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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]


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

Translated from Toras Menachem by Uri Kaploun

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  The Month of Av: Mercy in DisguiseParshas Re'eh and Elul: Making One's Own Animal Kosher  

1. To Listen with a Gladsome Heart.

As[339] is well known (from the derushim of Lag BaOmer[340]), the soul of the departed ascends every year on the day of the yahrzeit. (This ascent begins on the preceding Shabbos[341] -- when it is customary to be called to the Reading of the Torah, for Maftir, if possible[342] -- but mainly takes place on the day of the yahrzeit itself.) Though a number of years may have passed since the histalkus, the soul ascends higher and higher every year. This is why there are distinctive customs to be observed on the day of the yahrzeit; [for example:] one leads the prayers as sheliach tzibbur, and words of Torah are delivered (preferably by one of the offspring of the departed[343]), including Torah insights cited in the name of the departed.[344]

In order to mark the conclusion of the study of Tractate Kiddushin I was asked to write a siyyum in nigleh, i.e., a discourse in the revealed and legalistic dimension of the Torah. This I deferred to the present yahrzeit. Since the present company is comprised of Torah scholars or yeshivah students whose minds are now occupied in the study of Torah, I'm sure they won't mind if it takes a little time. And to help them listen with gladsome hearts, let them first say LeChaim!

2. Weighty Words.

At the conclusion of Tractate Kiddushin there is a teaching which is quoted in a beraisa as well as previously in a mishnah, and the fine differences between these two versions require explanation.

It should first be mentioned that there are various approaches to the study of Gemara: one approach favors logic and explanation, and is known as "Lithuanian study";[345] another approach, rooted in the Polish tradition, favors feats of finely-honed scholastics.[346] Precise analysis of language and style, however, is not a widespread tradition.

One reason for this, presumably, is a lack of time. Another reason is the difference between the Written Law and the Oral Law.[347] What counts most in the Written Law is the very letters that spell out its words. Thus, for example, we find that a single letter in the Torah gives rise to an entire chapter in the Shas.[348] In the Oral Law, by contrast, what counts most is the subject, as is explained in Likkutei Torah.[349]

At the same time, it goes without saying that in the Oral Law, too, the wording is so extremely precise that mounds upon mounds of teachings may be derived from it. Reb Nechemiah of Dubrovna, who was one of the foremost chassidim of the Alter Rebbe, derives conclusions with practical halachic consequences from a precise reading even of the Taz[350] or the Magen Avraham.[351] How much more closely, then, should one scrutinize the wording of the Shas.

3. The Torah as a Vocation.

Tractate Kiddushin closes with these words: "We have learned in a beraisa that R. Nehorai says: 'I leave aside every vocation in the world and teach my son nothing but Torah. For all the vocations in the world stand by a man only during his youth, while in his old age he may be cast away in hunger. With the Torah, however, it is otherwise: it stands by a man during his childhood, and gives him continuity and hope in his old age. What is written concerning the days of his youth?[352] -- Those who place their hope in G-d shall be granted renewed strength; they shall wing aloft like eagles. And what is written concerning his old age?[353] -- They shall be fruitful even in old age; they shall be full of sap and freshness.'"

The same teaching is cited in the mishnah,[354] though in a longer version: "R. Nehorai says: 'I leave aside every vocation in the world and teach my son nothing but Torah, for a man enjoys part of its reward in this world, while the capital remains intact for him in the World to Come. With all the other vocations it is otherwise: When a man encounters illness or old age or suffering and can no longer engage in his vocation, he can die of hunger, whereas the Torah guards him against every evil in his youth, and gives him continuity and hope in his old age. What is written concerning the days of his youth?352 -- Those who hope in G-d shall be granted renewed strength. And what is written concerning his old age?353 -- They shall be fruitful even in old age. And so, indeed, is it written concerning Avraham Avinu:[355] And Avraham grew old..., and G-d blessed Avraham with everything. We find that Avraham fulfilled the entire Torah even before it was given; as it is written,[356] ...because Avraham listened to My voice and guarded My observances, My commandments, My statutes and My teachings.'"

A few points call for explanation.

Firstly, concerning the content of this teaching, it is written in the Tosefta (and cited in the first chapter of our tractate[357]), that a man is obliged to teach his son a vocation. The context there implies that there is no dissident opinion. How, then, can one say here, "I leave aside every vocation in the world?"[358]

[Secondly:] With regard to the difference between the Mishnah and the Beraisa,[359] Rambam writes in the Introduction to his Commentary on the Mishnayos[360] that Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi worded everything briefly, with "a concise text that comprises many matters," which is why the Mishnah is brief. Later, however, with the weakening of intellectual power, there was a need to spell everything out in detail. It is thus common in the Shas that matters are stated briefly in the Mishnah, and cited in the Beraisa at greater length and in greater detail. The style of the above-quoted teaching is thus very surprising, for exactly the reverse is the case.

[Thirdly:] Some of the differences in wording between the mishnah and the beraisa also invite attention: (i) the mishnah speaks of "all the other vocations," whereas the beraisa speaks of "all the vocations in the world"; (ii) the mishnah enumerates illness and old age and suffering, whereas the beraisa mentions only old age; (iii) the mishnah speaks of a man's youth and old age, while the beraisa speaks of his childhood and old age; (iv) the mishnah (though not the beraisa) adds that a man enjoys the fruits of Torah study in this world as well as in the next; (v) the mishnah (though not the beraisa) concludes by quoting the verse,355 "And Avraham grew old..., and G-d blessed Avraham with everything."

4. Of Questions and Answers.

In the course of Talmudic debate it often happens that a proposed solution to a problematic query[361] may at first sight appear to be pertinent, but can nevertheless be refuted. Every such solution thus becomes suspect of possible refutation after due analysis. If, however, a single assumption or solution resolves two or three queries on one topic, especially if those queries are of different kinds, one may more safely assume that it is reliable; moreover, the more problems it resolves, the more certain does this assumption become.

In this spirit, a single assumption now to be proposed can explain all the differences between the mishnah and the beraisa and resolve all the problematic queries mentioned above.

5. Life and Livelihood.

By way of introduction: In a well-known ruling,[362] Rambam forbids rabbis and Torah scholars from being supported by the community. Citing extensively from the Gemara, he decries at length those who make their living from the Torah: they turn it into a hoe with which to dig and make use of the crown of the Torah[363] (i.e., in chassidic terms, of G-d's wisdom and will). Later scholars, however, differed, and cited Talmudic evidence that one may in fact make one's living from the Torah.

The Alter Rebbe resolves this as follows:[364] "The Sages did not condemn or forbid the use of the Torah as a hoe except to forbid one from studying it in the first instance as a vocation with which to eventually support himself, for in this case, he would be using the crown of the Torah for workaday ends. If, however, one studied for the sake of heaven, and later had no means of support other than employment as a teacher or a judge or a rav, he would then be using the crown of the Torah for its purposes. For if he is left without food he will not be able to properly engage in Torah study while suffering hunger and want. Indeed, if he is able to support himself by a vocation but leaves it aside in order to make a livelihood from teaching Torah, it is even more certain that he is making use of the Torah for its purposes alone -- for it is in order not to have his Torah study interrupted that he sets aside his alternative source of income."

It would appear that this permission rests on two arguments:

  1. The difference between his purposes and its purposes: It is forbidden to make use of the Torah as a tool for one's own purposes, but if one leaves aside an alternative source of income and makes his living from the Torah in order not to lose time from Torah study, this is called using the Torah for its purposes.

  2. The difference between in the first instance[365] and after the event:[366] In the first instance it is certainly forbidden to study Torah for the sake of making a living. After the event, however, if one studied in a permissible manner, i.e., for its own sake, and later had no alternative because he must have a livelihood, he is not obliged at this point to learn a trade, because he can support himself immediately from the Torah which he had previously studied permissibly.[367] Similarly, it is forbidden to begin a voyage by ship or a journey with a [camel] caravan close to Shabbos if this will entail a desecration of Shabbos. If, however, one had set out permissibly (i.e., three days before Shabbos), one may proceed with the ship or caravan, for at this point the saving of a life overrides Shabbos.[368] The same principle applies here.

There exists a yet loftier manner of study: One studies nothing but Torah and nevertheless does not make use of it for earning a livelihood; rather, his work is done by others. As R. Shimon bar Yochai says:[369] "If a man plows in the plowing season and reaps in the reaping season [and so on]" -- following the view of R. Yishmael, that[370] "you shall gather in your grain" means that [in relation to the study of the Torah[371]] "you should conduct yourself in the way of the world" -- "what will become of the Torah? Rather: When the Jewish people fulfill the will of G-d their work is done by others; as it is written,[372] 'Strangers shall stand and pasture your flocks....'" The Gemara concludes the debate as follows: "Many people followed the view... of R. Shimon bar Yochai, but without success." This means that this approach is appropriate only for a few rare individuals, such as R. Shimon bar Yochai, R. Akiva,[373] and the like.

There are thus three possible situations:

  1. studying Torah for the sake of an income -- which is forbidden;

  2. studying Torah for its own sake, but later (in the absence of an alternative) making one's living thereby -- which is permitted;

  3. engaging exclusively in Torah study and miraculously having one's work done by others -- which is an approach suited only to the rare few.

6. Teaching One's Son.

In light of the above, we can now understand how R. Nehorai could declare,354 "I leave aside every vocation in the world," even though a man is obliged to teach his son a vocation.357 His declaration means that a person should find his livelihood through one of the approaches mentioned above -- either from the Torah itself, in the permissible manner defined by the Alter Rebbe, or by his work being done by others.

We can now appreciate why he says, "and I teach my son nothing but Torah," instead of saying, "and I study nothing but Torah."

(At a simple level one could explain this by noting that the teachings in the Gemara that precede the statement of R. Nehorai all open with the words, "A person should teach his son...." Earlier in this mishnah, the first of the statements that refer to one's son states: "One should not teach one's son a vocation that relates to women." This particular statement refers specifically to one's son, because though the father himself is not prohibited from such a vocation, his son -- whom the father is obliged to educate since he is still young, and thus single -- is. Hence, it could be argued, the mishnah continues the following series of teachings in the same style, and relates them all to one's son.)

To explain [at a different level] why R. Nehorai speaks of teaching his son and not of himself: Concerning oneself it is certainly forbidden to say, "I leave aside every vocation in the world and study nothing but Torah," because this means that the Torah is being used as a tool. When one teaches his son, however, no prohibition is involved, because at this age he is not concerned with a livelihood and is therefore able to study Torah for its own sake, and at a later stage the above rule concerning after the event will apply. And even though his father knows from the beginning that his son will eventually be in need of a livelihood, it is permitted to teach him Torah exclusively -- just as three days before Shabbos it is permissible to set out with a ship or a caravan even though it is clear that he will have to proceed on Shabbos, since at the present it is permitted and later the principle of after the event will apply.

7. A Seeming Objection.

One might argue that this line of reasoning can be refuted, as follows.

The first chapter of our tractate[374] [discussing the situation of a person who can afford to support only one fulltime student in the family] writes that if his son has a sharper mind for study than himself, his son takes precedence. If the choice is between oneself and a sharper stranger, he himself takes precedence. The rationale is that if his son is studying by virtue of the father's exertion, it is as if the father himself also studied; this is not true of a stranger.[375] Accordingly, when a father leaves aside every occupation and teaches his son nothing but Torah, the father, too, is deemed to be studying; and since this study is undertaken with the intention that this very Torah should later be used as a tool for a livelihood, this mode of study is forbidden -- for, so the argument runs, if the Torah is being abused by this unworthy intention, is there any difference who is responsible? For when the father first began this program of Torah study, he already knew that he was going to make a tool of it.

This seeming refutation, however, may be invalidated by noting the underlying reason[376] for the prohibition. How and when is there abuse of the Torah? -- When one makes a living out of the Torah. Our only criterion should therefore be, who is making the living. This is the son, and he is the party who from the outset studied Torah in a permissible manner, for its own sake.

8. Every Word Counts.

Following the line of reasoning set out earlier, one can explain the meaning of the differences between the wording of the mishnah and the beraisa.

It was mentioned above that a mishnah typically speaks in generalities while a beraisa adds details. So, too, in our case: the mishnah sets out the manner of Torah study that is appropriate to people in general, i.e., the permissible manner of making a living from the Torah itself, while the beraisa also sets out the manner of Torah study that is appropriate only to select individuals such as Rashbi, i.e., the situation in which one's work is done by others.

The differences between the wording of the mishnah and the beraisa[377] now fall into place:

  1. The beraisa says that "all the vocations in the world stand by a man only during his youth, etc.," whereas the mishnah speaks of "all the other vocations."

    The plain difference between these two phrases is that "all the vocations in the world" excludes the Torah: unlike them, the Torah stands by a man at all times; "all the other vocations" includes the Torah, except that this vocation differs from the others.

    Since the mishnah speaks of an approach which can be shared by all, i.e., earning a living as a rav and the like, the Torah appears there as one of the vocations. Since the beraisa speaks of the approach of Rashbi, whose work is done by others, the Torah there is in no sense a vocation.

    Another minor difference now also fits neatly into place. The beraisa (though not the mishnah) speaks of the unreliability of "all the vocations in the world." For with regard to work and Torah study, the beraisa speaks of conducting oneself contrary to the regular way of the world. The mishnah, in contrast, speaks of making a living from the Torah without resort to miracles.

  2. The mishnah enumerates illness and old age and suffering, whereas the beraisa mentions only old age.

    The Sages teach that there is no death without sin and no suffering without iniquity, with exceptions that are uncommon.[378] Our beraisa speaks of conduct at the [sinless] level of Rashbi and his colleagues, a situation in which the Jewish people carry out G-d's will with all their might[379] -- as in the first paragraph of Shema, which does not include the warning [that appears in the second paragraph],[380] "Take care lest your heart be lured away," and as in the above-quoted statement of Rashbi in Berachos, that when the Jewish people fulfill the will of G-d their work is done by others. In this [supernatural] state of which the beraisa speaks, illness and suffering have no place: there is only natural old age.

  3. The mishnah speaks of a man's youth (naarus), while the beraisa speaks of his childhood (yaldus), referring to a younger age.[381] (Likewise, earlier in our tractate,[382] the Gemara discusses the verse which begins with the phrase,[383] "Train the youth according to his way...." To what age does this obligation apply (as Rashi spells out an implied question)? Two opinions are given, one extending to the age of 22 and one to 24.) Why does the mishnah speak of youth, while the beraisa speaks of childhood?

For the regular mode of worldly conduct in which one supports oneself through the Torah as a teacher or a rav and the like (as in the mishnah), one needs at least the measure of maturity and mental acuity of a youth. Hence the mishnah speaks of a man's youth. The miraculous mode of conduct (as in the beraisa) whereby in response to the complete observance of G-d's will one's work is done by others, can also occur in one's childhood. Hence the beraisa speaks of childhood. (This term does not refer to an extremely early age, but is used in the spirit of the expression of the Sages,[384] "Happy was our [sinless] childhood that has not shamed our old age!")

9. Nature and Beyond.

Along the same lines, the last two differences in wording still await explanation.

  1. The mishnah (though not the beraisa) states that a man enjoys the fruits of Torah study even in this world. To understand this, we should first note that the above-mentioned permission to work for a living [as opposed to engaging in constant study of the Torah] assumes two forms.

    In the supernatural mode of conduct followed by Rashbi, the reason that a man's work is done by others is not that the distinctive merit of the Torah causes him to enjoy its fruits in this world. Rather, because he fulfills G-d's will with all his might, and is rewarded for this by the fulfillment of the prophecy that372 "Strangers shall stand and pasture your flocks," he finds himself free of the burden of seeking a livelihood, and hence is under a constant obligation to study Torah. (As to the expression in the beraisa that "with the Torah, however, it is otherwise," the focus of this statement is not the Torah as such; rather, a man's devotion to its study demonstrates that he is one of those who352 "place their hope in G-d," and by virtue of this,352 "they shall be granted renewed strength.") And since, in the supernatural mode of conduct of which the beraisa speaks, it is not a man's Torah study that relieves him of the burdens of seeking a livelihood, it is inappropriate that the beraisa speak of the rewards of Torah study in this world.

    In the other mode of conduct (as referred to in the mishnah), in which a man follows the world's natural pattern, he is assured of his livelihood specifically because of the innate merit of the Torah -- and this is why it is the mishnah that teaches that the rewards of Torah study are enjoyed even in this world.

  2. The mishnah (though not the beraisa) concludes by quoting the verse,355 "And Avraham grew old..., and G-d blessed Avraham with everything."

Avraham earned his living as a shepherd, i.e., according to the laws of nature. Though he prospered to a supernatural degree, this does not place him in the category of Rashbi and R. Akiva and the like, whose work was done by others, for he did work -- and it was his work that was blessed to a supernatural degree. It is true that he had many servants, while he himself engaged in Torah and divine service. Yet this is not a case of having one's work done by others ("Strangers shall stand and pasture your flocks"372), because he was also personally involved in this work. Indeed, as is explained in Chassidus,[385] the patriarchs chose to be shepherds in order that they should not be excessively distracted by attending to a livelihood.

The beraisa therefore omits the verses concerning Avraham, because they do not show that one can support oneself by miraculous means. By the same token, the mishnah does quote them: by fulfilling the entire Torah, even in his old age Avraham was blessed with everything -- with success within the framework of nature.

10. Levels Within the Torah.

The difference between the mishnah and the beraisa is also present at the innermost and mystical level, at the level of pnimiyus. (As with everything in the created universe, but especially with matters involving the Torah and the commandments, differences on the revealed plane result from differences on the innermost plane.) Let us consider this now, at least briefly.

The Torah itself comprises several levels, which fall under two headings:

  1. The pnimiyus of the Torah, concerning which it is written,[386] "And I [the Torah] was with Him." At this lofty level, all the worlds and the mode in which they are conducted[387] are reckoned not as absolute naught, but to be absolute naught.

  2. The chitzoniyus, or outer dimension, of the Torah. It is this level of the Torah that relates to the worlds and to the Divine life-force that animates them.

A similar distinction exists in the Torah from the perspective of man's avodah:

  1. The pnimiyus -- the innermost [or mystical] dimension -- of the Torah, which is called the Tree of Life.[388] This level transcends the created worlds, which comprise both good and evil, and the mode in which they are conducted.

  2. The nigleh -- the revealed [or legalistic] dimension -- of the Torah. This level is called the Tree of Good and Evil,[389] because it is garbed in matters of both good and evil, such as when false arguments are discussed.[390]

The latter level (the Tree of Good and Evil) relates to the [regular] mode of Torah study of which our mishnah speaks; at this level, illness[391] and the like are possible. The former level (the Tree of Life) relates to the [supernatural] approach to Torah study of which our beraisa speaks; at this level, "Strangers shall stand and pasture [Israel's] flocks,"34 because they fulfill the will[392] of G-d.[393]

11. Chassidus as a Luminary.

The Sages, moreover, write:[394] "We find that the Holy One, blessed be He, was willing to overlook [even] idolatry and incest and bloodshed, but did not excuse the wanton neglect of Torah study.... [It is as if G-d said,[395]] 'If only they would forsake Me, but would observe My Torah,' for if they were to be involved in it, the luminary within it would return them to the good path.'" This "luminary" (maor) alludes to the pnimiyus -- the innermost, mystical dimension -- of the Torah.[396]

In this spirit, Kuntreis Etz HaChayim[397] discusses the verse,[398] "For the commandment is a lamp, and the Torah is light, and reproofs of instruction are the way of life." The question is asked: What could the phrase "the way of life" possibly add to the Torah and the commandments already spoken of? And the answer is given: "the Torah is light" refers to nigleh, the revealed dimension of the Torah, whereas "the way of life" refers to the pnimiyus of the Torah.

This echoes the difference between light (or) and luminary (maor): the revealed dimension of the Torah is called a light ("Torah -- or"), while the pnimiyus of the Torah is called a luminary (maor). The further light is removed from its source, the weaker it becomes, until it can even be interrupted and be no more; a luminary is unceasing.

To apply this model to the spiritual realm: When one studies only nigleh, which is likened to light, there can be an interruption (G-d forbid) through sins, as in the verse,[399] "Your iniquities have intercepted between yourselves and your G-d." Indeed, it is even possible to stumble and sin in the three prohibitions mentioned above -- at least subtly. (As is explained in Tanya,[400] through a sin one becomes separated from G-d's unity just as one does through idolatry; this applies especially to those sins of which the Sages taught that he who transgresses them is regarded as having practiced idolatry. This is discussed in Iggeres HaTeshuvah.[401])

When, however, one studies the pnimiyus of the Torah, the luminary of the Torah, then even if he transgresses in these three ways, "the luminary within it returns him to the good path."

On the verse,[402] "The Torah which Moshe commanded us...," the Gemara[403] similarly teaches that "the numerical equivalent (gematria) of Torah is 611." I.e., the Torah that Moshe commanded us is 611; two other commandments, as the Gemara goes on to say ("I am the L-rd your G-d..." and "You shall have no other gods..."), we heard from the mouth of G-d Himself.[404] Nevertheless, we see that the incomplete total of 611 is deemed to be the equivalent of Torah. From this we see that even when the critical message of these two commandments -- i.e., faith -- is missing, this lack is replenished by the study of Torah, because "the luminary within it returns one to the good path."

12. Two Aims in Torah Study.

This is the basic content of the teaching of R. Nehorai (lit., "the luminous one"): "I leave aside every vocation in the world and teach my son nothing but Torah."

As discussed above,[405] the mishnah and the beraisa differ as to whether the Torah is to be reckoned as one of the possible vocations or whether it transcends this category. In a related debate, the Sages state:[406] "In the first instance, when a man [studies Torah] he does it with himself in mind."[407] For the soul descended to this world only in order to rectify and elevate the body and the animal soul and its allotted share of worldly materiality.[408] This level of activity is the vocation of Torah study "with oneself in mind." From this level, a man may advance and study the Torah for its own sake,[409] for the sake of the Torah. This level of study transcends every vocation in the world, even the vocation of rectifying one's body and the material world.

It is with relation to this level of Torah study that R. Nehorai said, "I leave aside every vocation in the world and teach my son nothing but Torah..., [for it] stands by a man in his childhood and... in his old age." Significantly, this is a teaching of R. Nehorai, who is so called because[410] "he illumined the eyes of the Sages" -- a veritable expression of the luminary within the Torah. Why?

When a man's Torah study is at the level of a vocation aimed at rectifying his body and the world, since this assumes the form of a battle with an opponent ("one nation shall contend with the other"[411]), an interruption is possible -- albeit temporary (for ultimately he will triumph). When, however, a man's Torah study is at a level that transcends the vocation of rectifying his body and the world -- i.e., when he is at the level of studying the Torah lishmah, for its own sake -- interruption is impossible. Rather, "it stands by a man in his childhood and... in his old age." Moreover, his study of the Torah stands by him not only in the ordinary weakness of old age, but even in a state of suffering (which may also be caused by the state of his family or environment) and even in his own illness, which may prevent him from observing the 248 positive commandments or the 365 prohibitive commandments that correspond to the 248 organs and the 365 sinews,[412] -- even in such a situation, "the luminary within it returns him to the good path."

13. In the Same Wagon as the Rebbe.

The same is true of studying the chassidic teachings of my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe [Rayatz].

In earlier generations, such as in the time of Rambam, great precautions were taken (as is explained in the sichos of the Rebbe [Rayatz][413]) that the teachings of the Kabbalah should not be revealed. Even in the time of the AriZal (who said that "it is permitted and indeed a mitzvah to reveal this wisdom"[414]), various preparations were required (such as the recitation of a Yehi Ratzon) for the study of the Kabbalah. Even the Baal Shem Tov directed that works of Kabbalah should be studied only by those who are able to abstract its concepts from their seeming materiality (as the Tzemach Tzedek cites[415]). There is also the well-known episode of how the Alter Rebbe spared the Maggid of Mezritch from severe criticism [by R. Pinchas of Koretz because of the unrestricted publication of Chassidus].[416]

Even after the Alter Rebbe and his successors poured Chassidus in abundance, chassidim in more orderly eras had to undergo weighty preparations before they studied Chassidus or entered their Rebbe's study for yechidus. My father-in-law, the Rebbe [Rayatz], has described chassidim who prepared for a yechidus for years.[417]

Considering this, a chassid who makes a candid appraisal of his own situation might well think that the study of Chassidus is inappropriate for him, how much more so influencing another.

The answer to this reaction is that today there is no time for deferring the study of Chassidus until one has duly completed his spiritual preparations. A chassid should study the Chassidus of the Rebbe [Rayatz] tirelessly, over and over again, and thereby hold on tight to the Rebbe's doorknob. And then "the luminary within" -- the essence of the Rebbe which he instilled in his teachings -- "will return him to the good path": the Rebbe will drag him out of every kind of mire.

Moreover, even if someone is in a situation in which he still has doubts concerning the Rebbe -- as to whether he is master over everything, and can accomplish anything, so that one cannot hide from him -- he should still study the Chassidus of the Rebbe. As was explained above[418] on the verse,402 Torah tzivah lanu Moshe, in his case "the gematria of Torah is 611," meaning that the obligation of faith expressed by the first two of the Ten Commandments is still somewhat lacking -- and likewise with regard to the Rebbe, as is explicit in a teaching of the Sages in the revealed plane of the Torah:[419] "If one dissents from his rav it is as if he dissents from the Divine Presence." Nevertheless, in his situation, he, too, should study the Chassidus of the Rebbe, for by this means he will hold on tight to the Rebbe's doorknob; by studying his Chassidus he will be in the same wagon as the Rebbe.

14. The Rebbe is Ours, After His Ascent.

Indeed, the need to study the Chassidus of the Rebbe [Rayatz], the "Torah that Moshe commanded us," is more intense after his histalkus.

The words of the Rebbe Rashab before his histalkus are well known:[420] "I am going to heaven; the manuscripts I am leaving for you." Now is it not self-evident that when he ascends to heaven his manuscripts remain in the same place that they had been? His message, then, is this: Even after he goes up to heaven the Rebbe's essence remains in the writings which he has left us. By studying them one has him -- and not only in the same manner as when he was here, below, but also in the elevated state in which he is after having ascended. (It is explained in the maamarim of R. Hillel which are now being published[421] that at the time of the histalkus of a tzaddik there is an irradiation of the levushim (soul-garments) that derive from the Worlds of Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyah, and when a chassid comes to prostrate himself (hishtat'chus) at the resting place of that tzaddik, there is also an irradiation of the levushim (soul-garments) that derive from the World of Atzilus.) By studying his writings, we have him -- after his ascent.

There is a hint of this in the very words of the verse, Torah tzivah lanu Moshe. Simply translated, this means: "The Torah which Moshe commanded us...." However, the word "commanded" is also related to the root of tzavsa ("together"), and hence implies connection.[422] The verse thus carries an additional message: Through his Torah, Moshe becomes connected with us. We, too, thus become connected with him, no matter how lofty he ascends -- since he instilled his own essence into his Torah teachings.

15. Obedience.

The chassidic teachings of the Rebbe, the luminary within the Torah, stand by a man in his childhood and in his old age, and also in suffering and in illness.[423]

Illness signifies a lack in the observance of the 248 positive commandments or the 365 prohibitive commandments that correspond to the 248 organs and the 365 sinews. This includes a lack in the fulfillment of a directive given by the Rebbe (and also a request of his: as he once said, "My request is a directive"). Fulfilling a directive of the Rebbe is obligatory, like all the commandments ordained by the Sages[424] whose obligation is derived from the verse,[425] "You shall not turn aside from the path that they shall tell you," or from the verse,[426] "Ask your father and he will tell you." (There are two views as to the source of this obligation.[427])

Indeed, according to the view of Rambam,[428] one who transgresses a regulation which was ordained by the Sanhedrin ("who are the pillars of Torah teaching, and from them law and judgment go forth to all Israel") and which became widespread throughout the Jewish people, transgresses thereby a positive and a prohibitive command of the Torah. The same principle applies with chassidim, with regard to fulfilling a directive of the Rebbe in the spirit of the command, "You shall not turn aside from the path that they shall tell you." Since the Rebbe is the pillar of Torah teaching, and from him law and judgment go forth to all his disciples, i.e., his chassidim, transgressing a directive of his is like transgressing a positive or a prohibitive mitzvah -- and this is a state of illness.

The remedy for this is studying his Chassidus, for this stands by a man even in illness, so that he then becomes able to fulfill the Rebbe's directives and the Rebbe's will, and to walk in his paths.

It can happen that because one fulfills the will of the Rebbe, for example, by not removing his beard, his parents will be displeased. However, the Torah determines[429] that if a person is confronted with the choice of attending to "the lost property of his father [or] of his Torah teacher, the lost property of his teacher takes precedence," because "his father brought him to this world, whereas his Torah teacher... brings him to the life of the World to Come." Knowing this, a person confronted with his parents' opposition on a question such as the above should be more concerned with preserving his bond with his Torah mentor than with preserving his bond with his father.

In fact, moreover, when a person in such a situation acts in accordance with the will of the Rebbe, he will not lose the bond with his father (for to fulfill the will of the Rebbe is a positive or a negative commandment of the Torah, and the Torah is the source of the obligation to honor one's father and mother). Ultimately he will see that this was no more than a test, for his father's displeasure lasts only a very short time, and in due course he will be able to make his father, too, a chassid of the Rebbe!

By studying the teachings of the Rebbe and fulfilling his directives, one is found worthy of a flow of spiritual and material blessings in all spheres. As the mishnah concludes, "And so, indeed, is it written concerning Avraham Avinu: '...And G-d blessed Avraham with everything.'" This includes the interpretation of our Sages,[430] that he was allowed in this world to savor a foretaste of the World to Come -- a blessing that goes on to include the true and ultimate Redemption, when the Rebbe [Rayatz] will lead us to greet Mashiach.

16. Spirit into Matter.

As was discussed above,[431] the beraisa relates to an approach to Torah study that is appropriate to a select few, whose work is done by others. In this connection, let us examine the wording of the Alter Rebbe in his Hilchos Talmud Torah:[432] "If a man's work is done by others..., he is obliged to engage in the study of the Torah by day and by night, mamash," i.e., literally and actually.

In one of his letters (which in due course will be released for publication),[433] the Rebbe Rayatz comments on the Alter Rebbe's statement in Tanya[434] that the soul is "truly a part of G-d above." He writes: "The content of the word mimaal ('above') and the content of the word mamash ('actually' or 'tangibly') are opposites, for mimaal signifies the most spiritual of spiritual levels, whereas mamash signifies the most material of material levels....[435] Indeed, this is the distinctive quality of the second [i.e., the Divine] soul: though it belongs to the most spiritual of spiritual levels,[436] it acts on the most material of material levels"[437] -- the fusion of two opposites.

One might suggest that by choosing the word mamash when speaking of the obligation to study Torah by day and by night (if one's work is done by others), the Alter Rebbe seeks to allude to the fusion of these two extremes, as if to say: At the most material of material levels and out of the most material of material levels (as described by the word mamash), one can create the most spiritual of spiritual levels -- the Torah as studied by R. Nehorai and by Rashbi, which is uninterrupted by day and by night, mamash, literally and actually.

17. The Works of Tzaddikim.

With this in mind, we can appreciate the wording of the above-quoted mishnah (at the end of Kiddushin[438]): "We find that Avraham fulfilled (Heb.: asah -- lit., 'did' or 'made') the entire Torah even before it was given." In a similar statement in Yoma,[439] in contrast, the Gemara uses the verb kiyem (for "fulfilled").

In simple terms, the difference between the two verbs is that kiyem relates to something that already exists, whereas asah relates to something new. This distinction may be found in the context of every individual's relation to the Torah. Hence the request, "And grant us our share in the Torah,"[440] for every single Jew has a share in the Torah which he has to "make", i.e., to call it forth and make it manifest. The particular merit of Avraham Avinu was that he (so to speak) made the entire Torah -- he made it all his, eliciting it in its entirety -- even before it was given.

It was explained above[441] that the mode of Torah study described in the beraisa is superior to the mode of Torah study described in the mishnah. If so, why does the particular merit of Avraham Avinu -- whose fulfillment is described not only by the verb kiyem but even by the verb asah -- appear specifically in the mishnah, which speaks of the mode of Torah study which is appropriate to most people?

This question may be answered in light of an aphorism of Reb Shimshon Ostropoler (which my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe [Rayatz], cites in a sichah of Pesach, 5694 [1934][442]): "Praiseworthy is isolation with people, and solitude in the midst of one's fellows."

The distinctive quality of the mode of Torah study described in the mishnah (i.e., the mode which suits the majority of people) finds expression in a man's endeavors in refining his body and animal soul; by this avodah he transforms the most tangible materiality437 into the most ethereal spirituality.436 In contrast, the mode of Torah study described in the beraisa is an avodah of the soul. This resembles the avodah of Rashbi in the cave: his sole occupation was Torah study, while he fulfilled the mitzvos only spiritually. This manner of fulfillment cannot be compared to their actual, material fulfillment, which refines a man's body and animal soul as well as his allotted portion of worldly materiality.[443] (This is explained in Likkutei Torah, Parshas Shemini,[444] in connection with the superiority of the Shor HaBar over the Livyasan.)

We can now understand why it is the mishnah that uses the verb asah, which also means making -- because the avodah (as in the mishnah) of transforming materiality into spirituality draws down new spiritual energy.[445] This becomes apparent from the explanation in Chassidus[446] of the statement of our Sages,[447] "The works of tzaddikim are greater than the work of creating heaven and earth." The work of creating heaven and earth makes an existent entity out of nothing,[448] whereas the work of tzaddikim turns an existent entity into "nothing".[449]

The latter innovation is the more significant. This we see from the well-known episode involving R. Chanina ben Dosa.[450] [In response to his prayer for sustenance, a golden table-leg was handed to him from heaven; when he perceived that this was granted to him at the expense of the spiritual rewards of the World to Come, he prayed again and it was taken away from him.] Concerning this the Sages comment, "The latter miracle was greater than the former," because from heaven "it was given to him, but it was not taken away [on the initiative of heaven]." From this it is clear that the deeds whereby tzaddikim turn existent entities into "nothing" (i.e., they turn gashmiyus into ruchniyus) draw down new spiritual energy into the world.445

18. A Pregnant Glance.

This theme reappears in the relationship between Rebbe and chassidim.

The Rebbe [Rayatz] endows all his chassidim, and all those who have a bond with him, with the power to fulfill their task and mission -- wherever they may be -- of transforming materiality into spirituality and of inspiring a fellow Jew to become a new man.

The Rebbe [Rayatz] once said[451] that of the Alter Rebbe's chassidim it may be said,[452] "The least among you can revive the dead." And since one ought not draw distinctions between our Rebbeim, it follows that the chassidim of the Rebbe [Rayatz] likewise, including even "the least among you," have received from him the power to revive the dead and to beget newborn men. Irrespective of a man's previous spiritual state, with one glance the Rebbe gave him the power to beget a new man.

By way of analogy: It is written in Etz Chayim[453] that "from the egg of the ostrich a chicken is born by its gaze over a period."

Kuntreis HaAvodah[454] strongly counsels vigilance in not seeing undesirable things. This applies even to a person to whom the undesirable subject in question is not relevant, because seeing in itself leaves an impact. In this spirit it is explained in Torah Or[455] that Adam's sin resulted from the fact that he looked at the site of the kelipos. This proves that seeing in itself, even without any intention that it should have any effect, does in fact leave an impression.

Now if this is true of a look that is undesirable and that is not accompanied by any desire that it should leave an effect, then how much more certain is it that an impact will be made by a holy glance that is intended to have an influence, such as a look by the Rebbe (even if the individual in question does not know of it). If the chicken of an ostrich is born as the result of its gaze, how much more potent is this glance: it gives a man the power to beget a newborn babe and to revive the dead [i.e., to reawaken a dormant fellow Jew].

By virtue of the fact that the Rebbe Rashab looked at a certain individual on Simchas Torah in Lubavitch,[456] that man succeeded in maintaining his spiritual level (such as it was) despite the many years he later spent in America.

It is also well known[457] that when the Alter Rebbe was in prison, the look that he directed at Czar Nicholas, who was then a child, weakened the power of the kelipah and affected his conduct even decades later, when he ascended the throne. How much more potently must a look by the Rebbe affect a Jew, who houses a soul of G-d which is constantly under His fatherly eye. Such a look most certainly continues to affect him even after a prolonged period: it enables him not only to hold his ground without being overwhelmed by the attitudes of those who surround him, but even to inspire them (including his parents) to become chassidim of the Rebbe.

19. Heaven on Earth.

The power which the Rebbe gives to each and every one of his chassidim does not depend on the current spiritual state of the chassid. Hence, in whatever state he may be, a chassid can connect with the Rebbe and fulfill his will, which is the will of G-d's Essence -- to transform gashmiyus into ruchniyus.

There are certain chassidim who found themselves in places where they could not immerse in a mikveh, and because of this refrained from fulfilling their task and mission of carrying out the Rebbe's will. In truth, however, the Rebbe's power is present even in this situation, in the spirit of the verse,[458] "...Who dwells with them in the midst of their impurities." One only has to connect oneself with the Rebbe, to picture his face and to study his Torah teachings. (As the above-quoted mishnah teaches,[459] the Torah stands by a man not only in suffering or in old age, but in illness as well.) And in this way a chassid will be able to fulfill his task and mission of carrying out the Rebbe's will.

Life is essentially holiness, as the Rebbe [Rayatz] explains in the series of maamarim dating from last Rosh HaShanah.[460] Moreover, in the sichah of Yud-Gimmel Tammuz [last year],[461] the Rebbe [Rayatz] speaks of long life, eternal life without end. For this, however, a vessel is needed: a chassid has to be a vessel and have a vessel -- by studying his Torah teachings while bonding himself with the Rebbe through picturing his face. This is quite enough to make it possible that the Rebbe elevate the chassid to himself. I.e., even while the chassid is here in a body until 120 years, he can become elevated and be with the Rebbe in the mode in which the Rebbe is to be found in the highest heavens -- for the highest heavens are to be found here, too.

20. Torah For Its Own Sake.

The Torah's unique ability to stand by a man in all predicaments -- as described by R. Nehorai, whose very name alludes to the luminary within the Torah -- is connected with the preparation that a man undertakes, before he begins, to study Torah lishmah, for its own sake. (This preparation needs to be renewed every hour, because every hour is governed by a different combination of letters of the Divine Names.[462]) And a man's intention to study lishmah is essentially a handing over of his soul to G-d, as is explained in Tanya.[463]

Let us consider the two examples cited in Tanya, where one's preparation lishmah at the outset of his study is likened to[464] "[writing] a bill of divorce or a Torah scroll, where 'for their own sake' is an indispensable requirement." It could be suggested that these two examples telescope [the mitzvos of] the entire Torah: the get represents sur mei'ra ("Turn away from evil";[465] i.e., the negative commandments) and the Sefer Torah represents asei tov ("Do good";35 i.e., the positive commandments).[466]

Let us examine this concept more closely.

As is well known,[467] the male and female elements -- man and woman, giver and recipient[468] -- are a model for soul and body: the union and internalized influence of the soul in the body also benefit the soul and its concerns. However, [to match the husband and wife in the Gemara's discussion of marital breakdown[469] with the soul/body analogy,] a situation may arise in which a man[470] "found [his wife] tainted by immodest conduct" -- signifying, in our context, involvement in forbidden matters. Alternatively, he may find that469 "she burnt his food": the body hotly pursues material things (even though they may be permissible), thereby ruining the soul's past attainments. Or he may have found469 "a different woman, more pleasant": he finds that his body shows no interest in becoming refined and more spiritual. Any of these cases calls for a "divorce": in terms of avodah, this means wrenching oneself from materiality.

This avodah must be undertaken [as with the writing of an actual bill of divorce] expressly "for his sake, for her sake, and for the sake of a divorce."[471] "For his sake and for her sake" means that it should be undertaken for the sake of the soul and for the sake of the body. With regard to the soul, an honest and precise computation must be made as to whether it is unable to deal with the body in question, so that the only remaining option is to "divorce" it (by means of fasts and self-mortification). Likewise, with regard to the body, a similar computation must be made as to whether such a "divorce" will benefit it (and not simply make the individual despair of ever refining it and elevating it). "For the sake of a divorce": this means that such a step [if undertaken] should be undertaken expressly and intentionally, and not simply be allowed to happen of its own accord. As this preference is commonly expressed,[472] "Chassidim don't like letting things just happen."

In addition to the above avodah, a devout intention "for its own sake" is also needed for one's entire avodah of "doing good" (as represented above by the Sefer Torah). This means that one determines to study Torah not in order to grow boastful, and not through imposing one's own reasoning upon it, but through utter devotion to G-d.

21. Polishing Gems vs. Baking Bread.

In this vein, we chassidim[473] should realize that the beginning and the essence of all our endeavors is preparing ourselves to undertake them "for their own sake" in both of the above regards: renouncing gashmiyus and dedicating ourselves to carrying out the Rebbe's will, which is the will of the very Essence of the Infinite One.

In all matters, chassidim should always keep in mind that their spiritual life and their connection with ruchniyus -- is the Rebbe.

A chassid should recite the Rebbe's chapter of Tehillim [every day];[474] he should picture to himself the Rebbe's appearance; and he should study some choice morsel of his teachings, whether it is a maamar of Chassidus, a sichah or a story.


Those who are able to comprehend Chassidus cannot discharge their obligation by reading a story. They should study the Rebbe's maamarim in all their profundity, for no matter how worthy and lofty a chassidic story may be, it cannot be compared to a maamar.

The Rebbe once wrote to a certain chassid:[475] "If a person who is capable of drilling pearls or polishing gems bakes bread instead, then even though this is a most essential occupation, for him it is counted a sin." This sums up the relationship between a story and a maamar.

Of course one has to know the stories, too, especially for the sake of one's fellow Jew who for the time being is in no situation to comprehend a maamar, and needs to be brought closer to Chassidus. Apart from this, as far as oneself, too, is concerned,[476] "A teaching is precious to one who is accustomed to wearing it." At the same time, however, whoever is capable of doing so should concentrate his devotion on the actual study of Chassidus, while the stories can be read when one's head has grown tired with studying Chassidus. (As a certain non-chassid once remarked, when his head grows weary he studies aggad'ta....[477])

If the ordinary conversation of Torah scholars calls for study,[478] then certainly sichos and stories which have depth and meaning have to be studied energetically, of course, just as one exerts oneself in grasping a maamar.

It goes without saying that priority is to be given to maamarim and the sichos that relate to particular seasons and significant dates, at the appropriate times.

In all these matters, whether one is studying the Torah teachings of the Rebbe [Rayatz] through stories or sichos or maamarim, what matters above all else is one's bond -- hiskashrus -- with the Rebbe. This was discussed (in sec. 14) above, in the course of an explanation of the verse, "The Torah which Moshe commanded us," [where the word tziva ('commanded') also implies connection]. This, too, is part of one's preparation for studying Torah lishmah, for its own sake.

22. Divine Service as a Marriage.

When celebrating a siyyum, it is customary to seek a connection between the closing passage of the tractate that has just been completed and its opening passage. I'm not going to deliver a formal pilpul, but here are just a few words.

Our tractate (Kiddushin) opens by discussing the various means by which a woman may be acquired in marriage by her husband: "A woman may be acquired in three ways -- by money, by a document, or by marital relations."

In terms of man's spiritual labors, these three ways correspond to the three things on which the world stands[479] -- Torah, divine service (i.e., prayer), and deeds of kindness.[480] The Hebrew word for "money" (kessef) also suggests the love of G-d (as in the phrase,[481] "You have lovingly yearned"). This manner of avodah belongs to the right vector of divine service -- deeds of kindness, which encompass all the commandments, for the word mitzvah when unqualified signifies tzedakah, the commandment par excellence.[482] The second means of acquisition, a document, alludes to the Torah; the third means of acquisition alludes to the divine service that takes place in the heart, viz., prayer.[483]

This correspondence could also be suggested in different terms: kesef (suggesting love) corresponds to the heart; the document corresponds to the brain; marital relations correspond to the innermost dimensions of brain and heart.

Apart from the particular ways in which a woman may be acquired in marriage by her husband, the concept of kiddushin ("marriage"; lit., "sanctification") in itself comprises two aspects:

  1. the woman thereby becomes prohibited [in marriage] to the whole world (asar la akulei alma);

  2. she is married exclusively to her husband (meyuchedes lo).

This exclusiveness in turn comprises two points:

  1. acquisition (kinyan);

  2. the husband-wife relationship (ishus).

(The Gaon of Rogatchov[484] has delineated these two terms at length and has explained the practical legal consequences of the difference between them.)

23. Worldly Welfare, Not Worldly Delight.

The concept of kiddushin may be understood in the context of the relationship between Rebbe and chassidim, in which the Rebbe sanctifies the chassidim (i.e., enters with them into a relationship of kiddushin).

First of all, this means that the Rebbe makes the chassid "prohibited to the whole world": he brings him to a point at which he disburdens himself of the coarse materiality of the world, and takes his leave of worldly axioms.[485] This entails abandoning his desire to relish the pleasures of material things. As chassidim say, the Alter Rebbe deprived chassidim of the ability to [fully] relish the pleasure of worldly delights. This is illustrated in the well-known retort of Reb Shmuel Munkes[486] in reaction to the Alter Rebbe's imprisonment:[487] "If you're a Rebbe, you shouldn't be afraid of a bullet; if you're not, then you deserve one! Is it fair that you should have deprived so many Jews of their pleasures?!..."

The material welfare of a chassid is deeply concerns the Rebbe, and since it is "the nature of a good person to do good,"[488] the Rebbe directs to the needy individual material as well as spiritual blessings. While walking one Rosh HaShanah night, the Rebbe Rashab was overheard mentioning to himself the name of one of his chassidim whose main needs were not spiritual but material. So concerned was he about the material well-being of his chassidim that even on the night of Rosh HaShanah, when every moment is precious, and care is taken to speak as few words as possible, he mentioned the name of an individual who was in need of material blessings. However, when it comes to relishing the pleasures of material blessings, the Rebbe's task is to make a chassid "prohibited to [the delights of] the whole world."

In addition to its prohibitive aspect, kiddushin involves positive obligations. In the legal analogy, as was mentioned above, this involves the fact that a woman is married exclusively to her husband (meyuchedes lo), the state of acquisition (kinyan), and the husband-wife relationship (ishus). In the analog, the positive aspect of kiddushin signifies: the dedicated bond that a chassid has towards the Rebbe, both in external matters (corresponding to kinyan) and in internal matters (corresponding to ishus), "with all [his] heart and with all [his] soul" (corresponding to ishus) "and with all [his] resources" (corresponding to kinyan).

24. Shaking Off Worldliness.

The above relationship is especially evident with Chabad chassidim.

One of the distinctions between the Polish chassidic tradition and the Chabad tradition is highlighted in the classic Polish interpretation of the verse,[489] "And a tzaddik lives by his faith." Interpreted on the non-literal level of derush, the verb yichyeh ("lives") is treated as if it were in the causative mood: yechayeh ("gives life"). [I.e., through his faith, the tzaddik gives life to all those who are bound to him.][490]

This approach, however, is not an approach of pnimiyus. The Chabad tradition demands that [one's bond with the Rebbe] should be a bond of pnimiyus, and that it should be the result of avodah, so that one's dedication also embraces the intellective faculties of Chochmah, Binah and Daas and, indeed, all the faculties of one's soul.

I once asked my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe [Rayatz],[491] why it is the custom among Chabad chassidim (unlike the Polish custom) to recite the penitential prayers called Tachanun on the yahrzeit of tzaddikim. He replied: "Where could one find a more auspicious time for making requests?"

This could be explained in the following terms. Among Polish chassidim Tachanun is not said because when a tzaddik who "gives life with his faith" experiences an ascent on the day of his yahrzeit, his elevation confers an ascent upon all those who are bound to him; they are now at a level that transcends the matters concerning which one recites Tachanun (even though this transcendence is not attained by means of pnimiyus). Chabad chassidim, of whom pnimiyus and avodah are demanded, want to take along the body, too, as they ascend -- a body that has been properly washed; and that is why on a yahrzeit, too, they say Tachanun.

Chassidim at Poking[492] used to refer to all non-Lubavitcher Jews as veltishe (lit., "worldly folk") as distinct from unzere ("our folk"). I rather liked the sound of these words, and when I mentioned them to the Rebbe [Rayatz], he responded with a happy smile.

A certain individual once remarked to me that until the Rebbe [Rayatz] arrived in America Jews were known to belong to three categories -- Kohanim, Levi'im and Yisraelim. Now, however, there was a new set of categories -- Jews in general (veltishe), and Anash, the members of the chassidic brotherhood (unzere).

Unzere represents Jews of a particular kind, Jews who shake off the world's coarse materiality (being "prohibited to [the delights of] the whole world"), and who hand over their entire selves to the Rebbe -- in order to fulfill his directives in matters of the Torah and the mitzvos, both in external matters (corresponding to kinyan) and in internal matters (corresponding to ishus).

25. Trampling Thoughtlessly.

LeChaim! May G-d help us by granting that these matters will not remain mere words, but will advance from words to deeds.

One should hold on tight to the Rebbe's doorknob and carry out all his directives, including even in those matters that people take lightly.

This week we read,[493] "And it shall come to pass, as a result of your heeding [these commandments]...." [Since the word eikev ("as a result") shares a root with akeiv ("heel"), the phrase may be interpreted on the non-literal level of derush, making eikev the object of the verb, as follows:] "And it shall come to pass, if you heed the [seemingly] lightweight commandments that a man [takes lightly and] tramples upon...."

Vigilance with these directives, too, brings about the fulfillment of the continuation of the same verse: "The L-rd your G-d will keep in mind the covenant and the love...." In the same way, all the promises that the Rebbe [Rayatz] made to every individual will be fulfilled, not only the promises in spiritual matters but also the promises in material matters. Above all, the all-embracing promise that he made to Jews everywhere will be fulfilled: "Immediate repentance (which means returning to one's Source): immediate Redemption." And he will lead us to greet Mashiach.

26. A Break to Do our Homework.

[Before the Rebbe rose from his place he said:] Let's not go away: let's just have a little break -- until the next farbrengen.

My revered father-in-law once recounted an incident involving Rebbitzin Devorah Leah, the daughter of the Rebbe Maharash. One day, when she was a very little girl, she cried because she wanted something or other. She accepted the candy or whatever that someone offered her to calm her down, but stipulated: "I haven't really stopped crying; I'm just having a little break...."

We, too, are having a little break until the next farbrengen, for we have to carry out all the tasks that are demanded and requested of every one of us. And without a doubt, such activity will constitute a vessel for an abundance of blessings and success.

   

Notes:

  1. (Back to text) The above sichah was delivered on Chaf (i.e., 20) Menachem Av, 5710 [1950], the anniversary of the passing in 1944 of the Rebbe's revered father, R. Levi Yitzchak Schneersohn z"l, "who was imprisoned and exiled for his work in fortifying and disseminating the practice of Yiddishkeit, and who passed away in exile..." (-- from the wording on the headstone at the resting place of his wife, Rebbitzin Chanah o"h).

    Sec. 2-17 appear in the Appendices (Hosafos) to Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XVI, pp. 533ff.

  2. (Back to text) Siddur Im Dach, Shaar HaLag BaOmer, p. 304b ff.

  3. (Back to text) Shaar HaMitzvos, end of Parshas Vayechi.

  4. (Back to text) Sefer HaMinhagim: The Book of Chabad-Lubavitch Customs, p. 181.

  5. (Back to text) See Zohar III, end of Parshas Bechukosai.

  6. (Back to text) The above opening paragraph appeared in the Appendices (Hosafos) to Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XV, p. 561.

  7. (Back to text) In the original Yid., der Litvisher lernen. (Incidentally, among his colleagues who studied at the feet of the Maggid of Mezritch, the Alter Rebbe's affectionate nickname was "Zalmanyu Litvak.")

  8. (Back to text) In the original, chidud upilpul.

  9. (Back to text) In the original, Torah shebichsav and Torah shebe'al peh, respectively.

  10. (Back to text) Viz., ch. 8 (HaShoel) in the Talmudic Tractate Bava Metzia. See Likkutei Torah, Derushei Shemini Atzeres, p. 88a, and Berachah, p. 95d.

  11. (Back to text) Vayikra, in the Biur on the maamar entitled Lo Tashbis (p. 5a ff.).

  12. (Back to text) Abbreviation for Turei Zahav, a classic 17th-century commentary on the Shulchan Aruch.

  13. (Back to text) A classic 17th-century commentary on Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim.

  14. (Back to text) Yeshayahu 40:31.

  15. (Back to text) Tehillim 92:15.

  16. (Back to text) Kiddushin 82a.

  17. (Back to text) Bereishis 24:1.

  18. (Back to text) Ibid. 26:5.

  19. (Back to text) Kiddushin 29a.

  20. (Back to text) The statement in Chiddushei Aggados [of Maharsha] that even according to R. Nehorai one should teach one's son a vocation, though not on a fulltime basis, is exceedingly problematic. For in the above-quoted teaching he declares, "I leave aside every vocation... and teach my son nothing but Torah," without discriminating between fulltime or parttime activity. (-- Note by the Rebbe.)

  21. (Back to text) On this subject see also the letter dated erev Shabbos Kodesh, 15 Shvat, 5722, concerning the conclusion of Tractate Kiddushin, which is reprinted in Likkutei Sichos, Vol. VI, p. 319.

  22. (Back to text) S.v. Acharei chen ra'ah lehistapek.

  23. (Back to text) In the original, the word here translated "problematic query" (such as a logical objection) is kushia, commonly pronounced kashe; the word here translated "solution" is tirutz, commonly pronounced teretz.

  24. (Back to text) Hilchos Talmud Torah 3:10; Peirush HaMishnayos on Avos 4:5.

  25. (Back to text) Cf. Avos 4:5.

  26. (Back to text) Hilchos Talmud Torah 4:15, based on Kesef Mishneh and Tashbetz, as indicated there.

  27. (Back to text) In the original, lechat'chilah.

  28. (Back to text) In the original, bediavad (commonly pronounced bedieved).

  29. (Back to text) This argument is perhaps suggested by the wording of the Alter Rebbe in the text quoted above: "...except to forbid one from studying it in the first instance as a vocation.... If, however, one studied for the sake of heaven, and later had no means of support...." (-- Note by the Rebbe.)

  30. (Back to text) See the Alter Rebbe's Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 248:5, 13.

  31. (Back to text) Berachos 35b.

  32. (Back to text) Devarim 11:14.

  33. (Back to text) Rashi on Berachos 35b.

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

  35. (Back to text) Nedarim 3a.

  36. (Back to text) Kiddushin 29b.

  37. (Back to text) The Alter Rebbe's Shulchan Aruch, Hilchos Talmud Torah 1:7.

  38. (Back to text) In the original Aram., zil basar taamei -- (lit.:) "follow its reason."

  39. (Back to text) Cf. sec. 3 above.

  40. (Back to text) Cf. Shabbos 55b; Vayikra Rabbah, beg. of sec. 37; and the sources listed in Sdei Chemed -- Klalim, Maareches Alef, sec. 241.

  41. (Back to text) Devarim 6:5.

  42. (Back to text) Ibid. 11:16.

  43. (Back to text) Cf. Sotah 12a; Shmos Rabbah 1:24.

  44. (Back to text) Kiddushin 30a.

  45. (Back to text) Mishlei 22:6.

  46. (Back to text) Sukkah 53a.

  47. (Back to text) Toras Chayim, Parshas Vayechi, s.v. Ben Poras, p. 101d ff.

  48. (Back to text) Mishlei 8:30, and see also the sources referred to in the next footnote.

  49. (Back to text) This is explained at length at the end of Tanya -- Iggeres HaKodesh [i.e., Tanya -- Kuntreis Acharon, Essay Six, s.v. "David! You call them songs?!" See Lessons In Tanya, Vol. V, p. 365ff.] See also Likkutei Torah, Parshas Bamidbar, s.v. VaEhyeh Etzlo, p. 17d ff.; and Sefer HaMitzvos [i.e., Derech Mitzvosecha] by the Tzemach Tzedek, s.v. Mitzvas Masa HaAron, p. 40b ff.

    These sources cite an interpretation of the Sages (at the beginning of Bereishis Rabbah, and see references noted there) on the above-quoted verse (footnote 386) ("And I [the Torah] was with Him as a nurseling"): "Do not read amon ('a nurseling') but uman ('a craftsman')" -- which means a craftsman who can create worlds. [Considered in the light of the above distinction,] this interpretation requires explanation, though not in the present forum. [Reference appended at a later date:] See the series (hemshech) of maamarim of the year 5672, Vol. I, p. 356. (-- Note by the Rebbe.)

  50. (Back to text) In the original Aram., ilna d'chayei; Zohar III, 124b, in Ra'aya Mehemna.

  51. (Back to text) In the original Aram., ilna d'tov v'ra; loc. cit.

  52. (Back to text) As discussed in Tanya -- Iggeres HaKodesh, Epistle 26 (in Lessons In Tanya, Vol. V, p. 114ff.); Introduction to Biur HaZohar, by the Mitteler Rebbe; Kuntreis Etz HaChayim, ch. 3.

  53. (Back to text) See Kuntreis Etz HaChayim (loc. cit.), at length.

  54. (Back to text) "The will of G-d" translates retzono shel Makom, the last word (lit., "place" or "space") being a common Talmudic epithet for G-d, who is Omnipresent.

    In the original, the last few words of the text include a parenthetical passage, as follows: kivan she'osin r'tzono (ratzon shel'maala meihishtalshelus, v'zeh mamshichin ad shena'aseh r'tzono) shel makom. This means (cf. Likkutei Torah, Parshas Beshalach, p. 2b) that in the first instance the Jewish people fulfill G-d's will at its own pristine level, which transcends Seder Hishtalshelus and hence also transcends the dimension of space which characterizes the created worlds. By their avodah, the Jewish people then proceed to draw this makkif-light downward, so to speak, until it eventually radiates in an immanent manner (as an or pnimi) into the Divine source of the dimension of space which is alluded to by the phrase, "Your Kingship is a Kingship over all worlds" (Tehillim 145:13). In a word: the fulfillment of the commandments transmutes G-d's transcendent will into a will that relates to finite created worlds.

  55. (Back to text) Cf. the explanation in Likkutei Torah (loc. cit.): The phrase "You shall gather in your grain" [which appears only in the second paragraph of Kerias Shema] refers to the eliciting of Divine light that is carried out during the weekdays, whereas the first paragraph of Kerias Shema, which speaks of the state in which the Jewish people "fulfill the will of G-d" (osin retzono shel Makom), refers to the avodah of Shabbos. On Shabbos there is no work and no exertion, for they belong to erev Shabbos.

    In this spirit, concerning weekdays and Shabbos, see also Tanya -- Iggeres HaKodesh, Epistle 26 [in Lessons In Tanya, Vol. V, p. 117ff.].

  56. (Back to text) Prologue (Pesichta) to Eichah Rabbasi, sec. 2; Talmud Yerushalmi, Chagigah 1:7.

  57. (Back to text) Cf. Yirmeyahu 16:11.

  58. (Back to text) See the commentary of Yefei Anaf to Eichah Rabbasi, loc. cit., and the commentary of Korban HaEidah to Talmud Yerushalmi, Chagigah, loc. cit.

  59. (Back to text) At the beginning, and in sec. 15.

  60. (Back to text) Mishlei 6:23.

  61. (Back to text) Yeshayahu 59:2.

  62. (Back to text) Ch. 24.

  63. (Back to text) End of ch. 7.

  64. (Back to text) Devarim 33:4.

  65. (Back to text) Makkos 23b, and Rashi there.

  66. (Back to text) This brings the total number of commandments to 613.

  67. (Back to text) Sec. 8, para. (i).

  68. (Back to text) Pesachim 68b.

  69. (Back to text) In the original Aram., the final phrase reads, ada'ata d'nafshe.

  70. (Back to text) Tanya, ch. 37.

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

  72. (Back to text) Eruvin 13b; a play on the name Nehorai and the Aram. verb manhir ("illumined").

  73. (Back to text) Bereishis 25:23, and Rashi there.

  74. (Back to text) See Likkutei Torah, Parshas Nitzavim, p. 45c.

  75. (Back to text) Sefer HaSichos 5700 [1940], p. 41.

  76. (Back to text) Tanya -- Iggeres HaKodesh, Epistle 26 (in Lessons In Tanya, Vol. V, p. 120); cf. Shaar HaGilgulim, end of Introduction XV.

  77. (Back to text) Sefer HaMitzvos (i.e., Derech Mitzvosecha) by the Tzemach Tzedek, s.v. Shoresh Mitzvas HaTefillah, sec. 82. See also Likkutei Torah, Parshas Vayikra, in the Addenda (Hosafos), p. 51c.

  78. (Back to text) For the Alter Rebbe's classic parable of the jewel in the royal crown, see: HaTamim, Vol. II, p. 49 [72a]; Igros Kodesh (Letters) of the Rebbe Rayatz, Vol. III, p. 326ff.; and elsewhere.

  79. (Back to text) Igros Kodesh (Letters) of the Rebbe Rayatz, Vol. IV, p. 540ff.; and elsewhere.

  80. (Back to text) Sec. 11.

  81. (Back to text) Sanhedrin 110a; see also Berachos 27b.

  82. (Back to text) Igros Kodesh (Letters) of the Rebbe Rayatz, Vol. I, p. 113; see also Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXIV, p. 24ff.

  83. (Back to text) Maamarei Hishtat'chus (Kehot, 5711 [1951]).

  84. (Back to text) Likkutei Torah, Parshas Chukas, p. 57c; and elsewhere.

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

  86. (Back to text) In the original, mitzvos derabbanan.

  87. (Back to text) Devarim 17:11.

  88. (Back to text) Ibid. 32:7.

  89. (Back to text) Shabbos 23a.

  90. (Back to text) Beginning of Hilchos Mamrim; beginning of Sefer HaMitzvos. See also: Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 25:1 and the commentaries there on sec. 25:22; the Alter Rebbe's Shulchan Aruch, Hilchos Talmud Torah 2:1; Sdei Chemed -- Klalim, Maareches Alef, sec. 399; Peas HaSadeh (Vol. VII), Maareches Alef, sec. 48.

  91. (Back to text) Mishnah in Bava Metzia 33a.

  92. (Back to text) Bava Basra 16b ff.

  93. (Back to text) See sec. 5 and 8.

  94. (Back to text) 3:5.

  95. (Back to text) Igros Kodesh (Letters) of the Rebbe Rayatz, Vol. IV, p. 404; cited in HaYom Yom, entry for 23 Menachem Av.

  96. (Back to text) Beginning of ch. 2.

  97. (Back to text) This is the distinctive quality of the letter hei: "a light letter without substance" (Tanya -- Iggeres HaTeshuvah, ch. 4, speaking of the latter hei of the Four-Letter Name of G-d).

  98. (Back to text) In the original, ruchniyus sheberuchniyus.

  99. (Back to text) In the original, gashmiyus shebegashmiyus.

  100. (Back to text) 82a.

  101. (Back to text) 28b.

  102. (Back to text) Avos 5:20.

  103. (Back to text) See sec. 10 and 12 above.

  104. (Back to text) Likkutei Dibburim (English translation; Kehot, N.Y.), Vol. I, p. 320.

  105. (Back to text) In the original, chelko baolam.

  106. (Back to text) 18a ff.

  107. (Back to text) In the original, hamshachah chadashah.

  108. (Back to text) See the maamar entitled Gedolim Maaseh Tzaddikim 5685 [1925], sec. 7 (in Sefer HaMaamarim -- Kuntreisim, Vol. II, p. 462a ff.).

  109. (Back to text) Kesubbos 5a.

  110. (Back to text) In the original, meiayin leyesh.

  111. (Back to text) In the original, miyesh le'ayin.

  112. (Back to text) Taanis 25a.

  113. (Back to text) Sefer HaSichos 5703 [1943], p. 99.

  114. (Back to text) Avodah Zarah 10b.

  115. (Back to text) Shaar Derushei Nekudos, sec. 1. See also Maamarei Admur HaZakein al HaTorah, Parshas Vayeira, p. 101; and elsewhere.

  116. (Back to text) Ch. 2.

  117. (Back to text) On Bereishis, p. 6a, where the Alter Rebbe notes: "So, too, did I hear from the holy R. Avraham, son of the learned Maggid [of Mezritch], of blessed memory, in the course of an interpretation of the verse [Bereishis 38:1], "And [Yehudah] turned to a man from Adulam."

  118. (Back to text) See also Sefer HaSichos 5680-87 [1920-27], p. 159.

  119. (Back to text) Sefer HaSichos 5701 [1941], p. 28; Sefer HaSichos 5703 [1943], p. 61.

  120. (Back to text) Vayikra 16:16.

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

  122. (Back to text) Sefer HaMaamarim 5710 [1950], p. 42ff. See also pp. 30 and 47 above.

  123. (Back to text) Sefer HaMaamarim 5710 [1950], p. 262. See also pp. 30 and 47 above.

  124. (Back to text) Tanya, ch. 41; see Lessons In Tanya, Vol. II, p. 605.

  125. (Back to text) Ibid., p. 601ff.

  126. (Back to text) Ibid., p. 604.

  127. (Back to text) Tehillim 34:15.

  128. (Back to text) See Likkutei Levi Yitzchak -- He'aros LeSefer HaTanya, p. 20. See also sec. 1 above.

  129. (Back to text) Zohar I, 79a (in Sisrei Torah); ibid., p. 124b (in Midrash HaNe'elam). This entire subject is amplified in Likkutei Sichos, Vol. IV, p. 1122.

  130. (Back to text) In the original, mashpia and mekabel.

  131. (Back to text) Gittin 90a-b.

  132. (Back to text) Devarim 24:1.

  133. (Back to text) In the original, lishmo velishmah ul'shem geirushin.

  134. (Back to text) Sefer HaSichos 5700 [1940], p. 57; Sefer HaSichos 5702 [1942], p. 119.

  135. (Back to text) In the original Yid., ba unz chassidim....

  136. (Back to text) See p. 81 above.

  137. (Back to text) See Igros Kodesh (Letters) of the Rebbe Rayatz, Vol. IV, p. 340.

  138. (Back to text) Shabbos 10b; in the original Aram., milsah albisheihu yakri. I.e., a disciple who is accustomed to being warmed by the teachings of his favored mentor seeks them out eagerly.

  139. (Back to text) I.e., thereby betraying his lack of sensitivity to the intrinsic worth of the Gemara's non-legalistic passages.

  140. (Back to text) In the original, Sichas chullin shel talmidei chachamim tzrichah limud. See Sukkah 21b (and references there).

  141. (Back to text) Avos 1:2.

  142. (Back to text) Sefer HaMaamarim 5636 [1876], Vol. II, p. 281.

  143. (Back to text) Bereishis 31:30.

  144. (Back to text) Tanya, ch. 37, citing the Talmud Yerushalmi, passim.

  145. (Back to text) Cf. Taanis 2a.

  146. (Back to text) See Tzafnas Paane'ach, Hilchos Ishus 3:15; and elsewhere.

  147. (Back to text) In the Yid./Heb. original, veltishe hanachos.

  148. (Back to text) From a sichah of the Rebbe Rayatz (as recorded by the Rebbe) published in Yemei Melech (Kehot, 5749 [1989]), Vol. I, p. 231.

  149. (Back to text) The content of this remark is intact, though not necessarily the wording.

  150. (Back to text) In the original, teva hatov leheitiv (cited in the Responsa entitled Chacham Zvi, sec. 18, and in Shomer Emunim 2:14, quoting Kabbalistic sources).

  151. (Back to text) Chavakuk 2:4; see also: the end of Tractate Makkos; Tanya, ch. 33.

  152. (Back to text) Likkutei Dibburim (English translation; Kehot, N.Y.), Vol. I, pp. 311-312.

  153. (Back to text) This passage appears in the Hosafos (Addenda) to Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XI, p. 210.

  154. (Back to text) A Displaced Persons camp near Munich where many Lubavitcher chassidim settled after leaving the USSR in 1946. See at length in Toldos Chabad BeRussia HaSovietis, ed. R. Shalom Dober Levin, ch. 119.

  155. (Back to text) Devarim 7:12 and Rashi there.


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