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In The Garden Of The Torah
Insights of the Lubavitcher Rebbe Shlita
on the weekly Torah Readings


Vayikra - 5754

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Publisher's Foreword

In recent weeks, the media have continued to focus attention on the Lubavitcher Rebbe Shlita and his endeavor to regain his health.

These reports have reflected the concern of people world-wide: in America, in Israel, indeed wherever Jews live throughout the world, people have remained glued to the radio and the telephone, waiting to hear a favorable report on the Rebbe's health.

The Rebbe is many things to many people.

To some, he is looked up to as a source of advice and direction in personal crisis.

To others, he is a powerful leader whose vision and foresight provide guidance for the Jewish community in Eretz Yisrael and throughout the world.

And for others, his is the address to which they turn for a blessing when in need.

Beyond these different dimensions, there is a more comprehensive thrust that unites the many different focuses of the Rebbe's identity, a deeper and more encompassing initiative that binds all these particular aspects into a single whole.

A true teacher imparts far more than ideas; he gives of himself.

In that sense, the Rebbe's teachings are not merely intellectual truths, they are a means through which we can establish a connection with the comprehensive whole spoken about above.

With this in mind, we invite you to become acquainted with the Rebbe's thoughts.

See the message which he communicates, appreciate the direction of his leadership.

For this purpose, we have chosen an essay from our ongoing weekly series "In the Garden of the Torah" which communicates the Rebbe's thoughts on the weekly Torah readings.

This Shabbos precedes the Rebbe's 92nd birthday which will be celebrated on Wednesday, 11 Nissan.

The Baal Shem Tov taught (See Igros Kodesh of the Rebbe Rayatz, Vol. I, p. 31, Vol. X, p. 53; Sefer HaMaamarim 5721, p. 231 and sources cited there) that every day, a person should recite the Psalm in the Book of Tehillim that corresponds to the years of his life. The Rebbe 's 92nd birthday thus reflects the transition from Psalm 92 to Psalm 93.

May the prayers of the many thousands of adults and children whom the Rebbe has inspired to pray enable him to merit the blessings enumerated in the conclusion of Psalm 92: "The righteous will flourish like a palm tree.... They shall blossom in the courtyards of our G-d. They shall be fruitful even in old age; they shall be full of sap and freshness."

And may he lead our people and the world at large to the perfect state alluded to in the beginning of Psalm 93: "G-d is King; He has garbed Himself with grandeur," i.e., the Era of the Redemption, when G-d's Kingship will be revealed throughout all existence.

2 Nissan, 5754


The Dearness of Every Jew

Within the Many - One

Even a brief look at the different members of our people reveals a wide range of heterogeneity, for there is hardly a country or a setting in which Jews do not live.

The scope of this picture becomes even broader when the history of our people and all their different wanderings are taken into consideration.

The Jews have featured prominently in almost every major civilization throughout the world, and in doing so, they have adapted themselves to the contexts of these different environments.

It is not merely the settings in which our people live that are different, the nature of the individuals themselves vary greatly.

Our Sages comment [1] that just as the faces of no two people are alike, so too, their thought processes differ.

This variety does not, however, obscure the fundamental point of oneness that permeates every member of our people, in every country, and in every age.

Every Jew - man, woman, and child - has a soul that is "an actual part of G-d," [2] and this fundamental G-dly quality permeates every dimension of his being, even his body.

Of this people, G-d says, [3] "I created this nation for Myself, they will recite My praise."

Every Jew is a heir to the entire spiritual heritage of our people.

There is a golden chain extending through the generations, reaching back to our forefathers, Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov, and our Matriarches Sarah, Rivkah, Rachel, and Leah.

Every Jew in the present generation is a representative of the entire collective of our people as they have existed throughout the course of history. As such, G-d cherishes every Jew as a father holds dear an only son. [4]

Closeness with G-d

The unique love which G-d shows the Jewish people is reflected in the beginning of our Torah reading which states: [5] "And He [6] called to Moshe, and G-d spoke to him."

Before G-d spoke to Moshe, He called to him, showing him a unique measure of endearment. [7]

G-d did not call Moshe to impart information; on the contrary, He called to him to express the fundamental bond of love He shares with our people. (For although it was Moshe alone who was called, this call was addressed to him, not as an individual, but as the leader of our people.) [8]

The inner G-dly nature which we possess is not a passive potential.

On the contrary, it seeks to express itself.

This is reflected by the subject of the Torah reading, the sacrificial offerings.

The Hebrew word for sacrifice, korban, shares a common root with the word kerov, meaning "close."

The sacrifices bring the Jews' spiritual potential to the surface, [9] bringing our people and each individual close to G-d. [10]

Loving Outreach

The above concepts are not merely abstract truths; they are of fundamental relevance with regard to the manner with which we relate to our fellow Jews, even those whose conduct (at present) is estranged from our Torah heritage. [11]

First and foremost, we must appreciate who the other person truly is. When speaking to a Jew, we must be aware that we are speaking to a person whose soul is "an actual part of G-d."

There is no need to focus on the negative dimensions of the other person's conduct.

Instead, one should highlight his inner potential, making the other person conscious of the G-dly spark within his own being.

We must emulate the example provided for us by our Torah reading, showing our fellow man a special degree of closeness, and inviting him to involve himself in activities that encourage the expression of his G-dly core.

We should pursue this approach with confidence, for it speaks to the very essence of our fellow man.

"No Jew can - or desires to - separate himself from G-d."

When he is invited to affirm his Jewish heritage with warmth and openness, he will respond, proceeding at his own pace to "come close to G-d."

Since he is part of the nation "created for Myself," it is inevitable that he will ultimately "relate My praise," follow the path of the Torah and its mitzvos and by doing so bring praise to G-d's name.

Seek the Silver Lining

There is a natural tendency to be impatient, to urge a person to reach the ultimate goal - the complete observance of the Torah and its mitzvos - as soon as possible, and perhaps to criticize him, if he delays making progress.

This is an improper approach.

When Yeshayahu the prophet made harsh statements about the Jewish people, although they were justified, G-d rebuked him severely. [12]

Instead, we must endeavor to appreciate - and always accentuate - the positive quality which every member of our people possesses. For indeed, independent of any divine service which a Jew performs, the very fact of his existence is an expression of G-d's praise.

In the present generation, every Jew regardless of his identification with his Judaism is a living miracle who expresses the praise of G-d.

Despite the fact that the Jews are "one lamb among seventy wolves" [13] and have faced the most severe forms of persecution, they have endured throughout the course of history, while nations far greater and more powerful have disappeared.

This clearly shows that G-d has invested a dimension of eternality within the Jews. Their continued existence, as a nation and as individuals, openly expresses Divine Providence.

In particular, this applies in the present era, barely a generation after the awesome Holocaust which threatened to utterly annihilate our people.

The fact that our people were able to endure that terrible era and give birth to a new generation (regardless of their spiritual level) reveals the working of G-d's hand within our world. [14]

The Ultimate Praise

The G-dly potential present in every Jew and within our people as a whole will not remain dormant. And its blossoming will lead to the age when the G-dliness latent in the world at large will become manifest, the Era of the Redemption.

At that time, the Jewish people will "relate [G-d's] praise" in a complete manner, showing their gratitude for the miracles He performs on their behalf. [15]

Herein we see a connection to the month of Nissan, the month during which Parshas Vayikra in most years.

Our Sages associate Nissan with miracles of a wondrous nature. [16]

And Nissan is "the month of redemption," [17] "the month in which the Jews were redeemed, and the month in which they will be redeemed in the future." [18]

At that time, the entire Jewish people - men, women, and children - will proceed to our Holy Land and "relate [G-d's] praise" in the Beis HaMikdash. May this take place in the immediate future.

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos, Vol. VII, ps. 24-26; Vol. XVII, ps. 12-15; Sefer HaSichos 5750, Vol. I, p. 327ff

   

Notes:

  1. (Back to text) Sanhedrin 38a.

  2. (Back to text) Tanya, ch. 2. The expression "a part of G-d" is taken from Job 31:2. The Alter Rebbe adds the word "actual," for two reasons:

    1. to emphasize that our souls are truly a part of G-d as it were and not merely a ray of His light;

    2. to underscore that even as the souls "actual," enclothed in the material world, they remain "a part of G-d," for the word "mamash" translated as "actual," also means "material."

  3. (Back to text) Isaiah 43:21; the beginning of the haftorah for Parshas Vayikra.

  4. (Back to text) The Baal Shem Tov as quoted in Keser Shem Tov, Hosafos 133.

  5. (Back to text) Leviticus 1:1.

  6. (Back to text) When mentioning the call to Moshe, the Torah does not refer to any of the different names of G-d. For every name represents a limitation, a reflection of only one aspect of His Being, while the call to Moshe expressed the connection to G-d's essence, a level which transcends any and all names.

  7. (Back to text) Rashi, op. cit.

  8. (Back to text) For "it is only for the sake of Israel that I have given you greatness" (Berachos 32b, Rashi, Exodus 32:7).

  9. (Back to text) The connection between the sacrifices and the essential G-dly nature of the Jewish soul is reflected by the verse (Leviticus 1:2): "When a man... brings a sacrifice." Why does the Torah use the word man, adam in Hebrew? Because adam is related to the word adamoh, "I resemble," and thus refers to the verse (Isaiah 14:14), "I will resemble the One above;" i.e., man is representative of G-d, as it were (Sheloh, Parshas Vayeishev).

    Man's potential to draw close to G-d stems from the fact that G-dliness lies at the core of his own being.

  10. (Back to text) Sefer HaBahir, sec. 46.

  11. (Back to text) This concept is also alluded to by our Torah reading, for its latter sections describe the sacrifice of sin offerings and guilt offerings, sacrifices brought to atone for undesirable conduct.

  12. (Back to text) See Isaiah 6:5-7.

  13. (Back to text) Cf. Midrash Tanchuma, Parshas Toldos, sec. 5.

  14. (Back to text) Moreover, by and large, the non-observant Jews today are not responsible for their lack of practice. They are like "children captured by the gentiles," who were never given an opportunity to learn about their Jewish heritage in a complete manner.

  15. (Back to text) See the commentary of the Radak to Isaiah 43:21.

  16. (Back to text) Berachos 57a.

  17. (Back to text) Shmos Rabbah 15:11.

  18. (Back to text) Rosh HaShanah 11a.


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     Sichos In English -> Books -> Parshah -> In The Garden Of The Torah

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