Yud Shevat: “Yahrzeit” of a Living Man

Yud Shevat marks the yahrzeit and Hillula (anniversary of the passing) of the Previous Rebbe in 5710 (1950), the father-in-law of the Rebbe MH”M.  His resting place is in Montefiore Cemetery in Cambria Heights, NY, commonly referred to as “the Ohel”.

The Rebbe, MH”M, oversaw all the details, wrote the text of the gravestone, and even designed the Ohel structure itself (in a way that Kohanim could enter and avoid the halachic prohibition of being in proximity to a grave).  The Rebbe visited the Ohel on a twice-weekly basis, and often more frequently than that.

At the same time, the Rebbe continued to refer to his father-in-law as “Nosi Doreinu”, the leader of the generation, and the “Moshiach of the generation“.  The Rebbe asserted that “hu bachayim” (“he is alive”), like Yaakov Avinu who did not die.  Each year on the Previous Rebbe’s birthday, the Rebbe spoke about his father-in-law’s new chapter of Tehillim, just like anyone else who has a birthday and begins a new year of life.  The Rebbe spoke sharply that his father-in-law does not have an issue of inheritance because he is “fresher and more lively” each passing year.

Yud Shevat is the yarhzeit of of a living man, the Ohel is the gravesite of a living man.

If we don’t understand, the problem is ours to ponder and to research.  When we will understand how the gemora can state the “Moshe didn’t die” and “Yaakov didn’t die” and that after his passing Rebbi Yehuda Hanosi would appear at the home of his family on Shabbos night (and made Kiddush for them) — then surely we will begin understand the meaning of Yud Shevat and how eternal life is not contradicted by a yahrzeit nor by a gravestone.

יחי אדוננו מורנו ורבינו מלך המשיח לעולם ועד

Video Shiur: Va’era 5752

The Rebbe is Everything

Chabadinfo.com Exclusive: In the Sicha of Parshas Vaera 5752, the Rebbe explains what Yud Shvat is all about, and how we should prepare for this auspicious date, quoting the famous words of Rashi about Moshe Rabbeinu “הנשיא הוא הכל” – The Nasi (Rebbe) is everything ● 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

 

Va’era 5752: The Rectification of Death

In the second sicha printed for parshas Va’era 5752, the Rebbe elaborates on the statement of the sages that “one who dies on Erev Shabbos, it is a good sign for him”.

The Gemara describes that when R’ Yehuda haNosi took ill, R’ Chiya visited him and found him crying.  He asked him why he was crying (assuming that he was afraid of death).  R’ Chiya proceeded to give him a list of signs that portend well for the fate of a person after death (and their opposite): Dying amidst laughter is a good sign, while crying is a not good; one who dies on Erev Shabbos is a good sign, after Shabbos is not good.  (And several others.)

R’ Yehuda haNosi responded that he was crying (not from a fear of his fate after death, but rather) because of the Torah and Mitzvos he would no longer be able to perform.  Seemingly, the list of good signs brought by R’ Chiya (several of which applied to R’ Yehuda haNosi and were meant to comfort him), do not help the reason given by R’ Yehuda for his crying, because seemingly being unable to perform Torah and Mitzvos after ones passing is not affected by the good signs of how a person passes away.  (The Rebbe brings a proof for this from the story in the Gemara about Dovid haMelech, who asked to pass away on Erev Shabbos (because then one is not subject to “chibut hakever“), and Hashem refused him, telling him that even one day of his Torah learning was more dear to Him.)

Furthermore, the Rebbe asks on this whole discussion a fundamental question: “How is it possible to truthfully say (in Toras Emes, the Torah of truth) that “one who dies on Erev Shabbos it is a good sign for him” — a “good sign” in relation to the occurrence of death, the opposite of life, the ultimate opposite of good according to Torah?!”  Since the Torah defines “good” as fulfilling the will of Hashem through the performance of Torah and Mitzvos as a soul in a body, then death is the opposite of Good, since it is the the departure of the soul from the body and the performance of Torah and Mitzvos ceases (thus it was the reason for R’ Yehuda haNosi’s crying).

In answer the Rebbe explains that:

The “good sign” of “one who dies on Erev Shabbos” indicates and emphasizes the rectification of the undesirable aspect in the general inyan of death, and automatically the reason for R’ Yehuda haNossi’s crying over the interruption of Torah and Mitzvos is nullified (and rectified), as we will explain.

The Rebbe proceeds to explain that already on the very first Erev Shabbos, when Adam Harishon was created, there was already something similar to death that took place, as the verse states “Hashem brought a drowsiness upon the Man and caused him to sleep”.  Sleep is called “one-sixtieth of death” by our sages, for when a person sleeps his life force (chayus) is not visible (through movement, expressing ideas, etc.).  This is seemingly an undesirable state, but in fact it is a sign that there will be an increase in the individual’s chayus (life-force) when he wakes up, an incomparable increase.  In the case of Adam Harishon this resulted in the creation of his wife, Chava, after which they could bring unlimited generations into being–an incomparable increase of chayus compared to before he slept, from the limited to the unlimited.

This model also holds in the bigger picture of the 6,000 years of this world which correspond to the days of Creation (the 7th millennium corresponding to the 7th day, Shabbos).  The 6th millennium (which we are in presently) corresponds to “Erev Shabbos”, the end of the time of golus, and there is this inyan of sleeping through which is brought about a union on a higher level (according to Kabbalah this is the union of Z”A and Malchus, the Holy One, blessed be He, and Knesses Yisroel), corresponding to the sleep of Adam Harishon that resulted in an infinitely higher state of being.

Thus, one who “dies on Erev Shabbos” also refers to one who passes away in our time, the eve of the 7th millennium; it is like the sleep we mentioned above.  So it turns out that this death (on “Erev Shabbos” at the end of golus) is for the sake of an increase and renewal of life.  This has two explanations:

a) Our sages say “Yaakov Avinu did not die…just as his descendants are alive, so, too, he is alive”, that through the continuation of the life of his descendants (true life, in accordance with Torah) this brings about that “also he is alive”.  And more than this, that this inyan of “he is alive” in its true sense, meaning eternal existence, is revealed by the continuation and eternality of “his descendants are alive” after his passing [in other words, Yaakov’s eternal life is revealed specifically after he passes away (or, at least, seemed to pass away) by the fact that his descendants continue to live the true life of Torah]that specifically then it can be seen in a revealed way the eternality (the truth) of “he is alive”.  So it turns out that through death comes about an increase and renewal of life — the revelation of the eternality and truth of life.

b) And this is the main thing: that the concealment (histalkus) of the chayus that occurs at death is for the sake of an increase and renewal of chayus as a soul in a body — at the resurrection of the dead, for then there will be life of a soul in a body in eternal life.

This enables us to answer the question of how does telling R’ Yehuda haNosi that “one who dies on Erev Shabbos it is a good sign for him”: since on Erev Shabbos it is emphasized that the concealment (histalkus) of the chayus is for the sake of an increase and renewal of the chayus.  Thus, it turns out that

…the time of death coming on Erev Shabbos is in a way that emphasizes in a revealed way the good aspect alone, the increase and renewal of chayus, both through the increase of the eternality and the truth of the life through the fact that “his descendants are alive”, and also and mainly through the Resurrection of the dead right after the time of burial.

Thus, it turns out, that this “good sign” indicates and emphasizes the rectification of the undesirable aspect in death, and automatically the reason that Rebi [Yehuda haNosi] was crying over the nullification of Torah and Mitzvos is rectified as well, because when Tzaddikim arise at the Resurrection of the dead (at the beginning of Yemos Hamoshiach, forty years before the epoch of the Resurrection of the dead of all Bnei Yisroel) there is a continuation of the fulfillment of Torah and Mitzvos (and to the contrary: in a higher degree of perfection — “as mitzvos of Your will”, כמצות רצונך)

In other words, death on Erev Shabbos is a good sign also as regards the fulfillment of Torah and Mitzvos, for following on the heals of this death is the Resurrection of the dead which enables the fulfillment of Torah and Mitzvos as a soul in a body in a perfected and unlimited way, immeasurably greater than the way it was before the “death on Erev Shabbos”!

The Rebbe then takes this even further: that the main intention of this “good sign” is not literal death, chas v’sholom, but rather the avodah of the Yid in his lifetime as a soul in a body.  This is especially after it has already occurred literally with unique individuals, and through them it is sufficient to fulfill the obligation of the rest of Bnei Yisroel (so that the rest of us do not need to literally pass away in order to attain the higher level described above). Consequently, by the rest of Bnei Yisroel there will be only the spiritual avodah of “death” (meaning self-nullification, bittul), with a seamless continuation to eternal life (without any interruption in between) in the time to come.

Death on Erev Shabbos (the 6th millennium, our times) is only a concealment as a preparation for a revelation of a higher level of life–eternal life of the soul in the body, in the ultimate state of perfection!

Video Shiur: Shemos 5752

Egypt: A Vital Part of Redemption

Chabadinfo.com Exclusive: In the Sicha of Parshas Shmos 5752, the Rebbe discusses the exile in Egypt, and how it was a vital part of the redemption that followed ● 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

 

Shemos 5752: To Bring to the Days of Moshiach

This parsha, following the passing of Yaakov, Yosef, and the brothers, is the beginning of a new era in the history of Bnei Yisroel–the beginning of the Egyptian exile.  “These are the names of Bnei Yisroel who came to Egypt”–the first exile.

The midrash states that the reason for the subsequent redemption from Egypt was “due to the fact that [Bnei Yisroel] did not change their names…they went down as Reuvain and Shimon and they came up as Reuvain and Shimon.”  This is a comment on the name (and initial verse) of our parsha: Shemos (meaning, “names”), which refers to the beginning of the exile in Egypt, as mentioned.

The Rebbe derives from this that the verse “these are the names of Bnei Yisroel who came to Egypt” is also emphasizing the merit for which they were ultimately redeemed from Egypt (“that they didn’t change their names”).  In other words–it is referring both to the beginning of the golus and also to the future Geulah from that golus.

The whole idea of “coming to Egypt” is in truth the “Geulah of Yisroel”.  The descent which occurs in the meantime [until the Geulah comes] is on the superficial level (בחיצוניות), but on a deeper level (בפנימיות), the descent itself is (not only for the sake that through it will come the ascent that occurs through the redemption from Egypt, but more than that–) a part of the ascent and the Geulah itself, until we reach the ascent of the true and complete Geulah…the future Geulah.

In other words, not only is there a “descent for the sake of an ascent”, which makes the descent worthwhile in the end; here the Rebbe is saying something much greater: the descent itself is already part of the ultimate ascent!

At this point, the Rebbe turns to explain the familiar statement:

Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah said: I am like a person seventy years old and yet I did not merit (to understand the source for the obligation) to recall the exodus from Egypt at night until Ben Zoma explained: “It is written, ‘so that you recall the day you left Egypt all the days of your life.’ ‘The days of your life,’ this refers to the actual days. ‘All the days of your life,’ includes the nights as well.” Our Sages say: “ ’The days of your life,’ this refers to the present era. ‘All the days of your life,’ includes the Era of the Redemption.”

There are three levels: Day (when the light of Hashem is shining); Night (the darkness of exile); and the Days of Moshiach (Yemos Hamoshiach, which we will explain).

The Rebbe refers here to Yemos Hamoshiach as a time of “a state of Geulah”, which seemingly is not the same thing as Geulah.  Rather, it is a unification of Geulah (which completely transcends all limitations) and golus, where the unlimited aspect of the Geulah is “drawn down into the limitations of the reality of olam hazeh”.

How can such a thing happen, the unlimited being drawn into the limited?  This is the unique power of the Nosi, the leader of the generation (as was Rabbi Elazar ben Azaria, mentioned above):

The chiddush of the leader of Yisroel (“Nosi b’Yisroel”–the world “Nosi” coming from the word “exalted” התנשאות) is that he connects and unifies “all the days of your life” of every single Jew and of all of Israel — “all the days of your life” the physical days in olam hazeh and particularly in the time of golus (“nights”) — with the Geulah in general and with Yemos Hamoshiach in particular…specifically the Nosi has the power to connect and unify the golus with the Geulah.

For us, this means that “all the days of your life”–as a soul in a body in this physical and material world and in the time of golus, we can go out from the limitations of this world and, more than this: put ourselves in a state of Yemos Hamoshiach!  It is true that the complete Geulah depends on everything being “as it should be” (תוכו כברו).  Nonetheless, even in a personal state of golus (when one is not “as he should be”) he is given special help from the Holy One, blessed be He, and he is given the ability to bring about the true and complete Geulah.  This is why Rabbi Elazar ben Azaria changed the policy and opened up the doors to the study halls to allow students who were not “as they should be”–because he gives them the power to transform things even while in a state of golus!

Thus, even in the “night” of golus, having descending into Egypt, surrounded by 70 nations, he can bring himself to a state of Geulah–“all the days of your life, to bring Yemos Hamoshiach”.

How realistic is this for us?  The Rebbe states:

The instruction from this is understood in simple terms, especially in our generation and our time: as has been said numerous times the words of my father-in-law the leader of our generation (“Nosi Doreinu”), that in addition to the fact that already “all of the end-times have passed”, and Bnei Yisroel have already done tshuva, and finished everything, including polishing the buttons, and all that is needed is that the Holy One, blessed be He, will open up the eyes of Bnei Yisroel so they will see that the true and complete Geulah exists already, and we are already sitting at the set table, at the feast of the Levyoson and the Shor Habar, etc., etc….

This includes transitioning seamlessly from “the days of your life” into “Yemos Hamoshiach”:

and from “the days of your life” at this time and in this place, without any delay in between, chas v’sholom, every single Jew passes immediately with the ultimate perfection in a continuation of “all the days of your life” in Yemos Hamoshiach, and the eternal life that will be then.

What is our job?  Our job is to actually to bring to “Yemos Hamoshiach”, with an emphasis to recognize the one who accomplishes all this:

As regards actual action, the intent is that the avodah of Bnei Yisroel now must be “to bring to Yemos Hamoshiach”, to reveal already in actuality that the state of “coming to Egypt” in golus is in truth a state of “the Geulah of Yisroel”, through this that they prepare themselves and prepare others for the state of “Yemos Hamoshiach”…and since there is already the “king from the house of Dovid who is involved in Torah and busy with Mitzvos like his father Dovid…and he will force all of Israel to go in it and to rectify its breaches and fight the wars of Hashem” — for then “we can assume that he is Moshiach” (בחזקת משיח) — that already immediately he will be “certainly Moshiach” (משיח בודאי), through this that “he did all this and succeeded and built the Beis Hamikdash in his place and gathered in the dispersed of Israel…and rectified the entire world to serve Hashem together, etc.”

Sicha in English

Sicha in Hebrew

Sicha in original Yiddish

Video Shiur: Vayechi 5752

The Meal is Ready, Are You Ready?

Chabadinfo.com Exclusive: In the last Sicha we heard from the Rebbe on Parshas Vayechi, in the year 5752, the Rebbe states that our work has been done, and the Royal Meal of the Livyasan, and Shor Habar is ready ● 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