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Publisher's Foreword

Devotion to Task

Merkos L'Inyonei Chinuch & Machne Israel Must Not Falter

A Lifeline

Being Alive and Communicating Vitality

Yud-Beis Tammuz: To Be Every Inch a Chassid

The Month of Av: Mercy in Disguise

Chaf Menachem Av: Holding Tight to the Rebbe's Doorknob

Parshas Re'eh and Elul: Making One's Own Animal Kosher

A Letter for Chai Elul

Sharing with Paupers in Body and Soul

Chai Elul: A King in the Fields

United We Stand

A Letter to Yeshivah Students

Rosh HaShanah: A Healthy Nerve-Center for the Coming Year

Founders of Chassidism & Leaders of Chabad-Lubavitch

Glossary and Biographical Index

Proceeding Together Volume 2
Talks by the Lubavitcher Rebbe,
Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson
After the Passing of the Previous Rebbe,
Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn
on Yud Shvat 5710 [1950]

Devotion to Task

Translated from Toras Menachem by Uri Kaploun

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  Publisher's ForewordMerkos L'Inyonei Chinuch & Machne Israel Must Not Falter  

1. Why Silence the Spies?

Parshas Shlach[1] tells of the mission of the Twelve Spies dispatched by Moshe Rabbeinu:[2] "Moshe sent them to explore the land of Canaan"; "they[3] went up and they explored..."; "they[4] returned after having explored the land..., they brought their report to them..., and told them...." When the Spies had completed their account,[5] "Calev silenced [them]...." (Only then did they say,[6] "We will not be able to go up against that nation," and only then is it written that "they spoke badly about the land.")

Now, why should Calev have had to silence them? After all, the Spies' account merely gave honest answers to the two general questions with which Moshe Rabbeinu had originally charged them. In response to his question about the inhabitants of Canaan ("See...[7] whether the people who live there are strong or weak..."), they answered that[8] "the people living in the land are aggressive, and the cities are large and well fortified." And in response to his question about the land of Canaan ("Is[9] the land in which they live good or bad?... Is the land rich or lean?"), they answered that[10] "it is indeed flowing with milk and honey, and this is its fruit."

Since they had been dispatched by Moshe Rabbeinu to explore the land, they were of course obliged to fulfill their mission and to answer all his questions. (Moshe Rabbeinu, for his part, was under no obligation to send them. Thus, on G-d's opening words,[11] "Send out men for yourself...," Rashi comments: "'Send out men for yourself...,' i.e., at your discretion. I am not commanding you to do so; if you so desire, send them.")

If, then, the Spies were obliged to report the truth about the people and the land, why did Calev see fit to silence them when they told the truth, even before they said, "We will not be able to go up against that nation," and even before "they spoke badly about the land," after he tried to silence them?

Another aspect of Calev's conduct likewise requires explanation. The Torah records that[12] "[the Spies] went up to the Negev and he arrived at Hebron." Noting the passage from plural to singular, Rashi comments:[13] "Calev alone went there, to the resting place of the Patriarchs, and prostrated himself in prayer that he should not be incited to follow the counsel of his colleagues." The question arises: Why would the power of his sender[14] (viz., Moshe Rabbeinu) not suffice to save him from the counsel of his colleagues? Why did he have to go as far as to prostrate himself in prayer at the resting place of the Patriarchs?

2. Precedence and Priorities.

The sin of the Spies lay in the fact that in answering Moshe's questions they allowed their own thinking to intervene, and hence altered the sequence which he had prescribed. Moshe had told them to see first whether the people[15] were "strong or weak," and then to see whether the land was "rich or lean." They, however, responded in reverse order, first reporting that the land "is indeed flowing with milk and honey," and later reporting that "the people living in the land are aggressive."

What is the difference?

Moshe's mission focused first on the impending war and the conquest ("See... whether the people who live there are strong or weak"), and only thereafter on its gains and rewards ("Is the land rich or lean?"), because what mattered most to him was the conquest, (and this was to be secured without thought of reward[16]).

Moreover, his question spoke of the possibility that the inhabitants of the land were strong before it spoke of the possibility that they were weak, because the mission to conquer the land was to be pursued in any account, even if it were to entail a formidable war. (To this one might add that the very fact that the people had the self-sacrifice to confront a potentially strong enemy, in itself weakened that enemy.)[17]

The Spies, however, altered Moshe's sequence, and answered according to the order dictated by their own thinking. First of all they related to the reward ("milk and honey"), and only then to the conquest ("the people living in the land are aggressive"), because what mattered most to them was the reward. And when one acts with an eye to reward, one begins to make calculations as to the task of conquest: a specified reward might indeed appear to justify an easy measure of exertion ("Are they weak?"), though not a more difficult measure of exertion ("Are they strong?"). Thinking along these lines can even bring one to the mistaken conclusion that if what is required is hard work, then it cannot be done. (As indeed the Spies later said, "We will not be able to go up against that nation.")

This explains why, as soon as Calev saw that the Spies were allowing their own thinking to intervene and were deviating (even if only in the sequence of tasks) from the mission with which Moshe had charged them, he immediately silenced them.

3. Self-Imposed Constancy.

The above concept now allows us to understand why Calev had to go to the resting place of the Patriarchs, to prostrate himself there in prayer that he should not be incited to follow the counsel of his colleagues.

The fact that a mission initiated by Moshe is impelled by the power of the sender, does not in itself rule out the possibility that the emissary will introduce changes in his mission through the intervention of his own thinking. This is the task of the shaliach himself -- to set aside and submerge his own judgment, to dedicate himself to the one who sent him, and to carry out his mission with the unquestioning self-effacement which is called kabbalas ol.

This is why Calev prostrated himself at the burial place of the Patriarchs. For this prone position, hishtatchus, signifies the desirable stance in which head and foot are leveled to humble equality, in a spirit of kabbalas ol that transcends one's independent understanding. By virtue of this, he was not incited to follow the counsel of his colleagues: he fulfilled the mission of Moshe without interposing his own judgment, in a spirit of kabbalas ol.

4. Moshe in Every Generation.

As is well known,[18] "There is an extension of Moshe in every generation." Moreover,[19] "There is no generation that is without someone like Moshe." In our generation this is my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe [Rayatz].

It is thus self-evident that a mission initiated by the Rebbe [Rayatz], whereby he has sent or is sending or will send a particular person to a particular place in order to refine and elevate his share in the world, is modeled on the mission initiated by Moshe in connection with the conquest of the land. For the underlying intent of the mission for the conquest was that the land be transformed into Eretz Yisrael, the holiest of all lands.[20] This, too, is the essence of the mission initiated by the Moshe of our generation for the refinement of a particular segment of this world, i.e., the place to which the Rebbe [Rayatz] sent a particular individual, and for which he armed him with the requisite capabilities -- to transform it into Eretz Yisrael. Or, [to use a Talmudic metaphor relating to the era of the Beis HaMikdash,] the essence of the Rebbe's mission is that one regard one's designated segment of this world as unsanctified produce that an individual chooses to eat with all the stringencies of ritual purity that are required for sanctified produce.[21]

One of the lessons that we should derive from the episode of the Spies is that one should not allow one's own understanding to obtrude, nor should one make any change, even regarding the sequence of events, in the words of our mentor,[22] my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe [Rayatz]. This applies even when it appears that such a change will enable one to succeed more in his mission, because through even a minor deviation from the Rebbe's words22 one can err even to an extent that resembles the error of the Spies. Indeed, with us the risk is even greater. Concerning the Spies, the Torah testifies that[23] "they were all [upright] men, heads of the Children of Israel." Now if such men, by deviating from Moshe's words, were able to err to the point of saying, "We will not be able to go up...," then how much more does this risk apply to men of our stature.[24]

This recalls an interpretation given by the Rebbe [Rayatz][25] of a teaching of the Sages:[26] "This is how the Evil Inclination plies his craft. Today he tells a man, 'Do this,' and tomorrow he tells him, 'Do that' -- until one day he tells him, 'Serve [idols]!'"

The Rebbe [Rayatz] used to explain this as follows: The Evil Inclination, who is commonly nicknamed "that smart little fellow,"[27] does not begin by telling a person to sin, because with an opening line like that he would never be listened to. Instead, he begins by saying, "Do this," and when the person goes ahead and performs the mitzvah he tells him, "Very nice: I, too, agree that you should do this." Eventually, when that person begins to take notice of his opinion and advice -- for though the beginning concerned mitzvos, this opinion and advice then become involved -- the stage has been set for the final prompting: "One day he tells him, 'Serve [idols]!'"

For this reason, the main condition for fulfilling one's mission is a vigilant adherence to the Rebbe's directives -- without introducing alterations, without involving one's own thinking, but with a spirit of kabbalas ol.

5. Address Correction Requested.

What provides the strength for this, especially now, after the histalkus,[28] is the concept of hishtatchus, "prostrating [oneself] at the resting place of the Patriarchs,"[29] as will presently be explained.

By way of introduction, let us first understand why in relation to my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe [Rayatz], we do not say, "May the memory of the righteous be a blessing"[30], nor do we say "His soul is in [the Garden of] Eden".

On Simchas Torah, 5691 [1930],[31] the Rebbe [Rayatz] stated: "Regarding my father [the Rebbe Rashab] I do not say, Nishmaso Eden, because I am no writer of addresses. Besides, for me my father has not passed away."[32]

Similarly, Nishmaso Eden should not be said with reference to my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe [Rayatz], for two reasons:

  1. Who is the man who is able to give an "address", and to limit his whereabouts to Gan Eden, the Lower Gan Eden or the Higher Gan Eden, or infinitely higher than both?

  2. Why should we send him away from us? He certainly does not want to be separated from us, and he is with us!

For the same reasons that Nishmaso Eden is not said, Zeicher tzaddik liverachah is also not said, for remembering (as in the phrase, "May the memory of the righteous be a blessing") is appropriate only with relation to something which is remote and can therefore be forgotten. In our case, however, there is no question of forgetfulness, G-d forbid, so there is no need for calling to mind, just as there is no such need with relation to a person who is alive.

6. Of Angels and Horses.

Let us now examine this concept in greater detail.

The Gemara asks:[33] "What is meant by [King David's request in] the verse,[34] 'May I abide in Your tent forever' (lit., 'for worlds')? After all, can a man live in two worlds?!"

The Gemara answers its own question as follows: "Whenever a teaching is cited in this world that was handed down from a certain talmid chacham, his lips murmur in the grave." As Tosafos explains,[35] "While his soul is in the heavenly yeshivah,[36] his lips flutter in the grave as if they were speaking; in this way he lives in two worlds at the same time."

Whether heavenly or earthly, a yeshivah can be so called only when it comprises a rosh yeshivah and students. Students alone do not constitute a yeshivah unless they have a rosh yeshivah who delivers a shiur, whose content they review -- repeatedly, if necessary -- until it is assimilated intellectually.

Understood in this way, the term yeshivah describes both an earthly yeshivah,[37] in which one studies things related to this world, and the heavenly yeshivah, in which one studies heavenly things.[38] Both kinds of yeshivah exist both before and after histalkus. The difference between them lies only along a scale of obscurity and manifestation. Before the histalkus, the presence of the Rebbe [Rayatz] was manifest in the earthly yeshivah and obscure in the heavenly yeshivah; after the histalkus, his presence is manifest in the heavenly yeshivah and obscure in the earthly yeshivah. In principle, though -- inasmuch as now too he is present here, in the earthly yeshivah -- nothing has changed.

Since a state of evil does not come forth from the mouth of G-d,[39] and since there cannot be a state of good39 unless we are together with the Rebbe, it is certain that he is with us as beforehand. The difference is only one of manifestation and obscurity. Beforehand his presence with us was manifest, and needed no proof; now his presence with us is obscure, and that is why we have to cite evidence from the Gemara -- that it is indeed possible for a man to "live in two worlds." This requires a study of his teachings; as was quoted above, "Whenever a teaching is cited in this world that was handed down from a certain talmid chacham, his lips murmur in the grave." At the same time, however, the fact that his presence with us is obscure and compels us to bring evidence to affirm it, does not weaken the principle of the matter at all.

To illustrate this, my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe [Rayatz], cited a parable.

A certain individual once asked the Rebbe's father, the Rebbe Rashab: How could he talk about angels and other spiritual matters? How could anyone know that such-and-such is indeed the case? After all, no one has come back from the other world and reported just what an angel looks like..., and so forth.

The Rebbe Rashab replied with a parable.

A few sages are seated in a horse-drawn wagon, talking about angels. The horse thinks that they are traveling for the sake of the fodder that is awaiting him at their destination. The wagondriver is making the trip for the sake of the fare that will enable him (a more elevated thought) to support his family. Now, because the horse is thinking about horse-food and the wagondriver is thinking about wagon-fare, does that mean that the sages' talk about angels isn't real?![40]

So, too, with our subject. Since our cognitive capacity, however subtle, is quite material, our ignorance of elevated matters makes no difference whatever to their truth.

7. Recharging One's Batteries.

A chassid can heighten his appreciation of the above concept by hishtat'chus -- as with Calev, who "prostrated himself in prayer at the resting place of the Patriarchs."[41]

Hishtat'chus[42] implies visiting the Rebbe's resting place in the knowledge that he is there, and picturing his features. This lends strength to one's hiskashrus, and to one's fulfillment of the Rebbe's shlichus without deviation or calculation.

When a directive from the Moshe of our generation is heard once only, one's ardor can weaken with time and cool down, and become tinged with personal calculations (as with the sin of the Spies[43]). To counter this, one can refresh one's bond with the Rebbe through hishtat'chus.

This includes the spiritual kind of hishtat'chus. Thus the author of Meor Einayim[44] writes in the name of the Baal Shem Tov, that hishtat'chus on the spiritual plane is carried out by studying a tzaddik's teachings, for in them the tzaddik thrust his entire being. In them he lies distilled. As the Zohar writes with regard to Moshe Rabbeinu,[45] "His burial place is the Mishnah."[46]

Clearly, then, studying the Torah teachings of my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe [Rayatz] -- i.e., hishtat'chus on the spiritual plane -- fortifies a chassid in his hiskashrus and in the conscientious fulfillment of his shlichus.

8. Of Men and Donkeys.

We spoke above about fulfilling one's mission of refining and elevating one's own allotted portion in this world and transforming it into Eretz Yisrael, by virtue of one's firm bond with the Moshe Rabbeinu of our generation. One can derive especial strength for this task from the present Shabbos Mevarchim, which heralds the approaching month of Tammuz.[47]

The month of Tammuz is characterized by its heat; in the words of the Gemara,[48] "A donkey is cold even in the season of Tammuz." Coldness is not related specifically to the donkey at other seasons, for then its coldness may well be a function of the cooler weather. Only in the hot season of Tammuz is coldness related specifically to the donkey (chamra), for its coldness at the height of the hot season points to its gross materiality (chumrios).

What does this signify in terms of man's spiritual avodah?

It is written,[49] "For the sun and its sheath [correspond respectively to the Divine Names] Havayah and Elokim." And in the season of Tammuz the heat of the sun -- i.e., the Divine Name Havayah -- is at its most intense.

9. The Purposes of Heat.

In a man's service of G-d, heat is a prized attribute. Indeed, the classic works of Mussar and Chassidus[50] point out that every aspect of one's avodah should be fired by enthusiastic warmth.

Another consideration. The ultimate purpose of creation is the Jewish people. Implicit in the first word of the Torah (bereishis -- "In the beginning G-d created the heavens and the earth") is beis reishis; i.e., there are two things called reishis, and for their sake G-d created the universe.[51] One of these is Israel, the Jewish people, and more specifically, the connection of the Jewish people with the Torah. (This is apparent in the language of Rashi: "for the sake of the Torah..., and for the sake of Israel.") This means that the ultimate purpose of creation is that the Jewish people observe the Torah. Thus, speaking of the man who has the fear of G-d in his heart, the Sages teach:[52] "The whole world was created only in order to serve such a man as a companion." Similarly, in a comparison of man and the lesser creatures:[53] "They were created only in order to serve me, and I was created to serve my Maker."

It is thus self-evident that heat, which was created as part of the world for the sake of the Torah and the Jewish people, was mainly created for the purposes of Torah and avodah.

Though at first glance it might be argued that cold is likewise a created entity which was intended to be of use in avodah, there is a difference in principle. Heat is a positive entity: it results from vitality; cold is essentially absence: it results from the absence of vitality and motion. It is thus inappropriate to speak of the purpose of its "creation".

10. Of Lions and Tzaddikim.

In truth, one should add, vitality and heat should have existed for holy purposes only.[54] The reason that they are also to be found in worldly matters, is to leave room for man's free choice.

[At this point the Rebbe cites a maamar of the Rebbe Rashab[55] which points out that the resemblance between the bodies of Jews and gentiles likewise leaves room for man's free choice, without detracting from the distinctive spiritual stature of the Jew, who is characterized as adam.[56]]

I heard from my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe [Rayatz], that a certain chassid, concerned with his vigilance in guarding the purity of the sign of the covenant,[57] once sought the counsel of the Rebbe Maharash (as I think it was). In response, the Rebbe Maharash told him that the meaning of guarding the covenant is best illustrated by the following incident in the life of the author of Or HaChaim.

R. Chaim 'n Attar was crossing the desert, and when Shabbos drew near and the leader of the camel caravan refused to wait for him, he found himself stranded alone. A lion approached him, but the tzaddik allowed its eyes to behold the sign of the covenant. Not only did the lion thereupon leave him unscathed, but it protected him from the other beasts, and after Shabbos sped him on its back until he caught up to the caravan.

This incident can be understood in the light of the teaching of the Sages that[58] "No wild beast has dominion over a man unless he appear in its eyes to be an animal." When, therefore, the lion saw the sign of the covenant -- for the term bris signifies connection [to G-d]), and here the lion perceived the most apparent sign of the image of G-d, the spiritual stature of adam at its loftiest[59] -- it had no dominion over him; indeed, it even served him.

To revert to our subject: The reason that heat is to be found in worldly matters, is to leave room for man's free choice. In principle, it should have existed for holy purposes only.

11. Don't Crush Your Body: Make It Translucent!

The fact is, however, that there can exist a situation in which "A donkey is cold even in the season of Tammuz."[60] Some people can be frigid even when the heat of the sun -- i.e., the Divine Name Havayah -- is shining at its greatest intensity; they are lacking in any enthusiastic warmth in matters of kedushah because of their intense involvement in materiality (chumrios, a word that shares a root with chomra, meaning "donkey").

This state of affairs can be remedied by heeding the teaching of the Baal Shem Tov[61] -- revealed and made public by my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe [Rayatz][62] -- on the following verse:[63] "If you see the donkey of your enemy lying under its burden, you might want to refrain from helping him, but instead you must make every effort to help him."

This verse the Baal Shem Tov expounded as follows:

"If you see the donkey (chamor): If you look at your own materiality (chomer), i.e., your body, and it appears to be your enemy, inasmuch as it hates the soul; if, moreover, you observe that it is lying under its burden, that it is idly neglecting its G-d-given task of refining itself by means of the Torah and the commandments; then you might want to refrain from helping it to fulfill this task, and instead seek to crush your materiality by means of penances and self-mortification. Know, however, that not in this path dwells the light of the Torah. Rather, you must make every effort to help it (imo -- lit., 'with it'), by refining and purifying the body, not by afflicting it with self-mortification."

First of all, it should be noted that this exposition by the Baal Shem Tov -- who revealed within this verse an explanation that had already been there -- in itself grants a Jew the power to refine the materiality of his body. Similarly, the further steps taken by the Rebbe [Rayatz], who revealed, amplified and disseminated this teaching in various ways, grant one additional power in one's labors of refining the body.

The Nasi of our generation -- my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe [Rayatz] (May I serve as an atonement for his resting place!) -- is the Nasi, the Baal Shem Tov, except that his is a different body. For the concept of hishtalshelus, the chainlike progression whereby ethereal, pristine, spiritual light undergoes successive stages of self-imposed screening and condensation, does not apply to a luminary. A luminary is by definition an atzmi, a self-sufficient and essential entity, and once an atzmi exists, it exists indivisibly and without compromise. This explains why, commenting on the verse,[64] "You shall go... to the judge who will preside in those days," the Sages teach:[65] "Yiftach in his generation is like Shmuel in his generation." And in our generation, my revered father-in-law is the Baal Shem Tov and the Moshe Rabbeinu of the generation.

Something might be added to the above-quoted exposition by the Baal Shem Tov.

For the kind of individual described above as a chamor, the obligations of the Torah and its commandments are a burden, as in the phrase,[66] "like an ox to its yoke and a donkey to its burden." Moreover, sometimes such an individual may not want to carry this load; he is slothfully lying under his burden, remaining on the spot and not budging. When a horse is struck, at least it moves forward; a donkey remains oblivious.

In order to refine and uplift one's own donkey, one's corporeal materiality, so that it will not perceive the Torah's obligations as being burdensome, but rather as the entire source for its own vitality, one cannot begin by offering intellectual explanations: one's donkey is so heavily engrossed in materiality that theoretical subtleties will fall on deaf ears. Rather, the avodah of such an individual must begin with an unquestioning acceptance of the yoke of heaven -- kabbalas ol. In this way his materiality will become more refined and more spiritual, until ultimately he will come to regard the Torah's commandments not as a burden, but as the fount that animates him.

An appropriate time to begin one's avodah in the sifting and refinement and elevation of one's materiality is the month of Tammuz, when the most intense heat of the sun -- i.e., the Divine Name Havayah -- is diffused. At least at this time, instead of resembling the "donkey [which] is cold even in the season of Tammuz," one should endeavor to experience vitality and ardor in all matters of kedushah. And this will give rise to vitality and warm enthusiasm in matters of kedushah throughout the entire year.

12. Plug into a Miracle.

It was stated earlier that by revealing and publishing the above-mentioned teaching of the Baal Shem Tov, the Rebbe [Rayatz] infused new strength into people's efforts in the sifting and refining of their own materiality. In our generation, this characteristic avodah of Tammuz borrows further strength from the fact that this month includes his birthday and the anniversary of his redemption -- the twelfth day of Tammuz.[67]

First of all,[68] since during the season of Tammuz the Divine Name Havayah manifests its spiritual heat to the utmost (a heat which in the physical realm finds parallel expression in the literal heat of that season), one would have expected that this be a time of Divine self-revelation and of joy. This expectation would appear to be especially justified by the fact that this time of year continues immediately after the season of the Giving of the Torah, for the Seventeenth of Tammuz marks the conclusion of the forty days which Moshe Rabbeinu spent on Mt. Sinai. It was on this same day, however, that the sin of the Golden Calf gave rise to the very opposite of Divine self-revelation and joy. In future time, therefore, when all sins will be rectified, including the sin of the Golden Calf, this will be a date of joyful revelation.[69]

An anticipatory echo of this was experienced in our generation. During the month of Tammuz there was a joyful instance of Divine self-revelation, with the redemption of my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe [Rayatz], on Yud-Beis Tammuz [1927]. Palpable miracles were witnessed at that time, beginning from the night of his arrest.[70] All the people arrested that night were immediately sentenced to death. During the initial time that elapsed until the Rebbe [Rayatz] appeared before the interrogator, a change took place through which he was spared. Later, too, as the Rebbe later recounted,[71] when he was notified of his release from prison he saw (heaven forfend!) his own death sentence in writing; this had been crossed out, and commuted to a sentence of ten years' exile in Solavki, in Siberia; this in turn had been crossed out and replaced by a sentence of three years' exile in Kostrama; until eventually there came his complete redemption on Yud Beis-Yud Gimmel Tammuz. All of this is an overt miracle.

Even then, by the way, when miraculous events were so manifest, it cost a lot of toil and trouble until certain persons were willing to admit that this sequence of events had in fact been an overt miracle, and there are some whom we are still doggedly working on to this very day....

The overt miracle of the redemption of the Rebbe [Rayatz] on Yud-Beis Tammuz was a clear manifestation of the heat of the Divine name Havayah that is diffused in the season of Tammuz. This heat invigorates a man as he labors in the beirur of his own materiality, of his own chomer -- as he endeavors to cast off its donkey-like frigidity that threatens to persist even in the month of Tammuz, and as he endeavors to upgrade his vitality and warm enthusiasm in everything that has to do with kedushah.

Intensifying our bond with the Rebbe [Rayatz], therefore, elicits and unlocks and diffuses for us this intense manifestation of shemesh Havayah which became apparent in the redemption of Yud-Beis Tammuz. This gives a man added strength in his efforts at refining his "donkey" to the point that his corporeal materiality allows the light of kedushah to shine through; indeed, to the point that he is able to refine his allotted share in the materiality of the world -- the place to which he was sent by the Moshe Rabbeinu of our generation in order to transform it into Eretz Yisrael. This can be accomplished by fulfilling one's shlichus without allowing one's own calculations to intervene and alter it (even when the Evil Inclination, one's "donkey", argues that such alterations guarantee greater success), as was discussed above at length.[72]

13. A Spontaneous Amen.

The time to tackle this is Shabbos Mevarchim[73] of the month of Tammuz, for on this day one draws down all the blessings and all the strength that are required for the tasks of the approaching month. In the words of the request for the new month which is made on every such Shabbos:[74] "May the Holy One, blessed be He, renew it for us and for all His people, the House of Israel, for life and for peace, for gladness and for joy, for deliverance and for consolation; and let us say, Amen."

Interestingly: When the congregation's turn comes to express their assent by responding "Amen" to the closing phrases as the sheliach tzibbur repeats them aloud, they do so promptly after "for life and for peace"; when they hear "for gladness and for joy," they again respond promptly; but when they hear "for deliverance and for consolation" they don't immediately react: the sheliach tzibbur first has to nudge them with the words, "and let us say, Amen" -- and only then do they respond. Why should this be so?

It could be suggested that the earlier blessings -- "for life and for peace, for gladness and for joy" -- are for visible and manifest benefits, and that is why people immediately respond "Amen". The final blessing, however -- our people's forthcoming deliverance and consolation -- is coming after a waiting period of pain and sorrow. Hence, even though "no evil comes forth from the mouth of G-d,"39 a spontaneous "Amen" doesn't spring so readily to one's lips;[75] a special effort has to be made to rouse people so that to this, too, "let us say, Amen."

Similarly with the histalkus.[76] True enough, we know that the histalkus constitutes an ascent for my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe [Rayatz]. (As the Baal Shem Tov said before his passing,[77] the alternative was open to him of leaving this world in the manner of Eliyahu HaNavi, of whom it is written,[78] "[He] ascended heavenward in a storm," but he did not want to forgo what was written in the verse,[79] "For dust you are, and to dust you shall return.") We know, moreover, that this is an ascent not only for him but also for us (otherwise he would certainly not have agreed to it). Nevertheless, since on the revealed plane what we perceive is the reverse of an ascent, a spontaneous "Amen" doesn't spring so readily to one's lips....

Yet we shall say "Amen" -- when my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe [Rayatz], comes and leads us to greet our righteous Mashiach, speedily, and in our own days, Amen!



  1. (Back to text) The above sichah was delivered on Shabbos Parshas Shlach, Mevarchim Tammuz, 5710 [1950]. Sec. 1-4 appear in abbreviated form in Likkutei Sichos, Vol. IV, p. 1313ff.

  2. (Back to text) Bamidbar 13:17.

  3. (Back to text) Loc. cit., v. 21.

  4. (Back to text) Loc. cit., vv. 25-27.

  5. (Back to text) Loc. cit., v. 30.

  6. (Back to text) Loc. cit., vv. 31-32.

  7. (Back to text) Loc. cit., v. 18.

  8. (Back to text) Loc. cit., v. 28.

  9. (Back to text) Loc. cit., vv. 19-20.

  10. (Back to text) Loc. cit., v. 27.

  11. (Back to text) Loc. cit., v. 2.

  12. (Back to text) Loc. cit., v. 22.

  13. (Back to text) On this verse; cf. Sotah 34b.

  14. (Back to text) In the original, kocho shel hamishalach.

  15. (Back to text) Though v. 18 opens with the phrase, "See what kind of land it is," this directive in fact seeks information about its inhabitants; as Rashi comments, "There are lands that produce strong people and there are lands that produce weak people."

  16. (Back to text) In the original, shelo al-menas l'kabeil pras; cf. Avos 1:3.

  17. (Back to text) The same could be said of the fact that the verse first asks whether the land is rich before it asks whether it is lean. For when one serves G-d without any intent of receiving a reward one comes to realize that even the richest fruits (i.e., the loftiest rewards) are in fact lean -- relative to the divine service itself, of which it is written that the reward for a mitzvah is the mitzvah itself (Tanya, ch. 39, explaining Avos 4:2).

    Incidentally, the leanness of any other reward is hinted at in the very word pras ("reward"), which shares a root with prusah (lit., "slice", i.e., a mere part of something greater (Likkutei Torah, Parshas Tazria, p. 20b). [-- Note by the Rebbe.]

  18. (Back to text) In the original Aram., ispashtusa d'Moshe b'chol dora v'dora; Tikkunei Zohar, Tikkun 69 (pp. 112a, 114a).

  19. (Back to text) In the original, ain dor she'ain bo k'Moshe; Bereishis Rabbah 56:7.

  20. (Back to text) Rambam, Hilchos Beis HaBechirah 7:12.

  21. (Back to text) In the original, chulin al taharas hakodesh; Chagigah 19b, and sources cited there; see also Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XIII, p. 108, footnote 36, and sources cited there.

  22. (Back to text) In the original, divrei haRav.

  23. (Back to text) Bamidbar 13:3, and Rashi there.

  24. (Back to text) In the self-effacing original, anashim ke'erkeinu.

  25. (Back to text) Sefer HaMaamarim -- Kuntreisim, Vol. I, p. 37a; and elsewhere. See also Vol. I of the present work, p. 129.

  26. (Back to text) Shabbos 105b.

  27. (Back to text) In the original Yid., der kluginker.

  28. (Back to text) I.e., the passing of the Rebbe Rayatz less than five months earlier.

  29. (Back to text) See sec. 3 above.

  30. (Back to text) Yoma 37a.

  31. (Back to text) Likkutei Dibburim, Vol. IV, p. 1418, and in Vol. V of its English translation.

  32. (Back to text) On the concept of histalkus, see Vol. I of the present work, p. 20ff. and p. 24ff.; see also the Overview to that volume, pp. ix-x.

  33. (Back to text) Yevamos 96b ff.

  34. (Back to text) Tehillim 61:5.

  35. (Back to text) S.v. agurah (Yevamos, loc. cit.).

  36. (Back to text) In the original, yeshivah shel maalah.

  37. (Back to text) In the original, yeshivah shel matah.

  38. (Back to text) See Kuntreis Limud HaChassidus, p. 18ff.; Sefer HaSichos 5703 [1943], p. 148ff.

  39. (Back to text) Cf. Eichah 3:38.

  40. (Back to text) Or, as commonly quoted: "So if the horse is a horse and the wagondriver is a wagondriver, does that mean that the angels aren't angels?!"

    This parable has a number of picturesque variants. In one case, when the Rebbe Rashab was responding to the derisive doubts of a Russian Jewish maskil who had completed his philosophical studies in France, he made the story speak of two French intellectuals, and concluded it as follows: "So if the horse is thinking fodder and the wagondriver is thinking vodka, aren't the Frenchmen French?!"

    On another occasion, stressing the element of purposeful motivation, he spoke of the different ways in which each of the three parties pictures their common destination: a manger, a bar, and an academic conference.

    See the Hosafos (Addenda) to Sefer HaMaamarim 5688 [1928], p. 203ff.; Sefer HaSichos 5701 [1941], p. 130.

  41. (Back to text) See sec. 1 and 3 above.

  42. (Back to text) Discussed at length in Kuntreis Inyan HaHishtat'chus by the Mitteler Rebbe (in Maamarei Admur HaEmtza'i -- Kuntreisim, p. 19ff., and translated by R. Eliyahu Touger for Sichos In English, 5755).

  43. (Back to text) See sec. 2 above.

  44. (Back to text) In the Likkutim on Tractate Shabbos.

  45. (Back to text) I, 27b. See also Sefer HaLikkutim -- Dach by the Tzemach Tzedek, s.v. Moshe (p. 1694ff.), and sources cited there.

  46. (Back to text) On the spiritual kind of hishtat'chus, see Vol. I of the present work, pp. 158-9.

  47. (Back to text) The above text, from this point until the end of sec. 11 below, appears in the Hosafos (Addenda) to Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XVIII, p. 462ff.

  48. (Back to text) Shabbos 53a.

  49. (Back to text) Tehillim 84:12. See also Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XVIII, p. 310, and sources listed there.

  50. (Back to text) See Kuntreis Toras HaChassidus, p. 7 (and its Eng. translation by R. Zalman I. Posner entitled On the Teachings of Chassidus, p. 19); see also HaYom Yom, entry for 16 Shvat, on the fine line that separates frigidity and atheism.

  51. (Back to text) Rashi on Bereishis 1:1; cf. Bereishis Rabbah 1:1 (Torah) and Vayikra Rabbah 36:4 (Israel).

  52. (Back to text) Berachos 6b.

  53. (Back to text) Kiddushin 82b.

  54. (Back to text) As a hint in this direction, cf. the statement of the Sages that gold "was created for the sake of the Beis HaMikdash" (Bereishis Rabbah 16:2.

  55. (Back to text) The maamar beginning Ner Chanukah, 5656 [1895], in Sefer HaMaamarim 5655-5656, p. 319.

  56. (Back to text) Cf. Yevamos 61a on Yechezkel 34:31.

  57. (Back to text) In the original, shmiras habris.

  58. (Back to text) Shabbos 151b, and references there.

  59. (Back to text) This is so because here, too, worldly passions are at their most intense.

  60. (Back to text) See sec. 8 above.

  61. (Back to text) Hosafos (Addenda) to Keser Shem Tov, sec. 16, and see references there.

  62. (Back to text) HaYom Yom, entry for 28 Shvat.

  63. (Back to text) Shmos 23:5.

  64. (Back to text) Devarim 17:9.

  65. (Back to text) Rosh HaShanah 25b.

  66. (Back to text) Avodah Zarah 5b.

  67. (Back to text) The Rebbe Rayatz was born on the twelfth of Tammuz in the year 5640 [1880]. On the same date in the year 5687 [1927], he was informed that he was freed from the exile which followed his imprisonment, and on the thirteenth of Tammuz he was actually freed. On the episode that culminated in the redemption of Yud-Beis and Yud-Gimmel Tammuz, see Likkutei Dibburim, Vol. V of the Eng. Translation, and Defiance and Devotion (S.I.E., N.Y., 1996).

  68. (Back to text) On the forthcoming passage, see also Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XVIII, p. 308ff.

  69. (Back to text) Cf. Zechariah 8:19: "The fast of the fourth month [i.e., Tammuz] and the fast of the fifth month [Av]... will become for the House of Judah gladness and joy, and festivals...."

  70. (Back to text) A month earlier, on the fifteenth of Sivan, on capital charges, by the dreaded secret police of Stalinist Russia.

  71. (Back to text) See Sefer HaSichos 5701 [1941], p. 139; Likkutei Sichos, Vol. IV, p. 1063.

  72. (Back to text) See sec. 2ff. above.

  73. (Back to text) I.e., the Shabbos preceding Rosh Chodesh, the New Moon, with which the coming month begins.

  74. (Back to text) Siddur Tehillat HaShem, p. 191.

  75. (Back to text) In the original Yid., enfert-zich-nit kein Amen.

  76. (Back to text) I.e., the passing (of the Rebbe Rayatz less than five months earlier).

  77. (Back to text) Sefer HaSichos -- Toras Shalom, p. 46; Likkutei Dibburim, Vol. I, p. 96b, and in its Eng. translation: Vol. I, p. 201.

  78. (Back to text) II Melachim 2:11.

  79. (Back to text) Bereishis 3:19.

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