The Men of the Great Assembly formulated the text of the holiday Amidah as well as the Kiddush that is recited at the beginning of every festival.
The text reads:
And you, L-rd our G-d, have given us in love, festivals for rejoicing (L'simchah), holidays and seasons for gladness (L'sasson).
This is then followed by mentioning the particular holiday, in our case:
... the festival of Shavuos, ... the Season of the Giving of our Torah....
(See Siddur, Amidah, Festivals)
The Amidah prayer, being so thoroughly sanctified, does not have extra words merely because of poetic license. Clearly, when the liturgy was formulated there was a specific meaning and hence, a unique theme, intended in each of the phrases: (1) festivals for rejoicing (simchah), (2) holidays and seasons for gladness (sasson).
This means that simchah and sasson are two distinct levels and categories of joy, and that simchah is associated with "festivals" and sasson is associated with "holidays and seasons."
Let us analyze the terms simchah and sasson.
Superficially we will discover that simchah usually indicates revealed joy, while sasson indicates hidden happiness. Chassidus says that "Simchah is thoroughly revealed and sasson remains in the heart" (Shaarei Orah). With this in mind we would probably deduce that sasson and simchah are really the same emotion: the first, when it is still submerged, the second, when it becomes revealed; two states of the same feeling, one substance.
This, however, would cause difficulty in explaining the sequence of the verse "... festivals for simchah," followed by "holidays and seasons for sasson." If you already have the revealed joy of simchah on the holidays, what will be added by "holidays and seasons for sasson?" Clearly there must be some superior quality in sasson, albeit still hidden, which simchah does not have and for this reason we must add "holidays and seasons for sasson" -- after the simchah!
We may clarify this whole matter by referring to the Gemara in tractate Sukkah:
There were once two Minim (sectarians), one was called Sasson and the other Simchah, "I am better than you, since it is written: 'They shall obtain Sasson and Simchah.'" "I," said the Simchah to Sasson, "am better than you, since it is written: 'The Jews had Simchah and Sasson.'"
The Talmud is not jesting with this strange allegory. Rather, in a symbolic way, our sages revealed to us that each, simchah and sasson has qualities making it superior to the other, thus presenting the debate: which is really superior?
Let us now digest another Gemara. In an exegetic discussion of the verse, "The Jews had light and rejoicing (imchah) and gladness (sasson) and honor" (Esther 8:16), the Gemara states:
Simchah means (lit. is) a feast day (Yom-Tov); and so it says, "and you shall rejoice in your feast day." Sasson means (lit. is) circumcision; and so it says; "I am glad (sasson) at Your word."
Festive days and circumcision (Yom-Tov and Bris Milah) are two completely unrelated subjects. If we follow our initial pattern of analysis and say that simchah and sasson are two states of the same entity, one revealed and one sequestered, then how does this fit with the statement that simchah is the holiday and sasson is circumcision as they have no relationship to each other?
An attempt might be made to qualify the analogy, that the Gemara in Megillah means that Yom-Tov brings simchah and Bris Milah brings sasson. But that really is not what the Gemara says. It states clearly that the two equal (or "are") the two, and it indicates that the essential theme of simchah is Yom-Tov and the essential and intrinsic context of sasson is Bris Milah.
From this discussion we may deduce the following: simchah and sasson are not just two states of the same thing -- revealed and hidden; there really is a difference in their intrinsic and inner being. At the same time, simchah is essentially associated with external factors. Sasson, on the other hand, is essentially tied to internal factors. As a result, simchah is extroverted, while sasson is introverted.
This fits well with the association to Yom-Tov and circumcision. Yomim Tovim, the festivals, are basically an external observance, as the Torah says: "Rejoice in your holidays," to which the Gemara adds: "There is no rejoicing without meat and wine" (Pesachim 109a); down to earth, physical celebration (with the external revealed).
Sasson refers to the inner hidden aspects, such as Bris Milah; "I am glad at Your word," this is the inner joy and contentment of fulfilling the command of the Holy One, Blessed be He, -- i.e., spiritual joy (with the inner hidden aspects).A proof to this theory:
And as Dovid Hamelech entered the bath and saw himself standing naked, he exclaimed, "Woe is to me that I stand naked without precepts about me!" But when he reminded himself of the circumcision in his flesh, his mind was set at ease.
Now if Dovid Hamelech at first felt anguish and said, "Woe is to me," then when he remembered the Bris Milah he should have experienced a surge of unsurpassing joy. Why does the Gemara blandly say that his mind was "at ease"? And why did he say the verse "I am glad (sasson) at Your word," when he should have said, "I rejoice (sameach) at Your word"! The explanation is as we clarified earlier: there is nothing inferior about the inner joy in that it does not reveal itself -- it is just as intense -- but it is essentially introverted and it remains sequestered.
As a result of this interpretation we will understand that simchah and sasson each has a characteristic and quality which the other lacks.
Sasson has the quality of being intrinsic and essential, which in a sense makes it loftier even than simchah. So now the prayer in the Amidah makes sense: "festivals for rejoicing (simchah)," and then on to the higher level of "holidays and seasons for gladness (sasson)."
Yet, simchah retains a superior quality to sasson because it is extroverted, and it is felt and revealed in exuberance. Thus, in the aspect of revelation, simchah is higher than sasson.
So when we speak of its essential existence sasson is superior and when we speak of human expression and outward emotion simchah supercedes sasson.
Is the simple meaning of simchah -- rejoicing -- now compatible with the Gemara's adage, "Simchah is Yom-Tov"? In a manner of speaking it is when we speak of the essential context of simchah. It is, after all, the festival day, and when we speak of the expression of simchah it is rejoicing.
Similarly, the essential context of sasson is Bris Milah and it is expressed in serene gladness.
Returning to the Amidah now, we see that the language of the liturgy in describing the happiness of the holidays speaks first of "festivals for rejoicing," the clearly expressed extrinsic exuberance, and then it describes the superior level of "holidays and seasons for gladness," a tranquil intrinsic, inward gladness (delight).
Having thus explained simchah and sasson we can now turn our attention to analyzing "festivals, holidays and seasons," since simchah is placed with festivals -- "moadim," and sasson is put with holidays and seasons "chagim -- U'zemanim."
The term "moed" -- literally means set times, as we find, "I will meet with you at set times" (Shemos 25:22). This would indicate that the designated times or days are different from all other times and are unique in some special way. However, we are still in the dark -- we don't know just what these days are designated for. So we must add the word "chagim" -- holidays (which also connotes the sacrifices: "bind the festival offerings (chag) with cords ..., Tehillim 118:27).
Hence, when speaking of the "moadim" which is the general external reference to holidays, we use the word simchah and when the term "festivals" is added, which portrays the inner theme, we use the term sasson.
What about the double term "chagim" and "zemanim". Here a close scrutiny will also reveal two levels of internal and external. The next verse in the same paragraph of the Amidah lists the names of the holiday, Shavuos, Sukkos and Pesach, and then explains: the Season of the Giving of our Torah ... Rejoicing and ... Freedom. The name of the holiday clearly is an external aspect, relating to counting weeks, or eating matzah, etc. The "season" however indicates the internal, intrinsic theme of that holiday: The Giving of the Torah, Freedom, etc. The double term clearly refers to this twin aspect: chagim -- holidays -- refers to the extrinsic names Shavuos, Pesach, Sukkos; and zemanim -- seasons -- relates to the intrinsic themes, Torah, Freedom and Rejoicing.
What is the actual theme of the "Season of the Giving of our Torah"? to influence the physical world; that the corporeal existence shall become an object of holiness.
Intellectual Torah study existed before Mattan Torah.
The Torah preceded the creation of the world by two thousand years. (Bereishis Rabbah 8:2)
Adam studied Torah,
Avraham ... was an elder who had a seat at the yeshivah (scholar's council), and similarly with Yitzchok and Ya'akov: "Our ancestors were never left without yeshivah. In Egypt they had yeshivah" (Yoma 28b). This system of study and discussion of Torah continued till the time of Moshe, our teacher.
What was lacking? Pre-revelation Torah could not effect holiness in the worldly physicality. The Torah remained aloof from worldliness.
Mattan Torah innovated the union of the sublime and the nether, in the order of: "And I will begin." (Shemos Rabbah 12:3) For the Torah tells us that "G-d came down on Mount Sinai" (Shemos 19:20). Mount Sinai remained here and was not sublimated, but G-d descended and caused a unity of physical and spiritual, so that now through mitzvos we can also convert the physical to spiritual.
What innovation did Mattan Torah bring relative to the era of the Patriarchs? That G-dliness can penetrate the material world and infuse the corporeality with holiness. The sages of Talmud stated:
All agree in respect to Shavuos that we require it to be "for you" too. What is the reason? It is the day on which the Torah was given.
Mattan Torah initiated the involvement of Torah and mitzvos in the physicality of the world and this is expressed in the simple physical function of eating and drinking, "for you."
This discussion will bring us to the understanding that the joy of the "Season of the Giving of our Torah" must penetrate the physical and must be evident and obvious by everyone in the expression of clapping his hands and dancing on his feet to rejoice in the joy of the holiday.
The point! One might argue that his joy stems from Torah study. "The mandates of the L-rd are upright, rejoicing the heart" (Tehillim 19:9). Rather than finding joy in eating meat and wine he will rejoice in studying a Chassidic discourse which intellectually explains the meaning of the holiday!
Of course, for the sake of "domestic peace" he will take his meals with his family and drink a cup of wine -- but as soon as he can, he will return to his intellectual pursuits.
Tell him to clap his hands and dance? "Why even a child can do that, it is not fitting for me!" He is a respected Jew with a long grey beard, who considers himself to be a Chassidic scholar and devout servant of G-d. He must seek out the inner joy. So he closes his eyes and trails off into meditation.
He further argues, "If I were to dance and sing, I would not be able to pursue my studies and mental exercises to find the solution for a troublesome Rambam and Rashi or Tosefos. No human can do two things at once!"
Well, it is for this individual that the prayers of the day direct us to the inner meaning of "The Season of the Giving of our Torah" -- "Torah must act in the world." The joy must penetrate the simple physical action and must burst forth in exuberance and outward rejoicing. Don't close your eyes in meditation, open them and see if your feet are dancing! Do it because you really feel the joy. And let others see how you rejoice and influence them to rejoice likewise.
You say it is hard to abandon your study, your thoughts and meditation, and your understanding of Torah in order to dance and rejoice! No doubt! The Rambam has told us that, "Rejoicing ... is a supreme act of Divine worship." Supreme and sublime! Difficult yet essential! The Rambam goes on:
... as it said: King Dovid was leaping and dancing before the L-rd, etc. (Shmuel II 6:16)
This was the custom of Dovid Hamelech, King of Israel, which the Rambam prescribes as a directive for all Jews!
If, despite this clear directive, there is a person who thinks, "How can I shame myself -- I know my greatness in Torah -- I will make a fool of myself by clapping and dancing."
The answer is that you are not the first one. What does the Prophet tell us about Dovid Hamelech? When Michal, daughter of Shaul, saw Dovid dancing in front of the Ark she was displeased and "She despised him in her heart" (II Shmuel 6:16). And she was brazen enough to express her displeasure:
How honored was today the King of Israel, who exposed himself today in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as would expose himself one of the idlers. (Ibid 20)
Was Dovid intimidated? No!
And if I be demeaned more than this and be abased in my own eyes [yet] of the maidservants of which you have spoken, with them will I get my honor. (Ibid:22)
Michal, the daughter of Shaul, was no simple woman, the Talmud relates:
Michal, the daughter of Shaul, wore Tefillin and the Sages did not attempt to prevent her.
Clearly, aside from being a pious woman, Michal had certain extra qualities and characteristics which made her exceptional. Her derision of Dovid must have had a legitimate basis. "How can you dance -- you should study the Torah -- and express your joy in that manner!" This was the implication of her words.
However, when Dovid answered and explained: "and if I be demeaned more than this ...," which the Rambam includes in his Halachah, this becomes the eternal teaching. Now should anyone question how a respected Jew with a long white beard can dance and hop and clap and rejoice -- let it be known that a great Jewess already asked the question and Dovid, King of Israel, answered the question. And, once it has been established in Halachah, there is no longer room for such questions!
May G-d grant that these words will lead to action, and that everyone will rejoice and dance in a manner of "hopping and dancing before the L-rd" with rejoicing and gladness of heart.
On the holiday of Shavuos there is a special emphasis placed on the number three, as the Gemara relates:
Blessed be the Merciful One, who gave a three-fold Torah to a three-fold people through a third-[born] on the third day (of separation) in the third month. (Shabbos 88a)
To this we may add another three-fold subject related to Shavuos: the three general "shepherds" of the Jewish people: Moshe, our teacher, who received the Torah from Sinai, Dovid Hamelech, who died on Shavuos and the Baal Shem Tov, who likewise died on Shavuos. It would be appropriate to glean from the teachings of these "shepherds" on this Shavuos. The custom of studying Chitas -- Chumash, Tehillim and Tanya -- everyday will afford us the opportunity to glean from the teachings of each by studying the specific section for today.
We will start with the section of Tanya (teachings of the Baal Shem Tov) and we will discover that in today's section we actually stress the teachings of Moshe, Dovid and the Baal Shem Tov all together.
The chapter begins with the verse quoted from Devorim: "Know this day and take unto your heart ..." (Shaar Hayichud Veha'emunah chapter 1). This teaching of Moshe our teacher actually expresses the idea of "spreading out the wellsprings," because it speaks of the mind influencing the emotions.
A bit further in the chapter we find a verse from Tehillim: "It is written: 'Forever O' G-d Your word stands firm in the heavens'" (Ibid). This verse is explained in Chassidus to speak of the lofty aspects of the "crown of Malchus" and its eternal lofty position and effect, the attribute of Dovid Hamelech, as it spreads out and encompasses others.
Tanya then goes on to explain:
The Baal Shem Tov of blessed memory has explained that "Your word" which You uttered, "Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters ...," these very words and letters stand firmly forever within the firmament of the heaven and are forever clothed within all the heavens to give them life.... (Ibid)
This explanation of the Baal Shem Tov is also based on earlier Midrashim -- but it was the Baal Shem Tov who elaborated and disseminated these explanations.
The content of today's study section in Tanya discusses the continuous creative force of the Holy One, Blessed be He, in all existence. It goes on to say that if the letters of the Ten Utterances were to be removed from the universe even for one instant it would all revert to absolute nothingness as it was before the six days of creation.
As we follow the discussion of the first chapter of Shaar Hayichud Veha'emunah we will find three categories: (A) the heavens, (B) the earth and all creations mentioned in the Ten Utterances, and (C) all additional creations not mentioned among the Ten Utterances:
- "Your word" which You uttered, "Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters ...," these very words and letters stand firmly forever within the firmament of heaven to give them life, ... for if the letters were to depart [even] for an instant, G-d forbid, and return to their source, all the heavens would become naught and absolute nothingness, ... exactly as before the utterance, "Let there be a firmament."
- And so it is with all created things ... and even this physical earth, which is the kingdom of the silent (inanimate). If the letters of the Ten Utterances by which the earth was created during the Six Days of Creation were to depart from it [but] for an instant, G-d forbid, it would revert to naught and absolute nothingness, exactly as before the Six Days of Creation.
- Now, although the name "Evven" (stone) is not mentioned in the Ten Utterances recorded in the Torah, nevertheless, the life-force flows to the stone through combination and substitutions of the letters which are transposed ... by means of substitutions and transpositions of letters and by Gemartios, their numerical values, until the life-force can be condensed and enclothed and there can be brought forth from it a particular creature ... and vitality to create being ex nihilo and give it life forever.
Thus in this chapter these three groups are discussed and in each case we are told of the constant creative force giving life to each. Why must the creative force enliven and recreate matter every moment? Because all existence really stems from absolute naught and nothingness -- if it shall continue to exist the creative force must constantly be present. This is elaborated upon and presented in classic logic in the following chapter of Shaar Hayichud:
... the work of man and his schemes which consists of making one thing out of another which already exists....
... when a goldsmith has made a vessel, the vessel is no longer dependent on the smith, and even when his hands are removed from it and he goes away, the vessel remains in exactly the same image and form as when it left the hands of the smith....
However, this is not the case in
... the making of heaven and earth which is creation ex nihilo. Indeed, this is even a greater miracle than, for example, the splitting of the Red Sea.... with the withdrawal of the power of the Creator from the thing created, G-d forbid, it would revert to naught and complete non-existence. Rather the activating force of the Creator must continuously be in the thing created to give it life and existence. [These forces] are the "letters of speech" of the Ten Utterances by which [beings] were created."
It is elementary and obvious that this cause is equally present in all existence: the heavens and their hosts, the earth and all its creatures and even all matter not mentioned in the Ten Utterances.
This raises the question, why must creation be divided into the three groups mentioned above? Continual creation applies to everything, absolutely equally.
Interestingly, this question could really be applied to the verse itself. Why does Scripture single out: "Forever, O' G-d, Your word stands firm in the heavens"? The Midrash quotes this verse and asks, "Does not the word of G-d also stand in the earth" (Bereishis Rabbah 53:4)?
How does the Midrash answer this query?
But it means, what You did say to Avraham in heaven, "At the set time I will return to you" and after 210 years G-d kept His promise. [The Midrash exigetically veers into a different area of homiletics.]
In his commentary on Tehillim the Tzemach Tzedek discusses this verse and presents a Chassidic interpretation. Action is most important, and Malchus (action) reaches to the Crown and brings the word of G-d into the heavens and there it will influence the reality of the world. Sometimes, the action of G-d must be drawn down by our actions and prayers for if not it remains in the higher spiritual spheres and worlds.
This provides us with a basic principle and context to understand the specific references to the different groups of creation. While it is true that all existence receives life from the Creator, in some cases the spiritual creative force is more direct and intense, while in other cases it must go through a long series of tzimtzumim -- condensations and diminutions. Thus, the heavens may receive their life force in a more direct manner, while the creatures of earth, not having been mentioned in the Ten Utterances, will be enlivened by a more concealed G-dly radiation. This is in tandem with the fact that all existence can actually be in existence only when the G-dly invigorating force infuses them at every instance.
This concept reveals for us an important lesson in our Divine service. Although the creation of the lower worlds came about through intensely restrictive condensation, nevertheless, "The Holy One, Blessed be He, yearned to dwell with his creations in the terrestrial regions" (Midrash Bemidbar 13:6). Through the action of Torah and mitzvos on the part of man here below, G-d finds a dwelling place in the lower worlds.
And although it is true that G-d created man, yet He gave man the power to be a "partner with G-d in creation" (Shabbos 10a), and G-d pleads with us to follow His commandments and provide Him with a fitting abode. This also brings the soul full circle, for through Torah and mitzvos the neshamah rises to a loftier level than it previously occupied.
The soul must also follow a certain orderly path and gradation, and move step by step in its Divine service leading to its goal of teshuvah -- rising.
The initial stage of a person's daily service is "Modeh Ani" -- "I offer thanks to You, living and eternal King for You have mercifully restored my soul within me...." This is a lofty level of "the soul which You have given me," and it is analogous to the sphere of the heavens.
The next stage in the individual's personal service of G-d is the blessings which follow the washing of the hands:
My G-d, the soul which You have given within me is pure. You have created it, You have formed it, You have breathed it unto me.
Here we speak of the descent and investment of the soul in the physical body -- analogous to earth.
In this stage one may still be involved on a daily basis, primarily, in matters of prayer and Torah study, analogous to the Ten Utterances of Torah. On a subsequent level he comes to the stage of "You are to combine [the study of Torah] with a worldly occupation" (Berachos 35b), involvement in worldly matters; this is analogous to the creatures of the world not listed in the six days of Creation which stem from the combination and substitution of the letters of the words; the most intense tzimtzum.
Our directive and mission and the purpose of our existence is to serve our Maker and create an abode for the Shechinah in the lowest of all worlds, this physical "world of action."
Let us take the enthusiasm of the "Season of the Giving of our Torah" and generate it throughout the whole year, that all aspects of our lives should be permeated with the Season of Torah to make a "Torah world." This is the time most appropriate for such resolutions, in the final hours of Shavuos. And if the yetzer hora will interfere Torah will be the antidote to "sweeten and spice" him and convert the evil to good.
May everyone accept these positive resolutions to bring these aspects of Mattan Torah into the entire year. For the Holy One, Blessed be He, "... combines good intention with deed," so that our good intentions will be merited as actions, bringing Torah into the world. And we will merit the glorious revelations of G-dliness. So may it be, very speedily.
In the section of Chumash which we study today, the second reading section of Nasso, we find two parts.
- "Take a tally of Merari's descendants by family, following the paternal line."
Having previously commanded Moshe about the census of Kehos and Gershon, G-d now commands Moshe to count Merari.
- The actual census takes place:
Moshe, Aharon and the communal leaders took a tally of the descendants of Kehosites by family.... their tally was.... the tally of Gershonites.... the tally of Merarites.... This is the entire tally ... of the Levites. (Ibid: 34-46)
What lesson can the average Jew garner from these verses in order to "live" with the Torah of the day?
The central theme and directive from these verses is the concept that not only a Levite but also any and every Jew can reach the level of Divine service designated for the servants of G-d.
Certain times may be more opportune for the manner of Kehos, or Gershon or Merari. As in this case, when Merari is counted the manner of Merari predominates and leads into the other aspects of G-dly service.
There are differences in the Divine service of the Levite clans.
The family of Merari carried the beams, crossbars, pillars and bases of the Tabernacle. These items made up the actual body of the Mishkan. In the Chassidic discourse Bosi L'Gani, the previous Rebbe explains that the word keresh (the beam) has the same letters as the word sheker (falsehood), for the beams of the Tabernacle converted the falsehood of the world into holiness. The beams were made of cedar wood (sheetim) for they removed the foolishness (shtus) of the world to reveal the G-dliness. Hence:
They shall make Me a sanctuary and I shall dwell among them. (Shemos 25:8)
Following the basics (the beams) came the tapestries of the Tabernacle and the vessels and utensils, which add beauty and make the dwelling place pleasant and beautiful. "Your eyes shall see the king in His beauty" (Yeshayah 33:17).
In commanding Moshe to count the Levi'im, the Torah uses the terminology, "Nasso es Rosh" -- "count" (lit. 'lift up the head'), only in the census of Kehos and Gershon, but not in the case of Merari. Merari built the basic Mishkan and made the initial separation between the mundane and holy. Gershon and Kehos brought in the tapestries and utensils and raised the level of the Mishkan; they introduced the beauty -- adorning and lifting the head.
In the spiritual Tabernacle of man's soul there is the service of the "internal" and "external." The same distinction may also be applied to Tallis and Tefillin. The Tallis transcends and surrounds the individual, while the Tefillin concentrate his inner powers, mind and heart.
The absolute, first stage of Divine service, however, is self-nullification and bittul, accepting the yoke of heaven. This is Merari -- the merirus (bitterness) which is called "the beginning of the service and its core and root" (Tanya chapter 41).
The beams and foundations ostensibly may seem to be the least important of all parts of the Mishkan, yet in fact they are the basis of everything.
In today's Chumash section we see that only after listing and counting the work of Merari could the final tally actually be taken, and the total of the family of Levi be known. This same theme came across in the "Season of the Giving of our Torah."
Accepting the yoke comes first, just as "We will do" came before "and we will listen" at the giving of the Torah. This approach does not normally blend with a person's independence, it could leave a "bitter" (Merirus) taste in his mouth. Yet, it is the proper preparation for Torah -- as symbolized by the family of Merari (bitter).
In the time of golus this need for the Divine service of acceptance of the yoke of heaven is greater, and when we have a second day of Yom-Tov -- the holiday of the diaspora -- this emphasizes the importance of bringing G-dliness into the diaspora, for we have converted a weekday into a holiday.
Actually, Shavuos should not need the second day, because it is always set 50 days after Pesach and does not depend on the day of the new moon of Sivan. In ancient times, even if the messengers reached the diaspora late to inform the communities of the dates of the month of Sivan, Shavuos could still be set according to the date of Pesach. Nevertheless, Shavuos does have a second day of the diaspora! Why? In golus we need two days to attain the full radiance of the holiday.
Let us now see the section of Tehillim for today. It includes the end of the first book of Tehillim and starts the second book.
Chapter 41 ends:
Blessed be the L-rd, G-d of Israel, from all the days past, throughout all times to come (lit. from world to world)
In Gemara Berachos we are told:
At the conclusion of the benedictions said in the Temple they used first to say simply, "Forever" (lit. for the world) when the heretics perverted their ways and asserted that there was only one world, it was ordained that the response should be, "throughout all times to come" (lit. from world to world). (Berachos 54a)
These words have a special connection to the time of golus when there is a lack of faith and it is necessary to emphasize both worlds. This then is the emphasis of the conclusion of Book One of Tehillim.
How does Sefer (book) Two start?
As a roe-deer, faint, pants for the springs of water above, so my soul thirsts after You O' G-d."
This, of course, describes the time of the golus and the expression of the prayers for the redemption, using the analogy of the doe which longs and thirsts and cries for water to quench her thirst.
My soul thirsts for G-d, ... when shall I come again and see myself before the face of G-d?
So says the congregation of Israel in the golus. They long for the coming of Moshiach; they cry out and they will be redeemed. This is the theme of the whole chapter.
I have received a letter from someone who writes that he often meets misnagdim who don't "hold" by Lubavitch and they ask, "Why does Lubavitch announce, 'We Want Moshiach Now!'?" They intimate that since they are not Lubavitchers they don't have to say "We Want Moshiach Now." He goes on to request advice on how to answer them. This question is truly shocking -- but what is even more amazing is that often when this question is posed the Lubavitchers become intimidated and don't know what to answer!
Ponder on this for a moment.
Belief in the coming of Moshiach and longing for his coming is a basic principle of our faith. "I believe in the coming of Moshiach ... I await his coming every day," is one of the 13 principles of our faith.
Every Jew prays daily:
Speedily cause the scion of Dovid Your servant to flourish, and increase his power by Your salvation, for we hope for Your salvation every day. (Amidah)
May our eyes behold Your return to Tziyon in mercy. (Ibid)
Is it possible, that with all this there are still fools who say that the request and cry that "We Want Moshiach Now" is an innovation of Lubavitch!?
Lubavitch is not ashamed of such an accusation. On the contrary, happy are we that we have merited such importance. But it is important to negate the argument that this is something new!
What is most perplexing is that those who have heard this so many times should still not know what to answer. So let us add psalm 42 to the proof. "As a roe-deer, faint, pants for the springs of water above, ... My soul thirsts!" this is a longing and pining which conveys a sense of extreme thirst and desire, as one who needs the water to restore his life!
If perhaps they will argue that not many people study Tehillim with commentary -- well, there are tens and hundreds of thousands who do recite Tehillim every day, as the previous Rebbe instituted, in order to complete the whole Tehillim each month -- so they are familiar with the verse.
And if not the Tehillim, then certainly the daily prayer: "Speedily cause the scion of Dovid Your servant to flourish ... we hope for Your salvation every day!"
Can it be more explicit and clear?! Are they not paying attention to the meaning of the words they say?!
The only plausible answer could be a few verses further: "While they say to me all the day: where is your G-d?" (Ibid:4) The simple meaning of this verse is that in the time of golus the scoffers attack us and say, "Where is your G-d," as the commentaries add: "Why doesn't He help you?" or, "If He is the true G-d and you worship Him why does he not redeem you from your exile?"
Now this verse is repeated later in the psalm again which indicates that there is an esoteric meaning also to the verse. The verse asks us: "All day -- where is your G-d?" True, you think of G-d at the time of prayer -- but what about the rest of the day -- do you think about the coming of Moshiach all the time?!
This is why some fool can come along and say that to ask for Moshiach is an invention of Lubavitch.
May G-d grant that by discussion of this matter we will skip to the actual coming of Moshiach:
And the glory of the L-rd shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the L-rd has spoken it. (Yeshayah 40:5)
with happiness and gladness of heart.