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The Chassidic Dimension - Volume 2
Interpretations of the Weekly Torah Readings and the Festivals.
Based on the Talks of The Lubavitcher Rebbe,
Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson.


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Two Passovers - Two Methods of Service

The Torah relates in Beha'alosecha that when the Jews brought the Paschal offering in the desert, some individuals could not participate because they were ritually impure. In response to their cry, "Why should we lose the privilege of bringing the offering," G-d said that those who were unable to bring the offering at the appointed time could do so one month later.[1] This "makeup" offering is known as Pesach Sheni, in contrast to the regular Pesach Rishon.

Among the differences between Pesach Rishon and Pesach Sheni: a) during Pesach Rishon, leavened products are prohibited in the person's domain, on Pesach Sheni, however, the person may have such products in his house;[2] b) Pesach Rishon extends for the seven days of Passover, while Pesach Sheni lasts only one day.[3]

Since Pesach Sheni serves as a "makeup" for Pesach Rishon, one might think it would be similar in all aspects; why do they differ so radically?

The Pesach Rishon offering is in accord with the orderly pattern of Torah - it is brought in its time. Pesach Sheni involves an offering that is not. This is akin to the difference between the service of a wholly righteous individual, a tzaddik, and a penitent. A tzaddik serves G-d in an orderly manner - in harmony with the order of Torah. A penitent, however, having by definition transgressed the orderly pattern of Torah, is afforded the opportunity to make up for that which he is lacking.

The service of a penitent, however, contains a quality that a tzaddik's service lacks. The tzaddik's service deals solely with permissible matters; his experience with evil is limited to subduing or negating it. Consequently, the tzaddik is unable to transform evil into holiness. A penitent, however, returns to G-d out of love, and is able to transform evil - his past iniquities - into merits.[4]

This explains the differences between Pesach Rishon and Pesach Sheni: Pesach Rishon - the service of the tzaddik - has nothing to do with evil. Leavened products - symbolic of evil - are thus not to be found. This is also why Pesach Rishon lasts seven days: the orderly and progressive spiritual service of the tzaddik consists of "seven days" - a complete cycle.

Pesach Sheni, however - the service of the penitent - can transform evil into holiness; leavened products are thus permitted to exist, for they can be transformed into good. Furthermore, the holiday lasts but one day, for the service of the penitent transcends limitation and division, and this is symbolized by the indivisible "one day" - a level that transcends division and orderly progression.

In practical terms, Pesach Sheni teaches us:

  1. that it is never too late[5] - even an individual whose spiritual impurity resulted from a conscious desire to exist in that state can still rectify his error;

  2. that "one day" suffices, or as the Zohar puts it:[6] repentance can be accomplished in an instant.

Based on Likkutei Sichos Vol. XVIII pp. 118-122.

   

Notes:

  1. (Back to text) Bamidbar 9:6-11.

  2. (Back to text) Mishnah, Pesachim 95a.

  3. (Back to text) Tosefta, Pesachim 8:3.

  4. (Back to text) Yoma 86b.

  5. (Back to text) See HaYom Yom, 14th of Iyar; Likkutei Sichos XVIII p. 126ff.

  6. (Back to text) Zohar I 129a.


The Most Humble of Men

One of the greatest attributes possessed by Moshe was his humility, as the Torah attests in the portion Beha'alosecha: "Moshe was extremely humble, more so than any other person on the face of the earth."[1]

Of all the Jewish people, G-d selected Moshe to lead the Jews out of Egypt. Then G-d chose him, and him alone, to receive the Torah, and learned with him for 40 days and nights.[2]

Moreover, in the portion Beha'alosecha the Torah states that Moshe was able to converse with G-d whenever he wished[3]; that he shared his spirit with the 70 elders and lacked not because of it;[4] and that his relationship with the Jewish people was that of a nurse carrying an infant.[5]

How was it possible for an individual who was so great to be so utterly humble. Was Moshe not aware of his stature? Especially so, since knowing one's true station is a prerequisite to proper service of G-d. For a person must serve G-d according to his rank, and in order to do so one must be aware of both his virtues and his faults.

Moshe was indeed aware of his unique position, and that he far surpassed other men. Nevertheless, this did not prevent him from being the most humble of men. For Moshe thought to himself that were another individual to have been blessed with his talents, that person would have developed them to an even greater degree than he had. This was the cause of Moshe's humility.[6]

However, this still remains to be understood: The thing which set Moshe apart from all other people was his prophetic ability, in that G-d revealed Himself to him "face to face, in a vision not containing allegory, so that he saw a true picture of G-d."[7] So great was his spirit of prophecy that the Torah testifies: "There has never again arisen in Israel a prophet like Moshe."[8]

Prophecy is not something that an individual attains by dint of his own spiritual service, rather it is a revealed quality granted from above. Thus, it is impossible to say that concerning the attribute of prophecy Moshe thought that another individual would have developed this trait to a greater degree, for prophecy does not depend on the individual.

How was it, then, that Moshe was the most humble of men, when his main attribute - his degree of prophetic vision - could be replicated by nobody else?

We find in the Gemara[9] a discussion as to whether humility is a greater or lesser trait than being a G-d-fearing individual. Our Sages explain[10] that there are two levels of humility, one of them superior and the other inferior to the trait of being a G-d-fearing individual:

The inferior level of humility is based upon reason, e.g., humility based upon the thought that had another person been blessed with the same talents, that individual would have developed them to an even greater degree. The superior level of humility is humility that is an integral part of the person's essence. The proof that this latter degree of humility - humility that transcends logic - indeed exists, can be ascertained from the fact that the trait is ascribed to G-d Himself, as our Sages say:[11] "In the very same place that you find G-d's greatness you also find His humility."

Surely, with regard to G-d the humility based upon the assumption that someone else would have done better, etc., simply cannot exist. We must therefore say that there is a degree of humility that surpasses logic.

Moshe possessed both degrees of humility: Regarding those qualities that he attained through his own spiritual service, he felt that had another person been granted his talents, that person would have developed them to an even greater degree.

With regard to his humility notwithstanding the fact that only he was granted such an outstanding degree of prophecy, the trait stemmed from Moshe's innate character as "the most humble man upon the face of the earth."

Based on Likkutei Sichos Vol. XIII, pp. 30-37.

   

Notes:

  1. (Back to text) Bamidbar 12:3.

  2. (Back to text) Nedarim 38a; Shmos Rabbah 41:6; commentary of Rashi, Shmos 31:18.

  3. (Back to text) Rashi 9:7, quoting the Sifrei.

  4. (Back to text) Ibid. 11:17, quoting the Sifrei.

  5. (Back to text) Bamidbar 11:12.

  6. (Back to text) See Sefer HaMa'amarim 5710 p. 236. See also Zachor 5665, ch. 8.

  7. (Back to text) Bamidbar 12:8.

  8. (Back to text) Devarim 34:10.

  9. (Back to text) Avodah Zarah 20:b.

  10. (Back to text) Likkutei Torah, Matos 81d and onward; Or HaTorah, Vayeishev 259b.

  11. (Back to text) Megillah 31a.


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