Sichos In English   Holidays  Shabbat   Calendar  ב״ה

     Sichos In English -> Books -> Sichos -> Proceeding Together Volume 2
Volume 1   |   Volume 2   |   Volume 3

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]

The Month of Av: Mercy in Disguise

Translated from Toras Menachem by Uri Kaploun

Published and copyright © by Sichos In English
(718) 778-5436     FAX (718) 735-4139

Add to Shopping Cart   |   Buy this now
  Yud-Beis Tammuz: To Be Every Inch a ChassidChaf Menachem Av: Holding Tight to the Rebbe's Doorknob  

1. Fatherly Punishment in Av.

With[237] regard to Av, the approaching month which is blessed on this Shabbos,[238] a certain maamar of the Rebbe Rashab[239] raises a query: Is it not surprising that the Destruction [of the Beis HaMikdash] took place specifically in the month of Av, which is characterized by the attribute of mercy?

The very name Av (lit., "father") signifies mercy, as in the phrase,[240] "As a father is merciful...." Mercy is also indicated by the descending order of the letters (alef, beis) which spell the word. As taught in the Zohar,[241] the arrangement of letters in ascending order (i.e., beginning from the end of the alphabet) indicates the attribute of stern judgment,[242] whereas the reverse order indicates the attribute of mercy. Accordingly, it is in the month of Tishrei, whose first three letters begin at the end of the alphabet and proceed towards the beginning, that the world is judged.[243] By the same token, the month of Av, whose letters appear in descending order, is characterized by the attribute of mercy.

This month saw a great many punitive episodes -- the Destruction of the First and Second Beis HaMikdash, the sin of the Spies[244] which was the root of the Destruction, and all five calamities enumerated in Tractate Taanis.[245] How is it, then, that this month should be called Av, which signifies (of all things) mercy?

By way of explanation, the above-mentioned maamar teaches that these episodes illustrate the verse,[246] "Listen, my son, to the rebuke of your father"; and likewise the verse,[247] "and he that loves [his son] chastises him early." Observed from their external aspect, these punitive episodes are expressions of stern justice; in their inner core, they express mercy.

2. Mercy in Disguise.

In truth, everything that happens is an expression of mercy, for nothing evil comes forth from G-d's hand.[248] With His people Israel, who are His children and the flock of His pasture, His conduct is certainly kindness and mercy -- except that there is revealed mercy, and there is a greater mercy that transcends the entire scheme of Hishtalshelus. This is a degree of mercy so lofty that it cannot be revealed except in a garment of stern justice.

This superior degree of mercy is called for when the attribute of stern justice prevails. At such a time mercy cannot be revealed straightforwardly, because it is opposed by this attribute of uncompromising justice, and must therefore become concealed in a garment of uncompromising justice. When this takes place, and the attribute of stern justice is thereby appeased and its opposition neutralized, there is an additional gain: an extremely lofty level of mercy can then be drawn downward from an infinitely sublime level of Divinity.[249]

This month is therefore called Av, signifying mercy, for its punitive episodes are a garment of strict justice that hides the loftiest mercies.

3. This World, Here and Now.

The above perception is sharpened by the fact that on Shabbos Mevarchim, this new month is blessed by the name Menachem Av. As far as concerns legal documents (such as bills of divorce) drawn up according to the Torah, the month is called simply Av. When it comes to the Blessing for the New Month, however, it is the Jewish custom (which assumes the force of Torah[250]) to refer to it as Menachem Av.[251]

This may be understood as follows: The intent underlying this Blessing is to draw "deliverance and consolation" into the entire month (as well as into the days preceding Rosh Chodesh, during which one prepares for the approaching month). Consolation is appropriate only after a time of sorrow. As discussed above,[252] consolation is the manifestation of the innermost intent of past sorrow.

One of the ways in which this intent finds expression is the name of the month, Menachem Av. This name echoes our request that there be a downward flow -- not of sublime mercies that are hidden in a garment of strict justice, but of sublime mercies that are manifest, even down here, "lower than ten tefachim.[253]

This request recalls a well-known exchange between the Rebbe Maharash[254] and his father, the Tzemach Tzedek.

When the year 5608 [1847-48] came to a close, the Rebbe Maharash asked his father to explain: had it not been hinted that this past year was going to be a ketz, a particularly auspicious time for the long-awaited Redemption?

"What's wrong?" replied his father. "The coming of Mashiach is essentially the revelation of the innermost core of the soul[255] -- and this year saw the publication of Likkutei Torah, which is a revelation of the pnimiyus of the Torah, and through this, the pnimiyus of the soul is revealed."

The Rebbe Maharash protested: "But we want to have the coming of Mashiach lower than ten tefachim!"

4. Inadvertent Offenses.

As was discussed above, sublime mercies can be elicited specifically during the month of Av. This discussion can throw light on the language of the Alter Rebbe in today's reading[256] of Tanya:[257] "Therefore these Thirteen Attributes of Mercy correct all defects, as it is written,[258] 'He forgives iniquity and transgression..., and cleanses.'"

Now, when the Alter Rebbe quotes these four Hebrew words from the verse, why does he omit v'chata'ah ("and [unintentional] sin") before the last word?

A manifestation of the Thirteen Attributes of Divine Mercy -- i.e., the sublime mercies that transcend the Seder Hishtalshelus -- is required in order to atone for intentional sins,[259] which derive from the three utterly impure kelipos. Unintentional sins,[260] by contrast, are atoned for by the sacrifices; they do not require a manifestation of the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy.

Along these lines, Iggeres HaKodesh[261] discusses the positive repercussions of the passing of tzaddikim. The Alter Rebbe opens by quoting a question and answer from the Gemara:[262] "Why was the passage concerning the passing of Miriam[263] adjoined to the passage concerning the Red Heifer?[264] -- To teach you that just as the Heifer effects atonement, so, too, does the passing of the righteous."

The Alter Rebbe proceeds to explain that with the passing of a tzaddik, "an illumination from the tuft of Notzer Chesed is revealed,"[265] i.e., from the Thirteen Attributes of Divine Mercy. Of this revelation the Alter Rebbe writes,[266] "It effects salvations in the midst of the earth" -- not in the highest heavens, but deep in the midst of earthy materiality -- "to atone for the sin of the generation, even for the deliberate sins which derive from the three impure kelipos that are inferior to nogah."[267] This process of atonement resembles the Red Heifer, which265 "purifies one from defilement [contracted by contact] with a corpse, even though this [corpse] is the ultimate degree[268] [of impurity], and far, far lower than nogah." In contrast,[269] "the sacrifices offered on the altar are an instance of the elevation of mayin nukvin[270] deriving from the animal soul, [which receives its life-force from] kelipas nogah"; the sacrifices[271] "atone only for inadvertent sins,260 which come about because of the strengthening of the animal soul [whose life-force derives] from nogah."

We can now understand why, when the Alter Rebbe explains that "the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy correct all defects," he quotes the words which say that G-d "forgives iniquity and transgression... and cleanses," but omits the word v'chata'ah -- because the atonement of an unintentional sin (chata'ah) does not require a manifestation of the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy.

Why, then, does the verse itself include this word? One might suggest that it is included because of the continuation of the quoted phrase:258 [lit.:] "to cleanse, He will not cleanse." Our Sages understand [these two phrases as referring respectively to two kinds of sinners]:[272] "He cleanses those who repent; He does not cleanse those who do not repent." From this we learn that even with regard to an unintentional sin (chata'ah) "He does not cleanse those who do not repent," for even "those who sin inadvertently require atonement" (as Rashi explains[273]). For inadvertent sins, too, derive from "the strengthening of the animal soul" (and if the individual had not opened a door for them in the first place, his animal soul would never have arrived at such strength).

[Here, then, we have an explanation for the inclusion of the word ve'chata'ah ("an unintentional sin") in the verse itself.] In Tanya,257 however, the phrase is quoted in connection with the effects of repentance ("He cleanses those who repent") -- the revelation of the Thirteen Attributes of Divine Mercy which correct all defects. In this context, there is no justification and no need to add the word ve'chata'ah, which relates to the different situation alluded to by the continuation of the verse, "He does not cleanse [those who do not repent]."[274]

5. The Power of Repentance.

This week's reading, Parshas Pinchas, also echoes the above theme -- repentance, which evokes the Thirteen Attributes of Divine Mercy, sublime mercies.

This reading speaks of the census that was taken by Moshe and Elazar the Kohen before the Jewish people entered the Land, towards the end of their forty years in the wilderness. The count of the Tribe of Reuven includes a mention of Dasan and Aviram,[275] and proceeds to specify that[276] "these are the same Dasan and Aviram who were communal leaders and who incited [the people] against Moshe... when they incited them against G-d, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and Korach...." The following verse adds,[277] "The sons of Korach, however, did not die," because[278] "at the time of the dispute they had thoughts of teshuvah in their hearts; by virtue of this, a high place was fortified for them in Gehinnom and there they stayed."

This episode highlights the prodigious power of teshuvah: even after "the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them," their repentance bore fruit, and a refuge was prepared for them. In this spirit it is written,[279] "He brings a man down to the deepest pit, and He raises him up." That is to say: even though He brings him down to the deepest pit, He nevertheless raises him up.

6. The Missing Families.

There is something puzzling in the account given in Parshas Pinchas of the census of the Jewish people, and it calls for explanation.

Since the aim of the count was to determine the number of Jews alive at that time, why does the Torah mention families that no longer existed? For example: In the Tribe of Reuven -- Dasan and Aviram, even though the passage goes on to state explicitly that[280] "the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them"; and in the Tribe of Yehudah -- Er and Onan,[281] even though the same verse proceeds to say that "Er and Onan died in the Land of Canaan."

One cannot answer by arguing that the Torah had to mention them and to make it clear that they left no survivors in order to avert a possible question as to why they were not listed. According to this argument, the Torah should also have mentioned the[282] "five families [that] were missing from the sons of Binyamin." Since this cannot be the reason, why does the Torah mention specifically Dasan and Aviram, and Er and Onan?

7. The Sign of the Covenant.

By way of introduction, we must first understand how the counting of the people before their entry to the Land is connected specifically with Parshas Pinchas -- spelled here including the letter yud. (According to one opinion, whenever this name appears, with one exception, it is spelled without a yud; according to another opinion, whenever this name appears, with one exception, it is spelled with a yud;[283] here, according to both opinions, it is spelled with a yud.)

The Zohar teaches:[284] "The letter yud was added to Pinchas because he was zealous in this matter [of guarding the purity of the sign of the covenant[285]]." Likewise, the Zohar teaches, the letter hei was added to Yosef, in the phrase,[286] (lit., "testimony in Yehosef"): "Because he was vigilant in this matter, he became bound with the Divine Presence and linked with that testimony." I.e., by virtue of their vigilance in this matter, a matter on which hinges the connection between G-d and the House of Israel, the letter yud was added to Pinchas and the letter hei was added to Yosef.

Here we see how the name Pinchas (spelled with a yud) is connected with the counting of the people, for this counting also highlights the theme of guarding the purity of the sign of the covenant. As Rashi writes:[287] "G-d placed His Name upon them, hei at one side and yud at the other, as if to say, 'I hereby testify that these people are indeed the sons of their fathers [and were not born of Egyptian duress].'" Rashi concludes by stating that this testimony is alluded to in the phrase,[288] "the Tribes of G-d [using the Divine Name which comprises these two letters], a testimony for Israel."

As to why the testimony regarding the above-mentioned vigilance should be connected with these two particular letters, a simple explanation may be found by relating our subject to a statement of our Sages:[289] "A man and a woman: if they are found worthy, the Divine Presence resides in their midst." Rashi explains, "For He divided His Name and housed it in their midst: yud in and hei in aish." For this reason, it is the letters yud-hei that testify that G-d's people are all pure and all holy.

8. Entering the Land.

We can now come to explain why, in the census which is described in Parshas Pinchas and which was taken before the people's entry to the Land, it is mentioned that281 "Er and Onan died in the Land of Canaan."

As is known,[290] the sin of Er and Onan (viz., non-vigilance regarding the purity of the sign of the covenant) obstructs the Redemption, which involves a complete entry into the Land.

The maamarim of Chassidus on Parshas Vayechi -- beginning with the derushim of the Alter Rebbe in Torah Or[291] and continuing over the generations to include the derushim of my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe [Rayatz][292] -- explain that in addition to the kinds of avodah that characterize Reuven, Shimon and Levi, there is also a need for the kind of avodah that characterizes Yehudah: [As his mother Leah said at his birth,][293] "Now I shall praise G-d." This is the culmination of [man's] avodah (as we see from the continuation of the verse, "She stopped having children"). Nevertheless, [the way to the Redemption] may be obstructed even by the offspring of Yehudah -- by the sin of Er and Onan, for on this matter hinges the connection between G-d and the House of Israel.

This explains why, when the Torah records the counting of the people before their entry to the Land, it draws attention once more to a matter which can (G-d forbid) obstruct their entry.

9. Incitement against Moshe.

One question still remains unanswered. Moshe Rabbeinu was there, and he could -- and did -- correct all blemishes; how, then, could such an obstruction remain in existence? How could he have allowed such a situation?

The answer to this question has already been quoted:[294] "These are the same Dasan and Aviram who were communal leaders and who incited [the people] against Moshe." Dasan and Aviram were indeed communal leaders, and they were joined by 250 heads of the congregation, who were heads of the courts.[295] They were also joined by Korach, "who was clever" (and even though "his eye deceived him," he did have reasons to think as he did).[296] Nevertheless, since they "incited [the people] against Moshe," this means that they "incited them against G-d"; as it is written,[297] "and they believed in G-d and in Moshe His servant." Belief in G-d and in Moshe His servant are interconnected; hence, a lack of belief in Moshe signifies a lack of belief in G-d[298] -- and as a result of this, the people's entry to the Land was hampered.

Despite this, teshuvah is effective even in such a situation; as the passage goes on to say,[299] "The sons of Korach, however, did not die."

This, then, is why Dasan and Aviram are mentioned when the people are being counted before their entry to the Land -- in order to draw attention to the subject of incitement against Moshe, an attitude which can (G-d forbid) obstruct the people's entry.

10. Spiritual Lifesaving.

Counting the Jewish people highlights their innate power, by analogy with the halachic principle,[300] "Things which are counted do not lose their identity."

True enough, the Jewish people are[301] "the least among the nations," and Torah-observant Jews in particular are a minority within the Jewish people -- so much so that there are people who argue that they cannot find the strength to stand firm for the sake of the Torah and its commandments without being overawed by the whole world. Nevertheless, that minority is not only staunchly standing its ground, but is also reaching out to others. As the Rebbe [Rayatz] demanded long ago, in his address of Yud-Gimmel Tammuz,[302] one should see to it that "not only is one alive as an individual, but one animates others as well."

Being strong in matters of Torah and mitzvos belongs not only to the time during which one finds oneself in the yeshivah or the House of Study. One should go out to the streets and approach a Jew concerning whom one does not know whether he is wearing a tallis katan, or even whether he wears a tallis gadol during prayers, or even where he stands with regard to putting on tefillin every day, and say: "Listen, fellow Jew! I'm not asking you for money nor for anything else. All I'd like is that you should put on tefillin (at least briefly) every day. Do me a favor; do yourself a favor; do a favor to your parents and grandparents and their grandparents all the way back to Yaakov Avinu; do a favor to your children and descendants till the end of all the generations, until the coming of Mashiach."

Someone is likely to argue that it is not polite to approach a person whom one does not know and whose situation one does not know, and whose Jewishness is not even certain because his face shows no sign of it.... The answer to this argument is the principle that the saving of life[303] overrides [almost] every other consideration, and on Shabbos or Yom Kippur one digs into the rubble of a collapsed building to save a buried victim even if it is doubtful whether he is still alive.[304] The same principle applies to spiritual lifesaving: even in a case of doubt (including a doubt as to whether the individual concerned is a Jew) one should exert oneself and do everything possible to save his life.

In this spirit the Gemara[305] relates that "Rav Ada bar Ahavah saw a Cuthean woman who was wearing a provocatively immodest headdress in the marketplace. Mistaking her for a Jewess, he stood up and tore it off her. When it became apparent that she was a Cuthean, he was fined 400 zuz." Because of a doubtful case of saving a fellow Jew from committing a transgression for a mere few minutes, he risked losing his money rather than wait and first clarify whether she was in fact a Jewess.

Another point: One's endeavors for the good of a fellow Jew in matters between man and G-d also affect that person's conduct in matters between man and man. This approach runs counter to the argument that there is indeed a need to become involved in the life of a fellow Jew in matters between man and man, in matters involving social order, but in matters between man and G-d -- especially with regard to the superrational obligations known as chukim -- "the other fellow's conduct doesn't concern me: I'm not G-d's policeman...."

The effect of the latter kind of conduct (between man and G-d) on the former kind of conduct (between man and man) is illustrated in the Gemara.[306] In the course of a discussion of a [male's] headcovering as a spiritual catalyst[307] for the acquisition of the fear of heaven, the Gemara relates: "One day... the hood of the cloak of [one of the Sages] fell from his head. Looking up, he caught sight of a date palm. His Evil Inclination overcame him" and he succumbed, stealing not in stealth but even overtly. From this episode it is apparent that exerting oneself for the sake of a fellow Jew in matters between man and G-d, such as wearing a headcovering or putting on tefillin, also affects matters between man and man, even to the point of distancing that person from theft and robbery.

11. That Clever Little Fellow.

At the same time that one is involved in outreach, one must keep one's own spiritual labors in mind. In this spirit, the prophet first exhorts his listener:[308] "When you see a naked man, should you not clothe him?" then adds a reminder: "and do not overlook your own flesh."

Some people think that all that is needed is to be involved in the spiritual needs of others -- as if one's ability to302 "animate others" testifies that his own situation leaves no room for improvement. The truth, of course -- as my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe [Rayatz], demands in a sichah[309] -- is that "One mustn't forget oneself, either."

The Evil Inclination, whom the Rebbe [Rayatz] used to call[310] "that clever little fellow," tackles each individual according to his station:

To those who by nature focus on themselves, he argues that what is needed is avodah that concerns oneself and that is directed to refining and elevating one's own body and animal soul -- as opposed to thinking about a fellow Jew. "You have not yet conquered the territory adjoining your own palace!"[311] he argues. Or: "[If one is confronted by the option of rescuing] his own lost property or that of [his father], his own lost property takes precedence."[312]

In response to such arguments the prophet teaches:[313] "Should you not share your bread with the hungry, and bring the outcast poor into your house? And when you see a naked man, should you not clothe him?"

To those who by nature are communal activists, the Evil Inclination argues that when the saving of life is at stake, one must not think about oneself, since the saving of a life overrides the entire Torah. (Indeed, the Evil Inclination can even argue that one should keep his store open on Shabbos, G-d forbid, in order that he should be able to donate an extra dollar to enable Jews in Displaced Persons Camps to settle in the Holy Land, for[314] "whoever walks four cubits in Eretz Yisrael may be assured of a share in the World to Come." And if in addition that settler speaks the Holy Tongue -- why, words cannot describe such a worthy cause....)

In response to such arguments [i.e., that when the saving of life is at stake, one must not think about oneself] the prophet warns,313 "Do not overlook your own flesh." Or, in other words, "One mustn't forget oneself, either."

12. Kashering One's Flesh.

One must not forget oneself. To use the language of the above-quoted verse, one must not forget his own flesh, his own coarse and material flesh that needs to be refined and uplifted.

My revered father-in-law, the Rebbe [Rayatz], once related that his father, the Rebbe Rashab, uttered the following remark with reference to the question of wearing one's tallis katan on the bare flesh: "Do I need your flesh?! At the kosher butcher's I can buy as much flesh as I want!" And these words were said to a live child, a child who was later to grow up to become the leader of his generation!

The process of making flesh fit for kosher consumption comprises three stages: soaking, salting and rinsing,[315] and each has its counterpart in every man's avodah.[316]

Soaking meat in water corresponds both to the study of Torah, which is[317] "likened to water," and to prayer, as it is written,[318] "Pour out your heart like water."

Salting, which removes blood from the meat, signifies freeing one's flesh from the heat of passion. (In contrast, the blood that was sprinkled on the altar was holy.)

Rinsing is intended to ensure that the removal of the blood (by means of salt) should not be perceptible. In the analog, the function of rinsing is to ensure that one's avodah in the removal of undesirable heat should not make him preen himself with his attainments, as if to say, "Look, here is the blood that I have removed from myself; now I'm a tzaddik, and a baal teshuvah as well...." To anticipate this pride, salting must be followed by a brisk rinsing.

13. The Years Go On.

As was discussed not long ago,[319] in recent times the Rebbe [Rayatz] issued directives and clarified various matters relating to the period that would follow.

In a talk on Yud-Beis Tammuz last year,[320] he said: "Every day, every chassid should recite a chapter of Tehillim with the specific intent that the merit of the Rebbeim should be drawn into himself and that the revelation of light should be absorbed and integrated within his soul."

Now, the flow of blessing from the Rebbeim has been current since the time of the Baal Shem Tov, yet no directive was issued about reciting a chapter of Tehillim in order to elicit the merit of the Rebbeim and to integrate the revelation of their light within oneself -- until Yud-Beis Tammuz, 5709 [1949]![321]

One may assume that the intention here was that every chassid should continue to recite the Rebbe's chapter of Tehillim,[322] in accordance with the number of his years.[323]

Some chassidim were accustomed to reciting the Rebbe's kapitl (viz., ch. 70), but after Yud Shvat doubts arose as to whether or not they should continue. And now that Yud-Beis Tammuz, the Rebbe's birthday, has passed, they are unsure as to whether they should continue with ch. 70, or begin ch. 71; in other words, whether or not the addition of years is still relevant after histalkus.[324]

The Rebbe [Rayatz] clarified this question by saying, on the last Yud-Gimmel Tammuz of his life in this world, that every day, every chassid should recite a chapter of Tehillim -- the Rebbe's chapter, so that his merit will thereby be elicited, and the revelation of his light will be integrated within each individual's soul.

When this directive was issued last Yud-Gimmel Tammuz not everyone knew of it, and the written record of the sichah was known to only a few people within the chassidic community. Now, however, it has been published and made known to all.

14. Keeping a Secret.

These words of the Rebbe [Rayatz], which were intended to clarify matters and to guide chassidim with relation to the period that was to follow, after his histalkus, were not stated explicitly. The reason for this may be understood by reference to the phrase in which the Torah testifies concerning Moshe Rabbeinu,[325] "In all My house he is trustworthy." Seeking to explain the meaning of trustworthiness in a situation in which nothing can be taken, the classical sources write[326] that trustworthiness here means that not everything that one sees may one reveal.

In this connection, a story is told (as I recall) of the Maggid of Mezritch. (I did not read of this in a Chabad source, but in these matters there is a well-known directive of the Rebbe [Rayatz] about advancing one's studies in a spirit of the fear of heaven.[327])

One day one of his disciples entered his study in order to receive his farewell blessings. When he left the room the Maggid instructed his other disciples, the members of the Holy Brotherhood, to prevent their colleague from leaving. Seeing that their attempts were proving unsuccessful, they told their friend that this instruction originated with the Maggid himself. The chassid found this hard to believe, for the Maggid himself had given him his farewell blessings. At the same time, he did not feel comfortable about asking the Maggid directly, so he decided to enter his study once more, and to request his farewell blessings anew. When the Maggid had again blessed him, the chassid went straight to his colleagues and, with all the uninhibited informality of which chassidim are so proud, he gave them a piece of his mind: "Well, do you finally see that the Maggid has given me his farewell blessings?"

In the meantime, however, the Maggid repeated his instruction to his disciples. Again this chassid took his leave of the Maggid, and again his colleagues tried to dissuade him from leaving. After this sequence repeated itself several times, he ignored their pleas and set out for home. On his arrival there, however, he passed away.

Distressed by the news, some of his colleagues approached the Maggid and asked: If he knew..., then why did he not tell the chassid explicitly that he should not leave?

The Maggid answered: "In all My house he is trustworthy -- this means that not everything may be revealed."[328]

15. Foretelling the Future.

Commenting about the fact that in HaKeriah VehaKedushah[329] the Rebbe [Rayatz] used to publish things that related to future events, someone once asked: Why did he write in hints and allusions instead of explicitly, and why after some time did he stop writing of future events?

The point here is that if the Rebbe wanted to be duly labeled as an individual who foretold the future, he would have acted accordingly, but this was not his concern at all. (We once explained[330] that it is immaterial to chassidim whether or not the Rebbe knows the future, and not upon such questions does the bond of chassid and Rebbe hinge: what counts only is that he is -- the Rebbe.) He therefore did not disclose future events indiscriminately, since "In all My house he is trustworthy." He did so only to the limited extent that was required to advance the theme of LeAlter LiTeshuvah.[331]

16. For the Public Good.

In general, the Rebbe [Rayatz] revealed a great number of things, even though in former times this was not the custom.

In a talk on Pesach last year,[332] the Rebbe [Rayatz] said that he had decided to reveal a certain matter which he had not disclosed until that time,[333] and added: "Even though this concerns myself, it must be done with self-sacrifice."

From this we see that when it came to a matter that affected the public good, the Rebbe [Rayatz] was willing to put not only himself in jeopardy, but even his trustworthiness in jeopardy!

17. No War to be Seen.

Last summer there was some commotion about a possible war, and many people were afraid to undertake business transactions and the like. A certain wealthy individual, who was a generous donor to charitable causes, decided to ask the opinion of the Rebbe [Rayatz] as to whether or not there would be a war. Having been brought up in America, this Jew had plenty of outspoken self-confidence[334] -- but nevertheless could not quite bring himself to ask the Rebbe himself. He therefore called me and asked me to ask the Rebbe if there would be a war, for if so, he would refrain from certain transactions.

I, too, wanted to know how the Rebbe would reply; on the other hand, since I was only a conduit to transmit someone's question, my query would not be taken amiss. So I entered the Rebbe's study and asked this individual's question in his name.

The Rebbe looked up at me, smiled, and said: "There's no war to be seen."

A few days ago that individual reminded me of this episode.[335]

18. The Sooner the Better.

In Shaarei Orah,[336] the Mitteler Rebbe explains the difference between the two possible modes of Redemption[337] -- "in its appointed time" or "I shall hasten it". He discusses there which of these two modes is preferable from the point of view of the task of beirurim, the sifting of materiality in order to refine and uplift the sparks of Divinity that are embedded in it.

In our era, however, which is so long after the Sages' declaration that "all the appointed times have ended,"[338] whichever of these two modes the Redemption follows, and whenever it comes, without any further waiting, will be the best possible way.

And may G-d grant that the Blessing for the New Month "for deliverance and consolation" will indeed be fulfilled speedily and literally in our own days.



  1. (Back to text) This sichah was delivered on Shabbos Parshas Pinchas, which was Shabbos Mevarchim Menachem Av, 5710 [1950]. It appears in the Appendices (Hosafos) to Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XVIII, pp. 476ff., 481ff. and 490ff.

  2. (Back to text) For the Blessing for the New Month, see Siddur Tehillat HaShem, p. 191.

  3. (Back to text) The maamar beginning Nachamu, first delivered in the year 5670 [1910], and appearing in Sefer HaMaamarim 5670 [1910], p. 218ff. At the beginning of the original ms. of the maamar, the Rebbe Rashab wrote: "From the writings of my revered grandfather, the Rebbe [Tzemach Tzedek]; (see Or HaTorah [by the Tzemach Tzedek], Parshas Vaeschanan, p. 2197ff.)."

  4. (Back to text) Tehillim 103:12.

  5. (Back to text) II, 51b.

  6. (Back to text) In the original, dinim ugevuros.

  7. (Back to text) Rosh HaShanah 16a.

  8. (Back to text) See Bamidbar, chs. 13 and 14.

  9. (Back to text) 26a ff.

  10. (Back to text) Mishlei 1:8.

  11. (Back to text) Ibid. 13:24.

  12. (Back to text) See Eichah 3:38, and Bereishis Rabbah 51:3.

  13. (Back to text) On this theme, see Likkutei Torah, Parshas Bechukosai, p. 48a ff.; Sefer HaMaamarim 5709 [1949], p. 7ff. (in the second numeration).

  14. (Back to text) Cf. Mateh Ephraim 610:11.

  15. (Back to text) See Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXIII, p. 214, and sources indicated there.

  16. (Back to text) See p. 20 above.

  17. (Back to text) A Talmudic idiom, literally referring to the ten hand's-breadths nearest the ground, and borrowed in chassidic parlance to signify This World's palpable here and now.

  18. (Back to text) He was 14 years old at the time.

  19. (Back to text) In the original, gilui pnimiyus haneshamah. See Tanya -- Iggeres HaKodesh, Epistle 4, in Lessons In Tanya, Vol. IV, p. 47ff.

  20. (Back to text) The date was 23 Tammuz.

  21. (Back to text) Tanya -- Iggeres HaTeshuvah, ch. 8 (in Lessons In Tanya, Vol. III, p. 1086).

  22. (Back to text) Shmos 34:7.

  23. (Back to text) In the original, zedonos.

  24. (Back to text) In the original, shegagos; this includes the kind of offense called v'chata'ah.

  25. (Back to text) Epistle 28 (in Lessons In Tanya, Vol. V, p. 187ff.).

  26. (Back to text) Moed Katan 28a.

  27. (Back to text) Bamidbar 20:1ff.

  28. (Back to text) Ibid., ch. 19.

  29. (Back to text) These Kabbalistic terms are discussed in Lessons In Tanya, Vol. V, p. 193ff.

  30. (Back to text) Ibid., p. 196, quoting Tehillim 74:12.

  31. (Back to text) Unlike the three utterly impure kelipos, which represent the absolute antithesis of kedushah in the universe, kelipas nogah contains a redeeming glimmer of Divine light. Cf. Tanya, end of ch. 1.

  32. (Back to text) In the original, avi avos.

  33. (Back to text) Lessons In Tanya, Vol. V, p. 189.

  34. (Back to text) Lit., "feminine waters"; i.e., a mortally-initiated spiritual arousal.

  35. (Back to text) Ibid., p. 197.

  36. (Back to text) Yoma 86a.

  37. (Back to text) See Shavuos 2b, s.v. toleh. See also Rashi on Bereishis 9:5.

  38. (Back to text) The above passage (#4) appears in abbreviated form in Likkutei Sichos, Vol. IV, p. 1058, footnote 14.

  39. (Back to text) Bamidbar 26:9.

  40. (Back to text) Loc. cit., verses 9-10.

  41. (Back to text) Loc. cit., verse 11.

  42. (Back to text) Rashi there.

  43. (Back to text) I Shmuel 2:6.

  44. (Back to text) Bamidbar 26:10.

  45. (Back to text) Loc. cit., verse 19.

  46. (Back to text) Rashi, loc. cit., on verses 13 and 24.

  47. (Back to text) See Beis Shmuel, Hilchos Gittin -- Shmos Anashim, and the commentary of Shai LaMoreh there; Tiv Gittin there; and other sources. On the spelling of the name Pinchas with a yud, see Zohar III (57b, 213b, 220a, 236b); Minchas Shai on the beginning of our parshah.

  48. (Back to text) On our parshah: III, 213b.

  49. (Back to text) The corresponding Heb. phrase used throughout this passage is shmiras habris.

  50. (Back to text) Tehillim 81:6.

  51. (Back to text) Bamidbar 26:5. Here Rashi seeks to explain why each listed family name is composed of a personal name with the addition of hei as a prefix and yud as a suffix. (When reversed, these two letters spell one of the Names of G-d.)

  52. (Back to text) Tehillim 122:4.

  53. (Back to text) Sotah 50a and Rashi there.

  54. (Back to text) Likkutei Torah of the AriZal, on Yeshayahu 59:20. See also Sefer HaMitzvos (Derech Mitzvosecha) by the Tzemach Tzedek, s.v. Pru U'Revu, end of sec. 1.

  55. (Back to text) Beginning of Parshas Vayechi.

  56. (Back to text) Sefer HaMaamarim 5688, p. 45ff.

  57. (Back to text) Bereishis 29:35.

  58. (Back to text) Bamidbar 26:9.

  59. (Back to text) Op. cit. 16:1-2 and Rashi there.

  60. (Back to text) Rashi on verse 6.

  61. (Back to text) Shmos 14:31.

  62. (Back to text) See Mechilta on the above verse.

  63. (Back to text) Bamidbar 26:11, and see sec. 5 above.

  64. (Back to text) In the original, dovar sheb'minyan lo batel; Beitzah 3b; Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah, beg. of sec. 110.

  65. (Back to text) Devarim 7:7.

  66. (Back to text) Sefer HaMaamarim 5710 [1950], p. 262. See also pp. 30 and 37 above.

  67. (Back to text) In the original, pikuach nefesh.

  68. (Back to text) Yoma 82a ff., and elsewhere.

  69. (Back to text) Berachos 20a and Mesores HaShas there.

  70. (Back to text) Shabbos 156b.

  71. (Back to text) In the original, segulah.

  72. (Back to text) Yeshayahu 58:7. See also: Tanna dvei Eliyahu Rabbah, sec. 27; Sefer HaMaamarim -- Kuntreisim, Vol. II, p. 307b; Likkutei Dibburim, Vol. IV (in the Heb./Yid. edition), p. 1457.

  73. (Back to text) Sefer HaSichos 5704 [1944], p. 74; Sefer HaMaamarim 5710 [1950], p. 145.

  74. (Back to text) In the Yid. original, der kluginker; see HaYom Yom, entry for 23 Sivan, and elsewhere.

  75. (Back to text) Sifri on Parshas Eikev, 11:24.

  76. (Back to text) Mishnah in Bava Metzia 33a. In the Gemara there, see the comment of Rav Yehudah in the name of Rav.

  77. (Back to text) Yeshayahu 58:7.

  78. (Back to text) Kesubbos 111a.

  79. (Back to text) In the original, shriyah, melichah and hadachah, respectively.

  80. (Back to text) From this point until the end of sec. 12 appears in Likkutei Sichos, Vol. IV, p. 1059, footnote 23.

  81. (Back to text) Rambam, Hilchos Talmud Torah 3:9.

  82. (Back to text) Eichah 2:19.

  83. (Back to text) See above, pp. 30 and 47ff.

  84. (Back to text) Sefer HaMaamarim 5710 [1950], p. 263ff.

  85. (Back to text) This was the last birthday of the Rebbe Rayatz in this world.

  86. (Back to text) Just as one recites one's own chapter daily: e.g., a 19-year-old recites ch. 20.

  87. (Back to text) See Igros Kodesh (Letters) of the Rebbe Rayatz, Vol. I, p. 31; op. cit., Vol. X, p. 53, and sources cited there.

  88. (Back to text) See Rambam, Hilchos Teshuvah 8:4, and Tzafnas Paaneiach there. See also Likkutei Sichos, Vol. II, p. 496; op. cit., Vol. V, p. 103ff.; op. cit., Vol. XX, p. 400; Sefer HaMaamarim -- Melukat, Vol. II, p. 152.

  89. (Back to text) Bamidbar 12:7.

  90. (Back to text) See Maamarei Admur HaZaken -- Es'halech, Liozna, p. 1; and other sources.

  91. (Back to text) See also Igros Kodesh (Letters) of the Rebbe Rashab, Vol. II, p. 720, and sources listed there.

  92. (Back to text) See also Vol. I in the present series, p. 134.

  93. (Back to text) Journal founded by the Rebbe Rayatz in 1941 to arouse the Jewish world to prepare for the Redemption.

  94. (Back to text) See the above sichah of Beis Iyar, 5710 [1950], sec. 9, in Proceeding Together, Vol. I, p. 69.

  95. (Back to text) Primarily by means of HaKeriah VehaKedushah (see footnote 329 above), the Rebbe Rayatz publicized the slogan, LeAlter LiTeshuvah: LeAlter LiGeulah -- "Immediate Repentance: Immediate Redemption."

  96. (Back to text) Sefer HaMaamarim 5710 [1950], p. 188.

  97. (Back to text) He continued: "I will reveal it in a story..., and this will be done in writing." It is not known whether it is included among the stories that he later transmitted in writing.

  98. (Back to text) In the original Yid., breitkeit.

  99. (Back to text) [Note by the publisher of the original Heb. edition:] At the time that this sichah was delivered there was a similar commotion about a possible war, and it appears that the Rebbe recounted the above episode in connection with the current situation, in order to intimate that at this time, too, there was no cause for alarm. And indeed, in a letter dated 17 Elul [which was some eight weeks later] the Rebbe wrote explicitly: "I already stated about two months ago that in my opinion there will be no war in the approaching months, so instead of being alarmed, everyone should go ahead with his affairs." (See Igros Kodesh (Letters) of the Rebbe, Vol. III, p. 457.)

  100. (Back to text) Shaar HaPurim, s.v. Yaviu Levush Malchus, sec. 94ff.

  101. (Back to text) Yeshayahu 60:22; Sanhedrin 98a.

  102. (Back to text) In the original, kalu kol hakitzin; Sanhedrin 97b.

  Yud-Beis Tammuz: To Be Every Inch a ChassidChaf Menachem Av: Holding Tight to the Rebbe's Doorknob  
Volume 1   |   Volume 2   |   Volume 3
     Sichos In English -> Books -> Sichos -> Proceeding Together Volume 2
© Copyright 1988-2024
All Rights Reserved
Sichos In English