Maamorim: The Big Picture (1)

Interesting to note the sequence of the maamorim that were printed in 5751, the beginning of the year of Dvar Malchus:

Purim–The level of Purim: an awakening that leads to the downfall of the enemies of Israel (Haman, Stalin in 5713 after this maamor was said, Sadaam Hussein in 5751 when it was edited and printed), and ushers in the period of the ascendency of Mordechai, Esther, and the Jewish nation–while still in the place of exile.

25 Adar–The transmission of the essence from mashpia to mekabel, and it’s revelation, occurs specifically without garments (in a simple, Halachic sense, and also the revelations of thought, speech, and action).

Beis Nissan–The act of tzedoko is completed by actually giving money to the poor man; but the initial desire is only fulfilled when the recipient actually accepts the tzedoko and benefits from it.

11 Nissan–Tefilla leMoshe, the prayer of Moshe, is the prayer of a rich man who lacks nothing and possesses tremendous abundance.  If so, then what does he daven for? He davens that Yisroel (Malchus) should realize that they themselves are rich (spiritually, and from that is drawn down wealth into physicality as well).

18 Nissan–According to Halacha, birds require an additional degree of guarding than animals (not only walls, but also a roof) because they are able to “fly away”.  Similarly, the conceptions of the intellectual soul can also “fly away” to undesirable places, and therefore an additional level of caution is required (a degree that is unnecessary while guarding the animal soul).




Introduction to the cycle of Dvar Malchus

Introduction to the cycle of Dvar Malchus

“Rav Asi asked, ‘Why do little school children begin their Chumash learning with Vayikra and not with Bereishis? It is because little children are pure and unblemished, and the sacrifices are pure and unblemished. The pure ones begin their learning with the study of the pure.'” (Vayikra Rabbah, Tzav 7:3)

The cycle of Dvar Malchus refers to the twelve months of sichos which the Rebbe said between 5751-52 (1991-92), the latest words (“Mishna achrona”) that we have from the Rebbe.  Notably, the cycle begins with the sicha of Parashas Vayikra, 5751.  Although the Torah of Moshiach will only be revealed to us together with the revelations of the true and complete Geulah, these sichos are a “taste” of the “new Torah that will come forth from Me” (Yeshayahu 51:4; Vayikra Rabbah 13:3) and fittingly we start learning from parshas Vayikra.  Furthermore, the sicha describes a connection to Simchas Torah, which is the day when we begin reading the Torah anew (finishing with “V’zos Habrocha” and beginning with “Bereishis”).

Some background: The year 5750 (1990-91) was termed by the Rebbe “it will be a year of miracles” based on the letters that form the Hebrew year.  The year 1990 saw the beginning of the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the outbreak of the first Gulf War.  The year 5751 received the name “it will be year of ‘I will show wonders’”. 

By the time we reach Parshas Vayikra, 5751 (March 1991), the Gulf War has ended (on Purim, two weeks earlier); the events in the disintegration of the Soviet Union will lead, in June (Rosh Chodesh Tammuz), to the election of Boris Yeltsin and the end of the Communist Regime, effectively ceasing to exist upon the resignation of President Gorbachev in late August (Shabbos Ki Seitze).  This new reality—the defeat of Sadaam Hussein in Iraq (and the over miracles witnessed in Israel during that war) and the collapse of the Soviet Union (bringing an end to the Cold War and the nuclear arms race)—is the background to these sichos.

As the Rebbe often explains, events in the physical world are a consequence of what occurs spiritually, the realm of the Jewish souls.  If we see the fall of the earthly “iron curtain” it is because the spiritual “iron curtain” (“mechitza shel barzel”) which separated Israel from their Father in Heaven has fallen.  If an evil dictator who threatened to annihilate, G-d forbid, Jews young and old is defeated and rendered powerless without a Jew firing a weapon, this is because the same drama is playing out spiritually.  These sichos are to guide us in this “new world order”—a new earthly world order, reflecting a new spiritual world order. Continue reading

Pekudei 5752: The Missing Parsha

The Dvar Malchus begins with Vayikra 5751, but where does it end?  The Parshas Vayakhel sicha is unfinished, and parshas Pekudei is missing (actually, “missing” is one of the definitions of the word, as in יפקד מושבך).  What is the message?

Firstly, we could take note that the start of our Dvar Malchus cycle, following the sicha of 28 Nissan 5751, is parshas Vayikra.  This hints at the division of the Chasidishe Parsha, Torah Ohr and Likkutei Torah–the former covering Bereishis to Vayakhel, the latter Vayikra through the end.  In an odd turn of hashgacha protis, parshas Pekudei is absent from Torah Ohr (which covers all of Shemos) and appears in the other volume.

But more to the point, the Rebbe generally explains these two parshiyos (Vayakhel and Pekudei, which in many years are read together) as reflecting two distinct angles:

  • Vayakhel means “gathering” and speaks of unity and generality, where the individual elements are subdued in the whole.
  • Pekudei implies making an accounting of the individual elements, and in fact it is here that we learn the details: this many talents of silver, that many hooks and boards, etc.

The fact that our Dvar Malchus has Vayakhel but lacks Pekudei (when looked at in light of the content of all the sichas) implies that from the collective side of things, everything is in a state of Geulah: the aspect of Above to below, the “Nosi is everything” (הנשיא הוא הכל) which nullifies all the elements to the greater whole. You can find this expressed many times in these sichos.

What remains to be completed is the aspect of Pekudei: the completion and perfection of the parts, not as they are nullified to the greater whole but their own intrinsic importance as unique elements. Meaning our avodah, individually.  In the Rebbe’s words: “do all that you can” — you, personally and as an individual!  (Of course, merging the individual effort with the unity of Vayakhel, which is the reason that most years the two parshiyos are read together.)

What is needed now is for each one of us to reveal his spark of Moshiach through our own efforts, and not to expect someone else, not even the Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach, to do it for us. Avodah b’koach atzmo“, to reveal individually what has already been accomplished collectively. To bring — each one of us — Moshiach in actuality!

(Not only will this complete the aspect of “Pekudei”, but it brings about the completion and perfection of “Veyak’hel”, because the “incomplete” Sicha of Veyak’hel hints that even the aspect of “Above to below” remains incomplete as long as the “Pekudei” is lacking.  Completing the task of the mekabel (from below) adds to the perfection of the mashpia (Above).)


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


Chayei Sara: The Message Beyond the Sicha

As we learned in the Dvar Malchus sicha of parshas Chayei Sarah, this parsha contains the first shilchus in Torah and that in our times shlichus has a new element: the acceptance and “kabbalas panim” of Moshiach.  In most years, it comes out to be the time when the International Gathering of the Rebbe’s shluchim is held.  The Rebbe often brings the words of the Shelah that everything is by hasgacha protis, and thus days and events which fall out near the Parsha are connected with that Parsha.  The Rebbe also speaks about the connection between the Torah portion and the daily section of Tanya, Tehillim, and Rambam.

If we look, we see a wonderful and eye-opening hasgacha protis as regards the Kinus Hashluchim.

When the Kinus Hashluchim falls out on parshas Chayei Sarah, thousands of Shluchim find themselves at the Kinus on Shabbos listening not only to the story of Eliezer, the servant of Avraham Avinu (the first shliach in the Torah), but also, of course, to the haftorah.  The haftorah for parshas Chayei Sarah (Melachim I, 1:1-31) describes the attempt by Adoniyahu, son of Dovid Hamelech, to usurp his aged father’s throne and rule in his father’s place instead of his brother Shlomo (Solomon, whom Dovid Hamelech had chosen as his successor).  Dovid is informed what his son is doing:

[Adoniyahu] has gone down this day and has slain oxen and fatlings and sheep in abundance, and he called all the King’s sons, and the officers of the army, and Evyassar the priest, and behold they eat and drink before him, and they said, “Long live King Adoniyahu.” (“Yechi Hamelech Adoniyahu”)

The culmination of his attempt to usurp the throne is the people’s acceptance of his Kingship by declaring “Yechi Hamelech”!  Dovid Hamelech swears that Shlomo shall reign after him, and the haftorah ends with the words  “Let my lord King David live forever.” (“Yechi Adoni Hamelech Dovid L’olam”).

The importance of declaring “Yechi Hamelech” is explained by the Rebbe in the sicha of Beis Nissan, 5748 (1988), where the Rebbe brings the Rambam’s description of the king of the nation as the heart of the nation.  Just as the heart pumps blood, which is life, to all of the limbs of the body, giving life to the body, proper circulation is dependent on the limbs, which must also return the blood to the heart.  This, explains the Rebbe, is the people’s declaration of “Yechi Hamelech”–the limbs (the people) returning life-blood to the heart (the king).

Now see more hashagacha protis:

In the portion of Tanya that was learned on this same Shabbos, the Alter Rebbe writes about the circulation of the blood in spiritual terms:

The cause of illness or health lies in the distribution and flow of the life-force from the heart to all the organs, [this life-force] being vested in the blood of life which flows from the heart to all the organs; and the spirit of life and the blood circulates all around into all the limbs, through the veins that are embedded in them, and returns to the heart.  Now, if the circulation and flow of this spirit of life is always as it should be…then the individual is perfectly healthy.  …But should there be any disorder in any place, restraining, hindering or reducing the circulation and flow of the blood with the spirit of life vested in it, then this bond — which connects all the limbs with the heart by means of this circulation — is severed (which would extinguish life), or diminished, in which case the individual will fall ill and sick (May G‑d protect us!)

To summarize: On the Shabbos day when all the Shluchim of the Rebbe are gathered together to discuss the goals and techniques of their Shlichus, Divine Providence brings about that:

  1. the “latest word” from the Rebbe on this parsha the Rebbe informs us what is the new element in shlichus in our times: that in each generation, there is an individual who is fit to be Moshiach and “when the time comes, G‑d will reveal Himself to him and send him.” The service at present is thus to be prepared to actually accept Moshiach and create a climate in which he can accomplish his mission and redeem Israel from the exile.
  2. the haftorah concludes with the declaration “Yechi Hamelech” (describing how “Yechi Adoni Hamelech Dovid L’olam” negates and prevents the undesirable “Yechi Hamelech Adoniahu”), and
  3. the daily section of Tanya teaches that spiritual health derives from proper circulation, when the limbs return the flow of blood to the heart–the exact metaphor that the Rebbe uses to explain the declaration “Yechi Hamelech”!

For those who need a hint in this matter, Hashgacha Protis has provided it.

We conclude with a brocha that every single one of the Rebbe’s shluchim (and, as the Rebbe says in the sicha, every Jew in our generation has been appointed a shliach of the [Previous] Rebbe) should be healthy in all their limbs and in their heart, both physically and spiritually, and that they should be successful in fulfilling the shlichus of the one who sent them, including and especially the “new element” that has become the “gateway” for the entire shlichus–to greet Moshiach Tzidkeinu in actual reality, through the final words of the haftorah as they apply in our generation, the generation of Moshiach (a descendant of Dovid through his son Shlomo*):

Let our Master our Teacher and our Rebbe, Melech Hamoshiach, live forever!

* Rambam, 13 Principles of Faith, #12

See the original sicha and also  questions and answers by Rabbi Shlomo Majeski


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!


Eikev 5751: Three Dimensions of Elul

The month of Elul is blessed on Shabbos parshas Eikev, and Chassidus expounds upon the name of this month as corresponding to the rashei teivos (initial letters) of the verse “Ani leDodi, v’Dodi Li” (“I am for my beloved, and my beloved is for me”, from Shir Hashirim 6:3).

This verse expresses two directions or dimensions in Divine service: “I am for my beloved”–the service initiated from below to Above; and the continuation and outcome of that: “and my beloved is for me”–the awakening from Above.  The Rebbe adds that since they are both hinted at in one word–Elul–this indicates a third dimension, the unification of these two types of Divine service.

To understand what these expressions mean:

“I am for my beloved” is the effort to serve Hashem that comes from the awakening of the G-dly soul as it is enclothed in an animal soul and physical body which conceal G-dliness, the effort “from below” to reach out to and come closer to G-d through overcoming obstacles to fulfilling Hashem’s will.

“My beloved is for me” is the response that comes from Above in recognition of the effort made from below, a bestowal from Above which enables the G-dly soul to serve Hashem in a way that transcends the limitations of this world.

These also indicate the Divine service of a Jew fueled by his G-dly soul as it is Above the world and transcends the limitations of the world, drawing down from Above to influence the body and animal soul; and the effort of the soul as it is “in the lower realms”, enclothed in the limitations of the body and animal soul, meeting the challenges head-on without the benefit of “revelations from Above”.

These proceed from one to the other.  First comes “I am for my beloved”, the effort from below to Above struggling with the limitations of this world.  This is the primary thing, for through this we create a dwelling place for Hashem in this lowly world (“dira lo yisborech b’tachtonim“), which is the original desire for which the world was created.

The power of Atzmus (“essence”) from the Yesh HoAmiti (“the true existence”) becomes revealed specifically in the Yesh Hanivra (“the created existence”)…

In other words, only in the darkest “tachtonim” can we reveal the power of Atzmus within our souls by clinging to and manifesting our belief in Hashem’s oneness and control over the world.  When this effort is successful, it elicits “my beloved is for me”, the bestowal from Above which endows the ability to transcend the darkness of the world and its limitations.

The ultimate level is the unification of both dimensions in the service of “Elul” which is to serve Hashem within the natural boundaries and dimensions of the world, but in a way that is empowered from Above to transcend and overcome them even as one is within them.  The created existence (“yesh hanivra”) becomes a “yesh hoAmiti”, a true and eternal existence.

And the main thing in all of this is the true and complete Geulah…And since everything that we needed to accomplish [in “tachtonim“] has already been accomplished, even “polishing the buttons”, then the only thing that remains is for the Almighty to take the Yidden out of golus and to bring them to the Holy Land…and therefore Yidden ask and cry out again again — and now more strongly than before — “Ad Mosai”?!