20 Menachem Av: How to Add the “Alef”

The Rebbe mentions numerous times in these talks that everything that is necessary for the Geulah is already here, we simply need to add the letter “alef” to the word gola (which means exile), thereby transforming it to Geulah.  But what exactly does it mean to add an “alef” to the exile that we are in?

There are many levels to answering this question, the most basic of which is that it means revealing Hashem (the ruler of the world, “alufo shel olam“) in the world through Torah and Mitzvos.  Additionally, it means recognizing Hashem’s Divine Providence that is behind everything, even those things which appear to us as the opposite of good.

We find an even deeper and more comprehensive explanation in the Chassidic Discourse that was edited by the Rebbe and published in 1991 in honor of the Hillula (anniversary of the passing) of the Rebbe’s father, Levi Yitzchak Schneersohn.

The discourse discusses the source for the statement of our sages that a Jew must make 100 blessings every day.  The sages find scriptural support for this in a verse from parshas Ekev: “Now, Yisroel, what does Hashem your G-d want from you” (Devarim 10:12).  The sages say “don’t read mah (“what”) rather me’ah (“one hundred’)”.  This familiar technique of the sages doesn’t change the original meaning, of course, but adds another level.  In this case, they are adding the letter “alef” to the “mah” (which means “what”) and the result is the one hundred blessings (“me’ah”) that a Jew must say.

In chapter 3 of the discourse, the Rebbe explains the deeper significance of inserting an “alef”, which is surely applicable as well to the Rebbe’s instruction to add an “alef” to exile to transform gola into Geulah.  To briefly summarize the Rebbe’s words:

“Mah symbolized Malchus, which is the level where G-dly revelation can be internalized (in Chassidic terminology, the level of memaleh kol almin and the soul levels of Nefesh, Ruach, Neshoma).  In the  avodah of a Yid, this is the avodah of “you shall love Hashem your G-d with all of your heart” (b’chol levovecha) which derives from the external dimension of the soul’s intellect (chitzoniyus ha’seichel).  As implied by the term “all of your heart” it generates a feeling of love in the emotional attributes of the heart’s emotional attributes, but only there.

“Me’ah” is the level of Arich, a level that transcends us and can only be revealed in a transcendent, encompassing manner (sovev kol almin and the transcendent soul level of Chaya).  In our avodah this is the love “with all of your soul” (b’chol nafshecha) which derives from the internal dimension of the soul’s intellect (pnimiyus ha’seichel).  This love is felt in the intellect, and then automatically spreads out to affect all the soul’s powers and limbs.

How do we go from one level to the next, from “with all of your heart” (limited to the heart) to “with all of your soul” (which spreads to all the powers of the soul)?  It is through the avoda of “all of your might” (b’chol me’odecha), which reaches the “alef“, the supernal level of Atik which completely transcends the world (higher than both memaleh kol almin and sovev kol almin, the soul level of Yechida).  In avodah this is mesirus nefesh, to give one’s soul (either literally, or, in the way applicable in our generation: giving away one’s personal desires, mesirus haratzon, in order to fulfill the will of Hashem).  Because it transcends the other two levels, it is able to unite them and to draw down (the meaning of brocha, a blessing) the level of “me’ah” into the level of “mah“, that they should both be revealed in the person.

Clearly, this is understandable as regards the “alef” which we must insert into gola in order to make Geulah: to awaken the level of Yechida, through serving Hashem “with all of your might”, having true mesirus nefesh to fulfill Hashem’s will, especially as it is revealed through “your servants, the prophets” and most especially the Novi of our generation.  This puts in the Alef and results in Geulah!  Let’s not be lazy about this, because we have to bring Moshiach now!

Video Shiur: Eikev, 5751

Moshiach: What Do We Have to Do?

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

 

Ekev 5751: To Awaken Hashem to Bring the Geulah

This Shabbos blesses the upcoming month of Elul.  Elul is an acronym (rashei teivos) for “Ani leDodi v’Dodi Li“, which means “I am for my beloved, and my beloved is for me”.  First comes “I am for my beloved”, the effort that comes from below (from us towards Hashem), using our own powers (avodah b’koach atzmo).

This is related to the fundamental concept of creation: Hashem wants to give us the opportunity to earn our reward, to avoid the embarrassment of receiving “free bread” (nahma d’kisufa).  This requires not only that we do what we are supposed to do, but that we do it in a way of yegia, exertion, using our own powers.  And more than that, to go beyond what we are accustomed to do and serve Hashem with exceptional effort.  Through this (the effort of “Ani leDodi“) we cause the response: “v’Dodi li“, an awakening from Above and a drawing down from Above to below.

Not only is this a fundamental aspect of our task in life, it also applies even when a Yid has arrived at the end of his avodah (represented by Elul, the last of the months of the year).  Because in Elul we have both the “below to Above” and the resulting “Above to below”, and it is specifically when the Jew does the avodah from his own powers that it draws down from Above in a way that it is internalized (b’pnimiyus).  This is also hinted at in the final letter of the alef-beis, the letter Tav, which has a numerical value of 400 which alludes to the “400 shekel kesef” with which Avraham Avinu purchased the cave of Machpela to bury his wife Sara.  These 400 shekel represent, according to Chassidus, a powerful longing (“kesef”, silver, related to “kisufim”, longing) for Divine revelation.

Although the emphasis here is on our avodah from below, which is the avodah of the body, we really must have as well the avodah from Above which is the avodah of the neshoma.  The difference between them is that the avodah from below takes place in a measured way, an orderly progression from level to level.  In fact, even the revelation of the neshoma from Above must be according to the limitations of the body.  We cannot “overload the circuit” in our intense desire to reveal the neshoma, but rather the revelation of the neshoma occurs in accordance with the body’s ability to contain it.

Having said all that, the Rebbe proceeds to state that all which we have needed to do has been done.

The only thing which remains is – that the Holy One, blessed be He, will take out Bnei Yisroel from the golus and bring them to the Holy Land… and therefore Yidden request and shout again and again – and now even more powerfully than before – “Ad Mosai”?!  How much longer?!

The ultimate goal being the true and complete Geulah (from Above to below) which will arrive at a unification of both aspects, that the lowest thing – golus – will become Geulah – “gola” with the addition of an “alef”.  Even though the ultimate level comes from Above, and is dependent on Hashem, nonetheless the Geulah is in our hands:

A Yid has the power to awaken himself, and to awaken other Yidden, and mainly to awaken, so to speak, the Holy One, blessed be He….  A Yid receives (in this place [770] and in this time [the Rebbe’s farbrengen]) the greatest potential, and thus he has both the greatest merit and obligation to request and to shout to the Almighty: Ad Mosai”?!  How much longer?!…Since we have already finished all the matters of “our deeds and our work”, and consequently we are shouting and demanding  “Ad Mosai”.  Immediately the question is asked: since all the matters have already been accomplished – how could it be that Moshiach still didn’t come?!…

The Rebbe proceeds to answer his own question by saying that since Moshiach still hasn’t come, then there might be one more thing that needs to be done, possibly in the area of spreading Chassidus, since Moshiach told the Baal Shem Tov that he will come when the wellsprings of the Baal Shem Tov spread forth.  Perhaps there is one more thing left to do, to reach those who are blind.  And this has been accomplished by the publication of the Tanya in Braille.  So since we did the last thing, Moshiach must come immediately.

Here we see clearly the Rebbe’s approach: everything has been done.  But if Moshiach still hasn’t been revealed, we have to try one more thing because maybe this will arouse Hashem to bring the Geulah.  And surely this final thing will bring Moshiach, for if not– Ad Mosai”?!  How much longer?!

 

Eikev 5751: Three Dimensions of Elul

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

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

To understand what these expressions mean:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ekev 5751: To Awaken Hashem to Bring the Geulah

This Shabbos blesses the upcoming month of Elul.  Elul is an acronym (rashei teivos) for “Ani leDodi v’Dodi Li“, which means “I am for my beloved, and my beloved is for me”.  First comes “I am for my beloved”, the effort that comes from below (from us towards Hashem), using our own powers (avodah b’koach atzmo).

This is related to the fundamental concept of creation: Hashem wants to give us the opportunity to earn our reward, to avoid the embarrassment of receiving “free bread” (nahma d’kisufa).  This requires not only that we do what we are supposed to do, but that we do it in a way of yegia, exertion, using our own powers.  And more than that, to go beyond what we are accustomed to do and serve Hashem with exceptional effort.  Through this (the effort of “Ani leDodi“) we cause the response: “v’Dodi li“, an awakening from Above and a drawing down from Above to below.

Not only is this a fundamental aspect of our task in life, it also applies even when a Yid has arrived at the end of his avodah (represented by Elul, the last of the months of the year).  Because in Elul we have both the “below to Above” and the resulting “Above to below”, and it is specifically when the Jew does the avodah from his own powers that it draws down from Above in a way that it is internalized (b’pnimiyus).  This is also hinted at in the final letter of the alef-beis, the letter Tav, which has a numerical value of 400 which alludes to the “400 shekel kesef” with which Avraham Avinu purchased the cave of Machpela to bury his wife Sara.  These 400 shekel represent, according to Chassidus, a powerful longing (“kesef”, silver, related to “kisufim”, longing) for Divine revelation.

Although the emphasis here is on our avodah from below, which is the avodah of the body, we really must have as well the avodah from Above which is the avodah of the neshoma.  The difference between them is that the avodah from below takes place in a measured way, an orderly progression from level to level.  In fact, even the revelation of the neshoma from Above must be according to the limitations of the body.  We cannot “overload the circuit” in our intense desire to reveal the neshoma, but rather the revelation of the neshoma occurs in accordance with the body’s ability to contain it.

Having said all that, the Rebbe proceeds to state that all which we have needed to do has been done.

The only thing which remains is – that the Holy One, blessed be He, will take out Bnei Yisroel from the golus and bring them to the Holy Land… and therefore Yidden request and shout again and again – and now even more powerfully than before – “Ad Mosai”?!  How much longer?!

The ultimate goal being the true and complete Geulah (from Above to below) which will arrive at a unification of both aspects, that the lowest thing – golus – will become Geulah – “gola” with the addition of an “alef”.  Even though the ultimate level comes from Above, and is dependent on Hashem, nonetheless the Geulah is in our hands:

A Yid has the power to awaken himself, and to awaken other Yidden, and mainly to awaken, so to speak, the Holy One, blessed be He….  A Yid receives (in this place [770] and in this time [the Rebbe’s farbrengen]) the greatest potential, and thus he has both the greatest merit and obligation to request and to shout to the Almighty: Ad Mosai”?!  How much longer?!…Since we have already finished all the matters of “our deeds and our work”, and consequently we are shouting and demanding  “Ad Mosai”.  Immediately the question is asked: since all the matters have already been accomplished – how could it be that Moshiach still didn’t come?!…

The Rebbe proceeds to answer his own question by saying that since Moshiach still hasn’t come, then there might be one more thing that needs to be done, possibly in the area of spreading Chassidus, since Moshiach told the Baal Shem Tov that he will come when the wellsprings of the Baal Shem Tov spread forth.  Perhaps there is one more thing left to do, to reach those who are blind.  And this has been accomplished by the publication of the Tanya in Braille.  So since we did the last thing, Moshiach must come immediately.

Here we see clearly the Rebbe’s approach: everything has been done.  But if Moshiach still hasn’t been revealed, we have to try one more thing because maybe this will arouse Hashem to bring the Geulah.  And surely this final thing will bring Moshiach, for if not– Ad Mosai”?!  How much longer?!

 

Video Shiur: Ekev, 5751

Moshiach: What Do We Have to Do?

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

 

20 Menachem Av: How to Add the “Alef”

The Rebbe mentions numerous times in these talks that everything that is necessary for the Geulah is already here, we simply need to add the letter “alef” to the word gola (which means exile), thereby transforming it to Geulah.  But what exactly does it mean to add an “alef” to the exile that we are in?

There are many levels to answering this question, the most basic of which is that it means revealing Hashem (the ruler of the world, “alufo shel olam“) in the world through Torah and Mitzvos.  Additionally, it means recognizing Hashem’s Divine Providence that is behind everything, even those things which appear to us as the opposite of good.

We find an even deeper and more comprehensive explanation in the Chassidic Discourse that was edited by the Rebbe and published in 1991 in honor of the Hillula (anniversary of the passing) of the Rebbe’s father, Levi Yitzchak Schneersohn.

The discourse discusses the source for the statement of our sages that a Jew must make 100 blessings every day.  The sages find scriptural support for this in a verse from parshas Ekev: “Now, Yisroel, what does Hashem your G-d want from you” (Devarim 10:12).  The sages say “don’t read mah (“what”) rather me’ah (“one hundred’)”.  This familiar technique of the sages doesn’t change the original meaning, of course, but adds another level.  In this case, they are adding the letter “alef” to the “mah” (which means “what”) and the result is the one hundred blessings (“me’ah”) that a Jew must say.

In chapter 3 of the discourse, the Rebbe explains the deeper significance of inserting an “alef”, which is surely applicable as well to the Rebbe’s instruction to add an “alef” to exile to transform gola into Geulah.  To briefly summarize the Rebbe’s words:

“Mah symbolized Malchus, which is the level where G-dly revelation can be internalized (in Chassidic terminology, the level of memaleh kol almin and the soul levels of Nefesh, Ruach, Neshoma).  In the  avodah of a Yid, this is the avodah of “you shall love Hashem your G-d with all of your heart” (b’chol levovecha) which derives from the external dimension of the soul’s intellect (chitzoniyus ha’seichel).  As implied by the term “all of your heart” it generates a feeling of love in the emotional attributes of the heart’s emotional attributes, but only there.

“Me’ah” is the level of Arich, a level that transcends us and can only be revealed in a transcendent, encompassing manner (sovev kol almin and the transcendent soul level of Chaya).  In our avodah this is the love “with all of your soul” (b’chol nafshecha) which derives from the internal dimension of the soul’s intellect (pnimiyus ha’seichel).  This love is felt in the intellect, and then automatically spreads out to affect all the soul’s powers and limbs.

How do we go from one level to the next, from “with all of your heart” (limited to the heart) to “with all of your soul” (which spreads to all the powers of the soul)?  It is through the avoda of “all of your might” (b’chol me’odecha), which reaches the “alef“, the supernal level of Atik which completely transcends the world (higher than both memaleh kol almin and sovev kol almin, the soul level of Yechida).  In avodah this is mesirus nefesh, to give one’s soul (either literally, or, in the way applicable in our generation: giving away one’s personal desires, mesirus haratzon, in order to fulfill the will of Hashem).  Because it transcends the other two levels, it is able to unite them and to draw down (the meaning of brocha, a blessing) the level of “me’ah” into the level of “mah“, that they should both be revealed in the person.

Clearly, this is understandable as regards the “alef” which we must insert into gola in order to make Geulah: to awaken the level of Yechida, through serving Hashem “with all of your might”, having true mesirus nefesh to fulfill Hashem’s will, especially as it is revealed through “your servants, the prophets” and most especially the Novi of our generation.  This puts in the Alef and results in Geulah!  Let’s not be lazy about this, because we have to bring Moshiach now!