In connection with Parshas Vayeira and Chof MarCheshvan,
it is related
that the Rebbe Rashab went to his grandfather, the Tzemach Tzedek, for yechidus before his birthday. When the child entered the room, he began to cry. After his grandfather calmed him, he asked him to explain the reason for his outburst. The Rebbe Rashab answered that in cheder, he had learned that G-d revealed Himself to Avraham. He was disturbed and wanted to know, "Why doesn't G-d reveal Himself to me as well?"
The Tzemach Tzedek replied to him. "When a Jew who is a tzaddik is ninety-nine years old and decides to circumcise himself, he is worthy of Divine revelation."
Since this story is told in connection with the Rebbe Rashab's birthday, a day of general importance when, "the spiritual source of his soul shines powerfully," we can appreciate that it includes the totality of his service and clarifies what the central point of his service was.
To explain: All the Rebbeim were Nesi'im and thus shared certain common dimensions. Nevertheless, each one was also characterized by a particular dimension which reflected his individual nature. Pinpointing this quality is a challenge because it is difficult for people of our spiritual level to differentiate between the service of individuals like the Rebbeim who were on a much higher spiritual plane. Nevertheless, each of the Rebbeim manifested certain qualities more prominently than others. Thus, it is worthy to mention these differences with the intent that this lead to an increase in the fear of heaven and the service of G-d.
In general, all of the Chabad Rebbeim were distinguished by their ability to draw down and enclothe the teachings of P'nimiyus HaTorah within the limits of human intellect. This gave their followers the potential to internalize their teachings and personally identify with spiritual ideas, thus producing an increase -- and indeed, a new dimension -- in the service of G-d. The increase in knowledge of G-d led to an increase in the love and fear of G-d and thus, an increase in actual service since love is the source for the fulfillment of all the 248 positive commandments and fear is the source for the fulfillment of the 365 negative commandments.
This thrust was powerfully revealed by the Rebbe Rashab whose discourses were characterized by detailed intellectual explanations, drawing down the teachings of Chassidus within the limits of human intellect to a degree that surpassed his predecessors' achievements. He would present a summary and a conclusion of the discussion of spiritual concepts in a manner which allowed them to be easily understood and thus applied in actual life.
To be sure, this thrust was also evident in the Previous Rebbeim's teachings. The Alter Rebbe revealed the Chabad (wisdom, understanding, and knowledge) approach. The Mitteler Rebbe expressed those teachings in greater depth, being comparable to "the broadening of the river." Nevertheless, the Rebbe Rashab's teachings, however, put a far greater emphasis on bringing out a conclusive summary of the subject matter so that it would be able to be implemented in the Chassidim's everyday lives. For this reason, the Chassidim referred to the Rebbe Rashab as "the Rambam of Chassidus." The Rambam's uniqueness was expressed in his collection of the entire Oral Law and his presentation of it in a manner in the form of clear and easily comprehensible directives governing every aspect of our conduct. The Rebbe Rashab made a similar contribution within the context of the Chabad tradition.
The Rebbe Rashab's approach was revealed in the hemsheichim (treatises which included a series of ma'amarim) in particular, the hemsheichim which began in the years 5666 and 5672 which explained fundamental Chassidic concepts in a clear manner that enabled them to be understood and applied in actual life.
This thrust was also expressed in the Rebbe Rashab's establishment of Yeshivas Tomchei Temimim. The yeshivah was intended to allow for a systematic and settled approach to the study of Chassidus. In the yeshivah, Nigleh (the revealed teachings of Torah law) and Chassidus were both studied in a manner which reflected how they are two dimensions of a single Torah. The students were taught to appreciate a Chassidic dimension in their Nigleh studies and to approach a Chassidic concept with the same thorough intellectual approach that characterizes Talmudic study. This, in turn -- enhanced by the sharing of ideas and intellectual and spiritual give and take among the students that characterizes yeshivah study -- gave a student the opportunity to apply the concepts he learned in his own life and to share them with others.
Thus, the founding of the yeshivah was associated with the service of spreading the wellsprings of Torah -- the wellsprings of Nigleh and the wellsprings of Chassidus as they are fused together -- outward. In this manner, the students of the yeshivah become "candles which illuminate" and fulfill their mission as temimim as the Rebbe Rashab emphasized in his discourse, "Whoever goes out to the wars of the House of David."
Thus, the founding of Yeshivas Tomchei Temimim by the Rebbe Rashab added a further stage of completion in the efforts that G-dliness should be appreciated and grasped through studying Chassidus and that this study should lead to deed.
In particular, this refers to the deed of "raising up many students," beginning with the founding of the yeshivah by the Rebbe Rashab. Furthermore, the Rebbe's intent when founding the yeshivah was that it should spread and that new branches should be established in many places. This activity was furthered by the director of the yeshivah, the Previous Rebbe, who brought the yeshivah to "the lower half of the world" (America), from where branches were established throughout the world.
There is a connection between the above concepts and the Rebbe Rashab's tearfelt outburst that G-d should reveal Himself to him just as He revealed Himself to Avraham, our Patriarch. What the Rebbe Rashab wanted, even as a young boy, was to see G-dliness openly revealed. Throughout his life, he worked towards that goal and this was the purpose of his achievements in revealing Chassidus and establishing the yeshivah.
To express these concepts on a deeper level. G-dliness is revealed within and through the medium of the Torah, which is G-d's will and wisdom and which is totally united with Him. "G-d and His Torah are one." G-d invested Himself in the Torah as evident by our Sages' interpretation of the word Anochi as an acronym for the Hebrew words meaning, "I wrote down and gave over Myself."
This was revealed in an open and manifest manner at the time the Torah was given as the Torah declares, "You have been shown to know that the L-rd is G-d." Then, we actually saw the revelation of G-dliness. The Ten Commandments -- which include the entire Torah -- reflect His inner will, where there is no hiddenness or veiling.
Within the various disciplines of Torah, there is a greater dimension of revelation in the realm of halachah. Thus, our Sages interpreted the expression, "The word of G-d" as referring to halachah, and the expression, "G-d is with Him," as "the halachah follows his view.
Similarly, there is a greater dimension of Divine revelation associated with the study of P'nimiyus HaTorah which is described as "the tree of life, where there are no questions emanating from the powers of evil." In this realm of knowledge, G-dliness and spiritual subjects are discussed openly in contrast to the study of Nigleh where these subjects are not openly revealed.
Within the realm of P'nimiyus HaTorah itself, there is a unique emphasis on the ma'amarim recited by the Rebbeim. Rav Hillel of Paritch would say that hearing a Rebbe recite a ma'amar is like receiving "the word of G-d on Mount Sinai." This particularly applies, regarding the Rebbe Rashab, the Rambam of Chassidus, who would bring out spiritual concepts in the form resembling a clear halachic decision that could be applied in one's service of G-d.
The preparation for and the first stage of the Rebbe Rashab's service was reflected in his tearfelt desire that G-d reveal Himself to him. He wanted to see the actual revelation of G-dliness. It was this desire that was expressed through and channeled the direction of his service and his revelation of Chassidus in the years that followed.
This service was continued by the Previous Rebbe who explained and amplified his father's Chassidic teachings. Furthermore, he instructed that these teachings be translated into other languages. Similarly, he continued his father's work in expanding the activities of Yeshivas Tomchei Temimim, transferring its base to America and establishing new branches throughout the world.
In addition to the insights the story reveals concerning the Rebbe Rashab and his lifework, in and of itself, it serves as a fundamental lesson for every Jew. Every Jew, even a young child, must desire the revelation of G-dliness within the context of his life within this material world.
We must -- and we have the potential to -- express this desire with the simplicity and single-mindedness of a child for each Jew possesses a childlike dimension, as the verse relates, "Israel is a youth and I love him."
Similarly, this story gives us insights regarding the education of our children. We should educate our children so that G-d is a real and powerful force in their lives. They should care about G-dliness and feel a genuine lack that G-d does not reveal Himself to them.
This desire is more than a preparation for the study of Torah and the service of G-d at a later time. It is, itself, a stage of service which must continue at all times. Before studying Torah, it is necessary to recite a blessing which reflects our appreciation of G-d, the Giver of the Torah. Similarly, our study of Torah and service of G-d should constantly be vitalized by the earnest desire for the revelation of G-dliness.
In particular, the above is relevant this year, the 130th anniversary of the Rebbe Rashab's birth. From year to year, there must be an increase in the influence of the Rebbe Rashab's birthday the day when the "spiritual source of his soul shines powerfully," for "we must always increase in regard to holy matters." Each year, a birthday is a day of general importance. This is particularly true regarding the birthday of a Nasi who is a general soul.
The uniqueness of this day was reflected in the Rebbe Rashab's custom of reciting a ma'amar to the Previous Rebbe on the day of his birthday. This custom continued even after the Rebbe Rashab's passing. The Previous Rebbe related a detailed vision, describing how, on the Rebbe Rashab's birthday, the Rebbe appeared to him on Chof MarCheshvan and recited a ma'amar. (He was also joined by the Rebbeim who preceded him who each recited a ma'amar as well.)
In particular, the number 130 reflects a unique level for it is 5 times 26 (the numerical equivalent of the name Y-H-V-H). Five is connected with the Torah which is given in five books. Five is also intrinsically related to the Rebbe Rashab for he was the fifth of the Chabad Nesi'im.
Since the Rebbe Rashab was a general soul, the heights reached on his birthday (and particularly this year, the influence of five times the numerical equivalent of the name Y-H-V-H) is relevant to every Jew. Each Jew is given the potential to serve G-d in a manner in which G-dliness becomes part of his mundane day-to-day experience. Each Jew should feel a yearning desire for G-dliness which should motivate an increase in the study of Torah (both Nigleh and Chassidus, and in particular, the ma'amarim of the Rebbe Rashab). Furthermore, this study should be grasped and comprehended within our intellectual faculties and thus, bring about a change in our actual conduct.
This should lead to spreading the teachings of Chassidus outward and "raising up many students" with the establishment of branches of Yeshivas Tomchei Temimim in new places. There should be a stress on Jewish education and in particular, on raising children with a desire and yearning that G-d reveal Himself to them.
May these activities speed the coming of the Redemption and thus, we will merit the fulfillment of the prophecy, "And your eyes will behold your teachers," with the Resurrection of the Dead. Thus, on Chof MarCheshvan, we will merit to hear the Rebbe Rashab (and the Rebbeim who preceded him) recite a ma'amar here in this physical world. Similarly, we will merit the revelation of "the new Torah which will emerge from Me." May this be in the immediate future.
- (Back to text) Chof Cheshvan falls in the coming week and thus, "is blessed" by this Shabbos.
- (Back to text) It was the Previous Rebbe who told this story and ordered that it be publicized.
- (Back to text) Although the story took place when the Rebbe Rashab was a young child, it still reflects his character. Indeed, in regard to the Rebbe Rashab, we find certain dimensions of his personality revealed at his very birth. Thus, at his birth, the Tzemach Tzedek commented that the day that the Rebbe Rashab was born, Chof Cheshvan in the year ÇÿÜï, reflects his connection to the level Kesser and his fitness for the crown of the Nesius.
[Nevertheless, it took many years before this potential was realized. Throughout his father's life, the Rebbe Rashab received certain dimensions associated with the Nesius. However, it was not until several years after his father's death, that he accepted the Nesius entirely.]
- (Back to text) As the Alter Rebbe writes in Tanya, da'as is the source for the emotions and their vitalizing power.
- (Back to text) The practice of reciting hemsheichem was begun by the Rebbe Maharash (although it appears that the Alter Rebbe did recite a series of ma'amarim on occasion). This was a revolutionary step, for previously the Rebbeim would recite and publish their ma'amarim individually.
- (Back to text) This is particularly evident in the summaries which the Rebbe Rashab added to each of the chapters in the first portion of the hemsheich 5672. This provided a student with a clear summary of the ideas discussed in each chapter.
- (Back to text) The word hisyashvus "settled manner," and yeshivah share the same root.
- (Back to text) "Outwards" can be applied both in the personal and general realm. In the personal realm, it implies studying Torah -- Nigleh and Chassidus -- in a manner that allows the animal soul to understand as well. In the world at large, it implies spreading those teachings until they reach the furthermost corners of the world.
- (Back to text) The potential for this activity was generated by the Rebbe Rashab's naming of the yeshivah during the Hakkafos of Simchas Torah, 5659, Tomchei Temimim, in connection with the phrase from the liturgy, "Supporter of the perfect (Tomeich Temimim), save us."
- (Back to text) The name of G-d used in these expressions is Y-H-V-H, the essential name of G-d. In general, the name of G-d used in connection with Torah study is the name E-lohim which alludes to a lower dimension of G-dliness as in the expression, "These and these are the words of the living G-d." Halachah, however, refers to a higher rung, the name Y-H-V-H.
- (Back to text) On the contrary, the uniqueness of the study of Nigleh is that it deals with physical matters and subjects within our material world.
- (Back to text) In contrast, after the recitation of the ma'amar is completed, that dimension is no longer present. Thus, it is possible to debate the subject matter discussed in the ma'amar even with the author of the ma'amar himself.
- (Back to text) In addition to serving as a preparatory step for the Rebbe Rashab's later service, his question also had an immediate effect, bringing about the revelation of a new teaching by the Tzemach Tzedek.
- (Back to text) This also relates to the statement, "I pray with the intention of a child," which the Tzemach Tzedek quotes as a desirous approach to prayer.
- (Back to text) This should be the only desire which affects us while involved in Torah study. Our Sages taught, "The Torah was given only to those who ate Manna." While the Jews were in the desert, G-d took care of all their material needs and thus, they had no worries or concerns regarding material things. Similarly, when a Jew studies Torah, the Torah should be his only concern and nothing else should be on his mind.
- (Back to text) It is also significant that this milestone of 130 years is reached in the third generation after the Rebbe Rashab. Our Sages taught that there is a unique significance in the perpetuation of Torah study for three generations, thus establishing a chazakah. This is also reflected in the statement, "The crown of the elders is grandchildren."
(In this context, we can understand why the yeshivah was founded in connection with the Previous Rebbe's wedding. Then, the possibility for "grandchildren" was granted.)
- (Back to text) Although the emphasis is on intellectual comprehension, the explanations of Chassidic ideas must be taken from the works of the Rebbeim and not brought in from outside sources.