Our Rabbis taught: "Begin with blessing." The most essential blessing is peace, that "G-d should bless His nation with peace," for "G-d has not found a vessel which can contain blessing other than peace."
This is particularly appropriate in the month of Elul, the month of mercy when "the King goes out to the field." To apply this concept to our service of G-d: In a city, everything is structured and ordered. In contrast, a field is an open space without any confines or strictures.
A Jew is given a mission to reveal within the field -- the world as it exists before the service of a Jew begins -- the existence of G-d, King of kings, showing how "the King is in the field," that G-d, the source of all blessing, reveals Himself in the field. There, He manifests Himself in open revelation as obvious from the fact that even in the field, he is referred to as "the King." This demonstrates how the field -- the world at large -- is controlled by G-d.
In this manner, the world, even the field, i.e., the lower realms, is transformed into "a dwelling for G-d." A person's essential being is revealed in his dwelling. There, he expresses himself openly without any concealment. This is particularly true of a king whose dwelling is a palace which contains his most beautiful, precious, and holy articles.
These concepts are metaphors describing the spiritual realms. This is implied by the meaning of the Hebrew word for "man" adam which relates to the word adomoh, "I resemble," i.e., "I resemble the One above." The attributes of man on the earthly realm resemble "the image of Man who sits on the throne," the attributes of G-d revealed in the world of Atzilus. Thus, the manner in which a human being reveals himself in his dwelling reflects the manner in which G-d reveals Himself in His dwelling, the world at large. In Elul, His dwelling is extended into the field and He projects His sovereignty there.
This is the service of the month of Elul, to appreciate the presence of the King and thus, reveal the true nature of the field, that it too, is part of G-d's dwelling. Indeed, this service relates to the very nature of a field which contains vast potential. Nevertheless, that potential is not revealed until it is developed by man's efforts. When a man plows and sows, the field produces grains and fruit from which we derive our sustenance.
Although this service involves transforming the nature of the world, a person need not become overwhelmed. The presence of the King, G-d, has an influence on the field and makes this service easier. G-d does not wait in His palace and throneroom for man to find Him. Rather, He goes out into the field. There His presence is known to all for this concept is revealed in the Torah, and this further facilitates carrying out this service. Furthermore, the people found in the field, "resemble the One above" and thus, are granted unique powers, in particular in the month of Elul, to carry out this service.
The King "receives them all pleasantly and shows a smiling countenance to all," which grants added potential for the above service.
Each Jew -- as he exists a soul within a body -- is "a progressor," i.e., each moment he must ascend to a new and higher level. Each word of Torah he studies and each mitzvah he fulfills must enable him to reach a higher rung of holiness. This is particularly true this year, É"ÖÜ, "a year of miracles." This year endows each individual with the potential to conduct himself in a miraculous manner, stepping beyond the limits of nature.
This is accomplished because he openly reveals his Jewish core. Judaism is above the limits of nature. Thus, by increasing his Jewish activity, he consistently rises above nature. This does not, however, remove him from contact with worldliness. Simultaneously, he is both lifted up above nature and involved with his mission in this world, to make the world a dwelling for G-d. [In this manner, his existence is willed by G-d. G-d, the source for all blessing and success, desires that a Jew live within this world because the most complete blessing and success a Jew can possibly enjoy is to make this world a dwelling for G-d, to build the palace of the King.]
The fulfillment of this mission to cause G-d's Presence to "dwell within them," begins with one's efforts to reveal one's soul. In this manner, G-dliness is revealed within each person's soul and body. Furthermore, since a person's body is connected to his dwelling in the material world, G-d's Presence is brought within that dwelling in the same way as the Divine Presence was revealed within the material entities which made up the Sanctuary constructed by Moshe.
Similarly, we must introduce and reveal G-dliness in every element of our portion in the world at large. The world was created "for Israel and for the Torah." Furthermore, as Rashi relates in his commentary on the Torah, this concept is alluded to in a single word, ÜëÖÇÿü, implying that the oneness between Israel and the Torah is complete. It is impossible to separate them. The Torah is "our life and the length of our days." Similarly, in regard to mitzvos, we are told, "And you shall live in them." Thus, even when a Jew is found in the world at large -- in the field -- he will still enjoy "true life," a complete life of Torah and mitzvos. In all aspects of a Jew's daily behavior, even in his sleep, he reveals G-dliness and thus, shows how "the King is in the field."
This is particularly true when one utilizes the influence and blessings granted in the month of Elul, a month characterized by the service of "I am my Beloved's and my Beloved is mine." Through our initiative, "I am my Beloved's," we reveal how "my Beloved is mine," i.e., G-d relates to each Jew in a manner of revealed love. It is written, "Israel is a youth. Therefore, I love him." This implies that even when a Jew is on a low level, a youth, G-d relates to him with revealed love.
The Torah tells us, "my Beloved is mine," i.e., G-d gives Himself over to every Jew, even a young child. This is particularly true when the child is educated in a Jewish manner. Then, he knows, without his mother even having to remind him, that G-d is his best friend. This is an eternal and everlasting truth, relevant even when a Jew is "in the field." Although he is involved in worldly matters, he remains united with G-d.
This is reflected in the forty day period beginning Rosh Chodesh Elul and ending on Yom Kippur. On that day, the Jews -- as they exist within this physical world -- resemble angels. Therefore, they dress in white garments, signifying that they have cleansed themselves of everything which conflicts with G-d's will. Even if previously, their garments were stained, these stains will be cleansed and indeed, transformed, as the verse relates, "If your sins are as crimson, they will become as white as snow."
Similarly, the clothes worn by the High Priest in the Holy of Holies were white. Our Torah gives a Jew -- even a Jewish child -- the potential to maintain the same degree of connection to G-d experienced by the High Priest in the Holy of Holies throughout the entire year.
This is the Jew's service in the field. G-d's "receiving him pleasantly," endows him with the potential to carry out his service and thus, draw down blessings of health, both material and spiritual, for the entire year for himself and for his family. This, in turn, allows them to ascend higher in Torah and mitzvos and to transform the field into a place where the seven fruits for which Eretz Yisrael are praised grow.
An increase in all the dimensions of service mentioned above must be made in the month of Elul as reflected in the Jewish custom of adding to our study of Torah and service of prayer in the month of Elul. This increase in Torah study is related to the fact that the forty day period from Elul to Yom Kippur reflects the forty days which Moshe ascended Mount Sinai to receive the second tablets.
Similarly, the number forty is associated with the concept of redemption as our Sages commented in connection with the verse, äÿÖÄä äüÿìî. May we immediately merit the coming of the Messianic redemption. This is particularly relevant at present in light of the Yalkut Shimoni that has been publicized which relates how G-d reassures the Jewish people: "My children, you need not fear ... why are you frightened?... The time for your redemption has come." Moshiach is standing on the roof of the Beis HaMikdash and announcing the redemption to the Jewish people.
The above is particularly emphasized this year, "a Year of Miracles." Indeed, we have seen a multitude of miracles this year including the miracle in which hundreds of thousands of Jews have been able to leave Russia. Although for decades, the government of that country had refused to allow Jews to leave, now they have granted permission to leave, allowed them to take their possession including their Jewish articles, and have offered them financial assistance in doing so. Furthermore, they publicized the matter in their press and thus, it received publicity throughout the world.
[Some of these emigrants have reached the United States. Surely, the Jews who are living here will assist them in securing whatever is necessary for their well-being. This is directly associated with their following a Torah life-style. Others have settled in Eretz Yisrael. What is most significant -- indeed, truly miraculous -- is that they have been allowed to leave Russia.]
From this "Year of Miracles," we proceed to Ç"ÉÖÜ, a year when, "I will show you wonders," i.e., its miraculous nature will be openly revealed. It will include the most important miracle, the Messianic redemption.
Added influence will be granted by the forthcoming Shabbos, Parshas Nitzavim-Vayeilech, which represents a fusion of two opposites. Nitzavim -- "You are standing" represents the adoption of a firm commitment to Torah and mitzvos that cannot be shaken. Vayeilech -- "And he went" -- implies progression from strength to strength.
We will conclude by distributing money to be given to tzedakah. (In this context, it is important to mention the importance of affixing a Tzedakah Pushkah in one's home and particularly, in the kitchen.) May this lead to the time when Moshiach will stand on the roof of the Beis HaMikdash and announce, "Humble ones, the time for your redemption has come."
[After distributing the money to be given to tzedakah, the Rebbe Shlita said;] To conclude as we started, with a blessing that each of you receive a kesivah v'chasimah tovah, for a good and sweet year.
- (Back to text) Although this concept was revealed by the Alter Rebbe, it has existed for thousands of years since the entire Oral Tradition was given to Moshe on Mount Sinai.
- (Back to text) In the maamar containing this parable, the Alter Rebbe associates the smiling countenance with the verse, "î-Ç is the L-rd and He has given us light." The connection between this verse and the month of Elul is emphasized by the fact that the letters î-Ç are the first two letters of the name Elul.
- (Back to text) This is reflected in the recitation of the Shema before going to sleep. There we proclaim that "the L-rd is our G-d," i.e., He is the source for our power, "the L-rd is One."
- (Back to text) Its eternal nature stems from the fact that G-d is eternal and He has invested Himself -- and thus, His eternality -- in the souls of the Jewish people.
- (Back to text) These forty days are alluded to by the fact that each of the four Hebrew words in the verse, "I am my Beloved's and my Beloved is mine," ends with a yud. A yud is numerically equivalent to the number ten. Four times ten is forty.
- (Back to text) These seven species of fruit correspond to the seven branches of the Menorah which represent the seven paths of service of the Jewish people.
- (Back to text) He addresses the Jews with the title, "Humble ones." This expression is significant. Chassidic thought explains the difference between humility and meekness. A meek person lacks virtues and therefore holds himself lowly. In contrast, a humble person possesses virtues and, nevertheless, does not express pride.
The epitome of this quality is Moshe, who despite all the virtues he possessed was "more humble than any man on the earth." Since, every Jew possesses a spark of Moshe within his soul, every Jew can emulate these qualities.
- (Back to text) This involves adding an alef which stands for G-d, Alufo shel olam.
- (Back to text) This is particular relevant today, Wednesday, the day associated with the fourth aliyah which fuses together both parshiyos.
- (Back to text) The Previous Rebbe would always give these blessings in the singular: L'Shonah Tova Tikasaiv V'Tichasaim.