Miketz 5752

Translated by Sichos In English:

1. One of the differences between Chanukah and other festivals is that on other festivals, there is an obligation to celebrate with festive meals which include bread, water, meat, and wine. In contrast, on Chanukah, there is no obligation to celebrate with festive meals; and the meals one serves are optional in nature. The commemoration of the miracle is, in contrast, through the recitation of prayers of praise and thanksgiving, and through kindling the Chanukah lights.

There is a thematic reason for such a difference. The miracle of Chanukah involved a victory over the Greeks who desired to “make them forget Your Torah and cause them to transgress the decrees of Your will.” This — in contrast to the victory of Purimwhere Haman’s decree was directed against the physical existence of the Jewish people, or the miracle of Pesach, when the Jews were rescued from physical servitude — represented a spiritual victory. Accordingly, its commemoration is through spiritual activities, the recitation of prayers and kindling lights which symbolize “the light of the Torah and the lamp of mitzvos.”

It must be emphasized that the commemoration of the other holidays through physical activities also has spiritual significance. For the Jews’ physical activities — even those carried out throughout the year — are fundamentally spiritual in nature as implied by the directives, “All your deeds should be for the sake of heaven” and “Know Him in all your ways.” For example, eating bread and drinking water are similes for Torah study. Surely, this applies on Shabbos and festivals, when delighting in food and drink is a mitzvah.

Similarly, the physical freedom which the Jews achieved on Pesach and Purim is connected with their spiritual service. For the exodus from Egypt commemorated on Pesach is associated with the giving of the Torah on Shavuos. Similarly, Purim is interpreted as a reaffirmation of the acceptance of the Torah on Mount Sinai.

(Conversely, Chanukah is also associated with liberation in the material sense, for in addition to the spiritual restrictions the Greeks imposed on the Jews, they also oppressed them in a material sense, “extending their hands against their property and their daughters” and with the victory over the Greeks, this oppression ceased.)

From the above it is apparent that the distinction of Chanukah as different from the other festivals, applies not only in regard to the fact that the commemoration of Chanukah was associated with lighting candles rather than festive meals, but also that the spiritual significance of the holiday is different and on a higher plane than that of the other holidays. This difference can be understood by comparing water, bread, and wine, the foods served during the festive meals of other holidays and oil, which is used for the Chanukah lights.

As mentioned above, all of these substances are used as metaphors for the Torah. There are, however, differences between them. Water and bread are the staples of our everyday existence. In contrast, wine is not a daily necessity, it is used to contribute an element of pleasure to our existence as it is written, “Wine makes glad man and G‑d.” Oil is not required for our day to day existence. It is never served as a food in its own right.1 Rather, it is used in minute qualities to add flavor to other foods. Thus it is associated with the quality of pleasure.

Bread and water are metaphors for Nigleh, the revealed dimensions of Torah law, the concepts of Torah which are necessary for our people to know to observe the mitzvos properly. Like bread and water, this knowledge is necessary for our people’s existence. In contrast, wine and oil are metaphors for Pnimiyus HaTorah. For like these two substances, the study of Pnimiyus HaTorah adds pleasure and vitality to our observance of the Torah and its mitzvos.

In particular, there is a difference between oil and wine. For wine is drunken as a beverage in its own right, while oil is not. Also, there are times, Shabbos and festivals, when wine is required for Kiddush. Similarly, in regard to the symbolic meaning of the two. Wine refers to those dimensions of the Torah’s secrets that are close to revelation and can be perceived by a sensitive eye. In contrast, oil refers to the deepest secrets of the Torah, those that transcend revelation.

This reflects the significance of Chanukah, that it is associated with these deeper levels of Torah. A question, however, arises: How is it possible that the Jews could rise to a level of service which relates to oil, the Torah’s deepest secrets, at a time when the were persecuted and oppressed by the Greeks?

The resolution of this question relates to a fundamental spiritual dynamic: As the darkness of the world increases, the revelation of the light of the Torah is correspondingly amplified. Therefore, precisely because the Greeks oppressed the Jews and challenged their faith, it was necessary that a higher dimension of Torah be revealed, the dimension associated with oil, i.e., the Torah’s deepest secrets.

To explain this concept: It is well known that the Greeks represent the wisdom of kelipah, secular wisdom. They were philosophers who denied the G‑dly basis of the Torah, refusing to accept that it was communicated to man by G‑d and thus transcends human wisdom. Therefore, they made the oil found in the Beis HaMikdashimpure, i.e., they challenged the wisdom of holiness, and sought to take the Jews away from the Torah.

It is possible to explain that the power possessed by the Greeks to affect the Jews’ wisdom stemmed from their connection to Torah knowledge. For example, we see that the Sages refused to permit Torah scrolls to be written in any foreign language other than Greek. This is derived from the verse (Bereishis 9:27), “May G‑d dwell graciously with Yefes; he will dwell in the tents of Shem.” In this context, this means that the graciousness of Yefes (the beauty of the Greek language) comes when it is employed in the “tents of Shem,” for the purpose of the Torah. This is reflected in the translation of the Torah into Greek by the seventy Sages.

A question can be raised concerning the above based on our Sages’ comments that the day on which the Torah was translated into Greek for Ptolemy was “as difficult for the Jewish people as the day on which the Golden Calf was made.”

This difficulty can, however, be resolved as follows: The translation of the Torah into Greek was primarily a positive activity. The difficulty was that this translation did not stem from G‑d’s command, but rather from that of King Ptolemy. Accordingly, there was a possibility that it would be the source for negative influence, indeed, negative influences so serious that the day was compared to the day that the Golden Calf was made, the direct opposite of the giving of the Torah.

It can be explained that the Greek’s decrees against the Jews came about (after the passage of approximately 100 years) from this translation. The Greeks accepted the Torah as a great source of wisdom. They were, however, opposed to the holiness of Torah, its connection to G‑d. The translation of the Torah into Greek gave them the potential to taint the Torah’s holiness with impurity, i.e., to explain that the Torah was — just like other philosophies of the time — merely human wisdom and not Divine truth.

In this context, we can appreciate the uniqueness of the Chanukah miracle, that the Jews found pure oil with the seal of the High Priest. The decree of the Greeks was intended to make the Torah impure, to reduce the emphasis on the holiness of the Torah. The direct opposite of this is pure oil, untouched by the Greeks, and whose influence stems from the High Priest, the highest level of holiness. It was with such oil that a miracle was wrought for eight days; i.e., in addition to the day on which the miracle was wrought, this miraculous trend continued for an entire week, a complete cycle of time.

The concept of pure oil relates to the study of Pnimiyus HaTorah. Nigleh, the revealed dimension of Torah law, is structured to govern our involvement in all the material dimensions of worldly life. Accordingly, it is in this realm that there is the possibility that Torah will be appreciated merely as wisdom without its G‑dly source being appreciated. In contrast, Pnimiyus HaTorah is the realm of Torah study where G‑dliness is openly revealed. Moreover, when the study of Pnimiyus HaTorah is coupled with the study of Nigleh, one is able to appreciate the holiness of the Torah when studying Nigleh as well.

This quality is emphasized more by the simile of oil, than that of wine. For as mentioned above, wine is drunken as a beverage in its own right. In contrast, oil is used to give flavor to other foods. It is the dimension of oil which gives Pnimiyus HaTorah the potential to reveal the G‑dliness in Nigleh.

Moreover, oil has the potential to illuminate. This points to the potential to reveal the inner light of the Torah. Furthermore, this light is revealed, not only in a Jew’s personal life, but in the world around him. This is reflected in the Chanukah lights which are placed “at the outside of the entrance to one’s home,” and kindled “after sunset.”

These lights should burn “until the foot of the Tarmudites departs.” The name Tarmud (תרמוד) shares the same Hebrew letters as the word moredes (מורדת) meaning “rebellious one.” Thus the Chanukah lights have the potential to dispel the influence of all rebellion against G‑d. Furthermore, the meaning of the word כלי’ rendered as “depart” can also be extended to include kalus hanefesh, the expiration of the soul, because of an overwhelming love for G‑d. The oil of the Chanukah lights has the potential to transform even “the foot of the Tarmudites” and bring them to such a love for G‑d.

Based on the above, we can also appreciate the connection between Chanukah and the holiday of Yud-Tes Kislev, the day associated with the beginning of the service of spreading the wellsprings of Chassidus outward. In the years that followed the nullification of the Greek’s decrees, the main emphasis within Torah study remained on the study of Nigleh. Throughout the entire Talmudic period, the study of Pnimiyus HaTorah was confined to a select few. For example, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, the author of the Zohar, was only permitted to reveal his teachings to a chosen group of scholars. This situation continued in the subsequent generations and it was not until the time of the AriZal that it became, “a mitzvah to reveal this knowledge.” Afterwards, though the activities of the Baal Shem Tov, the Maggid, the Alter Rebbeand the subsequent Rebbeim, these teachings were disseminated to wider circles and brought closer to our ordinary powers of comprehension.

This implies that the holiday of Chanukah places an emphasis on the study of Pnimiyus HaTorah as an element in elevating our conception of Nigleh, giving us the potential to appreciate the G‑dliness of the Torah. Yud-Tes Kislev, by contrast, emphasizes on how the study of Pnimiyus HaTorah becomes a fundamental branch of study in its own right, that the teachings of Pnimiyus HaTorah have been brought into the realm of reason and logic so that they can be assimilated within the context of our conceptual powers.

This represents a greater revelation than existed in previous generations. What is the motivating force for this revelation at present? Since there has been an increase in the darkness pervading the world and an increase in the influence of secular wisdom — which as explained above, leads to the possibility that the Torah be seen merely as ordinary wisdom — it became necessary for there to be a greater revelation of Pnimiyus HaTorah, and that this revelation permeate our conceptual processes.

Indeed, in each subsequent generation, as the darkness has continued to increase, there has been a strengthening of the spreading of the wellsprings of Chassidus outward. To give an example of this pattern: At the time of the Rebbe Rashab, there was a tremendous increase in the spread of secular wisdom throughout the Jewish community in Russia. At this time, the Rebbe established Yeshivas Tomchei Temimim, a Yeshivah in which Pnimiyus HaTorah was studied in an ordered and structured manner, as is Nigleh.

This thrust was continued by the Rebbe Rashab’s successor, the Previous Rebbe, who established branches of Yeshivas Tomchei Temimim in many countries throughout the world. Similarly it was reflected in his efforts in pioneering the translation of the teachings of Pnimiyus HaTorah into many other languages, revealing the light of Pnimiyus HaTorah at “the outside of the entrance to one’s home.”

The revelation of Pnimiyus HaTorah at the present time is connected with a deeper purpose than combating the increasing darkness of exile, it is a foretaste of the light of Redemption. Here, too, we see a connection to oil, for the very name Mashiach means “the anointed one,” i.e., a king anointed with the unique oil made for this purpose.2 Similarly, Mashiach will be the one who will reveal the secrets of Torah in the world at large to the extent that “the occupation of the entire world will be solely to know G‑d.” At that time, the study of Pnimiyus HaTorah will be a purpose in its own right. Therefore, as a preparation for and in anticipation of this revelation, there is a greater emphasis on the study of Pnimiyus HaTorah at present.3

Herein, we also see a connection to Chanukah, a holiday of eight days, for the number eight is associated with the Redemption. Similarly, there is a connection to Yud-Tes Kislev, for as the Baal Shem Tov explained, it is the spreading forth of the wellsprings of Chassidus that will lead to the coming of Mashiach. We also see a connection to this week’s Torah reading, for the root of the name Mikeitz, keitz is often used as a term to describe the coming of the Redemption.

* * *

2. This week’s Torah reading contains a narrative that requires explanation. The Torah relates that Yosef took Yaakov4 to Pharaoh and Pharaoh asked him. “How old are you?” Yaakov responded, “The years of my travails are 130. The days of the years of my life have been few and hard and they have not reached those of my ancestors in their journeys.”

This statement raises several questions: a) Why was it necessary for Yaakov to say that “the years of my life have been few”? Pharaoh only asked him his age. Seemingly, he should have confined his answer to that, leaving it to Pharaoh to conclude whether his lifetime was long or short. b) Since after the flood, it was decreed that man would live only 120 years, how could Yaakov say that his years are “few”? His lifetime was already longer than that allotted to the average man. Indeed, it was because Yaakov looked very old, that Pharaoh enquired about his age.

A possible resolution to these difficulties can be offered: The two portions of Yaakov’s response are interrelated. He considered “The days of the years of my life” as “few and hard,” because “they have not reached those of my ancestors in their journeys,” i.e., when compared to the life of Avraham (175 years) and Yitzchak (180 years), Yaakov’s lifetime was short.5 From Rashi’s commentary, however, it appears that this interpretation is not acceptable, for he associates the reference to Avraham and Yitzchak is referring to the difficulty of Yaakov’s years, i.e., in contrast to them, his years were difficult. According to Rashi, it appears that Yaakov saw his lifetime as truly being “short.”

From this perspective, the questions mentioned above can be resolved as follows: Since Yaakov’s years were “hard,” fraught with difficulty, they were “few,” i.e., they were not filled with the inner spiritual service that was desired. We find Avraham described as “bah bayomim,” literally, “having entered his days.” Chassidusinterprets this to mean that he filled each of his days with an appropriate spiritual content.

In Yaakov’s case, however, because his years were “hard,” they had not “reached those of my ancestors,” i.e., there was no approximation to the inner spiritual fulfillment with which Avraham and Yitzchak had endowed their years.

This lack of fulfillment is needless to say relative to the unique level which Yaakov saw as within his potential. Furthermore, in the 17 years that Yaakov lived in Egypt, studying with his children and grandchildren, he compensated for all the previous difficulty he had suffered to the extent that his entire life could be seen as having been lived in an atmosphere of comfort and good fortune and thus filled with the inner spiritual fulfillment he desired.

There is a deeper message in the concept that Yaakov considered his life short because he was not able to fill it with the spiritual content that he desired. Our Sages relate, “Yaakov desired to live in prosperity.” In an ultimate sense, this refers to the perfect goodness and prosperity of the Era of the Redemption. From the time Yosef was born, Yaakov was ready for the Redemption, and since this potential was not realized at that time, he considered his life as lacking.

And Yaakov felt it necessary to communicate this message. He wanted his descendants to knew that even when they were living in “the finest place in the land of Egypt” and were being given “the fat of the land,” since the Redemption had not materialized, they should consider their lives as lacking.

This is particularly relevant to us, the last generation of the exile and the first generation of the Redemption, we must feel that until the Redemption becomes manifest, our lives are lacking. This perception should lead to an increased desire and yearning for the Redemption and also an increase in the activities that will hasten the coming of the Redemption: an increase in the spreading of the wellsprings of Chassidus and an increase in Mivtza Chanukah, the Chanukah campaign. The latter should include organizing Chassidic farbrengens in connection with Chanukah and also the distribution of Chanukah gelt.

May these activities, like the Chanukah lamps, fill the world with light. And may this light continue to grow and increase6 until G‑d gives His children, the entire Jewish people, Chanukah gelt and redeems them from exile. This in turn will cause the upcoming fast of the Tenth of Teves to be transformed into a day of celebration and festivity with the coming of the Redemption.

FOOTNOTES

1.

Indeed, when oil is drunken alone, it can harm a person.

2.

See Tehillim 89:21 which states in regard to David, the ancestor of the Mashiach, “I anointed him with holy oil.”

3.

Herein, there is also a connection to the concept of combating darkness explained previously. For the increase in the darkness stems from the efforts of the forces of evil to prevent the revelation of Mashiach. For this reason, Mashiach will have to “fight the wars of G‑d… and emerge victorious.”

4.

Herein we see a connection to the concept of Torah study mentioned above, for this was the fundamental thrust of Yaakov’s service. Avraham and Yitzchak also devoted their energies to Torah study as our Sages commented, “Avraham was aged and dwelled in the Yeshivah; Yitzchak was aged and dwelled in the Yeshivah.” Nevertheless, Avraham’s primary service was deeds of kindness and Yitzchak’s primary service was prayer. In contrast, Yaakov is described as “a dweller of tents, ‘the tents of Shem and Ever,’ ” i.e., Torah study was the major element of his service of G‑d.

He communicated this quality to Yosef, conveying everything which he studied to him. Yosef in turn revealed these qualities in the world at large, and indeed, even in the land of Egypt, a place whose name is synonymous with boundaries and limitations.

Furthermore, both Yaakov and Yosef share a connection to the concept of redemption. Yaakov was the third of the Patriarchs and our Sages associate him with the Third Beis HaMikdash which will be built in the Era of the Redemption. Similarly, Yosef was the one who told the Jewish people that G‑d would redeem them from the Egyptian exile, giving them the code phrase pakod yifkod.

5.

Despite this relative shortness, he appeared aged, because his life was “hard.” Yaakov could have expected to have lived for 180 years. Indeed, it was because of his statements to Pharaoh which could be interpreted as a lack of appreciation for G‑d’s kindness, that it was decreed that he live only 147 (Midrash, cited in Daas Zekainim).

6.

The fact that Rosh Chodesh Teves is celebrated in the midst of Chanukah (on this Shabbos day and on the day that follows) teaches us a further lesson: that the increase experienced on Chanukah must, like Rosh Chodesh, be a complete renewal. And since this year there are two days Rosh Chodesh, that implies that this renewal can be repeated and amplified.
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Erev Sukkos, Esrogim, 5752

1. As was mentioned several times, the four species included in the lulav and esrog draw down influence for the entire year. This influence affects the spiritual matters of the Torah and its mitzvosand also our material sustenance from “His full, open, holy, and generous hand.” Similarly, our “rejoicing in our festivals,” draws down happiness for the entire year.

The holiday happiness begins already on the day before the holiday and increases throughout the duration of the holiday. Indeed, this rejoicing begins on the Shabbos on which the month of Elul is blessed. It continues throughout the month of Elul when “the King is in the field,” and is increased in the days of Selichos(particularly, this year when there are two Shabbasos associated with Selichos).

It is amplified by Rosh HaShanah when we “eat sumptuous foods and drink sweet beverages” and then increases throughout the year in both material and spiritual matters, for “the day is holy unto our L‑rd.” Furthermore, the influence is granted to the entire year, not only in a general manner, but also in regard to particular matters. Each day, the particular nature of this influence grows. This will include the ultimate of all particular matters, the coming of the Future Redemption when we will be gathered into Eretz Yisraelfrom all four corners of the word.

Kabetz (קבץ), the Hebrew for “gather,” is numerically equivalent to the sum of the Hebrew words bakol mikol kol, the threefold blessing given to our Patriarchs. This relates to the nature of the present year, shnas niflaos bakol, “a year of wonders in all things.” May we merit this, and the ultimate of wonders, the coming of the Redemption, today, the day preceding Sukkos.

And with Mashiach, we will proceed together with “our youth and our elders… our sons and our daughters” together with all our Torah service “on the clouds of heaven.” And then together, we will continue being together in our Holy Land, in Jerusalem, and in “the Sanctuary of G‑d established by Your hands.” We will celebrate the Simchas Beis HaShoeivah there. Since the Ultimate Redemption will already have come, there will be no need for any restricting decrees and the Simchas Beis HaShoeivah will be able to be held on the first day of the festival itself.

In Eretz Yisrael, the holiday of Sukkos has already begun at present (for as the Alter Rebbe writes in his Shulchan Aruch, the spiritual influences are dependent on the local time). Thus this is the beginning of the Simchas Beis HaShoeivah.

May we all — and the entire Jewish people — witness the Simchas Beis HaShoeivah and may this happiness be drawn down through the entire year. And this will be a year “which contains wonders” (נפלאות בו) and a year “of wonders in all things” (נפלאות בכל), evoking the influence of the threefold blessing to the Patriarchs bakol mikol kol. As mentioned, this phrase is numerically equivalent to the word kabetz. Thus there is the potential for the ultimate ingathering of the exiles and thus “all the inhabitants of the land will live upon it.”1

May this take place amid ever-increasing happiness beginning from the present time.

[Afterwards, the Rebbe told the representatives from Eretz Yisrael:] May you return to your homes in a healthy manner, each person at his appropriate time. May we hear good tidings from you before your journey and after your journey, in a manner of continually increasing happiness and light.

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FOOTNOTES
1.

The Hebrew phrase kol yoshvehoh eleha is significant. It implies that our people will live in Eretz Yisrael in a settled manner. When this is accomplished, the Jubilee Year will be renewed. In regard to the Jubilee, it is stated, “And you shall call freedom throughout the land,” including the ultimate freedom, freedom from exile.

Blessing to the Yeshivah Students Erev Yom Kippur, 5752

1. (The Rebbe Shlita began by reciting the Priestly Blessing and the following verse. He then said:) There are two interpretations of the concluding phrase mentioned above, “And I will bless them”:

a) That it refers to the priests. According to the principle, “I will bless they who bless you,” because the priests bless the Jews, G‑d will convey a blessing to the priests.

b) It is a blessing for the Jewish people as a whole as reflected by the previous phrase, “And they shall convey My Name upon the children of Israel.”

There is a point of connection between these blessings and every member of the Jewish people, man, woman, or child. For as the Rambam writes, the spiritual qualities of the priests and the tribe of Levi are not exclusive and are within the grasp of every Jew who decides to separate himself from the vanities of this world and make G‑d — and thus His Torah — his portion. Surely, this applies to Yeshivah students, for “Torah is their livelihood.” In particular, it applies to those who study in Yeshivas Tomchei Temimim, the Yeshivah for which the Previous Rebbe1 was the first director. He set the basis for the functioning of the yeshivah, has directed it until the present day and indeed, will continue to direct it forever.

“Holiness never departs from its place.” On the contrary, it continually increases and proceeds further. As such “he (the Previous Rebbe) gave — and is giving — his bread to the poor” — those who are involved with the service of bittul, “my soul will be as dust to all.” And the Previous Rebbe gives them “his bread,” his influence both material and spiritual (which became assimilated into his being as bread does), to bring about great success in the study of Nigleh (the revealed dimension of Torah law), the study of Pnimiyus HaTorah (Torah’s mystic dimension), and in the fusion of the two studies as one. This is reflected in the name Tomchei Temimim which relates to the description of the Torah as “perfect” (Temimah). Nevertheless, there are some who have a greater portion in the study of Nigleh, while others have a greater portion in the study of Pnimiyus HaTorah.

“Those with a good eye will be blessed.” All those who study in Yeshivas Tomchei Temimim possess “a good eye” and therefore they receive all the blessings necessary for themselves and all the blessings necessary for them to continue as possessing a “good eye” in their relations with others.

May each one2 of you together with the entire Jewish people be blessed with a healthy body and a healthy soul. May it be revealed within the body how the soul is a part of G‑d from Above. For as the Baal Shem Tov taught, each entity in the world shares a connection with G‑d’s essence. May you be blessed from the source of blessing, the Previous Rebbe and indeed, from the ultimate source, G‑d’s essence.

May G‑d’s essence be drawn down (the extended meaning of the word yivurach, “blessed” as explained in Chassidus) to all the matters of our generation and to all the people in our generation.3 And these blessings will be expressed in our material world, and in a revealed manner, establishing an all-encompassing unity with G‑d’s essence.

Herein, there is a connection to Yom Kippur which is described as achas bashanah, “once a year,” i.e., oneness in the dimension of time. Expressing this oneness are the Jewish people, “one nation in the world.” And this oneness will be revealed in the world and in the Torah. The latter is of primary importance, for it is through the Torah that the world was created. And it will be revealed how not only “Is there nothing else… apart from G‑d,” but rather, that there is simply “nothing else” at all.

And the entire Jewish people will be blessed in a manner of Atem Nitzavim, “you are standing in judgment,” which Chassidus interprets to standing with the strength of a king. For each Jew, by virtue of his study of the Torah is a king as our Sages declared, “Who are our kings? Our Rabbis.” And this will be drawn down (as the verse continues) lifneichem, “to your inner dimensions” so that Havayah will be Elokeichem, i.e., it will be revealed how “your strength and your vitality” is Havayah, G‑d’s transcendent dimension.4

May the mission — with which you as students of Torah are charged — be fulfilled and may you serve as channels of blessing for your household, to all those with whom you share a connection, and to all who support them.5

May you and the entire Jewish people receive the threefold blessing with which the Patriarchs were blessed bakol mikol kol. As mentioned, these words are numerically equivalent to the word kabetz (“gather in”). May this be a year of true redemption when the exiles will be gathered in. For G‑d will “sound the great shofar for our freedom,” and in this “the year of wonders in all things,” we will proceed together with the entire Jewish people to our Holy Land, to Jerusalem, and to the Beis HaMikdash. May this take place in the immediate future.

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FOOTNOTES

1.

The Previous Rebbe was also the only son of the Rebbe Rashab and his successor.

2.

The importance of every individual is reflected in our Sages’ statement, “Every person is obligated to say, ‘The world was created for me.’ ”

3.

This particularly applies to those described as men, Adam, a name associated with the phrase Adamah l’Elyon, “I resemble the One Above.”

4.

This relates to Shabbos Shuvah and the Haftorah which begins, “Return, Israel to Havayah Elokecha.” [See the sichah to the members of the Machne Israel Development Fund.] From the Shabbos, all the days of the coming week are blessed.

5.

On the verse “those who support it are happy,” our Sages noted the connection between the Hebrew for happy (אושר) and wealth (עושר) and explained that those who support Torah scholars will be blessed with wealth.

Blessings After Minchah, Erev Yom Kippur, 5752

1. The principle, “Open with blessing,” is applicable at all times and particularly so because the time and the place of this gathering are unique. Whenever a subject is greater, contains more depth, or is higher,1 the principle “Open with blessing” applies with more force. And therefore, at the present time, the Ten Days between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, it is particularly relevant.2

As mentioned on several occasions, there are only seven days between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. Nevertheless, the expression “ten days between” is appropriate, because there are two dimensions to these holidays, an essential aspect possessed by both Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur and a dimension in which these holidays share the qualities of and are included within the Ten Days of Repentance.

The name Rosh HaShanah means “the head of the year.” Just as the head contains the life-energy for the entire body, Rosh HaShanah contains the life-energy for the entire year. This concept also applies to Yom Kippur, for Yom Kippur is also called Rosh HaShanah by the prophet Yechezkel and the AriZal explains that, Yom Kippur reflects the inner dimensions of Rosh HaShanah. Furthermore, since the realm of holiness is structured according to the principle, “Always ascend higher in holy matters,” it follows there is an advantage to Yom Kippur over Rosh HaShanah. Indeed, Yom Kippur is achas bashanah, “once a year,” reflecting an aspect of oneness above the limits of our material world.

The above relates to the teaching quoted by the Tur that even on Erev Rosh HaShanah, “the nature of the Jewish nation” is to wear festive clothing and eat a festive meal, because they are confident that they will prevail in judgment. Since this is a custom of the Torah,3 it has the potential to change the nature of our judgment. Even when the judgment is associated with holiness, there is the possibility that it be altered and improved.4 This is the focus of the service of the second day of Rosh HaShanah and of the subsequent days of the Ten Days of Repentance, to contribute an additional dimension of holiness and light.

And thus G‑d will surely fulfill the inner will of every Jew — and the will of the Jews reflects the inner will of G‑d as the Rambam writes — and that inner will is for the Redemption to come. This is particularly true, because “all the appointed times for Mashiach’scoming have passed.” As the Previous Rebbe explained, all that is necessary is to “stand together prepared [to greet Mashiach]” and that has also been accomplished.

All that is necessary is one turn to G‑d. That will come natu­rally, there is no need for miracles. This is particularly relevant after all the Jews have endured and furthermore, there is a profound positive influence for we have studied the teachings of the Previous Rebbe5 in the realm of Pnimiyus HaTorah.

The above is surely relevant at present, after the majority of the Ten Days of Repentance have passed, and particularly, on the present day, the ninth of Tishrei. The ninth of Tishrei is intrinsically related to the tenth of Tishrei, Yom Kippur. Furthermore, that connection is not only spiritual, but also material in nature. The eating and drinking on the ninth of Tishrei makes possible the spiritual service of Yom Kippur. Moreover, this affects every Jew, man, woman, and child.

In regard to a child’s fasting, great care must be taken for there is danger involved and we follow the principle that a danger to life supersedes all the mitzvos of the Torah. What is the basis for this teaching? The awareness that ultimately, the temporary suspension of Torah observance will lead to greater observance, as our Sages stated, “Breaking one Shabbos in order to keep many Shabbasos.” Similarly, whenever Torah is sacrificed for the sake of a Jewish life:

a) It is a privilege for the Torah and the Torah is elevated to a higher level, for the Torah gave a Jew the opportunity to continue living.

b) We can be certain that ultimately the Jew will merit to observe many more mitzvos.

And thus, the Torah will be observed on a higher level. This relates to the manner in which the higher rung of teshuvah elevates our service of Torah and mitzvos. As explained, the higher rung of teshuvah relates to an inner bond with G‑d’s intellectual attributes, simply put, devoting oneself to Torah study with inner feeling. In this manner, a wondrous unity is established.

The necessity to supersede the mitzvah of fasting because of a danger to a Jew’s health will surely not be necessary and every Jew will be able to carry out the mitzvah of fasting on Yom Kippur as required. Furthermore, it is possible that this will not be required at all. Every day, we are expecting Mashiach to come and surely, this applies on the ninth of Tishrei. Should Mashiach come at present, as a continuation of the festive meals6 of the ninth of Tishrei, we will proceed to the festive celebration of Mashiach’scoming, the feast of the Leviathan, the wild ox, and the aged wine.

There is the potential to participate in these feasts on Yom Kippur itself. In regard to the dedication of the First Beis HaMikdash, we find that due to the great joy, the Jews continued the celebrations on Yom Kippur, eating and drinking on that holy day. Rather than this be considered as a negative factor, a heavenly voice proclaimed, “You are all assured of a portion in the World to Come.”7 Similarly, in regard to our present circumstances, should Mashiach come today, our festive celebrations will continue on Yom Kippur.8

Yom Kippur is a day of happiness as reflected in the AriZal’sinterpretation of the name Yom Kippurim, “a day like Purim.” I.e., Yom Kippur like Purim is a day of celebration. Indeed, from a certain perspective, the celebration of Yom Kippur surpasses that of Purim. If this is true at large, it is definitely true in the present year, 5752, “a year that will contain wonders,” and “a year of wonders in all things.” These wonders will surely include the coming of the Redemption.

This Redemption will affect the entire world, not only the Jewish people. Surely, the Jews will all come to a level of perfection in thought, speech, and deed. But this perfection will affect every entity in the entire world, other men, animals, plants, and even inanimate objects. Thus our Sages relate that in the Era of the Redemption, “the stones from the wall will cry out” reminding a person to conduct himself in a manner that befits a Jew. Furthermore, the expression “cry out” can be interpreted in a positive sense. Our Sages relate Rabbi Akiva9 cried with tears of joy, because the happiness he experienced when studying the Torah’s secrets was too great even for his mind to bear, so too, every element of existence10 will feel such all-encompassing happiness.

There is a connection between the above and the Torah reading associated with the present week Parshas Haazinu. Our Sages explained that the wording Moshe uses at the beginning of this Song indicates how he was “close to heaven and far removed from earth.” This potential is in truth possessed by every Jew.

This potential also relates to the ultimate feast of the Era of the Redemption. As mentioned, the potential exists that we will proceed from the feasts we will enjoy on the ninth of Tishrei to this ultimate celebration. Then we will sit down at a Chassidic farbrengen with the Previous Rebbe at our head. He will be joined by his father, [the Rebbe Rashab,] and his grandfather, [the Rebbe Maharash]. The latter was renown for his adage Lechat’chilah Aribber.11

Similarly, they will be joined by the Tzemach Tzedek, whose both names relate to Mashiach, and the Mitteler Rebbe whose name is DovBer. DovBer reflects a fusion of the Hebrew and Yiddish words for “bear.” Our Sages describe a bear as being “overladen with meat.” This refers to the potential — which can be realized at the meals eaten on the present day — to elevate the most material aspects of our existence.

And thus, our meals will resemble the sacrificial offerings eaten by the priests. Furthermore, we find that in a time of danger, a Jew was allowed to eat in the Holy of Holies itself. This alludes to how the material aspects of the world can become one with G‑d as reflected in the essential oneness of the Holy of Holies.

This concept is further emphasized by the description of the Holy of Holies in the narrative cited above as “the bedroom,” i.e., the place where figuratively speaking, “they will become as one flesh.” I.e., even flesh, the material existence of our world, will become one12 with G‑d’s essence.13

And then we will merit the consummation of the marriage relationship between G‑d and the Jewish people which began at the giving of the Torah.14 At that time, the love between G‑d and the Jewish people will be revealed and they will both rejoice with great happiness.

And all of the above will be openly revealed. For the world is described as G‑d’s dwelling and in a dwelling, one reveals oneself completely. He will not hide Himself with garments, for as our Sages emphasized, in a love relationship, there should be no garments. “And your eyes will behold your Master,” “and they shall be as one flesh,” joining together in a complete and wondrous unity.

May this take place in the immediate future and may it involve every individual Jew. “With our youth and with our elders… with our sons and with our daughters” to the ultimate celebration and feast of the Era of the Redemption.

FOOTNOTES
1.

Although depth and height are two separate matters, they are interrelated as reflected by the principle “The beginning is rooted at the end.” The latter is a fundamental principle in the sphere of holiness and tikkun.
2.

Similarly, there is a special importance to the place where this gathering is being held, a synagogue, a house of study, and a house of good deeds. The latter is particularly relevant at present in the Ten Days of Repentance, when the Jews customarily increase their good deeds, in particular, giving to tzedakah.In particular, this refers to the activities of providing Jews with their holiday needs, and doing so in a manner that, is representative of the Future Redemption, allowing them to “eat sumptuous foods and drink sweet beverages.”
3.

This relates to Rav Saadia Gaon’s statement that the Jews are a nation only by virtue of the Torah.
4.

This relates to the teaching that the entire purpose of Chassidus is to change the nature of one’s emotional characteristics, (or, according to an alternate version, “to change one’s natural emotions”).
5.

The Previous Rebbe is associated with the quality of happiness as reflected in his name Yitzchak. Similarly, his teachings of Pnimiyus HaTorah grant the potential for happiness and joy, a foretaste of the ultimate rejoicing of the Redemption when “our mouths will be filled with joy.”

The Talmud asks how is it possible for a person to rejoice in the present era? In resolution it explains that when a person performs a mitzvah, there is a potential for happiness, and indeed, happiness so great that “our mouths will be filled with joy.” Moreover, this joy should be spread to the members of one’s household and to one’s entire surrounding environment.

6.

The Grace after Meals recited after these meals contains a reference to the threefold blessing given to our Patriarchs, bakol mikol kol. (As explained on previous occasions, these blessings are uniquely relevant in the present year.)

These blessings are extended to every Jew, even to a young child who does not recite the entire Grace and merely says, Brich Rachmana. (This short form of Grace is contained in many Siddurim.This relates to the practice mentioned on many previous occasions, that every child should have his or her own Siddur.This Siddur will thus become the child’s possession, the possession of his or her G‑dly soul. The child will treasure this Siddur, for whenever a child owns something, he holds it dear. This applies also to the tzedakah pushkah or other holy texts that the child owns.)

7.

This quote is cited in the tractate of Bava Basra. The three tractates described as bavos parallel the three Batei Mikdashos. Thus Bava Basra, the third of these tractates, relates to the Third Beis HaMikdash which will be built in the near future.
8.

The connection between the ultimate Redemption and Yom Kippur is reflected in that Yom Kippur is the tenth of Tishrei and the number ten is associated with several dimensions of the Era of the Redemption.
9.

Herein there is also a connection to Yom Kippur, for the martyrdom of Rabbi Akiva is mentioned in our prayers. In regard to his merit and that of his colleagues, our Sages stated, “No creation can stand in their place.”
10.

The happiness felt at that time will also affect the souls that are at present no longer incarnate. And then “those that lie in the dust will arise and sing.” In particular, this applies to the righteous and to the leaders of the Jewish people. In the latter category, however, is every Jew, for “Your people are all righteous.”
11.

As the Rebbe Maharash himself explained, this approach runs contrary to the approach of the world at large. “The world says, ‘If you can’t crawl under, climb over.’ But I say, Lechat’chilah Aribber, ‘At the outset, one should climb over.’ ”
12.

This oneness shares a connection to the Rebbe Maharash’s yahrzeit on the thirteenth of Tishrei, for thirteen is numerically equivalent to echad (אחד), the Hebrew for one.
13.

This also relates to the proclamations made after the Yom Kippur service when we declare Shema Yisrael and “G‑d is the L‑rd,” statements that emphasize the oneness of G‑d with our material existence. This oneness will be realized as we conclude “Next year in Jerusalem,” with the coming of the Redemption.

(Furthermore, as the Previous Rebbe explained, the intent of that statement is not that we must wait until next year for the Redemption to come. Instead, the Redemption will come immediately and, as a natural result, next year, we will celebrate the holiday in Jerusalem.)

14.

In the tractate of Taanis, our Sages associate the giving of the Torah (and thus, this marriage bond) with Yom Kippur, for Yom Kippur marks the giving of the second tablets.

To the Members שיחיו of the Machne Israel Development Fund Sunday, Tishrei 7, 5752

Experiencing G‑d’s Transcendence in This World

We are meeting in the midst of the Ten Days of Repentance, the days between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur.

The nature of repentance, teshuvah in Hebrew, is explained by the Maggid of Mezritch1 in an interpretation of the phrase which opens the Haftorah recited on this past Shabbat:2 שובה ישראל עד הוי’ אלקיך — “Return Israel to G‑d, your L‑rd.”3

The Maggid focused on the verse’s use of two different names for G‑d and explained that, according to the Kabbalah,4 each reflects a different dimension of G‑dliness.

“G‑d” is a translation of the Name Havayah (v-u-v-h),5 which refers to G‑d’s transcendent dimension, the aspect of G‑dliness that lies beyond the limits of our existence. In contrast, “your L‑rd” is a translation of Elokecha (אלקיך), which refers to the dimension of G‑dliness that permeates our world. Indeed, this Hebrew word can be understood to mean “your strength and your vitality,” i.e., the G‑dly life-force that sustains every created being individually. Hence, the Maggid taught, a Jew’s teshuvah should bring him to the appreciation that Havayah, G‑d’s transcendent dimension, is Elokecha, “your strength and your vitality” — that G‑d is his own life-force, the source for his success and well-being.

Repentance Motivated by Love

Our service of teshuvah is enhanced by the influence of the past month, the month of Elul. Our Sages6 note that the name Elul (אלול) serves as an acronym for the Hebrew words אני לדודי ודודי לי, meaning “I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine,”7 an expression of the loving relationship between G‑d and the Jewish people. During this month a Jew appreciates that he is “my Beloved’s”; he can feel G‑d’s manifest closeness, and can sense how this relationship encompasses every aspect of his personality.

A Body as a Unit; A Couple as a Unit

The above concepts apply not only to our spiritual lives, but are reflected — as are all aspects of the Torah and its mitzvot — within our existence in the world at large. When a person appreciates that his life-force and that of all the other created beings around him is transcendent G‑dliness, he becomes conscious of an all-encompassing Divine unity which permeates the totality of existence. Although the world contains a manifold number of diverse entities, there is a fundamental oneness pervading them all.

The human body likewise comprises various organs with differing potentials and functions; e.g. the brain and heart each have their own functions. Nevertheless, all these different functions and potentials are fused together as a single organism. One does not stop to calculate that he spent so much money caring for his head, and so much for his heart, etc. For it is natural to consider our bodies as a single organism and indeed, our bodies and souls together as one single entity.

This concept should be extended until it is mirrored in our relationships with others. On a family level, husband and wife are two different individuals, yet their relationship should be one of unity. Although each of them is occupied with his or her individual concerns, using the unique gifts which G‑d has given him/her, the fulfillment of one brings fulfillment to the other. Moreover, they share all aspects of their lives including a single bank account, for although they are two different individuals, they are unified in a loving relationship of mutual trust.

Togetherness in the Business World

Furthermore, this unity should be extended beyond one’s family until it also affects one’s business relationships. The business world revolves around the concept of competition. This competition, however, should be expressed in a Jewish way, not through trying to overpower another person or cause him loss, but by developing a partnership that challenges each of the partners to fully utilize his or her potential in the most complete manner possible. A relationship in which each individual complements the other, will foster sharing and trust between the partners.

The relationship between the various partners will surely be characterized by sharing and trust, reflecting their joint commitment to ahavat Yisrael, the commandment to love a fellow Jew as one loves oneself.8 And thus, they will not waste their time unduly trying to calculate and divide their respective shares. On the contrary, being busy with success, they will both be actively contributing to the flourishing of their joint enterprise. Through pooling their creative efforts, the partners will grow closer together and develop ever deeper bonds.

This trust should be developed to the extent that even the expense account is shared in a family — like manner. For the entire Jewish people are in fact one extended family.

Caring and Sharing

Such concerted effort will stimulate further growth, and will lead the partners to diversify, expanding into other countries. These efforts will surely be crowned with success and simultaneously will expand each person’s individual horizons.

This success should of course be reflected in the ultimate purpose of one’s business — using one’s wealth to help others, by giving tzedakah, “charity.” One’s gifts should be continually increased, and these increases should come willingly and naturally, for he will have established tzedakah as one of his primary concerns. Therefore, just as he uses all his potentials to see that his business concerns flourish, he will also devote his full potential to seeing that his involvement in tzedakah thrives. With each day and with each moment that he grows older, he should grow wiser and more sensitive to the needs of others. From one day to the next, therefore, he should be more willing to give. And this will be expressed in dollars and cents; simply put, the check that he actually writes today will be larger than the one he planned to write yesterday.

Nothing Succeeds like Generosity

Many successful businessmen have a separate account for charity so that, regardless of the fluctuation of their personal finances, they will be able to give tzedakah at all times. Often the responsibility of dispensing charity from this account is entrusted to the secretary. The secretary should be confident that he or she can write a generous check, knowing that the employer is inclined to give generously and with an open hand.

Generosity of this kind will bring added success in one’s business ventures. For on the verse rag, rag — “You shall surely tithe,”9 the Sages taught עשר בשביל שתתעשר — “Tithe so that you will become rich.”10 Such generosity coupled with the awareness that “G‑d is one’s strength and one’s vitality,” endows him with an infinite capacity to develop his many and diverse potentials and thus be blessed with success in all his endeavors. This realization should motivate him to share with others and this act of sharing will in turn bring him further success which will be crowned with happiness and contentment.

Shabbat: Material Pleasure, Spiritual Bliss

This contentment is deeply experienced on Shabbat, the day which G‑d gave the Jewish people for rest and pleasure. This pleasure is unique in nature. Although it is expressed in a physical way, inasmuch as one eats well and dresses in fine clothing, the contentment received is from the spiritual nature of Shabbat.

This is reflected in our Sages’ expression,11 hame’aneg et haShabbat, which literally means, “one who brings pleasure to the Shabbat.” A Jew shows how the happiness and contentment expressed on Shabbat is not only spiritual, as reflected in his thought and speech, but is also drawn down into the material realm, even to his actual food. And such efforts bring pleasure, as it were, to the Shabbat itself.

This pleasure is shared by the entire family who join at the Shabbat table, as they sing the Shabbat melodies together and happily respond Amen to each other’s blessings.

A Year of Wonders in All Things

The above blessings are highlighted by the unique nature of this new year, 5752. Its Hebrew equivalent, תשנ”ב, serves as an acronym for the words הי’ תהא שנת נפלאות בכל — “This will surely be a year of wonders in all things.”12 We have seen, and we will see, wonders in material success, in health (so that the profits from one’s business endeavors need not be spent on medical bills), in our personal matters and on a global sphere. Each one of us is thus granted the potential to broaden his activities in an unlimited manner and to do so with success and good fortune.

A Helping Hand for Russian Émigrés

Among the unique wonders of this era is the mass exodus of Jews from countries in which emigration was previously restricted. Now, thousands of Jews are being given the opportunity to emigrate and to do so with dignity. Many have settled in the United States and in other countries, and a large proportion have made aliyah to Eretz Yisrael, our Holy Land. They should surely be given the means to enjoy prosperity and success, both material and spiritual, in their new homes. And the privilege and merit to help them achieve such prosperity has been granted to every one of us.

* * *

The above is particularly relevant at present in the days following Rosh HaShanah, when we, together with the entire Jewish people, have received a Ketivah VaChatimah Tovah: we have just been inscribed and sealed for a good and sweet year, a year of wondrous success, including the ultimate good — the coming of the Redemption.
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FOOTNOTES:

1. HaYom Yom, entry for 3 Tishrei.
2. This Shabbat is called Shabbat Shuvah, from the first word of the Haftorah, which highlights its connection to the service of repentance.
3. Hosea 14:2.
4. See Tanya, Shaar HaYichud VehaEmunah, ch. 6.
5. The term Havayah is derived from a rearrangement of the letters of the Name (v-u-v-h) which, because of its holiness, is not pronounced in the usual manner.
6. Abudraham, Seder Tefillat Rosh HaShanah, on the authority of classical expositors of the Torah; Pri Etz Chayim, Shaar Rosh HaShanah, sec. 1.
7. Song of Songs 6:3.
8. Leviticus 19:18; Maimonides, Sefer HaMitzvot, Positive Commandment #206.
9. Deuteronomy 14:22.
10. Taanit 9a.
11. Shabbat 118a.
12. Bakol (“in all things”) is one of the three expressions of blessing associated with the Patriarchs — bakol, mikol, kol, as we recite in the Grace After Meals (Siddur Tehillat HaShem, p. 93, see Bava Batra 16b-17a). In regard to Avraham it is written, “And G‑d blessed Avraham with everything” (בכל; Genesis 24:1). In regard to Yitzchak, it is written, “I have eaten of all” (מכל; Genesis 27:33). And regarding Yaakov it is written, “I have everything” (כל; ibid., 33:11).

And, in fact, each of the Patriarchs was wealthy and they all were exceedingly charitable. Since they are the Patriarchs of the Jewish people, it is self-understood that the above blessings are transmitted in every generation to all of their descendants, men, women, and children.

To the Shluchim The Eve of the 8th of Tishrei, 5752

1. Shabbos Shuvah has past and there are only several moments left until Yom Kippur, the most unique day of the year. As we heard from the Previous Rebbe, each and every Jew has already received a kesivah vachasimah tovah on the first day of Rosh HaShanah. And this positive judgment has been enhanced and has continued to grow in the subsequent days, the second day of Rosh HaShanah, and the Fast of Gedaliah,1 “a day of will.” These three establish a chazakah, a sequence of three associated with permanence and strength.

This positive influence was initiated by the sequence of three days which culminated in Rosh HaShanah: the preceding Shabbos, a Shabbos associated with Selichos; Sunday, a day of oneness;2 and Rosh HaShanah itself.

We can be assured that G‑d has accepted our prayers. Indeed, as stated in the Tur, the nature of the Jewish people is that even on the day preceding Rosh HaShanah, they wear festive garments and eat a festive meal, confident that they will prevail in judgment.

And this positive influence is further enhanced by Shabbos Shuvah which is connected with the service of Shuvah Yisrael, that as the Maggid explains, a Jew’s teshuvah should bring him to the awareness that Havayah, the transcendent dimension of G‑dliness is Elokecha, “your strength and your vitality.”

And this is drawn down throughout the year at large, making it an entire year when Havayah becomes manifest as Elokecha. And this relationship is reflected in the totality of one’s experience, one’s thoughts, speech, and deeds, expressing itself even in the material dimensions of one’s life.

The Haftorah from the previous Shabbos continues, “And [the recitations of] our lips will compensate for [the offering of] bulls.” This will lead to the offering of bulls in the Beis HaMikdash, “the Sanctuary of the L‑rd established by Your hands.” And those offerings will be complemented and brought to perfection by the service of the Jews, “[the recitations of] our lips.”

And thus together with the service of the Levites and the Priests this service will bring about a threefold bond which draws down a dimension of permanence and eternality to the world. This in turn will be enhanced by every Jew’s fulfillment of his individual mission in the world, transforming this world into a dwelling for G‑d. In particular, this will be brought about by those Jews who are referred to by others as Shluchim. For as mentioned on other occasions, when the number ten, representative of an individual’s ten spiritual powers, is added to the numerical equivalent of the word Shliach (שליח), the sum equals the numerical equivalent of Mashiach (משיח). And Mashiach will come in the immediate future and lead us to our Holy Land with great joy.

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FOOTNOTES:

1. The root of the name Gedaliah is the word gadol, meaning “great,” i.e., the day contributes a dimension of greatness. Furthermore, Gedaliah was “of the seed of the House of David,” thus introducing a connection to David who is described as malkah meshicha, “the anointed king.”

2. In the narrative of Creation, instead of stating “the first day,” the Torah states “one day.” Our Sages interpret this to mean “a day when G‑d was one with His world.”

After the Minchah Service Tzom Gedaliah, 5752

1. As mentioned on many previous occasions, a fast day is “a day of will.” The intent of this statement is not merely that through the fast, G‑d’s will is aroused, but rather that the fast day itself is a day desired by G‑d.

There is a particular connection between this concept and today’s fast, the Fast of Gedaliah. The Fast of Gedaliah, like the fasts of the Tenth of Teves, the Seventeenth of Tammuz, and the Ninth of Av, commemorates a tragic event in the epoch of the destruction of the First Beis HaMikdash by the Babylonians. Nevertheless, unlike the other fast days which are referred to by the dates which commemorate national catastrophes, the name, Fast of Gedaliah, is associated with the name of a person of positive import, Gedaliah.

To explain: After the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash, Nebuchadneztar appointed Gedaliah as the governor of Judah. Gedaliah descended from the House of David and was accepted by the remaining prophets and Sages. As such, his rule reflected the possibility for a continuation — albeit with restrictions — of the kingdom of Judah. After his murder, this possibility was nullified and the destruction of the land and the exile of the people became complete.

To commemorate this tragedy, a public fast was instituted. Nevertheless, as explained above, the name of this fast, the Fast of Gedaliah, is positive, indicating a direct connection to the concept of a fast day being a day of will.

The positive nature of the Fast of Gedaliah is reflected in that, according to many opinions, the fast is not held on the day on which Gedaliah was murdered. I.e., Gedaliah was murdered on Rosh HaShanah. The fast, however, is not held on that day, for Rosh HaShanah is “sanctified unto our L‑rd,” above all material concerns, and definitely above events associated with tragedy and destruction. On the contrary, it should be a day when one “eats succulent foods and drinks sweet beverages.”

When a fast is scheduled to be held on Shabbos, it is postponed until the following day. Furthermore, on Sunday, when the fast is held, there are certain leniencies. This emphasizes the positive nature of the fast. Similarly, at the very outset, the Fast of Gedaliah was “postponed,” i.e., it was not ordained to be observed on the day the tragedy occurred. Therefore, its status is more lenient than that of other fasts.

Even according to the opinions which maintain that the murder of Gedaliah took place on the third of Tishrei and thus the fast is not postponed, the Fast of Gedaliah possesses a dimension of leniency over other fasts.

To explain: The Anshei Maamad, the men who acted as the representatives of the Israelites for the sacrifices offered in the Beis HaMikdash, would fast throughout the week. They would not, however, begin their fast on Sunday, “so that they would not emerge from rest and pleasure to work and fasting and die.” Although the fast was required by the nature of their service, since the transition from the rest and pleasure of the Shabbos to a fast could have undesirable results, the Torah did not obligate them to fast.

This concept implies that appreciating Shabbos pleasure in the proper manner has an effect on the day that follows. Simply put, the pleasure from the Shabbos foods carries over until the following day. Therefore, the fact that the Anshei Maamad did not fast on Sunday can also be attributed to the continuing influence of Shabbos. The fast of the Anshei Maamad had to be severe in nature. Because the influence of Shabbos continues to prevail on Sunday, a severe fast was impossible. Therefore, they did not fast at all.1

Similarly, in regard to Rosh HaShanah: Since the day is characterized by “eating succulent foods and drinking sweet beverages,” the Fast of Gedaliah which follows2 is still affected by this influence and therefore, is not as severe as the other fast days. On the contrary, the conception of it as a “day of will” is stronger.

The positive import of the name, the Fast of Gedaliah, is also implied by the first word of the name, Tzom, “fast.” As reflected in the additions to the Machzor in the prayer Unasonah Tokef, tzom is associated with teshuvah. The name of this prayer is also significant, meaning literally,3 “And You shall endow with strength.” I.e., G‑d endows every Jew with a quality of strength.

In this context, we can understand the placement of this prayer next to the kedushah beginning “A crown is given to You… by Your people Israel” which reflects how every Jew has the potential to crown G‑d as King, as it were.

Because of these positive qualities, certain undesirable factors are mentioned in the prayer Unasonah Tokef. Generally, on Rosh HaShanah (and even on Yom Kippur), we are careful not to mention undesirable factors. Because of the positive qualities mentioned above, however, we can rest assured that all the undesirable qualities will be transformed4 into good and the judgment of all the Jews will be only for good from the beginning of the year onward.

Thus we can be assured that the true positive nature of the Fast of Gedaliah will soon be revealed. And with the coming of the Redemption, it will be transformed into a day of celebration and rejoicing.

This is particularly true due to the influence of the previous year, the year (תנש”א). This relates to the phrase, תנשא מלכותך, “Your Kingdom will be uplifted.” And this will be enhanced by the influence of the present year, a year when “miracles will be understood.” I.e., the previous year, the year of “I will show you wonders,” related to the power of Chochmah, for the power of sight shares a connection to Chochmah and the present year relates to the power of Binah, “understanding.” That power possesses certain advantages over Chochmah as explained in Chassidic texts.5

The advantages of the present year can be understood in a simple sense, the letters (תשנ_), 575_ stand for the Hebrew words meaning “This will be a year of wonders,” and 2 (5752, the present year) is twice 1 (5751, the previous year). I.e., the wonders of the present year will be twice those of the previous year.

Also, this will be a year of niflaos bakol, “wonders in all things.” Similarly, bakol relates to the threefold expression of good granted to the Patriarchs, bakol mikol kol. The latter expression is numerically equivalent to the word kabetz (קבץ) meaning “ingathering,” an allusion to the ingathering of the exiles which will occur when G‑d “sounds the great shofar for our freedom.”

In this context, we can understand the prayer, L’Shanah haboah b’Yerushalayim, “Next year in Jerusalem” recited on Yom Kippur and on Pesach. As the Previous Rebbe explained, the intent is not that the Redemption will be postponed until next year, but that the Redemption will come immediately and thus Pesach and Yom Kippur will be celebrated in Jerusalem.

For we will be granted a good and sweet year in all things. And this good will continue and increase until we merit the Redemption and after that, the Resurrection. Then Gedaliah6 — for he was of the House of David — will be among the leaders of the people. And we will proceed following him with great joy to our Holy Land. This joy will surpass the rejoicing of Simchas Beis HaShoeivah and the rejoicing of Simchas Torah, for the joy of the Redemption will be unbounded. May this take place in the immediate future.
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Footnotes:
1. Thus the fasts of the Anshei Maamad, unlike our fasts, were not associated with the idea of “a day of will.” Similarly, we find fasts that are undertaken for penance to be associated primarily with negative influences. Therefore, when a particular Chassid wanted to fast for this purpose, the Rebbe Rashab paid personal attention to him to see that the fast did not have an overly negative effect.
2. In certain years, Shabbos follows directly after Rosh HaShanah and thus the Fast of Gedaliah is postponed another day. In this instance, the influence of the Shabbos prevails on the Fast of Gedaliah causing it to be governed by more lenient rules.
3. Trans. Note: With the context of this hymn, the words have a slightly different meaning. See the Machzor published by Kehot.
4. In regard to the transformation of undesirable qualities into good, there is a well-known story of the Mitteler Rebbe who explained in regard to the curses found in the Torah, “when my father reads them, they are different in nature.” Similarly, when our Father reads any of the undesirable factors mentioned in Unasonah Tokef, we can rest assured that the intent is positive.
5. The dimension of understanding associated with the present year will also be reflected in our understanding the teachings of Pnimiyus HaTorah to be revealed by Mashiach.
6. Gedaliah’s importance is also reflected in that he is at times referred to as Gedalyahu (גדלי-הו), i.e., the letters yud, hay, and vav, the first letters of the name Havayah, are added to his name.