1. This farbrengen is connected with the Hilulo (anniversary of passing) of the previous Rebbe, the Nasi of our generation, which was on the 10th of Shvat.
It would seem proper, that as such, the prefatory talk of this farbrengen should discuss the meaning and lesson to be learned from the name of the previous Rebbe. For in Tanya, part II — The Gate to the Understanding of G-d’s Unity and the Faith — we learn, that in all existence, “the name by which it is called in the Holy Tongue,” creates, vivifies and sustains it. In our case too, the name of the previous Rebbe will symbolize for us what he stood for, his divine service and teachings and the theme of his life.
However, since it was the previous Rebbe who publicized the aphorism of the Alter Rebbe, that we must “live with the times,” referring to the weekly Torah portion (parshah), and even more specifically, to the portion allocated to the particular day of the week, the first subject of this farbrengen will be a discussion of this week’s Torah portion for Friday — the sixth reading section of Beshallach.
[Note: As an introduction to the theme of the Torah portion, the Rebbe, Shlita, at this point introduced several Prefatory ideas.
Once we have based our discussion of the Torah portion on the adage ‘to live’ with the times, we should first analyze that saying itself. The term to ‘live’ means more than merely learning a lesson from the portion — it means to derive a directive, which becomes part of our life, and in which there can be no interruption, just as there cannot be an interruption in life itself.
The intensity of this didactic observation should itself be understood in two distinct forms.
First of all, you must realize the importance and urgency of taking a lesson from today’s Torah portion, although yesterday you also studied Torah and gleaned a lesson from yesterday’s Torah portion. The reason is that it is connected to your life; as important as the air you breathe. Yesterday’s air will not keep you alive today!
Speaking of air and breathing it should be noted that there are basic needs of the human body which we find available in nature, and those things which are more vital for the existence of the person are also needed more regularly. The Rebbe Maharash explains this in his Chassidic wvr-X,~’Mayim Rabim.’
It is clear that the creator shows us His kindness in that which is more vital for life is easier to obtain, cheaper and more widely available. This is true even in food and drink. Drinking is more vital than eating, without water one can only live for a few days, but without food he can live longer; water is found in abundance in every country and available for only a few pennies. And if you draw the water yourself from the river, you may drink as much as you desire without charge. Food of course is less abundant and must be paid for.
Air is more important for the existence of life than water, it is therefore found everywhere at all times, and one need not expend any effort in order to obtain air, you just breathe. The reason for this is that you cannot live even for a short period without air.
Clothes are more expensive than food, you need clothes, but you can survive without them, or at least with worn-out or torn clothes, as long as they cover the body. So they are more expensive.
Housing is the most expensive of human needs, being least necessary. You can warm up in a neighbor’s house! It is clear that the more important and life-essential something is, it will be cheaper, more abundant, and more easily obtainable.”
From this excerpt we see that the air we breathe, the absolute basis of human life, must be suitable at every moment. You cannot be-satisfied with the fact that you breathed air yesterday or the day before that, or even one moment ago. Regarding food you may be able to exist today on what you ate yesterday. But air must always be n hlo
This idea should also be understood in light of another point. Our sages tell us in the Midrash:
For every breath which a man takes he must give praise to the Holy One, Blessed be He; what is the reason? Let every neshamah (breath) praise the L-rd’ (Tehillim 150:6), which means, for every breath [let one praise Him].
This shows us that even for the air we breathe, and for every breath of that air, we must recognize the Providence of G-d and praise Him. Although you had no difficulty obtaining it — for it is always available to everyone — yet the Jew knows that it is bound up with the benevolence of Holy One, Blessed be He. So we have to appreciate every breath of air.
When we realize that the true life of a Jew, every spiritual breath, is bound up with Torah, so much so, that the Jew lives with the spiritual force of the portion of the day — as vital as the air we breathe — it becomes obvious that you cannot be complacent with what you studied yesterday; just as you must breathe new air again today.
The second form of this didactic observation is that it must influence the future — tomorrow and the day after that; it must be in a manner of an eternal relationship. Just as your life at this moment affects your future life, so too, “the past toWgh-t the present and shows the way into the future’’ it must have a continuous effect.
One final introductory point. When speaking of a Torah portion connected to the Nasi of our generation we must remember the epigram of Rashi from Tanchuma that the “Nasi (prince) is the whole,” and he includes all members of his generation. There is a definite relationship to the members of his generation, as well as the young generation, which grew up and were educated by his generation, and even to the coming generation which will be raised by this young generation.
The lesson that we draw from the Torah portion will apply to everyone and even to the average or simple Jew as well.
Simplicity is often the greatest quality. In this week’s Torah reading we find: “They believed in the L-rd and in Moshe His servant.” What quality of Moshe is mentioned here? His dutifulness. Moshe was a trusted servant, a simple servant, as explained in Chassidus. Well, in this aspect all Jews are potentially equal, all being “believers, the children of believers” — all being servants of G-d, and accepting the yoke of heaven.
Thus, in keeping with this principle, that the connection between the Torah portion and the Nasi of the generation pertains to everyone as a member of that generation — down to the simplest and most basic level — we will sift through the vast amount of teachings on the portion in question, in all areas of ‘Pardes’ of Torah, plain, symbolic, homiletic, esoteric, and approach it in a general way to elicit the theme in a fundamental manner.
2. The section under discussion is portion of Beshallach. There, in great about the ‘manna’ — ‘bread from which fell for the Jewish people.
This raining down of manna from the sky constituted a fundamental theme in the life of the Jewish people. It was their bread and sustenance, which kept them alive during the 40 years of wandering in the desert. As such it also constitutes the basis of the future existence of the Jewish people, to the end of time.
Another point comes to mind. Just as the manna gave life and existence to the Jews in the desert, it also created the possibility for all happenings in the desert to take place, including also the phenomenon of the Revelation at Sinai, the giving of the Torah, which took place as a result of the manna. If so, we can appreciate that the lesson to be learned from the story of the manna will be essential, all-encompassing and pertinent to the life and existence of the Jewish people in all generations.
Let us peruse the verses in the sixth portion of Beshallach, which apply to the day of the Hilulo of the previous Rebbe.
G-d’s instructions are that each man shall take as much as he needs. There shall be an omer (measure) for each person, according to the number of people each man has in his tent.
Rashi elaborates and explains:
“According to the number of persons whom a man has in his tent shall you take an omer for each head.”
The last verse of the sixth section adds a bit explanation: “An omer is a tenth of an ephah”; each person received a tenth of an ephah [approximately 2 quarts].
The gist of these verses is that each and every Jew, young or old, big or small, from the youngest infant to Moshe himself, everyone received the same measure — truly a unique occurrence. This equality applied in quantity — an omer — and also in quality — it tasted “like dough prepared with honey.” This was truly a remarkable phenomenon.
Looking a bit further, another remarkable point comes to light.
When the Jews went to do this, some gathered more and some less. But when they measured it with an omer, the one who had taken more did not have any extra, and the one who had taken less did not have too little. They had gathered exactly enough for each one to eat.
On this too, Rashi explains:
There were some who gathered much and there were some who gathered little and when they came home they measured it out by an omer, each what he had gathered, and they then found that he who had gathered much had no excess over an omer for each head that was in his tent, and that he who had gathered less did not find less than an omer for each head, and this was the great miracle that was wrought in respect of the manna.
So, not only did the position of a Jew not affect his manna portion — the greatest and the smallest received the same amount — but the effort of the Jew also had no visible effect, the one who worked harder and the one who expended minimum effort both ended up with the same amount. Remarkable! And in contradiction to the usual norm, which rewards additional effort in kind.
Contemplate this scenario:
The manna is being sent from the sky — a completely supernatural occurrence — you have the ability — and some were so inclined — to gather a great measure, instead you gingerly walk about and gather only a bit — much less than an omer. You return to your tent, and presto, you have no less than the prescribed measure of an omer for each member of your household.
Taking the thought a step further, even those who tried to contravene the command of Moshe, and tried to gather manna when they were forbidden — even they ended up with the same amount as everyone else
Clearly and simply this was the amazing and unique novelty of the manna. Despite the many different levels among the Jewish people, from the greatest to the smallest, despite the differences in how they gathered — more or less, or even in complete contravention of G-d’s command — the manna remained equal and constant for all. In quantity an omer was allocated for each member of the household; and in quality it tasted like dough with honey to all!
Furthermore, we should emphasize, that had the manna been physical food, necessary for the sustenance of the populace, it then should have been rationed exactly equal. It was however ‘heavenbread’ and was rained down to the Jews as a result of their pleas and Moshe’s prayers. As such, the S ine service and devotion of each individual Jew should have affected the amount of food he received. An individual on a higher plane should have mPrited more and vice versa.
Similarly, since they requested food and prayed for the manna, their supplication and requests should have made a difference, as opposed to benevolence which flows from above downwards without the preface of a request or prayer — in which case there would normally be no distinctions.
Hence the wonder and novelty of the manna, that despite being heaven-bread, and coming as a result of the prayers of the recipients, absolutely everyone was allocated the same amount. Moshe, in whose merit the manna rained down, and the smallest of the small, all merited the same smannt
The lesson? Clear and elementary! Manna was the nourishment of the Jewish people that came to them through the efforts, and in the merit, of Moshe, the Nasi!
Similarly in every generation there is the continuation of Moshe’s role, which brings nourishment to all. In our generation it is the previous Rebbe, our Nasi. He gave spiritual nourishment to all members of his generation, by spreading Torah, and the wellsprings of Chassidus to the outside. Through his personal effort and active encouragement, Chassidic material was translated into the 70 tongues and his emissaries were sent to the far corners, and often forsaken spots, of the globe. There they spread the light of Torah and Yiddishkeit and brought illumination to the world, by revealing the wellsprings of the esoteric knowledge of Torah.
It is in this matter that the Torah portion teaches us an amazing and wondrous lesson — namely that the manna must be absolutely equal for all.
You might think that a newly ‘born’ Jew, who just recently started experimenting and tasting real Yiddishkeit, should temporarily be rationed only a small portion of manna — the heaven-bread. After all, it should be relative to his present level? Later when he matures religiously, then you will agree to add to his portion, and eventually he will grow and receive a full allotment.
You would probably use the same rationale regarding the quality of his portion. Start him off with simple fare, ‘bread and water’ until he becomes worthy of a higher, more sophisticated, quality and deserves the pleasure of ‘dough made with honey.
You may even rationalize this rationing with the fact that when you approach this Jew about some matter in Yiddishkeit he politely says, ‘thank you,’ but is not enthusiastic about your outreach to him. He is like the one who only gathers a bit of manna! Or you can present the case of the ones who might actively and spitefully scorn the manna. Certainly to those Jews manna should not be given in the full measure.
For this reason the directive and lesson of the Torah is clear and concise, all Jews are to receive the same measure of manna, in quantity and quality — a full, delightful measure! Because it comes from the Nasi!
This now brings us to the theme of ‘spreading the wellsprings to the outside,’ which was the essence of the divine service of the previous $jWbe-. This includes all three details
- the ‘wellspring,’ itself — not just the water;
- to ‘spread’ — flood — not just trickle;
- to the ‘outside’ — the wellsprings must spring forth and spread out, even outside.
After all, you might think that when we speak of a Jew who is outside it should suffice to give him water from the wellspring, why take the whole fountain to him? So you are shown that you must actually take the wellspring to him. And once there, you cannot be satisfied by bestowing a trickle of water. you have to flood the place!
To paraphrase our example of the manna you have to give every Jew ‘dough made with honey,’ a delightful portion, and lots of it!
So let the action be done to live with the lessons of the portion of the Torah of the day of the Hilulo, and to carry it over to the future. To increase your involvement, with more strength and impetus, in fulfilling the mission of the previous Rebbe, to spread Yiddishkeit and the wellsprings of Chassidus, outside. To give every Jew a full measure of ‘bread from heaven’ and to take the wellsprings to the outside.
Don’t ask if you have the ability. Of course you do! You can execute this mission in a full and complete way. Just show the will and desire to do it.
As the previous Rebbe wrote: “Stand ready, everyone of you ... to receive G-d’s blessings... which the Blessed G-d will bestow upon you and us, through the awakening of the great mercies ... which will be engendered ... by the celebrant of this Hilulo.” And certainly when we stand in the day of his Hilulo! When all the blessings and plenty are drawn to a-greater measure from above, for all of us.
This should first influence and bring success in all of these activities. So that the manna, the ‘bread from heaven’ should be completely absorbed and Permeate and imbue every Jew.
Similarly we should be blessed with the benevolence of G-d’s blessing in these last moments of the diaspora, when all the blessing must be instantaneous; there is no time — it can’t be postponed!
And immediately we will come to and enter the settled land of Eretz Yisrael, by the true and complete redemption through our Righteous Mashiach. Quickly and truly in our days.
3. Let us now approach the topic mentioned at the outset. What lesson do we derive from the previous Rebbe’s name and how does it express the substance and form of his Divine service?
And if you will ask, “Who can compare to him, and what does the form of his Divine service have to do with us?” Remember, Rashi has taught us that, “the Nasi (prince) is the whole” (Bamidbar 21:21). If so, we do have a relationship to “a minute portion and particle” of the Divine service of the Nasi of our generation.
For it was the Nasi who opened and paved the way, and so we are capable of at least something comparable. In a sense this is the role of Nasi, to bequeath from his own path in the service of G-d to all members of his generation. “He that has a generous eye shall be blessed; for he gives of a “bread to the poor-” and he gives bountifully, for “everyone who gives, does so with generosity.” The previous Rebbe was especially diligent in this respect, for it is known that he received an assurance from his father that his tenure as Rebbe would follow the path of kindness and mercy.
So now, when we look for the theme of the Divine service of the previous Rebbe we see that we must also relate some aspect of it, and incorporate some lesson from it, into our own lives.
The previous Rebbe’s name was comprised of two words: Yosef and Yitzchok. This fact itself can be viewed from two aspects. On the one hand, we have two distinct names — many people have either one or the other, name — on the other hand it is really one name of two words.
When we look for the meaning of the names and their nature, we can also approach it from both aspects. Firstly, what is the theme of the name Yosef on its own, and the name Yitzchok on its own. And what new spiritual compound emerges when the two names are fused together in one person.
The name Yosef is described to us in Scripture as having the meaning: “May G-d grant another son to me” (Bereishis 30:24). This connotes the idea of a person whose Divine service would include bringing another Jew to the realization that he is truly a son of G-d.
But the Torah uses the words, ‘ben acher’ — an other son — not ‘ben nosaf,’ an additional son. What does the Torah wish to emphasize?
This could mean that even when one is close to G-d and truly on the level of a ‘son’ he still should raise himself to an even higher level and become, yet ‘an other son’ on a new and loftier plane. Thus, even the complete tzaddik sometimes needs some outside assistance to help him rise to a higher level, e.g. to be on the level of a “baal teshuvah.” Just as one who is incarcerated cannot free himself, so too the tzaddik needs the help of a friend. Yosef was granted the quality to be able to lend that assistance, so that the tzaddik can reach the loftier state of being ‘an other son,’ completely beyond his previous capabilities.
At the other end of the spectrum Yosef also comes to the rescue. As the Tzemach Tzedek interpreted the term ‘ben acher,’ to mean, that Yosef must find a Jew ‘in the condition of an other and transform him to the level of son.’
So, you will ask, where does one find this strange and wonderful power that can help a tzaddik rise to become ‘an other son’ and can also assist a Jew at the low level of ‘other’ to rise to the category of ‘son’? The answer is in the verse, “Yosef Havayah” (may G-d grant another son). It is the power of G-d! Yes, the ability and power for this are G-d’s, but you (Yosef) are granted the virtue of participating and sharing tho set with G-d!
This will also provide an answer for those who have had serious reservations, based on the dictum “Adorn (perfect) yourself first, then adorn (admonish) others.” They honestly reasoned: “How can I influence others to improve, before I have perfected myself?” But now there is an answer. Look at it from this perspective. You are not really causing the improvement in the other person. “May G-d grant” — the force is coming from the Holy One, Blessed be He, but G-d in His kindness has given you the mission that the process shall start through you. As the Matriarch Rochel said, “May G-d grant me another son.” For this reason you must execute your responsibility and carry out your mission without any rationalization or hesitation.
Now we turn to the name Yitzchok. The theme of the name Yitzchok was: “All who hear about it will laugh for me.” Or as Rashi says, “will be happy for me.” The salient feature of Yitzchok was that everyone who heard about Yitzchok came to the state of iov: he had to evoke happiness by Jews.
Now, you may think that the first step is to transform that ‘other’ Jew into a ‘son,’ and only then to make him happy, with lofty words of Torah and intellectual discoveries in Torah? No, that is not the role of Yitzchok! Instead you are told that regardless of his present position in Yiddishkeit your mission is to evoke happiness by him.
If the mission is to bring joy at that level, then the means used must also be relative to the simple state he is in, including also physical props. This is actually so, for even during the times of the Beis HaMikdash the Talmud relates: “There is no joy without meat and wine,” how much more so in our times of the diaspora!
Of course we are not referring to frivolous merrymaking which might border on the prohibited. What is meant is that you don’t have to wait till the person rises to the level where he will appreciate and find delight in spiritual matters. Right there, on his simple worldly level, you can make him happy, through material means.
The Baal Shem Tov used to assist Jews in their material affairs and only afterwards did he seek to help them spiritually, to bring them closer to Torah and Yiddishkeit —
This story of the Baal Shem’s conduct was transmitted to us so that we may learn from it. Thus it is clear, that the role of Yitzchok is first and foremost to make people happy in the simple sense of the word and with down-to-earth material matter
What about those who might seek a pretext and say that my point is a nice ‘drush’ — just homiletics or symbolism — but where do we find such a concept in the classic exoteric sources of Torah? May I direct their attention to an unequivocal case in the Talmud, tractate Taanis: “R. Beroka Haza’ah used to frequent the marketplace ... where Eliyahu often appeared to him. Once he asked the Prophet, ‘Is there anyone in this marketplace who has a share in the World to Come’?... Whilst they were conversing two men passed by and Eliyahu remarked, ‘These two have a share in the World to Come.’ R. Beroka then approached and asked them, ‘What is your occupation?’ They replied, ‘We are jesters, when we see men depressed we cheer them up.”‘ To this Rashi comments, “We are joyous and we make people happy through funny anecdotes.”
Is the Talmud here speaking of the joy which comes from Torah? Of course not. It is dealing with people in the marketplace! Their jokes and anecdotes deal with simple matters, nevertheless the attribute of making people happy is considered so important and great, that Eliyahu could see, that they had already merited a portion in the World to Come.
Normally we caution, “Don’t be sure of yourself until your dying day,” and “G-d does not associate His Name to the righteous during their lifetime.” Nevertheless, here because their vocalize was making people happy, they were already considered to have a part in the World to Come.
This is Yitzchak’s role in life, to make every Jew happy.
The previous Rebbe had both names, Yosef and Yitzchok, and surely both aspects were related to him — so too, to all who carry his name. But this must bear a lesson for everyone — that in addition to the role expressed in their own name — as a member of the Nasi’s generation, his name also affects their role. So that everyone must incorporate these aspects of Yosef and Yitzchok in their Divine service.
4. In viewing the dual aspects of the name of the previous Rebbe, we may come to understand a fusion of the theme of the two names, Yosef and Yitzchok.
This fusion results in an aspect of divine service represented by the role of a ‘Yosef’ in the manner of S ‘Yitzchok’ and role of a ‘Yitzchok’ in the manner of a ‘Yosef.’
The role of Yosef in the manner of Yitzchok must be understood both from the standpoint of the benefactor as well as from the viewpoint of the beneficiary.
What was the theme of Yosef? to add ‘another’ son. Sometimes this outreach might be done in a mechanical, cold blooded, feelingness way. He does his duty, purely to fulfill his obligation, with no enthusiasm or pleasure in his work. When the two names fuse however, the resulting lesson tells us to be a ‘Yosef’ in the manner of ‘Yitzchok’; there must be an infusion of enthusiasm, joy and delight in his activities!
On the part of the recipient this same difference might appear. When the mentor approaches with a stern face and proclaims, “I am your guide, you are my ‘charge,’ so listen carefully to the words of admonition I will shower upon you which I have been commanded by G-d to do.” Without doubt, upon hearing such an introduction, — the recipient will be completely ‘turned off,’ and will have no desire or motivation to hear anything.
If you want your intended protege’ to pay attention and absorb your well-intentioned words there must first be the aspect of ‘Yitzchok.’ You must approach him with a pleasant countenance, happy and smiling, friendly and genuinely interested in his well-being — not an act or put on but truly interested and concerned.
Similarly, when approaching the role of Yitzchok which was to bring joy to everyone — even on the simplest and most fundamental levels, we incorporate and fuse the aspect of Yosef to add an ‘other’ and make the ‘other’ into a ‘son.’ But we said earlier that the role of Yitzchok was to function on the level of each individual and to bring joy with the simple, everyday, down to earth things of life and not necessarily to strive for higher levels.
Here the aspect of Yosef must introduce another goal. While being involved in spreading the joy on the lowest level, there must at the same time be a parallel effort to raise the recipient to a higher, loftier state. While caring for the person on this level you must not be satisfied, in the long run, with the current situation. By converting the ‘other’ to be a ‘son,’ the joy involved will be immeasurable and intense, on a level completely incomparable to the lower level of joy.
Here, a parable is brought in the writings of the Maggid of Mezritch. When a father lowers himself to the petty levels of his child, acting in a juvenile fashion and talking like a baby in order to play with him, he experiences true joy in the process. So too, G-d, ‘withdrew’ and ‘condensed’ and ‘constricted’ the supernal wisdom and raised the Jewish souls in his thought — an act which involved supernal delight.
The Baal Shem Tov had taught that the preciousness of every Jew to G-d could be compared to the love and joy felt by aged parents for their only child; they delight and revel in every petty or trivial move of the child and in all the childish things which make him happy. Despite this, there must also be the additional goal of raising the child to a higher level, when the intensity of joy will be infinitely higher.
May G-d grant that everyone will be involved in activities to further the goals of Yosef and Yitzchok and both of them together. From this aspect of Yosef which reaches out to bring another to become a son, we come to the theme of Yisro which we will read about in the Torah portion of this afternoon. at Minchah.
Yisro’s name was connected with the theme of something additional — for he added a chapter in the Torah. Also with the idea of something advantageous, as we see in the language of Koheles, the advantage of ‘wisdom over folly’ and ‘light out of darkness.
This concept of course is quite profound. There is a unique quality to light which metamorphoses out of darkness — so too, Yisro first tried the worship of all idols and then came to the realization: “Now I know that the L-rd is greater than all the gods. From the lowest nadir of idolatry he rose up to the apex of holiness. The Zohar even states that Yisro’s statement comprised a form of preparation for Matan Torah.
Today we may equate the role of Yosef, which brings the ‘other’ close to G-d and makes him a ‘son,’ as similar to the role of Yisro and a preparation for the revelation of the esoteric aspects of Torah, which will be revealed in the World to Come.
May our efforts in this direction bring the fulfillment of the promise, “... and the glory of the L-rd will be revealed and all flesh will see....” This indicates that when that revelation takes place we will not even need physical eyes, for the flesh itself will ‘see’ — so much so that the soul will receive sustenance from the body. So may it be, truly and actually in our time.
5. There is a perturbing Rashi commentary in this week’s portion of Beshallach. Verse 15 of chapter 15, — in the Song of the Sea — states:
Then the chieftains of Edom were terrified; the mighty men of Moav were panic-stricken; all the inhabitants of Canaan melted away.” Rashi comments on this: “The chieftains of Edom, the mighty men of Moav — but surely they had no cause to fear anything, because they were not marching against them! But the explanation is [that they panicked and trembled] out of annoyance because they were annoyed and distressed by the glory that Israel had achieved
Actually this arrogance and distress was felt by all the nations, not only Edom and Moav. As expressed in verse 14: “The nations heard it and trembled,” which Rashi translates as meaning, ‘agitated.’ No fear, just irritation, as a result of not being able to accept the glory of the Jews. This was similar to the annoyance and distress of Edom and Moav. If so, why single out Edom and Moav after mentioning all the nations; what was special should their attitude?
There is another point which the commentaries on Rashi elaborate on. They base Rashi’s remarks about the attitude of Edom and Moav on the Mechilta, which goes into a lengthy explanation why Edom and Moav should not fear the Jews. The Mechilta quotes verses in Devarim which show that G-d told the Jews not to attack Edom and Moav and therefore the trembling was on account of ‘annoyance,’ not fear.
Then they ask, how can the Mechilta bring these proof points from incidents which occurred 40 years later? To which the commentaries answer that really the prohibition of attacking Edom was said earlier, but not written till 40 years later.
Rashi does not go into all those details but states simply: “Surely they had no cause to fear anything because they were not marching against them.” It would seem that Rashi should be clear and simple, but by not explaining, Rashi is not. And furthermore the Torah itself says in Bamidbar 22:3-4: “The Moabites became deathly afraid ... Moav said ... now the [Jews] community will lick up everything around us, just as a bull licks up all the vegetation in the field.” So Moav was afraid that the Jews would destroy them. How does Rashi say that “they had no cause to fear ...”?
The five-year-old-Chumash student may not have learned the portion of Balak yet, and the question will not bother him until he does, nevertheless Rashi should solve the problem now so as to eliminate the possibility of a paradox later in Balak.
To clarify this problem in Rashi we must say that Rashi’s basic assumption was that Edom and Moav had nothing to fear, “... because they were not marching against them”! This assumption was based on the fact, that until this point wherever the five-year-old student read about the promised land it was called, the ‘Land of Canaan.’ If so, why should Edom and Moav fear attack? [They were not Canaanites!]
It is specifically for this reason that in verse 14, Rashi translates the word ‘yirgazun’ as ‘misragzin.’ What does Rashi actually clarify by adding the word ‘misragzin’? What Rashi really means to tell us is that the word ‘yirgazun’ means only ‘irritation’ or ‘agitation’ (anger) and not fear. Irritation. because they could not bear the fact that the Jews were experiencing so much glory and success. But there is no basis for the introduction of fear! [Note: this point was not understood by many of the English translators of Rashi who translated ‘misragzin’ — ‘trembled.’]
Similarly, Rashi asks, if the other nations knew that Israel was marching only against Canaan and therefore were only agitated but not fearful, then why were Edom and Moav panic-stricken and trembling?
When we will reach the portion of Balak and we will study the context there, we will find additional reasons for fear at that later time. After all, Moav later sees that the Jewish people destroyed additional lands such as Sichon and Og and even captured the city of Cheshbon which-had originally been part of Moav, so then, because of those incidents, Moav fears that perhaps the Jews were given a new mandate to conquer other lands. But at this point, this thought was not possible.
For this reason Rashi explains that the panic and fear of Edom and Moav were a manifestation of their annoyance and jealousy. There is a difference between ‘yirgazun’ which means simple agitation, or anger and ‘aninus’ [used by Rashi] which means annoyance based on jealousy. The other nations were angry at the success of the Jews — as the young student is aware — that when a Jew attains success the gentiles grit their teeth in anger. Whereas, Edom and Moav were first upset and jealous of the success of the Jews, and afterwards this made them angry and then panic-stricken.
This distinction has a specific logic. The emotion of jealousy will be awakened when someone imagines that he is equally worthy and deserving of some good thing which someone else got. When one thinks that he too deserves the benefits of some glory or success he becomes keenly jealous. Why should the other have it and not he!
But when the success or benefit is something which has absolutely nothing to do with him, then he feels no jealousy towards the one who does enjoy the benefit of that particular pleasure of glory. He may however burn with anger, not being able to tolerate that the other person does have that benefit.
This distinction applies very precisely here. Edom and Moav both considered themselves related to the Jewish people. Edom was the offspring of Eisav, the grandchild of Avraham, and Moav was of the family of Lot, the nephew of Avraham. The other nations did not—claim any familial-relationship.
Now, when Edom and Moav saw the great honor and glory which had become the destiny of the Jewish people through the miracles, “they were annoyed and distressed” because of their jealousy. They were burning with envy, thinking that they too were entitled to the miracles and the inheritance which the Jews were getting.
Thus Rashi rightly says, that it was their annoyance [jealousy] which brought them to fear and panic. The other nations only grit their teeth!
One question remains. What about Yishmael, son of Avraham, and Amon, Lot’s other son. Why were they not also jealous, troubled and panicky?
The five-year-old will be able to answer this from what he has previously learned.
Regarding Yishmael we have learned that he had repented [and therefore would not envy the Jews]!
Regarding Amon, Rashi had commented on this 19:37: “This daughter who was immodest proclaimed that the son was born of her father (Moav), but the younger named her son in mystic fashion (Amon).”
Her embarrassment caused her to hide the true paternity of her son, which the tribe of Amon continued to do. Clearly, Amon would have been greatly embarrassed at this point to acknowledge their family ties to Lot and to Avraham.
All this is so elementary that Rashi does not even have to mention it. He assumes that the five-year-old Chumash student has not forgotten it.
May G-d grant that through learning these verses and the following verse: “May terror and dread fall upon them,” we should merit very soon the fulfillment of these words and finally the conclusion of Song of the Sea — “The L-rd will reign forever and ever,” which Rashi explains as referring to “the future period when all the kingdom will be His.”
6. At the close of Shabbos tonight there will be a Melaveh Malkah dinner conducted in connection with Jewish women and daughters. In this instance I should like to participate in that Melaveh Malkah by sending a bottle from this farbrengen for it.
Speaking of the exodus from Egypt our sages rolstod in tho Talmud!
“As the reward for the righteous women who lived in that generation, were the Israelites delivered from Egypt” (Sotah 11b).
Similarly, the AriZal writes, that this last generation is likened to the generation of the exodus, and that we will also merit the soon-to-come ultimate redemption as a reward for the righteous women of our generation.
With this point in mind we can understand the great importance and quality of the institution whose goal it is to educate young Jewish women in the spirit of Yiddishkeit. The lessons and curriculum of the school inspire these young ladies to become righteous women, and prepare them for their main purpose in life, to be the ‘foundations’ of the Jewish home, when they will merit to establish families on the basis-of Torah and mitzvos.
It should be added that the name Machon L’Yahadus (Judaism) [Machon Chana] includes the root word Yehudi, and both come from the word Yehudah of which the Gemara says: “The whole of his name should be called after the name of the Holy One Blessed be He.” For the Tetragrammaton is completely included in the name Yehudah. the names Yehudi (Jew), Yehudis (Jewess) and Yahadus (Judaism), although they lack the second ‘hey,’ are nevertheless also included in the name Yehudah, for the second ‘hey’ is included in the first ‘hey.’
Traditionally the Melaveh Malkah meal is associated with Dovid, the King Mashiach, who also comes from the tribe of Yehudah. Thus connecting this concept to the coming of Mashiach.
The word Machon is from the root-word ‘Hachanah,’ which indicates something of importance needing proper preparation, as in preparation for Shabbos and certainly in preparation for Mashiach.
May it be the will of the Al-mighty, that all the activities of this organization should proceed with great and astounding success and all those who are associated with the school, the students, the staff of teachers and the administration should be blessed with all manner of blessings.
I would like also to express a special blessing for the students, that they should find proper spouses (Shiduchim), so that each one will establish a Jewish home and family and merit to fulfill her holy mission: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth “
On many occasions we have discussed that this holy mission should be accomplished without limitation or calculations. The ultimate projection and perfection of “Be fruitful and multiply” will of course be in the future. As our sages say in the Talmud: “In the future a woman will give birth every day.” As the Tzemach Tzedek comments, that instead of nine months, the gestation period will then be only nine hours!
But of course this fruitfulness includes the spiritual aspects of making another Jew, as the Previous Rebbe defined the mitzvah of “Be fruitful and multiply,” that a Jew must spiritually produce another Jew, which is the same concept of converting an ‘other’ into a ‘son’ (which was discussed earlier).
There is an additional quality which connects this school with the mitzvos given to Jewish women: Family Purity, Kashrus, and Candle-lighting for Shabbos and Yom-Tov, which illuminates the world with the light of holiness and Yiddishkeit.
These mitzvos also lead to the other ‘mivtzoyim’ — love of fellow Jews and Jewish unity, self-education and education of others, also Torah, tefillin, mezuzah, tzedakah and houses filled with Torah books.
Finally, the campaign to unite all Jews in the writing of Torah scrolls. For the letters of the Torah connect all the Jews and show us that our destiny is interrelated. Additionally, the communal study of Rambam should also be mentioned.
7. On the general theme of Hilulo there are some aspects which recur from year to year and others which occur only in relationship to other fixed happenings such as day, date, Torah portion etc.
There is one aspect which is unique to the 10th of Shvat this year and can never recur. This year sees the close of 35 years since the passing of the previous Rebbe and the start of the 36th year.
Chassidus explains that the number 36 is tied to and represents the idea of revelation:
- Because it has the gematria (numerical equivalent) of the word ‘aileh’ — these, which infers the ability to point to things and say ‘these.’
- The total number of candles kindled on Chanukah [excluding the Shamash] equal 36 — and certainly the essential theme of Chanukah lights is to illuminate and be revealed.
In a deeper sense the number 36 represents the six attributes as they are conjugated and unified with each other, each of the six taking on six forms. Consequently the number 36 takes on the aspect of fullness, perfection and revelation.
[This subject was further discussed by the Rebbe, Shlita, in the farbrengen of Shabbos Yisro 5745.]
This of course is the legacy of the previous Rebbe for us.
In connection with the yahrzeit of the previous Rebbe, each Shaliach (emissary) of the previous Rebbe and the emissaries of those Shluchim will receive a check for a nominal amount as a token participation in their expenses.
The single check will be drawn to the Shluchim to help cover their personal expenses as well as the budgets of their institutions.
Just as it is said of the Holy One, Blessed be Hoe ‘He is the knowledge, He is the knower and He is the thing which is known,” similarly, “The righteous are compared to their Creator.” Therefore among the emissaries, their personal needs and communal responsibilities should be fused into one.
In order to connect this farbrengen to the distribution of the checks, bottles from this farbrengen will also be distributed to the Shluchim.
And may G-d grant that all of the emissaries of the previous Rebbe and their Shluchim, will use the blessings, and energies generated on the day of his Hilulo, to increase their efforts in fulfilling all the missions given to them in the days and weeks ahead
Through this we will merit the coming of the emissary of the Holy One, Blessed be He, who will announce the redemption and say: “Our Righteous Mashiach is come is come!”