Eve of 11 Menachem Av, 5751

1. This year, the fast of Tishah B’Av was postponed and was held today, the tenth of Av. We have already recited the Minchah prayers, including the passage Nachaim (“Take comfort”).

That passage is recited in the afternoon service, because Moshiach “is born” Tishah B’Av afternoon; i.e., this is the time when “mazalo, his spiritual source, shines powerfully.” Each year for the past two thousand years, on Tishah B’Av afternoon, Moshiach receives new power and new strength, and from year to year, this influence grows more powerfully.

In essence, this took place on Shabbos, on the afternoon of Tishah B’Av itself. For although the fast of Tishah B’Av and the undesirable aspects associated with that day were postponed, there is no need to say that the positive aspects connected with that day are postponed. On the contrary, Shabbos surely enhances and amplifies these positive influences.1 And thus the potential for Moshiach was strengthened this year, even before the fast was begun.

This is particularly true since Shabbos is Shabbos Chazon, the Shabbos on which we are shown the Third Beis HaMikdash in all its beauty and splendor. Included in the Third Beis HaMikdash will also be the previous two,2 and the three Batei Mikdashos together create a chazakah, a sequence connected with strength and permanence which will bring out the positive nature of these Three Weeks.

On the surface, a sequence of three is a phenomenon which should exist only within holiness. To allow for free choice, however, G‑d granted the potential for this influence to be expressed in an undesirable fashion as reflected in the expression, “G‑d created the world in a manner, זה לעומת זה, this one opposite the other.”3

זה (“This one”) is numerically equivalent to twelve for the entire world is structured in a pattern of twelve as reflected in the twelve mazalos, (“heavenly sources of influences”). These mazalos parallel the twelve tribes of Israel, reflecting how the stars are used as an analogy for the Jews and emphasizing how the Jews dominate these sources of influence. And in regard to the Jews themselves “ain (אין) mazal liYisrael,” literally there is no mazal which controls the fate of the Jewish people. In a more homiletical sense, ayin (אין), transcendent G‑dliness, is the force which controls the Jews’ destiny.

And this is enhanced by our Minchah prayers. As explained in Chassidus,prayer represents “a redemption in microcosm” on the individual sphere, within a person’s soul and thus within the world at large. And may speaking of these matters bring the Redemption in macrocosm, the complete and total Redemption here in this lowly world.

In that Redemption (as opposed to the Return to Zion in the era of Ezra), the entire Jewish people will return to Eretz Yisrael. This includes the ingathering of exiles in our day (which is aided by the prayers of Rachel). And will also include the ingathering of the Jews who will be born in the future (for their birth will be hastened), and also the Jews of the previous generations; “Those that lie in the dust will arise and sing.”4

This is particularly true in the present year, a year when “I will show you wonders.” And it will be enhanced by the distribution of money to be given to tzedakah. Here too, we see a connection to the Redemption as emphasized by the closing verse of Shabbos’ Haftorah, “Zion will be redeemed by judgment and those who return to her, by tzedakah.

Had we merited, the complete and ultimate Redemption would have come even before Tishah B’Av. And then the tenth of Menachem Av5 would have been marked in a completely different manner. For whatever reason, a reason that cannot be understood, G‑d decided to hold back the Redemption, and thus the tenth of Av was associated with fasting, “And the tenth will be holy.” This will, however, be quickly followed by the singing of the tenth song, the song of the Redemption. May this be in the immediate future.

FOOTNOTES

1. The connection between Shabbos and the positive aspects affecting the Jewish people is reflected in our Sages’ statement that Shabbos and the Jews are a pair. I.e., each of the six preceding days found a complement in the day which either preceded or followed it. Shabbos had no complement and was therefore paired with the Jews who also have no complement; i.e., they cannot be paired with any other nation, nor even with G‑d’s ministering angels. (This is because everything in existence was created “for the sake of the Torah… and for the sake of the Jewish people.” Accordingly, there can be nothing in creation on the level of the Jews themselves.)

2. This is reflected in the association developed by Rashi in his commentary to Parshas Pekudei between the wordsMishkan, “sanctuary” and mashkon,“surety.” He explains that the first twoBatei Mikdashos were taken as “sureties” from the Jewish people. Sureties are, however, returned with the payment of the debt. So too, these Batei Mikdashos will be returned together with the Third Beis HaMikdash.

3. This also is associated with the possibility of the transformation of these negative influences into good. To borrow a concept, one’s intentional sins will be transformed into merits.

The three factors, the positive side, the negative side, and the transformation of the negative into the positive also represents a chazakah which is connected to the Third Beis HaMikdash.

4. Even those Jews who were not buried in Eretz Yisrael reach our Holy Land through underground channels. Thus, they are already there in Chebron together with the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, or in Jerusalem, or in other places there.

5.This implies that all the matters associated with Av are drawn down in a manner connected with Menachem,“comforting.”

 

Translation: SichosInEnglish

Parshas Vaeschanan, Shabbos Nachamu, 5751

1. The Haftoros of the seven Shabbasos of Consolation were instituted to express that purpose. Thus, they contrast with the Haftoros read throughout the year which are directly related to the content of the Torah readings with which they are associated. Nevertheless, even on these Shabbasos, there is a connection to the weekly Torah reading. For as the Shaloh explains, the events of the calendar year share a connection to the Torah portions which are read at that time.

This week’s Haftorah begins Nachamu, Nachamu (“Take comfort, take comfort”) and reflects a twofold comforting for a twofold loss (the destruction of the First and Second Batei HaMikdash). This will come through the construction of the Third Beis HaMikdash in the Era of the Redemption. Herein lies the connection to this week’s Torah reading which begins with Moshe’s prayer to enter Eretz Yisrael. Had Moshe been granted permission to lead the Jews intoEretz Yisrael and build the Beis HaMikdash, the Era of the Redemption would have begun at that time.

There is, however, a difficulty. Outwardly, the emphasis in Parshas Vaeschananis that Moshe’s prayer was not fulfilled and hence there was the possibility for exile and destruction.1 If so, the question arises: What is the connection between this Torah reading and the Haftorah’s promise of comfort for the Jewish people.

This question can be resolved on the basis of the concept that the consolation offered by Shabbos Nachamu is twofold, and the concept of repetition is connected with the redemption. Thus the Midrash comments “There are five letters that are repeated
Continue reading

Eve of the 5th of Menachem Av – After Maariv, 5751

1. Tonight is the yahrzeit of the AriZal. When the Ramak (Rav Moshe Cordovero) passed away, the AriZal eulogized him, quoting the verse (Devarim 21:22), “When there is a death sentence against a person and he was slain; and you shall hang him on a tree.”

The AriZal noted that the word חטא can also mean “lacking” and gave the following interpretation, “When a person is found “slain” and the reason to which his death can be attributed is apparently “lacking,” we can assume it comes as a result of the sin of the Tree of Knowledge”; [i.e., he died for no fault of his own, only as a result of Adam’s sin].

Many people have also associated this eulogy with the AriZal’s passing as well. Indeed, there is a connection between the two, for the concepts brought out by the Ramak were explained and amplified by the AriZal. In particular, the Ramak’s primary work was the text Pardes Rimonim (“The Pomegranate Orchard”) and the concepts he explained there were developed by the AriZal and his students in his text Eitz Chayim (“The Tree of Life”).

The connection between the above will be further emphasized by the distribution of money to be given to tzedakah, for tzedakah develops bonds between all holy matters, in particular, matters of Pnimiyus HaTorah (“Torah’s inner mystic dimension”), and especially, the innermost aspects of Pnimiyus HaTorah which are reflected in the teachings of the Ramak and the AriZal.

This is further emphasized by the fact that “tzedakah brings close the Redemption,” for the Redemption is connected with the spreading of Pnimiyus HaTorah. For it is when “the wellsprings [of Chassidus] spread outward, that Mashiach will come.”

Matos-Masei 5751

1. Among the unique factors associated with this Shabbos is the conclusion of the Book of Bamidbar and the public pronouncement which follows, Chazak, Chazak, Venischazaik (“Be strong, be strong, and we will be strengthened”). This threefold repetition1 produces a chazakah, a sequence associated with permanence and strength.

Significantly, the conclusion of the Book of Bamidbar always takes place in the Three Weeks, a period associated with exile and destruction. One might ask; Why does this always occur at a time when the Jews are weakened as it were?

It is possible to explain that the one is a result of the other. Because this is a time when the Jews are “weakened,” there is a need for encouragement and reinforcement. From the fact that the Shabbos is referred to as Shabbos Chazak, (“the Shabbos of reinforcement”), it would appear that there is a more intrinsic bond, that the time itself adds strength to the Jews’ observance of the Torah and its mitzvos.

This concept can be explained within the context of the connection of the expression Chazak, Chazak, Venischazaik to the parshiyos read this week, Mattos and Maasei. There is an obvious connection between the concept of strength and Parshas Mattos. Mattos means “staff,” and is a symbol of strength, permanence, and authority, as reflected in the verse, “staffs of strength for the rods of those who rule.”

Maasei, meaning “journeys,” seems, however, to indicate a state in direct opposition to this permanence and strength. And yet, it is Parshas Maasei which is always read as the last parshah of the Book of Bamidbar. In contrast, there are times when Parshas Mattos is read as a separate parshah on the week before the Book of Bamidbar is concluded.

To explain: A chazakah associated with the number three represents a true conception of strength, for this strength exists Continue reading

Sicha of 28 Sivan, 5751 (Rebbe’s Arrival in America in 1941)

1. It is customary to develop a connection between a positive event and the day on which that event transpired, revealing how the day itself is a “day of merit.1 This surely applies in regard to the present day, the 28th day of the third month. 28 is numerically equivalent to the word כח, meaning “strength.” Thus, it contributes a dimension of strength and permanence to the entire day.2

This in turn grants strength to every Jew to carry out his preparations for the ultimate redemption. In particular, this applies in our generation, after the charge of the Previous Rebbe for us to “Stand prepared together” for the coming of the ultimate Redemption.

This concept can be connected with Parshas Shelach, the Torah reading of the previous Shabbos, which relates how Moshe sent3 spies “to explore” Eretz Yisrael, and thus allow it to be conquered more easily.

The Hebrew for “to explore,” לתור, is also significant. The root of the word לתור is also connected to the word יתרון, “advantage,” as in the verse “The advantage of the land is in all things (בכל).” בכל refers to the attribute of Yesod which includes within it all the Sefiros above it. Through descending and enclothing itself in “the land,” which refers to the attribute of Malchus, an advantage is generated for the quality of Yesod.

Malchus brings into revelation all qualities. In an ultimate sense, the concept of revelation is associated with permanence, when one is above change. This quality will be realized in the Era of the Redemption which — unlike the redemptions which preceded it — will never be followed by an exile. And thus all the qualities will be revealed in this material world. (This concept is reflected in the similarity between the Hebrew words for redemption, גאולה and revelation, גילוי.)

Thus, the redemption will be complete. שלימה, the Hebrew for “complete,” also contains the letters of the name שלמה, “Shlomo.” King Shlomo is associated with peace as the verse declares, “Shlomo will be his name and I will grant [Israel] peace and tranquility in his days.”

Peace is also connected with the concept of redemption as explained by theMitteler Rebbe in connection with the verse “He redeemed my soul in peace for the many were with me.” The Alter Rebbe recited this verse before he was redeemed, and thus it shares a connection with his personal redemption onYud-Tes Kislev. Nevertheless, in an ultimate sense, the verse is associated with the future Redemption which will come about as a result of the spreading forth of the wellsprings of Chassidus outward that began with the Alter Rebbe’s redemption.

The concept of “the many were with me,” refers to the transformation of this world, which is characterized by multiplicity and division, until it becomes “with me,” i.e., united in the oneness of the Redemption, these manifold qualities become positive influences.

The redemption will become a present matter; i.e., it will come immediately, and become manifest in this very place, which has a threefold advantage of being a house of prayer, a house of study, and a house of good deeds. These three activities are associated with the month of Sivan which is characterized by three.4

Sivan is also the month of the giving of the Torah which includes “all the new concepts to be developed by an experienced Torah scholar.” In an expanded sense, this also refers to the new concept developed by a child in the present era when he expresses his hope that Mashiach will come. This will bring about a new expression of G‑dly influence, for G‑d, motivated by His great love for the Jews — a love that relates to children as reflected in the verse “Israel is a youth and I love him” — will bring about the Redemption in an unlimited manner in this world.

This present place is also a preparation for “the Sanctuary of the L‑rd established by Your hands.” Although the place for that Sanctuary will be inEretz Yisrael, and in Jerusalem, the preparation will be accomplished here, through “the spreading of the wellsprings of Chassidus outward.” May the “spreading,” the “wellsprings,” and “outward” be realized in a full and complete sense.

On the surface, the concept of a full and complete sense of “outward” is undesirable for this seems to indicate an existence apart from G‑d, as it were. The true sense of outward, however, is to reveal how there is nothing which is apart from G‑d, and He is manifest in the furthest removed reaches.5

This relates to the extension of the revelation of Chassidus to the “lower half of the world.” Although the Torah was not given in this portion of the world, it is from here that the spreading forth of Chassidus reached peaks never appreciated beforehand. Although this service was begun in “the upper half of the world,” in Lubavitch and in the other centers in which the Rebbeim lived, it was here, from this building, 770, that the spreading of Chassidus reached its most complete expression.

Indeed, the number 7706 is numerically equivalent to the word (ו)פרצת, “and you shall spread forth.” From this limited space, Chassidus will spread forth in an unlimited manner, reflecting the prophecy “And Jerusalem will exist without confines.”7

The Previous Rebbe caused that the first revelation of “the Sanctuary of the L‑rd established by Your hands,” will be here in 770, the place where he spent the last ten years of his life. This revelation will encompass the entire building from its lowest levels until its roof on which Mashiach will stand and announce, “Humble ones, the time for your redemption has come.”

And from this state, we will proceed, together with the entire Jewish people8, taken by “the clouds of the heavens,” to Eretz Yisrael, and to the Beis HaMikdash. May this be in the immediate future mamash.9 This will be hastened by our gifts to tzedakah, and for that purpose, money will be distributed at the conclusion of this gathering. May this “bring near the redemption,” and may it be in the immediate future.

2. As mentioned previously, today is the 28th, the כח of the month of Sivan. This date leads to the 29th of Sivan which is the day proceeding Rosh Chodesh. This shares a connection to the Jewish people for “the Jews resemble the moon and establish their calendar according to the moon.”

Rosh Chodesh involves a concealment of the moon. This, however, leads to a union between the sun and the moon, a union which is representative of the union between G‑d and the Jewish people. There is no separation in this unity; on the contrary, it is a complete bond, “they shall be as one flesh.”

This union also produces offspring and “the essential offspring of the righteous are their good deeds.” This adds perfection to the good deeds performed by each and every member of the Jewish people and reveals how the Jews become G‑d’s partner in the work of creation. As it were, G‑d cannot achieve this by Himself, and He needs the help of the Jews. And the Jews’ consent to accept this partnership causes Him to announce, “The time for your redemption has come.”

As mentioned, the Hebrew for “redemption,” גאולה, resembles the Hebrew for “revelation,” גילוי. Through the transformation of exile (גולה) into redemption (גאולה), the Alef, G‑d (Alufo shel olam), “the L‑rd of the world,” is revealed.

This will also be accompanied by a revelation of Pnimiyus HaTorah (Torah’s mystic dimension) as implied by the verse “He will kiss me with the kisses of His mouth.” All the revelations of Pnimiyus HaTorah we have been granted are merely a foretaste of the revelations of the Era of the Redemption.

Pnimiyus HaTorah is connected with the hidden dimensions of the Torah which are related to the hidden dimensions of G‑d and the hidden dimensions of the Jewish people. Then will be revealed the yechidah, the essence of the Jewish soul, the dimension of Mashiach possessed by every Jew. This is enhanced by the gathering together of many Jews in a house of good deeds, a house of prayer, and a house of study. And from this house will begin the revelation of G‑d’s dwelling in the lower worlds and we will proceed to greet Mashiach and receive “the new [dimension of the] Torah which will emerge from Me.”

FOOTNOTES

  1. Even if the positive event occurred at the end of the day, the entire day is considered as a “day of merit.”
  2. This dimension is further emphasized by the fact that the 28th day of the month follows the 27th day. 27 is 3 cubed and thus is associated with achazakah in regard to the concept ofchazakah.
  3. Our Sages explain that G‑d did not give Moshe a direct command to send the spies. Rather, He left the matter up to Moshe’s choice. The term our Sages use to convey this concept l’daatechoh(לדעתך), is also significant. This reflects a connection to the attribute of Daas(דעת), knowledge, which was personified by Moshe.
  4. Note the commentary of Rav Nissim Gaon who explains the connection of the third month with the giving of the Torah, a threefold light, to the Jews, a threefold people. (The name Nissim Gaon is significant.Nissim, Hebrew for “miracles,” indicates a connection to open miracles. Gaon (גאון) is numerically equivalent to 60 and thus indicates a connection to the sixty tractates of the Mishnah.
  5. This relates to the concept of the advantage possessed by miracles that are manifest within nature in which the natural order becomes a medium for the revelation of the highest levels of G‑dliness.
  6. 770 is also significant because seven is an important number. 770 reflects one hundred and ten (i.e., both one hundred and ten reflecting levels of completion) times seven.
  7. This lack of limitation will not be constrained by the fact that “I will be a wall of fire around her,” i.e., there will be physical limits to the city.
  8. The Jews will also bring “their gold and silver with them,” i.e., the redemption will also encompass their material property. (Gold and silver are also metaphorical terms for the attributes of love and fear.)
  9. Mamash means “in a manifest manner in this material world.”

Translation: Sichos In English

Korach, Gimmel Tammuz, 5751

1. On1 the Third of Tammuz, 5687, the Previous Rebbe was released from prison in Leningrad on the condition that he spend three years in exile in the city of Kostroma. At the time, it was not known whether this was a positive step, for although exile is preferable to imprisonment, it is also connected with several hardships and dangers.

Afterwards, on Yud-Beis Tammuz, the Previous Rebbe received the news that he would be freed and on Yud-Gimmel Tammuz, he received the official documents testifying to this. And thus it was revealed that the Third of Tammuz was the first stage of the process of redemption. Furthermore, it was revealed that a death sentence had been issued previously, and the sentence of exile had represented a lessening of his judgment leading to his ultimate redemption on Yud-Beis-Yud-Gimmel Tammuz.

One might ask: Since the redemption was a Divine miracle, why did it have to come in stages? Why wasn’t the Previous Rebbe granted a complete redemption immediately? Further­more, even after Yud-Beis Tammuz when the Previous Rebbe was freed, he did not achieve a complete victory over the opposing forces. Many restrictions remained on the Jews in Russia, until the Previous Rebbe was forced to leave the country. And even after his departure, those restrictions contin­ued. It is not until the present days, more than 60 years after his redemption, that its full ramifications are being realized and Jews are being redeemed from Russia. Continue reading

Shlach 5751

1. On Shabbos, the entire Torah reading of the week is read, thus fusing each of the separate elements of the Torah reading into a single whole. The Shabbos day includes within it all the days of the previous week, and thus, the Shabbos reading is also all-inclusive in nature. Although each of the different readings contains an individual message, their being read together as a single Parsha the endows them with a point of general significance. Furthermore, in a larger sense, they share a point of connection, not only to the entire Torah reading, but to the Torah as a whole, for the entire Torah is a single indivisible entity.

In particular, this concept is relevant to Parshas Shelach,where it is obvious how all the different elements of the Torah reading are interrelated. The majority of the Torah reading is concerned with the mission of the spies and the reaction of the Jewish people on their return. Even the subsequent passages, for example, the passage concerning the wine libations and the passage concerning the separation of Challah were mentioned, directly after G‑d told Moshe that the Jews would remain in the desert for forty years, so that the people would be reassured that ultimately, they would enter Eretz Yisrael.

Similarly, the concluding passage1 mentions the mitzvah of tzitzis, a mitzvah of all-encompassing significance which reminds one of the totality of the 613 mitzvos.This further indicates the connection shared between one passage from the Torah and the Torah as a whole.

It is necessary to understand, however, why this concept — how each passage of the Torah is connected to the Torah as a whole — is expressed by Parshas Shelach.What is the connection between this concept andParshas Shelach? Similarly, it is necessary to understand why the connection between Parshas Shelach and the time of the year when this parshah is read, the conclusion of the month of Sivan.

These concepts can be understand through an analysis of the story of the spies and, more particularly, through contrasting the narrative of the spies sent by Moshe and the narrative of the spies sent by Yehoshua which is mentioned in the Haftorah. Among the differences between these two narratives are: a) There was no direct command for Moshe to send spies. Rather, G‑d left the matter up to Moshe’s discretion as Rashicomments on the word לדעתך in the opening verse of the Torah portion. In contrast, Yehoshua was explicitly commanded to send spies. This is obvious; after the disastrous results of the mission of the spies sent by Moshe, he surely would not have sent spies unless commanded to do so by G‑d. b) In regard to the spies sent by Moshe, the Torah uses the expressions “men” and “explore.” In contrast, in regard to the spies sent by Yehoshua, “spies” and “search out,” expressions which reflect more clandestine activities, are used. c) Moshe sent twelve spies and Yehoshua sent only two. d) In regard to the spies sent by Moshe, the Torah mentions the names of the spies and specifically states that they were the leaders of the people. In contrast, the identity of the spies sent by Yehoshua is not mentioned in the narrative. e) The spies sent by Moshe were sent openly; the entire Jewish people knew of their mission. Furthermore, there was no attempt to hide their mission from the gentiles. On the contrary, rather than dividingEretz Yisrael among all of them, each one exploring a portion, they traveled as a group, in a manner which their presence could be noticed by anyone.2 In contrast, Yehoshua “secretly sent spies,” hiding the matter from the Jewish people and surely, from the Canaanites. f) The spies sent by Moshe traversed Eretz Yisrael in its entirety. In contrast, the spies sent by Yehoshua were instructed to “see the land and Jericho,” (i.e., at the outset, their mission had a more limited scope). Furthermore, in actuality, they merely went to Rachav’s house, fled to the hills for three days, and then returned to Yehoshua. Thus, they did not explore the land as a whole, and did not even explore Jericho in its totality.

The differences between the nature of the missions of the spies sent by Moshe and those sent by Yehoshua revolve around the differences in the purpose of these missions. To explain: In general, two reasons are offered for the sending spies by the Jews: a) to prepare for conquest of Eretz Yisrael, to discover its roads and fortifications so that it would be easier to plan an attack. b) To investigate the nature of the land, to inform the people of its positive qualities so that they will be eager to settle within it.

Moshe sent the spies primarily for the second purpose. He was confident that the conquest of Eretz Yisraelwould be accomplished in a miraculous manner. He did, however, desire that they explore the land in order to tell the people of its positive qualities. In contrast, in the time of Yehoshua, this was no longer necessary — for the spies sent by Moshe had already accomplished this objective. It was, however, necessary to prepare for the conquest of the land, since in Yehoshua’s time, the conquest would require actual war, and for this purpose, he sent spies to Jericho.

To explain this idea: The Jewish people asked Moshe to send spies in order to “search out the land,” i.e., to investigate how the land should be conquered. Moshe, however, did not consider that purpose significant, as he told the people, “G‑d, your L‑rd, proceeds before you. He will fight for you.” Nor was there a need to explore the roads, because the pillar of cloud led the Jewish people during the day, and the pillar of fire led them at night.

Why did he send the spies? “To explore the land…. so that they shall see what kind of land it is… Whether it is good… whether it is rich…” And therefore, he told them to bring back some of the fruit of the land, so the Jewish people would all be able to behold actual proof of the land’s positive qualities.3

In contrast, Yehoshua did not send spies for this purpose, for this intent had already been achieved by the spies sent by Moshe. In this instance, the spies were sent for the purpose of preparing for the conquest of the land. Yehoshua realized that the conquest which he would lead would not be accompanied by the miracles that would have characterized Moshe’s conquest of the land. Therefore, he felt the need for spies to investigate the nature of the defenses of the land he was setting out to conquer.

Based on these general principles, we can explain the other particular differences between the mission of the spies sent by Moshe and those sent by Yehoshua. As mentioned, there was no Divine command to send spies, for from G‑d’s perspective, there was no need for such a mission. The land would be conquered in a miraculous manner and He had already assured the people that it was a good and prosperous land.

The Jewish people, however, felt the need to send spies, and Moshe agreed since, as Rashi states in ParshasDevarim, he hoped that once he agreed wholeheartedly to their request, they would feel that he was not hiding anything from them, and would therefore, withdraw the request.

When this did not happen, Moshe presented the request to G‑d, asking whether spies should be sent to explore the land — i.e., not to search out the easiest way of conquest, but to bring back a report which would encourage the people to desire to conquer it as explained above. G‑d replied that this was leftl’datechoh, to Moshe’s own discretion. G‑d did not oppose such a mission, nor did He see a real need for it. Moshe, however, as the shepherd of the Jewish people, saw the need for the people to be encouraged and therefore, consented to send the spies.

For this reason, he sent twelve spies, one for each tribe, and chose a leader of that tribe. His intent was for the spies to explore the entire land of Eretz Yisrael and to see that there was a portion appropriate for each tribe. Therefore, he sent a leader of the tribe, an individual who knew the needs of his tribe, and could tell them upon his return that there was a portion of Eretz Yisraelappropriate for them.

And it was with this intent that the spies traveled together as a group throughout Eretz Yisrael. Since the land had not been divided into tribal portions as of yet, it was impossible to send each of the spies to explore the portion to be given to his tribe. Rather, it was necessary for them all to see the entire land, and to appreciate how the land as a whole was suitable for their tribe.

This also explains why their mission was not secret. Needless to say, it was made known to the Jews, for its entire purpose was to encourage them to desire to enterEretz Yisrael. Furthermore, it was not hidden from the Canaanites. Since it was not directed at military objectives, the spies had no reason to obscure their identity and mingle among the local people to discover whether they were afraid of the Jews or not. Similarly, they were confident that just as the conquest of Eretz Yisrael would be carried out in a miraculous manner, so too, they would be able to carry out their mission in a miraculous manner without having to be concerned with the danger of apprehension.

Yehoshua’s sending of spies, in contrast, had a clear military objective, to discover the most practical way to conquer Jericho. For this reason, he sent the spies secretly, sending two and not twelve (for thus they could hide easier). Needless to say, the mission was not publicized to the Canaanites, and even to the Jewish people, it was not made known (lest word of it leak outside).

Nor was it necessary to send the leaders of the people. Since the intent was not to convince the people at large of the land’s favorable qualities, there was no purpose in choosing leaders. (Indeed, doing so would make the mission public knowledge.) Rather, it was preferable to send individuals with military knowledge.

This also explains why the spies returned to Yehoshua without making a thorough investigation of Jericho. After Rachav told them that “the fear of you has fallen upon us. All the inhabitants of the land have melted with terror because of you… there is no courage remaining in any man,” they did not need to make any further explorations. They knew that the land could be conquered.

The above explanation also clarifies another problematic point regarding the mission of the spies sent by Moshe. Since the spies were the leaders of the Jewish people and unique individuals selected by Moshe himself. How is it possible that their mission led to such disastrous results?4

Based on the above, however, it can be explained that the spies’ mission did, in fact, accomplish its purpose. They came back and told the people that Eretz Yisraelwas a land of milk and honey and brought samples of the fine fruit that it produced. Thus the Jews knew from actual experience the positive qualities possessed by the land, and afterwards — albeit unfortunately, very many years afterwards — this knowledge allowed them to enter Eretz Yisrael with happiness and joy.

Furthermore, even immediately, in a spiritual sense, there was a positive dimension to their journey for the fact that Jews on a high spiritual level traveled throughEretz Yisrael was the first stage of the ultimate conquest of Eretz Yisrael.5 Thus their mission was part of the service of elevating the lower aspects of our material world.6

The mission of the spies sent by Moshe also teaches us another lesson. A spy was sent from each tribe, because each tribe has a unique approach to the service of G‑d. For example, the service of the tribe of Yissacharcentered on Torah study and that of Zevulun, on commercial activity the proceeds of which were used for tzedakah. Similarly, each other tribe had a path of service unique for it. In a correspondent manner, Eretz Yisrael is divided into twelve portions, one for each of the tribes, for the refinement of that portion of land is intrinsically related to the service of that particular tribe.7

Accordingly, it would seem more appropriate for each of the leaders to have investigated the portion of Eretz Yisrael8 appropriate for his particular tribe,9 and yet, we find that the opposite was true. All twelve spies traversed the entire land together. This emphasizes how the individual service of every Jew is interconnected with that of our people as a whole, for — as an expression of the mitzvah of ahavas Yisrael — one Jew helps another carry out his service. Furthermore, through the collective efforts of the entire Jewish people (as represented by their leaders), the refinement of the world is carried out in a more complete and more elevated manner.

* * *

2. Based on the above, we can understand the connection between Parshas Shelach and the month of Sivan, the month associated with the giving of the Torah. As mentioned, Parshas Shelach is always read towards the conclusion of the month of Sivan, and furthermore, the spies themselves began their journey on the 29th of Sivan.

The connection between the two revolves around the concept explained above, that the spies’ journey was a phase in the elevation and the refinement of the world. The refinement of the world is accomplished through the power of the Torah. Thus, the conclusion of the month of the giving of the Torah represents the extension of the Torah into the world at large and the refinement of the world that results from this activity.

The Torah is connected with the Jewish people as reflected in the fact that the name Yisrael is an acronym for the Hebrew words meaning, “There are 600,000 letters in the Torah.” Each Jewish soul has its letter in the Torah which serves as the source for its life-energy and vitality.

There are two laws concerning a Torah scroll that have significant parallels in our service of G‑d: a) Each letter in a Torah scroll must be surrounded by parchment and, b) a Torah scroll is incomplete unless it contains every single letter. From this, we can infer that each Jew has a service which is unique and specific to his particular soul, separate from that of other Jews. And, also, that the service of one Jew is incomplete until he joins together with the entire Jewish people. Similarly, there are two levels of refinement to be accomplished by the Jewish people: one that is the responsibility of each particular individual, and one to be accomplished by the people as a whole.

To explain: The concepts of oneness and division are intrinsic to the Torah and its mitzvos. The Torah is one, for it is G‑d’s wisdom and “He and His wisdom are one.” In contrast, there are 613 mitzvos. Since the mitzvos are G‑d’s directives for man’s conduct in the world at large, just as the world at large has 613 dimensions,10 so too, there are 613 different mitzvos.

More particularly, the contrast between oneness and division is reflected in the difference between Pnimiyus HaTorah (Torah’s mystic dimension) and Nigleh (the revealed teachings of Torah law). Nigleh is concerned with the refinement of the world, defining what is kosherand what is not, what is pure and what is impure. Accordingly, like the world, it is characterized by division, including the very basic division into sixty different tractates. In contrast, Pnimiyus HaTorahconcerns itself with G‑d, “Know the G‑d of your father.” Hence, just as G‑d is one, this Torah discipline is characterized by oneness.

The above is also reflected within the Jewish people. From the perspective of the soul, all the Jews are united. What divides them? Their bodies, in which their souls are enclothed to carry out the service of refining the world at large. More particularly, the conscious powers of the soul (intellect and emotion) are characterized by division, and it is the essence of the soul (the revelation of which is through the service of bittul) which reflects oneness.

The journey of the spies teaches us that our efforts to refine the world do not relate only to those aspects of the Jews and the Torah which are characterized by division, but also relate to the transcendental levels that reflect G‑d’s fundamental oneness.

In particular, it can be explained that these two approaches to the service of refinement, an approach that focuses on particular divisions and an approach which is characterized by oneness, reflect the difference between the mission of the spies sent by Moshe and those sent by Yehoshua. Moshe sent twelve spies, one for each of the services which characterize the Jewish people, and he charged them with exploring the entire land, i.e., all of its different particulars.11

In contrast, the mission of the spies sent by Yehoshua was characterized by oneness. Therefore, he sent spies only to Jericho, “the padlock of Eretz Yisrael,” i.e., a city which in essence included the entire country and thus relates to the approach of oneness.

Similarly, these spies were sent in response to G‑d’s command, i.e., as an expression of the quality of bittulwhich brings into revelation the essence of the soul, the quality present in all Jews without distinction. The dimension of oneness associated with this mission is also reflected by each of the terms used by the verse, “two men [to] spy in secret.”

“Two,” in contrast to twelve, reflects the two fundamental thrusts — positive activity and the negation of undesirable influences — which include the totality of our service. “Men,” as opposed to leaders, indicate an emphasis, not on the greatness of the qualities possessed by the individual, but rather on the essential qualities common to all men.

“[To] spy in secret” reveals a modest approach to the service of G‑d characteristic of the quality of bittul. One does not seek personal aggrandizement or publicity.

3. The above concepts receive further emphasis in terms of our Sages’ explanation that the two spies sent by Yehoshua were Caleb and Pinchas. Why Yehoshua sent Caleb is understandable. He was the only one of the spies (other than Yehoshua himself) sent by Moshe who accomplished his mission successfully. Why, however, was Pinchas chosen? As mentioned above, Yehoshua sent these spies to prepare for the conquest of Eretz Yisrael and the Levites (Pinchas’ tribe) were to take no part in this war of conquest.

This question can be resolved within the context of our Sages’ statement that, in the Era of the Redemption,Eretz Yisrael will be divided into thirteen portions, a portion to be set aside for each of the tribes, including the tribe of Levi.

In the present era, the tribe of Levi did not receive a portion in Eretz Yisrael or a portion in the spoils of war, because — as the Rambam writes — the Levites:

Were set aside to serve G‑d, to worship Him, and to instruct others in His straight paths and righteous judgments…. Therefore, they were separated from the ways of the world and do not wage war as the other Jews do, nor do they receive an inheritance…. Rather, they are G‑d’s legion, and He, blessed be He, provides for them.

This applies in the present era, when the material nature of the world prevents a person from being both totally dedicated to G‑d and simultaneously involved with worldly affairs. In the Era of the Redemption, however, when the world will be refined and “the world will be filled with the knowledge of G‑d as the waters fill up the ocean bed,” there will be no need for the Levites to set themselves aside from worldly involvement. And hence, they too will receive a portion of Eretz Yisrael.

It can be explained that the division of Eretz Yisrael into thirteen portions is associated with the transcendent oneness which will permeate the world in the Era of the Redemption for אחד (“one”) is numerically equivalent to thirteen. This will also be reflected by the fact that G‑d Himself will be the One who divides the land in the Era of the Redemption.12

At present, the refinement of the world relates to those levels of G‑dliness which reflect the division within the world at large. In the Era of the Redemption, in contrast, we will merit the revelation of the levels of G‑dliness which transcend the divisions of the world and reflect His oneness.

This universal oneness also relates to the tribe of Levi, for that tribe possesses a general quality relating to the entire Jewish people as the Rambam writes:

Not only the tribe of Levi, but each and every man who is motivated by the generosity of his spirit to stand before G‑d and serve Him… is sanctified as holy of holies. G‑d will be his lot and inheritance forever… as for the Priests and Levites.

As a foretaste, and in preparation for, the conquest ofEretz Yisrael in the Era of the Redemption, and to emphasize the quality of oneness, Yehoshua sent Pinchas as one of his two spies.

* * *

4. The above concepts also share a connection to the concluding passage of Parshas Shelach, the passage which deals with the mitzvah of tzitzis. Tzitzis is amitzvah of general significance as reflected by our Sages’ statement that it is “equivalent to all the mitzvos”and the verse “and you shall see it and remember all themitzvos of G‑d.” On the surface, this is problematic; as mentioned above, mitzvos are the medium G‑d has granted us to relate to the particular elements of this world, and therefore, they are characterized by difference. If so, how can there be a mitzvah which is all-inclusive in nature?

The answer is that this in fact is the nature of all themitzvos. The inner dimension of all the mitzvos is that they are the Torah’s commands and thus, they all convey and communicate G‑d’s Oneness. Of all themitzvos, this is openly revealed in the mitzvah of tzitzisfor the numerical equivalent of the word, together with its physical form, eight strands and five knots, reflect a connection to all 613 mitzvos.

The mitzvah of tzitzis allows this oneness to be reflected in the observance of all the mitzvos, causing even those mitzvos which reflect the division and difference prevalent in the world at large to be characterized by a spirit of oneness. This is alluded to in the expression mentioned in the passage concerningtzitzis, “so that you remember and fulfill all of Mymitzvos,” i.e., this mitzvah makes one conscious that all the mitzvos are G‑d’s mitzvos, united with Him. Thustzitzis shares a connection to the mission of the spies whose journey was characterized by oneness as explained above.

The reading of this portion should inspire us to greater activities in the sphere of ahavas Yisrael, first and foremost, thinking about how to fulfill both the material and spiritual needs of our fellow Jews.13

This should also be expressed by activities which emphasize oneness among Jews in both of the two fundamental categories which characterize the service of the Jewish people, Yissachar — those individuals who devote themselves to Torah study — and Zevulun — those involved in worldly affairs. In regard to Yissachar, the Rambam writes that it is a mitzvah for a Torah sage to “teach all the students,” i.e., to extend his teachings to as many students as possible. Similarly, in regard to Zevulun, it is possible to give a donation to tzedakah on behalf of someone else and there are some rich people — may their number increase — who give donations on behalf of each member of the Jewish people.

Within the context of activities which emphasize the unity of the Jewish people, it is also worthy to mention the campaign to study the Rambam’s Mishneh Torah.This campaign unites many Jews throughout the world in the study of a single text. Similarly, in this vein, it is important to mention the spreading of the teachings ofChassidus outward. These teachings unite the inner dimensions of the Jews with the inner dimensions of the Torah, and thus, with the inner dimensions of G‑d. And it is the spreading of these teachings which will hasten the advent of the era in which “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of G‑d as the waters cover up the ocean bed.”

* * *

5. The Haftorah concludes with the verse, “G‑d gave the entire land into our hands and all the inhabitants of the land have melted [in fear] of us.” This verse should serve as a directive for us at present. We should not return to the gentiles one inch of those portions of Eretz Yisraelwhich G‑d has given us. And this resolve to maintain full possession of Eretz Yisrael will lead us to the era when the size of Eretz Yisrael will be increased and it will encompass the lands of 10 nations. Then it will be divided into thirteen portions, the tribe of Levi also receiving a share as mentioned above. And we will proceed to the Beis HaMikdash and offer the Thanksgiving sacrifice in thanks for our redemption from exile. May this be in the immediate future

 

FOOTNOTES

1.

Similarly, as Rashi brings out, the two passages which precede the passage concerning tzitzis, the passages concerning a sin offering for idol worship and the execution of the person discovered to be collecting wood on Shabbos, are also of general import. Transgression of either of these prohibitions is considered to be equivalent to a failure to heed the Torah as a whole.

2.

Indeed, G‑d performed a special miracle, causing many of the Canaanites to die, so that they would be concerned with mourning and would not pay much attention to the spies.

3.

The Torah mentions that Moshe charged the spies to see “Are the people who live there strong or weak?… Are the cities where they live open or fortified?” This seems to indicate that his intent was also to prepare for the conquest of the land. From a deeper perspective, however, these questions can also be interpreted as referring to the investigation of the nature of the land. Our Sages teach that the nature of the inhabitants of the land is dependent on the land itself, “There is a land which produces mighty people and a land which produces weak people.” Thus when asking the spies to investigate whether the people of the land where mighty or not, Moshe was in fact asking them to explore the nature of the land.

Similarly, as Rashi explains, the question whether the people lived in fortified cities or not was also directed at discovering whether they were mighty or weak. If they were strong, they would not need fortified cities. Thus, this question also was intended to reveal the properties of the land itself.

4.

In Likkutei Torah, the Alter Rebbe explains that, indeed, the spies’ unwillingness to enter Eretz Yisrael stemmed from their elevated spiritual level. “They were on a very elevated level and did not desire to lower themselves to carry out the mitzvos on the plane of deed…. Rather, they desired to remain in the desert” where they were involved with Torah study without any connection to worldly affairs.

It is related that “the spies do not have a portion in the World to Come.” This is also given a positive interpretation. Their level was so high that the World to Come could not serve as an appropriate reward for them.

5.

When discussing the spiritual level of the spies, Rashi uses the expression, “At that time, they were kosher.” He does not use the term “righteous” for the word kosher contains an allusion which teaches us an important lesson.

Kosher (כשר) is an acronym for the Hebrew words כמוצא שלל רב (“As one who finds great spoil”). The elevation of the lower realms brought about by the spies’ mission was “great spoil” taken from the domain of the forces of evil, for it is through the transformation of the darkness of this world that the highest levels of G‑dly light are revealed.

6.

This concept is also alluded to by the fact that the purpose (and as explained above, ultimately the result) of the spies’ mission was that the Jews would appreciate the positive qualities of Eretz Yisrael, through first-hand experience rather than faith. Faith is a revelation from above, as opposed to experience which is a product of activity within the world itself.

7.

Eretz Yisrael contains all the different phenomena that are manifest in the world at large and thus includes the entire world within itself. Thus, the refinement of Eretz Yisrael brings about refinement in the entire world.

8.

For this reason, Moshe did not send a representative of the tribe of Levi, for the tribe of Levi did not have a portion in Eretz Yisrael.

9.

Although, as mentioned previously, each tribe did not know exactly where its portion in Eretz Yisrael was to be, there were certain tribes who had a general conception — and in certain instances, for example Zevulun, specific information — about the location of their portion in Eretz Yisrael from the blessings which Yaakov gave them before his death.

10.

The world is a macrocosm of the human body. Just as there are 613 parts to the body (248 limbs and 365 sinews), so too, there are 613 portions in the world at large.

11.

In this concept, it is possible to explain an inner meaning of the expression l’datechoh used by Rashi to convey the idea that G‑d left the sending of the spies to Moshe’s own discretion.Daas, knowledge, relates to difference, for all the particular elements of our emotional makeup have their source in this quality. Since the process of refinement to be accomplished by these spies had to do with the various particular divisions, it was dependent on the quality of Daas.

12.

And for this reason, our Sages explain that each tribe will receive an inheritance that is identical in nature.

13.

This commitment should be expressed verbally in our acceptance of fulfillment of the mitzvah, “Love your fellowman as yourself,” each morning.
Translation: Sichos In English