading to the true and complete Geulah of the entire nation and the entire world!