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Sichos In English
Excerpts of Sichos delivered by The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson
Vol. 14 — Sivan-Elul 5742


Shabbos Parshas Devorim
4th Day Of Menachem-Av, 5742


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  Shabbos Parshas Mattos-Massai
26th Day Of Tammuz, 5742
15th of Menachem-Av, 5742  

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1. The name of our Shabbos is Shabbos Chazon — the “Shabbos of Vision” — named for the first word in the Haftorah. In a well known teaching, Rabbi Levi Yitzchok of Barditchev, that lover of Jews par excellence, says that on this Shabbos, every Jew is shown the third Bais HaMikdash in a vision. His intention with this teaching was obviously to encourage the Jewish People in their performance of the mitzvos, as he usually did. For if we realize that the third Bais HaMikdash really exists, only waiting to be brought down to this world by our good deeds, how this would lighten our task!

“Chazon” is the Aramaic translation for vision. This means that the purpose of the third Bais HaMikdash will be to “translate” all the undesirable elements of the golus into holiness. This is akin to the accomplishment of a baal teshuvah, who creates good from evil.

Now, although this concept was also expressed by the second Bais HaMikdash, which followed seventy years of golus, this is nevertheless underscored in a more profound way by the third Bais HaMikdash.

The third Bais HaMikdash will last forever, unlike the second. True teshuvah is also everlasting. This is similar to a suspected document which has been vindicated in a court of law. Its validity is no longer in any doubt. The Tzaddik, while he has never sinned, is like a document whose validity has never been challenged and so is not backed up by a clear vindication. So too with teshuvah: The challenge posed by evil has been beaten back and the experience can only serve to strengthen the baal teshuvah. Similarly with the second and third Bais HaMikdash: The Jews were exiled and the Bais HaMikdash destroyed.

Nevertheless, they lived to see, by their merit, another Bais HaMikdash rebuilt. Now, although the second temple also symbolizes teshuvah, it reaches ultimate expression in the third temple, which will be everlasting.

We may compare the above to the first three days of creation. The first day is called “Day One,” since G-d was “One in His world.” On the second day, the expression “and G-d saw that it was good” is omitted. On the third day it is repeated twice, “once for the work of the second day and once for the work of the third.” In other words, the “good” is concealed on the second day and only when we see the culmination of the work on the third day is the good revealed.

Similarly concerning the divine service of man: “Day one” represents the service of Tzaddikim. They know only of one thought — the perfect Oneness of G-d and evil plays no role whatsoever in their lives. “The second day”: The potential for the evil is there but the “good” also lies concealed, waiting to transform the evil. The service of the Baal Teshuvah parallels the third day, when the potential is actualized and the evil is converted to good. It is on the third day that the culmination of the concealed good of the second day is realized.

And this is why “it is good” is repeated on the third day — the day of the baal teshuvah, indicating a superior quality to that of the first day — the day of the tzaddik. This is also how we can understand the well known adage of our Sages: “Tzaddikim cannot stand in the presence of Baalei Teshuvah.” Not only do they not stand, indeed they cannot stand in the presence of those who have advanced infinitely by virtue of their incredible feat of transforming evil into good.

So, in the same way that the inherent goodness of the second day reveals itself on the third, so also will the “avodah” (service) of Teshuvah be revealed in the third Bais HaMikdash.

2. By “vision,” the Barditchever Rebbe meant actual sight, meaning that we see the actual Temple. This is unlike “intellectual sight,” when a wise man understands a concept so well, that he can actually “see” what he grasps in his mind’s eye.

[To the extent that our Sages tell us: “The wise are superior to the prophets,” for though prophecy is a revelation of a higher order, the prophet does not “see” what he is prophesying in the way that the wise man “sees” what he understands.]

The whole year round, we can “see” the Bais HaMikdash only intellectually by learning its laws, but on Shabbos Chazon we experience actual sight.

Of course there are those who argue that despite the teaching of the Barditchever Rebbe, they do not see the Bais HaMikdash!

The Talmud (Megillah 3a), citing a verse in Daniel (10:7), tells us: “‘And I Daniel alone saw the vision, for the men who were with me did not see the vision, but a great trembling fell upon them.’ [Question:] them.’[Question:] But if they did not see, why were they frightened? [Answer:] Although they did not see, their guardian spirit saw.” In other words: They did not tremble as a result of Daniel’s story of the vision; they were frightened because of what happened to themselves i.e. their “guardian11guardian spirit (a certain aspect of their soul) saw. if

In a similar vein the Baal Shem Tov explains the saying of our Sages: “Everyday a heavenly voice emerges from Mount Horeb and [rebukes the Jewish people].” What is the purpose of the voice if no one hears it? The answer, says the Baal Shem Tov, is that the soul hears it and is affected by it.

Similarly with our topic: Our mission is to connect ourselves to our soul and allow it to permeate us to such an extent that we can physically see what, at present, is beholden only to the soul. Our Sages tell us that “Torah is not in the heavens.” It must be made a physical possession of ours. It is up to us to connect with that vision in “heaven” and to make it part of our physical being.

It is simply not enough that the Rebbe sees the Bais HaMikdash. Everyone of us must work towards seeing it in the same light. Daniel’s friends did not tremble because of Daniel but as a result of the vision that their own souls saw.

We must remember this with regard to intensifying our efforts in the areas of Torah Study and Tzedakah — the two mitzvos which pertain especially to these times when we mourn the destruction, and hope for redemption: “Tzion will be redeemed with judgment (referring to Torah) and those who return to her with Tzedakah.”

And it is not enough to restrict our work to Tzedakah and similar deeds, and to leave Torah study for the learned. Everyone is enjoined to study the Torah and to reach the proper conclusions after the study, relevant to practical halachah.

The same can be said of other areas in Torah: The same can be said of other areas in Torah: Not to rely on the Rebbe for the study of the inner Torah — Chassidus; not to rely on anyone else for the study of the laws of the Bais HaMikdash, for anyone who personally learns these laws is considered as if he helped in building the actual Temple; and although the laws we learn are those of the second temple, we are told by the Rambam (Laws of Bais HaMikdash ch. 1 para. 4): “When the second Bais HaMikdash was built, certain aspects of the third temple were incorporated.” So, the third Bais HaMikdash is also implied in the second.s6cond.

Practically, no one should rely on anyone else for the performance of any good thing, including those matters which especially pertain to these times, like Torah study and charity.

Not to mention Ahavas Yisrael, since one of the causes of golus was “baseless hatred;” which naturally results in all of the mitzvah campaigns: Chinuch, Torah Study, Tefillin, Mezuzah, Charity, Holy Books, Shabbos and Yom Tov Candles, Kosher Food and Family Purity.

3. This year Shabbos Chazon in particular is especially connected with the AriZal. It falls on the day immediately preceding the anniversary of his demise (the 5th of Av). The anniversary itself can never be a Shabbos for then Tisha B’Av would have to be a Wednesday. This cannot be, since now it is well known that the first day of Pesach and the day of the following Tisha B’Av are always the same. And if the first day of Pesach can never be a Monday, Wednesday or Friday (as our Sages have determined), it is apparent that the closest the day of Shabbos can be to the AriZal’s yartzeit, is the fourth of Av (the day before). Also, it is already in the afternoon, which, halachically, has a connection to the following day (e.g. we do not say Tzidkoschoh if the next day is Rosh Chodesh).

The innovation of the AriZal was the revelation of the inner, esoteric portion of Torah. The Ari said (quoted in Iggeres Hakodesh ch. 26): “In the latter generations one may, indeed it is a mitzvah, to reveal this wisdom.” This was a novel concept, since this portion of the Torah had always been concealed from all but a chosen few.

In our days it becomes all the more important to “reveal this wisdom,” for the coming of Mashiach is directly dependent on it. As Mashiach himself answered the Baal Shem Tov when he asked: “When will you come, Master?” To which Mashiach replied: “When your wellsprings will be spread to the outside!”

How remarkable it is that the Shabbos “when we are shown a vision of the Bais HaMikdash” comes one day before the yartzeit of the Ari. It clearly emphasizes the link between the third Bais HaMikdash and the revelation of the AriZal’s teachings. The operative word here is revelation, and true revelation occurs when the wellsprings are spread to the outermost reaches of the world. The revelation was carried out on a larger scale than the AriZal and the Baal Shem Tov, by the Alter Rebbe, who placed a stress on making Chassidus comprehensible to the human intellect. And by disseminating Chassidus further and further, the Alter Rebbe and indeed all the subsequent Rebbeim were bringing the geulah closer.

Practically speaking, now is the opportune Divine Providence, the ways and teachings of the AriZal were revealed to us. Of course, those who have not begun to learn Chassidus (for whatever reason), should be encouraged to begin.

“Tzion will be redeemed with [Torah] ... and Charity” — not only should our Torah study manifest the spirit of the AriZal but also our performance of all the mitzvos (“charity” represents all of the mitzvos) should be in keeping with the AriZal’s teachings. In other words, when we have some understanding of what is accomplished in the upper worlds by our mitzvos (as taught by the AriZal), our enthusiasm will be considerably heightened.

4. The number seven symbolizes the natural cycle or order of things. There are seven days in the week after which the same cycle recurs. Eight, on the other hand, symbolizes that which transcends the natural cycle, hence it pertains more to the days of Mashiach, when everything will operate on a loftier, more transcendent level.

Let us examine, then, the eighth verse of this week’s sedra, for though the entire sedra is linked to a Shabbos when “we are shown a vision of the third Bais HaMikdash,” nevertheless the eighth verse is of special significance.

In verse eight, Moshe Rabbeinu tells the Jewish People in the name of G-d: “Behold, I have set before you the land; go in and possess the land which G-d swore unto your fathers, to Avraham, to Yitzchok and to Yaakov to give to them and to their seed after them.” This verse has an obvious connection to redemption, in addition to which the Talmud (Sanhedrin 90b) points out, citing the words “which He swore unto your fathers to give to them”: “To you it does not say, but to them this is an allusion to the resurrection of the dead,” since although He gave the land to their children, they will one day live, and receive the land themselves.

We will now turn to Rashi’s commentary on verse eight: “[Moshe tells the Jewish people:] Behold I have set — with your own eyes you see. I do not say this to you from surmise or hearsay.

‘Go in and Possess’: No one contests the matter and you are not required to go to war [i.e.] if they had not sent out spies (but had trusted in G-d’s promise) they would not have required weapons of war.

‘Unto your fathers’: Why does it then mention Vito Avraham, to Yitzchok and to Yaakov?” To indicate that Avraham is worthy by himself, Yitzchok is worthy by himself, and Yaakov is worthy by himself.”

A number of points in the above Rashi need explanation (bearing in mind that Rashi is meticulous in his choice of words):

    1) Since Rashi already explains that “Behold I have set” means “with your own eyes you see,” why is it necessary for him to repeat himself and to say: “I do not say this to you from surmise or hearsay?”

    2) What is the intent behind the double wording “surmise or hearsay?”

    3) Rashi writes “No one contests the matter, and you are not required to go to war.” Since no one even contests the matter is it not obvious that war is not necessary? Does not contest imply a weaker kind of opposition than the willingness to go to war?

    4) Rashi writes “if they had not sent out spies, (but had trusted in G-d’s promise) they would not have required weapons of war.” Rashi is resolving a seeming contradiction. On the one hand G-d tells the Jews: “Go in and possess” and, as Rashi explains, “there is no need for war.” On the other hand, we see that in actuality, the Jews did need to go to war! Rashi resolves this by explaining that if not for the sin of the spies, there would have been no need for battle. However, why does Rashi use the wording “they would not have required weapons of war,” and not the more usual words, “to go to war?”

    5) Rashi says: “If they had not sent out the spies.” Was it not the evil report of the spies which brought about retribution? When they were sent out, we are told by our Sages (cited by Rashi Numbers 13:3) that they were men of integrity. Only afterwards did they sin. Why is Rashi careful to use the words “sent out”?

The answer to the above questions:

The five year old (to whom Rashi addresses his commentary) asks: G-d has many times promised the Eretz Yisrael to the Jews and they know it. What is Moshe Rabbeinu innovating in this verse? To which Rashi answers that here Moshe is stressing that the Jewish People see the land with their very eyes. “With your own eyes you see!” What I am telling you is not based on faith or hearsay.

The Jewish People know of G-d’s promise to Avraham. But before the exodus from Egypt, it was only “hearsay.” After they were redeemed and experienced the miracles of the Red Sea they sang: “You bring [us] in and plant [us] in the mountain of Your inheritance.” This refers to their confidence in entering Eretz Yisrael. Now that they saw that G-d had fulfilled his promise of redemption from Egypt, they had every reason to assume or surmise that he would lead them to Eretz Yisrael. Hence the two terms in Rashi, “surmise” and “hearsay.” And they are put in the order of personal realization (surmise) and then reliance on others (hearsay), rather than in chronological order, where “hearsay” came before “surmise”. In this week’s sedra, they know it neither from hearsay nor from surmise. They know it because they see it with their own eyes. The lands of Sichon and Og have been conquered; the process of taking possession of the land has begun.

The two expressions “No one contests the matter” and “there is no need of war” refer to two different segments of the population of the land of Canaan. The argument of the nation of Edom that they had a portion in the land, being that they were descendants of Avraham and Yitzchok had long been refuted (see Rashi, Bamidbar 20:14). So no one contested the legality of the Jews’ possession of the land. But there were other nations living there who simply did not want to leave and might have been prepared to go to war for this reason.

This is why Rashi points out that the words of the Torah “Go in and possess” mean that they would not even have had to wage war, because of the fear and dread that would fall on all the inhabitants.

Rashi then continues: “If they had not sent out spies, they would not have required weapons of war.” The natural way to throw fear into the hearts of the enemy is by putting on a show of strength — “weapons of war.” In other words: The enemy is not impressed by an explanation of the principle of justice and righteousness, in which he has not the slightest interest. Peace treaties (like the Camp David accord) mean nothing to him.

The only way to ensure one’s security (in a natural, as opposed to miraculous, way) is by a show of strength, which is obviously linked to the efficacy of a nation’s “weapons of war.”

By requesting that spies be sent to Eretz Yisrael, the Bnei Yisrael demonstrated their unwillingness to enter the land in a miraculous way. Somehow they were lacking in their complete trust that G-d would bring them into the land without harm. True, their primary transgression was their protest after hearing the spies’ evil report. But had they not indicated a lack of trust by the very sending of spies, they would have entered Eretz Yisrael without harm. Not only would there have been no war, but there would not have been any necessity to frighten the enemy with “weapons of war.” The entire entry into the land would have proceeded miraculously. This also answers question 5.

5. On the subject of the Laws of the Bais HaMikdash in the Rambam: In last week’s farbrengen it was explained that the Rambam calls the laws “The Laws of the Chosen House” to emphasize that the location of the Bais HaMikdash was always “chosen. it This is why, prior to the building of the Bais HaMikdash, various sacrifices were brought on this place. We are also told of G-d’s choosing in the Torah. In the story of the Akeidah (the binding of Yitzchok), which took place at the same location where the Bais HaMikdash would one day stand, the Torah tells us: “And Avraham called the name of that place ‘G-d will see.”’ Rashi: “Its plain meaning is ... G-d selects and sees for Himself this place to cause to dwell in it His Divine Presence and to offer here sacrifices.”

Divine Presence and to offer here sacrifices.”

The Rambam writes (Laws of Bais Habechirah ch. I para 3.) “As soon as the Bais HaMikdash was built ... it was forbidden to build a House of G-d anywhere else and to offer sacrifices there.” The question arises:

    1) Since G-d chose that location long before the Bais HaMikdash was ever built, why did the prohibition of “Bammos” (altars at other locations) only take effect once the Bais HaMikdash was built. As soon as G-d chose that place on which to rest His Divine Presence, it should have been forbidden.

    2) The source for this law is the Mechiltah. The wording there is: “As soon as Jerusalem was chosen ... as soon as the eternal house was chosen.” Why does the Rambam alter the wording by saying, “As soon as the Bais HaMikdash was built?

The Explanation:

When the Bnei Yisrael were on their journeys in the desert, all the places they encamped became holy by virtue of the Mishkan’s (Sanctuary) presence. However, the holiness lasted only as long as the Mishkan remained there. Similarly with the Mishkan at Shilo. As long as it was in existence, the place was holy and the building of bammos was forbidden. Bammos were once again allowed upon the destruction of Mishkan Shilo.

However, when the Bais HaMikdash was built, its place was chosen to the eternal exclusion of all others. The point is that there are different types of bechirah: G-d can choose a place, because it also is holy; because it is holier than other places; because it is the only holy place.

fices, this did not exclude other places. It might have been holier, but this still did not automatically preclude the offering of sacrifices elsewhere. When the Bais HaMikdash was built, however, G-d indicated that this was to be the place where His Presence eternally rests, to the exclusion of all others.

This is why it would have been inaccurate for the Rambam to state “Once the Bais HaMikdash was chosen.” It was chosen since the beginning of creation, but this did not prevent Bammos. When did G-d’s choice take on the form that this was to be the only holy place — when the Bais HaMikdash was built. This is why the Rambam alters the words of the Mechiltah and says: “As soon as the Bais HaMikdash was built.”

What can this teach us at a time when the Bais HaMikdash has as yet not been rebuilt? Every shul and Bais Medrash is a “minor Bais HaMikdash.” Our Sages tell us: “All the shuls in Bavel will one day be established in Eretz Yisrael” — referring to the very walls of each shul and Bais Medrash in exile.

This is all the more significant when we talk of the shul where the previous Rebbe prayed and learned. Its holiness is eternal. It will certainly be transported to Eretz Yisrael with all its walls and ceilings. All good resolutions that are adopted here are certain to be endowed with a special empowerment which is eternal. The resolutions can be both personal and also those concerning our fellow man — the mivtzoyim including the resolution to inscribe all Jews in a Sefer Torah.


  Shabbos Parshas Mattos-Massai
26th Day Of Tammuz, 5742
15th of Menachem-Av, 5742  
  
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