Re’eh 5751: Publicize Geulah 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 Geulah, which in fact permeates all of this avodah.  All must be permeated and done with the spirit of the Geulah (including, and especially, through learning Torah on the subjects of Geulah 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 Geulah.

[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!

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Video Shiur: Re’eh 5751

Publicize That Moshiach is Coming Now

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Ekev 5751: To Awaken Hashem to Bring the Geulah

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 “free bread” (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 Geulah (from Above to below) which will arrive at a unification of both aspects, that the lowest thing – golus – will become Geulah – “gola” with the addition of an “alef”.  Even though the ultimate level comes from Above, and is dependent on Hashem, nonetheless the Geulah 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: everything has been done.  But if Moshiach still hasn’t been revealed, we have to try one more thing because maybe this will arouse Hashem to bring the Geulah.  And surely this final thing will bring Moshiach, for if not– Ad Mosai”?!  How much longer?!

 

Video Shiur: Ekev, 5751

Moshiach: What Do We Have to Do?

Chabadinfo.com Exclusive: In the Sicha of Parshas Ekev, the Rebbe explains that the cheshbon tzedek of Elul is that Moshiach must come already ● Learn this week’s Sicha with ChabadInfo.com’s Weekly Shiur of the “Dvar Malchus” Sicha in English, presented by Rabbi Menachem Mendel Lipskier, Mashpia of Mesivta of Melbourne, Australia ● Watch Video

 

Sicha of 20 Menachem Av, 5751

1. Tonight is the night following the fourth day of Parshas Eikev. In accordance with the concept that each of the seven aliyos of the weekly Torah reading are associated with the seven days of the week, today is associated with the fourth aliyah.1 More particularly, since this is the conclusion of the fourth day of the week, the present time is associated with the conclusion of that reading.

Herein we see a connection to the present day, the yahrzeit of a tzaddik [Trans. Note: the Rebbe Shlita’s father, Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Schneerson] who sacrificed his life for the spreading of the Torah and its mitzvos who merited (for not all tzaddikim merit this) to be given the most extreme punishment in this world.

This Torah reading describes the uniqueness of the tribe of Levi. As theRambam writes, this uniqueness is not reserved only for those whose lineage is from that tribe but includes, “each and every person… who the openness of his heart dictates” to rise above the material concerns of this world and make “G‑dhis portion and his inheritance,”2 i.e., to dedicate himself to the study of the Torah and the performance of the mitzvos.

This approach was see through the life of my father. Although the Russian government at that time pressured other Rabbis to issue proclamations declaring their support for the government and their willingness to accept its authority, my father conducted himself as a Rav3 did in previous generations, “teaching Your law to Yaakov, and Your Torah to Yisrael.”4

Furthermore, he did this with mesirus nefesh, challenging the Russian government. In particular, this is reflected in his journey to the Russian capital to receive permission to bake matzos in a kosher manner.5 This journey was successful and they agreed to accept his rulings regarding the kashrus of these matzos. Although this caused financial loss to the government — and that was considered a very serious matter at that time — my father refused to authorize the use of any flour that was not supervised by his mashgichim, mashgichim who would not bend despite the pressure they were subjected to. The matzos which were baked under his supervision were then spread throughout Russia, the country in which most of the Jews of that generation resided.

The punishment which he suffered, exile, is considered equivalent to death and in some respects, more severe than death. Nevertheless, although he knew of the possibility of such punishment, he continued his efforts to spread Yiddishkeit, and furthermore, did so while in exile itself. Moreover, he was recognized for his wisdom by non-Jews, and when they asked him for advice, he also endeavored to influence them to fulfill their seven mitzvos. And to the extent possible at that time, he achieved this.

In this context, we can understand the relevance of verse from the Torah passage connected with the present day, “G‑d designated the tribe of Levi to stand before Him and serve Him… until this present day.” For the relevance of this verse in our contemporary situation, can only be understood within the context of the extended identity of the tribe of Levi as mentioned earlier in the name of the Rambam. For in the Diaspora, the uniqueness of the tribe of Levi is not expressed on the present day. It is expressed on the festivals when theLevites wash the hands of the Priests before they recite the Priestly Blessing. In the Diaspora, however, where most of the Jews are found and where the grave of the Previous Rebbe, the leader of our generation is located, the Priestly Blessing is recited only on festivals. So that it is only through the expanded meaning, that we can see the service of the Levites on “this present day.”

And this is the lesson we should derive: To involve ourselves in the service of spreading Yiddishkeit and the observance of the Torah and its mitzvos withmesirus nefesh. For it was with mesirus nefesh that the Levites served in the Sanctuary and then in the Beis HaMikdash. And so will they serve in the ThirdBeis HaMikdash.6

This was my father’s desire: To spread Yiddishkeit in his own community and throughout the entire Jewish people and to do so with mesirus nefesh. Thus seeing that his yahrzeit and the description of his efforts will motivate others — men, women, and children — to make a similar commitment, will surely bring him satisfaction.

Herein we also see a connection to the tribe of Levi, for in the census of the tribe of Levi were also included infants. From the time that it was clear that they would survive, the children of the tribe of Levi were included in the census.

This relates to Jewish education. A parent must educate his children from their earliest ages. He must be conscious of “the part of G‑d from Above” present within his children’s souls, and therefore dedicate himself to their education withmesirus nefesh. This includes making his children aware that their mission in the world is to be a living example of how one lives in preparation for the construction of the Third Beis HaMikdash, by performing certain activities — e.g., giving tzedakah — which will hasten the construction of that Beis HaMikdash. And by being a living example and speaking to other children with heartfelt words, they will influence them to emulate their conduct.

This process of education must begin “from the time it is clear that the child will survive,” and even before then. This is particularly relevant in the present generation, for in the very near future, we will proceed to greet Mashiach. This will be hastened by the distribution of money to be given to tzedakah, fortzedakah brings the redemption near.

FOOTNOTES
1. The significance of this aliyah is reflected in that there are three aliyos which precede it and three aliyos which follow it. Thus, it is the middle aliyah and relates to the middle vector whichKabbalah explains to be the most important vector. For this reason, we see that when two parshiyos are combined, it is the fourth aliyah which combines them, containing portions of both parshiyos. Herein is also a connection to the Future Redemption which will be the fourth redemption.
2. This verse continues “G‑d is my portion and my cup; You support my lot.” The concept of lots is associated with the service of mesirus nefesh and thus reflects a further connection to my father who displayed great mesirus nefesh in the face of the Russian persecution.
3. In this context, it is said “Who are our kings? Our Rabbis.” This is surely true in regard to a tzaddik, who was held in awe like an actual king.

4. Significantly, this blessing was given to the tribe of Levi. However, since at the conclusion of the blessings which Moshe gave, he included all the tribes together, the potential was granted for the blessings given one tribe to be shared with another.

The blessings which Moshe gave are also connected with the blessings given by Yaakov to his children in Egypt. And it was in Egypt that Yaakov expressed his true qualities, as reflected in the verse, “And Yaakov lived in the land of Egypt.” This was expressed in his self-sacrifice in ensuring that the Egyptians did not make a false deity of him. Although the nations of the world had accepted the belief in G‑d, the Egyptians were “more perverted than all the nations of the world” and would possibly commit such a transgression.For this reason, Yaakov took all the precautions necessary to make sure that the Egyptians did not make him a false deity, even if this meant troubling Pharaoh in regard to helping insure for his burial in Eretz Yisrael. Although Pharaoh was a king — and we are obligated to honor kings — Yaakov troubled him to help in this mission.

5. And the kashrus of the matzos influence a person to eat kosher food throughout the entire year.
6. This refers to the first period of the Era of the Redemption. In the second period of the Era of the Redemption, there are opinions that the service in the Beis HaMikdash will change and the firstborn will become Priests and the Priests will serve as Levites (as theAriZal comments on the phrase “the Priests, the Levites”). There is reason to support this opinion, for then all sins — including the sin of the Golden Calf, for which the service in the Sanctuary was taken from the firstborn — will have been rectified. At present, however, we are still a moment before the redemption, and thus well before this change takes place if in fact it does.
Translation: Sichos In English

20 Menachem Av: How to Add the “Alef”

The Rebbe mentions numerous times in these talks that everything that is necessary for the Geulah is already here, we simply need to add the letter “alef” to the word gola (which means exile), thereby transforming it to Geulah.  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 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 Geulah.  To briefly summarize the Rebbe’s words:

“Mah symbolized 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 Geulah: 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 Geulah!  Let’s not be lazy about this, because we have to bring Moshiach now!

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, 5776): 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!