1. The Previous Rebbe said it is proper to begin a farbrengen with a statement of our sages — as the Talmud states “Begin with the king’s word” — and for a Jew “our sages are considered our kings.”270
Likewise, in Tanya, in the first letter of the Iggeres Hakodesh, the Alter Rebbe quotes the principle “Begin with blessings” (and within the letter explains how the Torah holds within it the power of blessings .
Both of these concepts are connected with Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, the central figure of the Lag BaOmer celebration. Rashbi (Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai) was the personification of Torah. Throughout the Talmud, he is used as the example of the quality of Toraso Umanaso (complete devotion and absorption in Torah study).271
Likewise Rav Shimon possessed the power of blessing, as the Zohar relates “at one time the world needed rain, and the students came to Rav Shimon...who recited an explanation of the verse “How good and sweet it is, for brothers to sit together”, and afterwards it began to rain.” (To fulfill both of the suggestions, the Zohar begins with the word Braish, which is an acrostic of the words, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, the personification of both Torah, the word of kings, and blessing.)
The above-mentioned story reveals an important concept concerning the power of Torah. In similar cases of drought, the Gemara relates how other sages were able to cause rain only through prayer and fasting. Likewise, the Shulchan Aruch prescribes a detailed procedure of fasts and supplications in case of such situations. However, faced with the same circumstance, rather than fast or pray, Rav Shimon was able to cause rain through saying Torah.
The difference was possible because of the quality of Toraso Umanaso possessed by Rav Shimon. Because of his tremendous devotion to Torah, his Torah study possessed the power to effect changes in the physical world, to cause rain, in a world which was lacking rain.
The object of the above is not to relate an interesting story, but to communicate a lesson applicable to our present day behavior. And yet at this point an obvious question arises: What lesson can we, whose spiritual level does not at all approach that of Rav Shimon, learn from-the story above? Rav Shimon was a unique phenomenon. When the Shulchan Aruch looks for an example of Toraso Umanaso, it always refers to Rav Shimon and his students. Even in his generation the Talmud explains that many tried to emulate his example and failed. How much more so in our generation is the example of Rav Shimon seemingly without comparison. Nevertheless, the story of Rav Shimon is related in the Gemara, and even in Shulchan Aruch, becoming a part of the Torah that a Jew is obligated to practice and study.272
Knowing our own spiritual level, it becomes difficult to conceive how this story can become relevant within our lives. The relevancy of the Halachah which Rav Shimon taught is comprehensible, since the intention of the study of Halachah is to effect deed, that is, to bring about action.273 Even those stories about Rav Shimon which emphasize traits other than Toraso Umanaso (and therefore, possessed by sages other than Rashbi) have a readily understandable behavioral application.
However, those stories which emphasize the trait of Toraso Umanaso singular to Rashbi, e.g., the above-mentioned story of how through saying Torah, Rashbi was able to cause rain to fall, seem at least superficially so far beyond our abilities that their practical relevance becomes questionable.274
However, since the Torah is eternal truth and therefore applicable in every generation (particularly as stressed in the Tanya that “it is close to you, within the grasp of your heart and mouth to accomplish it”), the relevancy of those stories to our everyday behavior must exist.
2. That point of relevancy can be found by drawing a comparison between Rashbi and Moshe Rabbeinu. Regarding Moshe Rabbeinu, we find two seemingly contradictory aspects. On one hand his spiritual level was so great that no one would have the boldness to compare themselves in any way to him. However, since Moshe Rabbeinu was the faithful shepherd of the Jewish people, he endowed a spark of his soul to every Jew. Each Jew possesses within his spiritual potential a spark of the soul of Moshe Rabbeinu.275 Similarly, Rashbi’s service was not of an individual nature, rather, it affects the behavior of every Jew.
However, this explanation seems insufficient. Receiving the energy from Rav Shimon’s service (:or receiving the spark of Moshe Rabbeinu’s soul) does not involve any aspect of personal effort. The Jew himself does not do any work, rather, he benefits from the service of someone else.
Particularly considering the great stress Chassidus places on individual effort, it is difficult to conceive of the lesson from Rav Shimon as being connected only with what is given from above without involving any aspect of individual service.
This same stress is reflected in Halachah. The Gemara explains “a person prefers one Kav of his own instead of 9 of someone else’s”. A person’s nature was constructed by G-d(that not only if the two alternatives are equal, but even if there is an advantage to what is being given, even an advantage as great as 9 to 1) in such a manner that each individual prefers the products of his own efforts.276
Therefore, in addition to the energies provided to us from Rav Shimon, each individual must add a certain aspect of his own effort. That effort of his own, though quantitatively much less than the influence produced by Rav Shimon (to the point of 9 to 1) and also qualitatively less (since in Kedushah quality is related to quantity277 ), is still more desirable and more preferred because “a person would prefer one Kav of his own to 9 of his friends” (his friend referring to G-d Himself, as Rashi comments on the verse “Don’t neglect your friend, and the friend of your father”).
Therefore on Lag BaOmer, the day of Rav Shimon’s rejoicing, the day which he had asked all Jews to celebrate and treat as a festival to the point where Jewish custom has so ordained (and Jewish custom has the strength of a Torah command) that no Tachanun be said and even various different types of rejoicing be encouraged, even the ultimate celebration, a Jewish weddings,278 are held despite their prohibition during Sefira both before and after Lag BaOmer. Each Jew is asked to rejoice and contribute one Kav of his individual effort to the Lag BaOmer celebration. At that point, all that which is given to him from above can be considered as his own.
Therefore, despite the tremendous gap between ourselves and Rashbi, even though his abilities were so exalted that only Hashem and Rabbi Akiba could understand his powers, (see footnote E) still, through our own Kav, our own efforts, it becomes within our potential to learn from and actualize a lesson from Rav Shimon’s behavior, including even those traits which are in the category of Toraso Umanaso.
And then just as Rav Shimon was able to bring rain through Torah study alone without fasts or self-deprivation, so can we, through our study of Torah bring about abundant blessings.279 The book of Mishlei (Proverbs) enumerates the virtues of the Jewish Eshes Chayil (the woman of valor, which refers to the Jewish people as-a whole in relation to G-d). “She girds her loins with strength”, (strength referring to Torah study) and through that activity brings about blessing to her entire household (in the metaphor of the world) until the ultimate blessing, the redemption of the Jewish people. At that time the well-springs of Torah will spread to the furthest reaches of creation with the coming of Mashiach speedily in our days.
3. The Sicha above explained how each individual is able, within his potential, to add to and supplement with his own efforts, the influence provided him from the divine energies above. The spark of Rashbi within his soul produces nine Kavs, yet with his own energies he can achieve one Kav and in so doing effect that the 9 Kavs provided him by Rav Shimon become internalized and considered his own.
However, that explanation seems insufficient. In order for his service to supplement and therefore allow for the internalization of the energy provided from above (the 9 Kavs), his service has to parallel or at least be comparable to them. Considering the unique nature of Rav Shimon’s service — dedication to Torah to the degree of Toraso Umanaso — and to the extent that its power could bring rain to a parched world, it becomes difficult to conceive how our service can in any way resemble his.
How can we, whose spiritual level does not approach that of Rav Shimon, comprehend, find relevant, and practice a service of Toraso Umanaso to the point where it affects the physicality of the world?280
One fundamental principle serves as a basis to answer the above question. Every thing which was constructed for a specific purpose receives a new level of fulfillment and strength when that purpose is completed. Every object, from the most sublime to the most simple, achieves greater power and potency when the intention for which it was originally created is fulfilled.
The same principle applies regarding heaven and earth. The purpose for their creation was, as Rashbi states in the beginning of his commentary on the Torah, for the Jewish people and for Torah. Therefore, when a Jew learns Torah he brings the world to a new state of fulfillment. He completes the world’s purpose for existence and in doing so physically, as well as spiritually, adds strength to creation, to the point of bringing rain.281
Even though an individual finds himself in Galus in Ikvos HaMashiach (the time immediately before Mashiach’s coming), and even after he has learned the story of Rav Shimon producing rain (and at least to his perception) no change is evident in his immediate situation, and despite the fact that his level of Torah study does not approach Toraso Umanaso, nevertheless, his service can affect and change the physical being of the world.
However, though acceptable from an intellectual perspective, the above statement is contrary to our perception. Though Torah affects the physicality of the world, generally these effects are not visible in a revealed manner (particularly in Galus and in the times of Ikvos HaMashiach).
Even in the time of Choni HaMagel, when the Beis HaMikdash still stood in Jerusalem (and Hashgachah Protis was much more openly evident), in order to bring rain Choni had to pray, and use other devices, including drawing a circle in the sand, etc.282
Even Rabbi Akiba who was involved in Torah study the entire day, and had thousands of students under his instruction (including Rashbi himself) was not able to bring rain through Torah study alone, but had to resort to fasts and prayer.
If even then individuals like Rabbi Akiba or Choni could not bring rain through the study of Torah, how can a simple Jew today learn the story of Rashbi and consider it practically applicable? Can he believe that through his Torah study, he, too, can effect changes in the world’s nature?
However, an analysis of the difference between Rav Shimon and Rabbi Akiba can provide a solution to the above-mentioned question. Rabbi Akiba, though occupied with Torah study, had other concerns as well; he served as director of his Yeshivos, visited Jewish communities throughout the world in order to bolster their Torah observance, joined in delegations to Rome, etc.
Therefore, though the entire Talmud, including even Rav Shimon’s own study stem from Rabbi Akiba, it cannot be said that he had no concerns outside of Torah study. Rashbi, on the other hand, was exclusively Toraso Umanaso. He devoted himself totally to Torah study; he had no other concerns. Therefore, he was able to effect the same results for which Rabbi Akiba, Choni, and the other sages mentioned in the Talmud were required to pray and fast, through study of the Torah alone.
This lesson is applicable to every Jew, for the very fact that the story is a lesson from Torah should teach us not to consider the ability to bring rain through Torah study as a miracle, but rather a practical lesson applicable in every generation. Whether a Jew is from Issachar (who are more directly involved in Torah study) or Zebulun (the large majority of contemporary Jewry who are involved in the business world) it is within his potential to affect the world’s physical nature through his study of the Torah.
Even though during the bulk of his time a Jew may be involved in business, or even be involved in the Torah world, but in a manner like Rabbi Akiba with other concerns apart from Torah study, still in the time in which he studies Torah he can be totally devoted to it. At that time he can focus his energies and attention on Torah study to the point where he has no outside concerns, then his learning (at least in those few hours) parallel that of Rav Shimon and therefore it will produce parallel results. It, too, can affect the physical nature of the world.
This type of behavior is within the potential of every Jew because every individual has the power to control his mind. For at least the specific times he has set aside for Torah study, he can approach the mental state of Toraso Umanaso. Nothing will enter his mind that is unrelated to his Torah study. Such a mental state is within the reach of every individual. Everyone can concentrate to the point where all of his energies and all of his power will be totally devoted to the study of Torah.
Toraso Umanaso is so singular a quality that every individual must indeed question if he can approach it. Simultaneously, in a limited way, to practice Toraso Umanaso within the content of the fixed times for Torah study every morning and evening (however great or small they are) is within the power of every individual. He may learn only one Perek, one chapter a day, but during the time he is learning, nothing else exists; he has no concerns other than that one Perek.
The potential for such concentration exists within every individual. It is a frequently observable phenomenon even among non-Jews. If someone makes the decision that he is going to devote his next few minutes to one thing, anything, it is possible for him (and even easy for him) to close the entire world out and focus his energies on that one thing. It is a question of will-power, of making a firm decision that he will concentrate on only this particular thing. However, once the decision is made it is not difficult to totally devote a few minutes or hours to one particular subject.
4. Though, as explained above, a person can temporarily achieve a state of mind comparable to Toraso Umanaso, the question still remains. The very definition of this person’s conception of Toraso Umanaso is temporary, as soon as he finishes his fixed time for Torah study, he returns to other affairs. How is such behavior in keeping with the statement — Toraso Umanaso — that he is totally devoted to Torah to the point that he has no outside concerns?
However, that difficulty can be resolved according to the statement of the Alter Rebbe in Chapter 25 of Tanya where he explains how the union with G-d established during the performance of a Mitzvah is eternal and constant. Whenever one involves oneself in an activity connected with Torah and mitzvos, a lasting bond is established between Jew and G-d. Though on a physical level, there are times when a Jew is not involved with Torah and mitzvos(there are times when he is not wearing Tefillin or studying Torah), still in the spiritual realms every act performed in the service of Torah is constantly present, an ever-existing bridge connecting Jew and G-d.
This concept that the union between man and G-d established through Torah is eternal is not dependent on blind belief, but on the contrary, can be rationally understood. Since, as stated above, the purpose of the entire creation including its most fundamental components, time and space, is Torah and mitzvos, it follows that Torah and mitzvos transcend the entire creation, even time and space. By performing a mitzvah, even if that mitzvah is limited to a specific time and place, a Jew steps beyond the boundaries of creation, achieving a unity with G-d which is not bound by any limits.
And though on a physical plane, the union between Jew and G-d through mitzvos is not eternal, the reason for that temporality is so that a moment later, the Jew can involve himself with another mitzvah, and upon that mitzvah’s completion, still another mitzvah — until he fulfills all 613. However, in the spiritual realms, the mitzvah exists, unlimited and unaffected by time and space. Likewise, the divine energy which the mitzvah generates (and also, the blessings in the physical world which the mitzvah brings) are likewise constant. Therefore, though a person’s study of Torah may be intermittent, still, if in the specific times in which he learns Torah, it dominates his attention totally, then his service becomes parallel to Rashbi’s. Just like Rashbi, he can bring rain (rain is often employed as a metaphor for the totality of a person’s material needs283) to a parched world.
The above explanation serves as a prelude to a practical request. Though everyone has fixed times set up for Torah study and everyone is trying to add to those fixed times, still a further attempt should be made. Each individual should make every effort to fulfill the requirement placed upon him by Hilchos Talmud Torah, and even try to exceed those requirements and add more time to his Torah study.284
During these times of study no other affairs besides Torah should enter his mind. If the telephone rings, he doesn’t have to answer it (after all, on Shabbos he doesn’t answer the phone. His state of mind during his time for Torah study should approach that of Shabbos; in either case he stands above the world; he should have no connection with mundane affairs).
If his family (which in a larger sense refers to the Jewish people — who comprise one entity) interrupt him, he should answer them pleasantly and with proper respect. However, the thrust of his answer is that right now he is occupied only with Torah. He is Torah, nothing else concerns him (and if he speaks this way genuinely, with words coming from the heart, his family will understand and accept his answer; not only will they not bother him, but they will try their hardest to prevent others from bothering him as well).
This is the practical lesson which results from Lag BaOmer — that each Jew should establish fixed times for Torah study (or add to the times he has already set up) and during those times focus his attention totally on Torah.
Then his study can in a manner similar to Rav Shimon’s bring rain, i.e., create blessings in all of his material needs285 which in turn will provide him with more time for Torah study (to the point where he will be able to fulfill Toraso Umanaso in the complete sense of the words). This will in turn bring added blessings until they usher in the era when the world will be filled with the knowledge of G-d, as the ocean fills up the sea286 with the coming of Mashiach speedily in our days.
5. The above, though applicable to every Jew (as mentioned that every Jew, even if he is able to learn only one Perek (chapter) in the morning and one Perek in the evening has the potential to study that Perek in a manner of Toraso Umanaso. That study can bring about, blessings in the material world (as did Rav Shimon) is particularly relevant to those individuals whom Hashgachah Protis has placed in a situation more or less similar to Toraso Umanaso.
Those individuals are generally categorized as Yoshei Ohel — including Roshei Yeshiva, teachers, but particularly Yeshiva Bochurim or members of a Kollel. In their case, all their financial worries are taken away from them, they are placed in an environment of Torah and mitzvos, and the only obstacles before them are created by their own will. They have no financial worries (unless they excite their own Yetzer Hara). Their parnasa is fixed. All of their material and spiritual needs are taken care of. No outside concerns should distract them from Torah study.
No miracle is demanded from them, quite the contrary, the natural order has placed them in a situation where nothing should prevent them from fulfilling Toraso Umanaso in the fullest sense.
Given this situation, the question arises — why then would a Yeshiva Bocher or a Kollel student involve himself with anything outside the realm of Torah? Even if those affairs are important and concern vital community issues, still it is incorrect for him to involve himself in those matters since it is not his job.287 It causes tremendous pain to see those individuals whom Hashgachah Protis has blessed with the opportunity to devote their entire day to Torah study waste their opportunity because of the Yetzer Hora’s enticements.
Yeshiva Bochurim and Kollel students also feel the obligation to participate in the mivtzoim. They are motivated by the command to love your neighbor as yourself, and feel commitment to Ahavas Yisrael to the point where they will leave the environment of the Kollel or the Yeshiva and go out into the street, find another Jew, and ask him to put on Tefillin. Though, on the surface, such feelings run contrary to the attitude of dedication to Torah described above, since both the dedication to Torah and likewise the commandment of the Previous Rebbe to involve oneself in the spreading of Torah and mitzvos are based on Shulchan Aruch, then there is no contradiction between them.
From the perspective of Toraso Umanaso, a Yeshiva Bochur is obligated to learn and study. However, when he receives (either personally or through his writings) the command of the Previous Rebbe, he is prepared to go out into the street, into the public thoroughfare, to find a Jew and devote his time, energy, and even his most intense personal resources to teach that Jew Aleph-Beis (both Aleph-Beis in the literal meaning and also Aleph-Beis in a figurative sense, i.e., instruction in the basic fundamentals of religious life).
However, despite his devotion to the mivtzoim, he realizes that they do not constitute his mission in life. His involvement is a temporary shlichus and even during the time in which he is involved with them, he is constantly conscious and uncomfortable that he is forced to put off his Torah studies for a while. Rather than watch the clocks and wait for the time when he can close his Seforim and go out on mivtzoim, he considers the mivtzoim as a shlichus which interrupts his fundamental task in life.
The above is no contradiction to the fact that mivtzoim have to be carried out with joy and a cheerful disposition. (Indeed, only when you are happy and cheerful can the mivtzoim be successful.) Chassidus demands that a person be a Pnimi and defines Pnimi as one who totally involves himself in what he is doing. Therefore, when he is involved in the mivtzoim, they dominate the totality of his conscious mind. Likewise, when he is involved in Torah study, that takes up all his energies.
From the standpoint of his G-dly soul, there is no difference between mivtzoim and Torah study; both are the will of G-d. G-d desires him to study Torah in a manner of Toraso Umanaso and likewise G-d desires him to sacrifice his own time and energies and find another Jew and learn Aleph-Beis with him.
Therefore, there is no contradiction between the mivtzoim and the approach of Toraso Umanaso; quite the contrary, they complement each other. Though you are involved in Torah and dedicated to Torah study to the point where Torah is your only concern, still it is necessary to overcome your will and carry out the Will of G-d as expressed to His servants, the prophets (in this case the Previous Rebbe) and teach another Jew the importance of Yiddishkeit. That itself is a service of self-transcendence, and it allows for the Torah study which will be learnt afterwards also to be done in a manner of self-transcendence. Instead of his learning being self-oriented, he goes beyond himself, and learns in a manner of “My tongue repeats Your words”, in a state of total selflessness and connection to G-d.
A Yeshiva Bochur has to feel an obligation to be involved in the mivtzoim (and more than an obligation, his involvement should be sparked with strong feelings of excitement) because of his attitude of self-subjugation to the One who sent him on this mission (in this case G-d Himself). Simultaneously, in the times when he is not involved in the mivtzoim, thoughts about them shouldn’t enter his mind (such thoughts are totally unproductive, they neither help him advance in Torah study or advance in the mivtzoim). In simple terms, it means that a Yeshiva Bochur’s excitement and energy should be focused on the Seder of the Yeshiva and/or Kollel and nothing else.
This type of behavior will not decrease the success of the mivtzoim. Quite the contrary, when a Jew is successful in Toraso Umanaso, this brings success in all of his other affairs, including the mivtzoim.
With this explanation, the points made at the beginning of the Farbrengen become more clearly understood. As the Alter Rebbe writes, “You should open with blessing and tell the power of Torah”. As the letter explains, it is necessary to have Emunah (faith in G-d), and also prayer, because only then is the study of Torah in the proper manner which was described above as “My tongue repeats Your words”. Then his Torah learning brings blessing in all of his affairs, including his efforts to bring another Jew close to Torah, to do one more good deed, or one more good thought (which as the Rambam says, can bring redemption to the entire world). However, as specified before, these activities should only be done in the specific times permitted by his Rosh Yeshiva or Mashpia (who in turn is following the guidelines set up by the Previous Rebbe).
And then his Torah study is perfect and complete, and likewise his fulfillment of mitzvos is complete and b’Hidur (beyond the measure of the law) and just as in the case of Rav Shimon, who brought rain through explaining the verse Hinah Mah Tov UMah Nayim; similarly, his Torah study brings rain, causing blessings for all the material needs of the Jewish people.
6. The above concepts can also serve to elucidate a seemingly obvious difficulty in the text of the story related before. The story reads — “Once when the world needed rain, Rav Shimon’s students came to him and asked him to help bring rain. At that time Rav Shimon answered them, “Those of you who came to ask for rain remain here with me. Those of you who came to study Torah remain here with me”.”
On the surface, Rav Shimon’s answer is not readily understandable. The purpose of the students’ visit was evident, as the narrative itself begins that the world needed rain. The students came to Rav Shimon because they felt that since he practiced Toraso Umanaso to its fullest extent be could bring rain. There was no doubt in their mind why they had come. If so, why did Rav Shimon mention two categories? Why did he say “Those who have come to study Torah remain with me?”
The answer to that question lies in the perception of the role of a teacher and a Mashpia.288 A true Mashpia is more aware and more conscious of his student’s inner desires than the student himself. The student may become excited, lose perspective and become out of touch with what he really wants. However, the true Mashpia teaches as an act of self-sacrifice. He cares more about the student than about himself and therefore knows the student’s inner desires (even when the student himself may be insensitive to them).
Similarly, in the case above, the students were moved by the fact that the world needed rain. They could not remain at ease and comfortable knowing that the world was lacking fundamental necessities. Therefore, when they came to Rav Shimon, their conscious minds were preoccupied with one concern: the world needing rain. However, subconsciously their inner desire was not only for Rav Shimon to bring rain. On the contrary, their innermost will thirsted for Torah.
An example of this concept of multi-level intentions can be seen in everyday behavior. The owner of a business, though involved and even excited over the everyday runnings of the business, does not see them as an end in themselves. What concerns him is his eventual profit. In fact, the excitement he feels for the daily humdrum of the business, the prices, products, buyers, sellers, etc. is only because they are the media through which he can realize a profit.
These two perspectives are not contradictory, rather they are both true at their particular level of soul. Similarly, in the story mentioned above, the students-had two desires. On an obvious level, to bring rain, but on a deeper level (a level perceivable only by Rashbi), they wanted to hear Torah as well.
This lesson has a practical application. The world is now parched in a spiritual sense. There is a need to spread Torah (water is used as a metaphor for Torah because both water and Torah possess the tendency to descend from higher levels to lower) and through Torah study bring blessings to the world, as our sages commented on the verse, “If you keep my statutes (if you involve yourself in Torah study) then I will bring the rain in their season.”
However, this spiritual service does not have to be the only focus of the person’s operative consciousness. Even if the reasons that he is learning are selfish, that he wants to be considered a scholar, receive honor, etc., nevertheless, his selfish intents reveal only one level of his consciousness. In fact, the true intent of his learning is selfless. And as the sages comment — from service without proper intention, you progress to service with proper intention. As the Rambam explains, the world’s nature is such that one must begin serving G-d for selfish intentions and proceed from there to selfless ones.
The Hebrew expression for this concept is “Mitoch she to Lishmah, ba Lishmah”, literally translated as “from within the service which is without proper intention toward G-d, you proceed to a service with proper intention”. Chassidus explains that the word ‘loch’ also means inner content. The true feelings behind even the ‘lo Lishmah’, the service without proper intention is — the ‘Lishmah’, the service with proper intention (expressing how as mentioned above, there are two levels of consciousness operating simultaneously).
And then the individual achieves both ends, he reaches his personal goals, but also brings rain. Even this type of service is able to effect blessings in the physical world.
When an individual practices Toraso Umanaso in any context, he becomes connected to Rav Shimon, as can be seen by the phraseology used in the Zohar when referring to Rav Shimon’s students. Rather than the normally used term Talmidim, the Zohar utilizes the term Chaverim — because its root is etymologically related to the word Chaber, meaning connection. The Zohar used this terminology to emphasize the concept that through learning Rav Shimon’s Torah you are able to become attached to Rav Shimon and therefore internalize the spiritual qualities he possesses.
And therefore you transcend the destruction of the Temple (as the Alter Rebbe described Rav Shimon as not having been affected by the Temple’s destruction).289
This service can start immediately, even if you still have selfish desires as was emphasized above. Through Torah you can have both success in Torah study and simultaneously you can bring material blessings into the world.
And take the strength from Rashbi to be able to effect all of the above, and do so with joy until these activities bring about the revelation of the highest source of joy — with the coming of Mashiach speedily in our days.
7. As mentioned above, there should be an added stress on Torah study, and particularly study in a manner of Toraso Umanaso, which is relevant to every Jew, in every situation. Every Jew can, during the set times he has for Torah study, concern himself only with the Torah he is studying and pay no attention to any other matters. And then these activities will bring rain; will create blessing.
On the surface, the relation of Torah to the world is difficult to comprehend. Torah is transcendent, so much so that King David was punished for describing Torah as above the world (such a description implies a degree of comparison and relation between Torah and the world and is an insult to Torah), yet when there was a drought and the Jews came to Rav Shimon for help, he used Torah for the sake of the world.
However, Rav Shimon Bar Yochai’s actions themselves serve as a lesson in Torah. Every aspect of Rav Shimon’s behavior was living Torah and, therefore provides lessons worthy of study.290
In this case the lesson is that through applying oneself to Torah study in a manner of Toraso Umanaso, an individual will progress in all of his worldly affairs.
Likewise, his learning will cause him to progress in his relations with his fellow man — which in general involves the spreading of Torah and mitzvos and in doing so bringing water to a parched world. Water serves as a metaphor for Torah — that he will spread Torah, the word of G-d throughout the world.
To do so you can’t remain in your place. The abovementioned Zohar comments that his students “traveled to Rav Shimon”. You have to be willing to travel, to move, as the Shulchan Aruch says “Run to fulfill a Mitzvah” the Mitzvah in this case being the spread of the Ten Mivtzoim.
Both of these services (learning Torah and spreading Torah) are connected with the coming of Mashiach and the redemption from Galus. As the Rambam writes “One should always see himself291 as equally balanced between good and bad; and the world292 as equally balanced between good and bad, and with one deed he can tip the scales, change the entire situation, and bring redemption and salvation to the entire world.”
Particularly now in Ikvos HaMashiach, when Mashiach is so close (to quote Shir HaShirim “he is standing behind the wall, peeking through the windows”) it is necessary to finish the job of refining the world. As the Previous Rebbe once remarked, “all that is left for us to do is to polish the buttons”, i.e. the garment has already been made, and the buttons even sewed on, all that is left, is to shine up their surface.
This service is closely connected to that of Sefiras HaOmer; to make everything shine (sefer — means to count but also to shine). As mentioned above there is a necessity for increased activity in the ten Mivtzoim, and afterwards their influence will spread till there is increased activity in all of the 613 mitzvos of the Torah.
8. The Rebbe Shlita explained in great length the Zohar’s statement “Wherever the Jews were exiled, the Shechinah was exiled” with them... and when they were redeemed the Shechinah was redeemed with them”. On the latter clause, he asked the question, since the only reason the Shechinah is in exile is because the Jews were in exile, it follows naturally (seemingly without a need for explicitly stating so) that when they would be redeemed, the Shechinah would also leave Galus. Why then does the Zohar add the extra clause? The Rebbe elaborated on the answer at great length in the remarks below:
When the Galus finally ends, then it is simply understandable that the Shechinah leaves Galus. However, the Zohar adds the statement that the Shechinah is redeemed with them to emphasize that the Shechinah is redeemed in a manner parallel to the redemption of the Jews. Just as the Jews will feel great joy and added strength upon their redemption, similarly the Shechinah itself will not only cease to be in Galus, but will grow in intensity of revelation in a manner parallel to the personal growth of the Jews. Furthermore, his service has deeper implications and brings about the redemption of the Shechinah itself. The Jew through his service causes the revelation of the Shechinah, of G-d’s presence in this world of concealment and hiddenness.
The example is given for the redemption of a Jew from exile — a king’s son who was captured and imprisoned and at last is given the opportunity to see his father the king, applies to the Shechinah itself. The same sense of joy which the king’s son feels will be felt by every Jew, and also by the Shechinah and will therefore result in an increased revelation of G-,dly energy in the world.
This explanation should increase the Jew’s thirst for the Geulah (redemption). From his own perspective, it is possible for him to be less than anxious for the Geulah to come. However when he realizes that the redemption concerns not only himself, but also the Jewish people, and even the Shechinah, then he will do the most in his power to bring about the Geulah.
It is possible for an individual to think that rather than to have to strain himself to change his nature and work to spread Torah and mitzvos, it would be much easier to let the Galus persist another moment longer. After all the Galus has already lasted 1900 years. It wouldn’t hurt if it would last a moment longer. Anything is okay as long as it doesn’t disturb him. He’d rather be comfortable, rest, sleep in these last few moments of Galus.
Sure, he’s willing to learn Torah and fulfill mitzvos, but that costs extra money, which means extra work. He’s observant, he has already made that concession, but he doesn’t want to be bothered any further. Don’t bother him about working to spread Torah so that the Geulah will come faster. He’s tired. He’s had 1900 years of Galus. He wants to rest and relax. Then he’ll be ready to get up well-rested when Mashiach comes.293
The situation continues until he loses all concern about when the Geulah will come. His only interest is that in the last days of Galus he will be able to appreciate the material benefits available in the United States. He wants to enjoy the money that he’s earned.
How does he enjoy it? Not by spending it, but rather by counting it. He enjoys seeing how much money he has in the bank.
What does he use it for? To tzedakah he gives only a limited percentage. To feed and sustain his family, even if he fed them lavish feasts the entire day, there is only so much a person can eat. If he clothed his family to the highest degree of fashion, as the Shulchan Aruch decides concerning Shabbos, that no one can wear more than 18 garments at a time, here also his expenses are limited. If so, what good does the money do him? He gets to see another zero in his bank account. What excites him? A zero! Nothing! The dictionary itself will tell you that a zero means nothing. He is thrilled that he has added another nothing to his bankbook.
Does he use his money for anything worthwhile? No. He wants to be considered wealthy and for that he is willing to sacrifice everything.
Then, when we tell him that when Mashiach comes a dollar won’t be worth anything; that the only thing of value then will be the knowledge of G-d, he is shocked. He does not want that. He worked so hard for his money, toiled to find the bank that pays the most interest and now you tell him that his money won’t be worth anything! “Tell Mashiach not to come! Let me be in Galus a little longer,” he cries. He wants to be listed in Dunn and Bradstreet among the millionaires of America. He needs time. He wants Galus. He wants to drive a big car with a chauffeur, and have everyone consider him rich.
When we speak about Geulah, he says, “Leave me alone, let me be.” He wants his comfort. He enjoys his happiness. He sits in the depths of Galus and does not realize it (the only way a person can really appreciate the pain of Galus is when he has a sensitivity towards true freedom, Torah freedom). What makes him happy? Another dollar, and another dollar, etc. This behavior affects G-d Himself. Our sages have commented on the verse, “G-d opens His hand, and sustains all of His desired creation” that the word desire applies to the creations. G-d sustains them according to the nature of their desires. Their desires are fulfilled even if they are detrimental to that individual’s well-being.
Since he has these feelings, Torah tells him that the Shechinah is in Galus with him. Even if he enjoys the Galus for himself, and wants to appreciate its comforts, he realizes that these comforts are worthless for the Shechinah. When he realizes, as explained above, the Shechinah is in Galus with him and dependent on him,294 then he will not spare any effort to bring about the Geulah.
May it be G-d’s Will that we be able to learn Torah as we should, adding to our Torah study, and adding to our fulfillment of the mitzvos, including the mitzvah of spreading Torah through the Ten Mivtzoim and in that manner bring about the future redemption speedily in our days.