1. We have mentioned on numerous occasions, that when different aspects of holiness (Torah and Mitzvos) concur there is, in addition to the sum total of the holiness of the converging concepts, an additional degree of holiness present. It is understood, however, that in order for these concepts to be concurrent they must possess a common denominator. Torah would not combine unrelated concepts.
Today is the last day of Pesach. The Previous Rebbe revealed in the name of the Baal Shem Tov that the meal eaten before sunset on the last day of Pesach (the meal we are presently eating) is “Seudas Mashiach” (Mashiach’s Feast).
Thus, the three concepts which concur are: Mashiach, the Baal Shem Tov, and the Previous Rebbe, who succeeded all the preceding Rebbes.242
The common denominator can be understood from the famous letter (1) of the Besht (Baal Shem Tov) which relates the story of his encounter with Mashiach. When the Besht asked Mashiach, “When is the Master coming?’ the reply was, “When your wellsprings (of Chassidus) will spread to the outside.” The revelation of Mashiach is dependent upon the promulgation of Chassidus even to the “outside.”
The actual dissemination of the Chassidic wellsprings was through the Previous Rebbe, who displayed self-sacrifice in his efforts to attain this goal.
2. The concept of Mashiach’s feast is as follows: with the advent of Mashiach, Torah learning will reach its ultimate. The Torah will be understood just as if its concepts were concretely shown to the Jews. Nonetheless, Torah learning is limited by the intellectual capacities of man; however, through Mashiach’s Seudah these ideas can permeate the person and become part of his very flesh and blood.
We find an amazing dictum used in reference to the eating of Matzoh on Pesach. Chassidus says (2): “When a person eats Matzoh he is eating G-dliness!” The question arises: The Posuk says (3): “Man does not live on bread alone,” but “by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of Hashem does man live.” The Ari z”1 explains that this refers to the spark of G-dliness that is within the food, constituting its very life-force. It is this “spark” that sustains man. Hence, a person eating any food is “eating G-dliness” — why does Chassidus mention this only in reference to Matzoh?
The explanation is as follows: The Zohar says (4) that Matzoh is the “food of faith.” The true concept of faith applies only when a person can have no understanding or perception of the concept and can find no connection or parallelism (even in the smallest degree) to the concept in which he is believing. Thus, the true concept of faith applies only to the Essence of G-d. Any revelation of G—liners, even the most sublime spiritual level can be understood, or at least has some semblance (although only infinitesimal) to a concept in this world.
This applies even to the future. Although our comprehension of G—dliness will be infinitely greater when Mashiach comes, and there will be a constant elevation in our understanding, nevertheless, we will grasp only the revelations of G-dliness, concerning which understanding, change, etc., applies. G-d’s Essence, however, transcends all possible vehicles of intellectual perception and even the greatest can only relate to it through faith.
Similarly, in the other extreme: E-very Jew — even one who finds himself on the lowest spiritual levels also possesses this faith.. The Jews in Egypt sunk to the lowest spiritual levels and, nevertheless, they were not only “children of believers” but also “believers,” as-it says (5): “In the merit of faith were the Jews redeemed from Egypt.”
This faith-, although present in every Jew, may be merely superficial; however, and thus not affect his ten soul-powers and surely not affect his thought, speech, and action. The ultimate goal is that this faith be “digested” and permeate his entire being. This if accomplished through eating the Matzoh. Through consuming the “food of faith” this faith becomes part of him to the extent that it becomes his very flesh and blood.
3. This is also the underlying concept of the possuk (referring to the future) “all Jews will perceive Me — both small and big.” (6) Although different levels of comprehending G-dliness will exist (“small” and “big”), nevertheless, in the “grasping” of (the Essence of) G-d through faith everyone will stand equally. This faith will permeate the people, as it says (7), “The earth will be saturated with the knowledge of G-d as the water covers all parts of the sea equally, which implies a superficial relationship to the creatures in the sea, nonetheless, the entire existence of the creatures of the sea are dependent on the water. So, too, faith, a concept usually distant from the person, will become the very flesh and blood of the person. This is the idea of eating “food of faith.”243
This concept applies to the eating of Matzoh on all eight days. Although the actual obligation of eating Matzoh is fulfilled with a quantity equivalent to an olive and also only the first night, nevertheless, a mitzvah is fulfilled whenever Matzoh is eaten on Pesach.244 Hence, the concept of “food of faith” is applicable and we are considered to be “eating G-dliness” until the very last moment of the holiday.245
The concept that everyone has faith in the essence of Hashem equally, is also the underlying purpose of Mashiach’s Seudah. That is why it, too, involves eating, which is a basic need of all people.
The Previous Rebbe revealed in the name of the Besht the concept of Mashiach’s Seudah. It is not sufficient to study about this meal. There must be the physical act of eating (common to all) which ultimately reveals the true faith in the Essence of G-d (common to all).
We find ourselves in Galus, before the days of Mashiach, yet we say we are eating this meal together with Mashiach, the Besht and the Previous Rebbe! How is this possible?
However, just as every minute detail of Torah is true, so, too, this concept explained by the Previous Rebbe (and therefore part of Torah) is also true.
May it be His Will, that this expedite the advent of Mashiach that we shall be able to eat this meal with Mashiach — a soul enclothed in a body — and behold the Essence of G-d speedily in our days.
On the first night of Pesach, the Rebbe visited the dining hall of the Lubavitcher Yeshiva, where the senior students held their Seder. In his words of blessing to the students, the Rebbe noted that this Pesach holiday is special in that its beginning coincides with Shabbos. The Rebbe then pointed out the respective merits of Shabbos and the Festivals. He mentioned the commandment of “Mosifin Michol al Hakodesh” — “We must-take from the mundane and add it to the holy” — i.e., before the onset and after the close of a holy day, when work is forbidden, we must set aside a short while to conduct ourselves as we would on the holy day itself by refraining from work — thereby extending the holiness of the day to a time which is itself “mundane.” (We will henceforth refer to this commandment as “Mosifin.”) The Rebbe said that regarding this law we find that Shabbos is superior to the Festivals, for the law of Mosifin applies to Shabbos more than it does to the Festivals.
The Rebbe was asked how this agrees with the clear ruling of the Alter Rebbe that there is a direct Biblical commandment that “Mosifin...whenever we are obligated to refrain from work.” The Alter Rebbe draws no distinction whatever between Shabbos and the Festivals! In the following Sicha, the Rebbe clarifies his previous remark.
4. In the Talmud, (8) the law of Mosifin is derived from a Biblical verse concerning Yom Kippur, and this law is then extended to include both Shabbos and the Festivals. Yet the law of Mosifin contains a greater degree of severity as it applies to Shabbos than to the Festivals.
Two opinions can be found to support this view: 1) the RaSaG 2) the Rambam.
According to Rabbeinu Sa’adia Gaon (RaSaG), the Biblical commandment (chiyuv d’oraisa) of Mosifin applies only to Yom Kippur and to Shabbos. In the case of the Festivals, however, Mosifin either does not apply at all, or, if it does apply, it is no more than a Rabbinic injunction (chiyuv d’rabonon).
The above-mentioned position of RaSaG is not stated explicitly; rather, it is inferred by later commentaries (Achronim) from his words quoted in “Yesod Olam.”
There the RaSaG stated that the reason Rosh Hashanah does not occur on a Wednesday or a Friday, is so that Yom Kippur and Shabbos will not occur on consecutive days. If they were to occur consecutively, then when we would practice Mosifin, Shabbos would gain at the expense of Yom Kippur, or vice versa.
For example, if Yom Kippur would occur on Friday, we would be required to begin observing Shabbos on Friday afternoon before sundown (for Shabbos begins with sunset on Friday) — while it is still Yom Kippur. Since the Mosifin period is considered as belonging to the Shabbos following it — and not to the Friday (Yom Kippur) preceding it, our observance of Mosifin would be at the expense of Yom Kippur. If Yom Kippur would occur on Sunday, we would have the same problem in reverse — Yom Kippur would gain at the expense of Shabbos.
The Achronim raise a question:
According to this explanation of the RaSaG, no Festival should occur on either Friday or Sunday — for the same reason!
From the fact that the RaSaG ignores this difficulty, the Achronim infer that he is of the opinion that the Biblical commandment of Mosifin does not apply to the Festivals. Therefore, when the Festival follows the Shabbos, there can be no question of adding to the Festival at the expense of Shabbos there is no obligation to add to the Festival.
Conversely, when Shabbos follows the Festival, there is no difficulty either, since the degree of holiness of Shabbos is greater than that of a Festival. Any addition to Shabbos on the Festival preceding it, would not detract from the holiness of the Festival; on the contrary, it would increase the holiness of the Mosifin period.
Unlike the Talmud and other codifiers, who deal with Mosifin with regard to Yom Kippur, Shabbos, and the Festivals, Maimonides (the Rambam) mentions Mosifin only in his “Laws of Yom Kippur.” (9)
Some wish to infer from this, that in the Rambam’s view, the law of Mosifin applies neither to Shabbos nor to Yom Tov. However, another explanation is possible. It may be that Rambam concurs with the opinion of RaSaG that Mosifin applies to Shabbos but not to the Festivals.
According to this opinion we would explain the reason for the Rambam’s omission of the law of Mosifin in both the laws of Shabbos and the laws of the Festivals as follows:
It is evident by the more severe punishment administered to the Shabbos transgressor than the Yom Kippur transgressor that the Shabbos laws are generally more severe than the Yom Kippur laws. Therefore, any obligation which applies to Yom Kippur, surely applies to Shabbos. Since the Rambam records the law of Mosifin in connection with Yom Kippur, therefore, it is no longer necessary for him to state that the same applies to Shabbos. It is self-understood.
The laws of the Festivals, however, are less severe than those of Yom Kippur. Therefore, the law of Mosifin stated in connection with Yom Kippur, does not necessarily apply to the Festivals.
5. The two opinions quoted above still do not justify sufficiently our statement that Mosifin applies to Shabbos more than to the Festivals. The Alter Rebbe clearly rules (10) that Mosifin is required on both Shabbos and Festival days, and this is the ruling that we accept.
In truth, however, even according to that opinion — that we are obligated to practice Mosifin on all Holy Days equally; the Mosifin of Shabbos still differs from the Mosifin of the Festivals. The difference between them is expressed in the Mechilta’s comment on the two versions of the commandment dealing with Shabbos — in the first Tablets the commandment reads “Remember the Shabbos day” (11) and in the second Tablets ““Guard the Shabbos day.” (12)
The Mechilta states: “‘Remember” the Shabbos before it arrives, and ‘Guard’ the Shabbos when it leaves.” From these verses we derive that we are required to be Mosif both before and after Shabbos. Shabbos is like a wolf attacking its prey. The wolf attacks and devours what is before it, and then rears and devours what is behind it. Similarly with Mosifin — Shabbos ‘devours’ a period of time preceding it and following it.”
By comparing Shabbos to a wolf, the Mechilta indicates a special quality present in the Mosifin of Shabbos. In its relation to Mosifin, Shabbos can be viewed either as a domestic animal or a wolf. Whereas a domestic animal eats only what it is fed, the wolf hunts and devours its prey by itself.
Were we to compare Shabbos to a domestic animal, it would mean that a Jew who practices Mosifin is ‘feeding’ the Shabbos, i.e., he is adding to the Shabbos a time which Shabbos would not have had of its own accord. Thus the time he adds does not possess the same holiness as does Shabbos itself.
By comparing Shabbos to a wolf, we say that Shabbos itself sanctifies the time before and after it, thereby causing this time to possess the same holiness as Shabbos itself. This special quality of Mosifin, derived by the Mechilta from the verses concerning Shabbos, applies only to Shabbos.
A practical difference between the two types of Mosifin arises when a Jew fails to practice it. Neglecting the first type of Mosifin entails transgression of a positive commandment — the offender has failed to fulfill his obligation of adding to the Shabbos. Neglecting the second type of Mosifin entails transgressing a negative commandment. The sanctity of the Mosifin period itself, regardless of whether a Jew accepts it upon himself or not, prohibits work from being done, just as it is forbidden to work on Shabbos.
When a Jew transgresses any commandment he is required to do Teshuvah. However, the Teshuvah required of him for failing to obey a positive commandment is different from the Teshuvah for a negative commandment. Therefore, depending on the classification of the mitzvah of Mosifin, the type of Teshuvah required for working before and after a holy day will vary.
6. We find the analogy of a wolf used in the Torah to describe Binyamin, as it is written: (13) “‘Binyamin’ will be like a devouring wolf.” The Tosefta (14) explains that this refers to the portion of Eretz Yisrael belonging to the tribe of Binyamin. This portion is compared to a wolf. A wolf devours what is before it, and then rears to devour what is behind it. In some parts of Binyomin’s land, the crop season began earlier than in the land of the other tribes, and in others the season lasted longer than in the land of the other tribes.
Examining the analogy along the same lines explained concerning Mosifin, we can appreciate the accuracy of the parallel between the behavior of a wolf (as opposed to a domestic animal) and the blessing in the crops of Binyomin’s land.
The abundance of crops was not a result of human effort (which would be comparable to feeding an animal). It was due to the blessing in the land itself — hence the comparison to a wolf, which does not need to be fed, but devours its own prey, as we explained earlier.
There is, however, another explanation for the comparison of the Tribe of Binyamin to a wolf, an explanation which does not seem to fit the previous pattern.
The Altar in the Bais HaMikdash stood in that part of the Bais HaMikdash which was situated in the portion of Binyamin. We find that the Talmud (15) refers to the Altar as a “wolf” which “devoured” the sacrifices. It is for this reason, the Rogatchover Gaon writes, that the Tribe of Binyamin was compared to a wolf.
This interpretation raises a difficulty. Where do we find that the Altar is like a wolf “devouring from the front and the back?”
To understand this, we must bear in mind that the sacrifices (which were the main function of the Altar) were to be offered only during the day. The Talmud (16), derives this law from the verse concerning the sacrifices “In the day He (G-d) commanded...” (17) However, if an animal was sacrificed during the day, but Kohanim (priests) failed to offer the fat and the limbs which must be placed on the Altar to be consumed by the flames, they may do so during the night, after the normal time of the Sacrifices.
We also find a service performed on the Altar before the time of the sacrifices, i.e., before daybreak. “T’rumas Hadeshen,” removing the ashes from the Altar, was performed daily beginning either after midnight, or “after the rooster crowed.” (18)
From this we-:can understand the comparison of the Altar to a wolf. Just as the Mechilta’s comparison of the Shabbos to a wolf is in that the holiness of the Shabbos extends outside the time of Shabbos proper, so, too, with the A1tar, Although the prescribed time for the sacrifices on the Altar is during the day, there were also services performed during the night, for the Altar “extended its function” both before and after its time, The services demanded this extension — for T’rumas Hadeshen was a preparation for the daily services, and the offering of the fat and limbs was the completion of the daily sacrifices.
7. The Midrash related (19), that when G—d commanded the prophet Yechezkel to instruct the Jews in building the second Bais HaMikdash, Yechezkel asked: “We are still in exile and it is therefore impossible to erect the Bais HaMikdash; is it the proper time to discuss this?” G-d replied, “On the contrary, the very fact that the Jews occupy themselves with the study of the laws and measurements of the Bais HaMikdash, will make them worthy of rebuilding it.”
A similar statement is found in the Talmud (-20): “He who studies the laws of a burnt-offering is considered as though he had actually offered it.”
May Hashem grant that through our discussion of the laws of the sacrifices we will merit to see the sacrificial services in the Holy Bais-HaMikdash which will be rebuilt when Mashiach comes in the very near future. Everyone agrees that the time of the prophetic “End of the Days” has surely arrived.
Let us now drink the four cups of wine, and may all the spiritual revelations associated with. the Final Eighth day of Passover thereby, be revealed, One of these revelations is the coming of Mashiach, who has a special connection with the number eight, (which also explains why the harp that will be played in the Bais HaMikdash to be built by Mashiach be an eight-stringed harp l,
At that tune, we will behold G-dliness with our very eyes, as it is written (21) “On that day it will be said; “‘Behold! Here is G-d whose salvation we hoped for.”‘ The expression “Behold, here is ....” implying that everyone will “point with his finger” and say; “Here He is.”
1. Keser Shem Tov (Kehot), beginning
2. Vichocha 5637, ch. 60
3. Ekev 8:3
4. Part 2, 41a
5. Yalkut Shimoni, ch. 240
6. Yermiah 31:34
7. Yeshaya 11:9
8. Rosh Hashanah 9a
9. Hilchos Shvisas Isur 1:6
10. Hilchos Yom Kippur, ch. 608 par. 1
11. Yisro 20:8
12. Vo’eschanan 5:12
13. Vayechi 49:27
14. Shvi-is 7:10
15. See Rashi Sukkah 56b, beg. “Lukus”
16. Zivachim 98a
17. Tzav 7:38
18. Yuma 20a
19. Tanchuma Tzav, ch. 14
20. Menachos 110a
21. Yeshaya 25:9