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Preface

Shabbos Parshas Re'eh, Shabbos Mevorchim Elul, Erev Rosh Chodesh Elul, 5737

Kuntres Motzei Simchas Torah, 5738

Kuntres Motzei Simchas Torah 5738

Kuntres Motzei Shabbos Breishis 5738

Kuntres Motzoei Shabbos Parshas Noach 5738

Kuntres Motzoei Shabbos Parshas Lech LCho 5738

Excerpts From Kuntres Motzoei Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Chayei Sarah

Yud-Tes Kislev, 5738

The Second Day Of Chanuka, 5738

Asora BTeves (10th Of Teves), 5738

Motzoei Shabbos Kodesh, Mevorchim Shvat, Parshas VaEra, 5738

Yud Shvat, 5738

15th OF SHVAT 5738

Motzoei Shabbos Parshas Mishpatim, 5738

Motzoei Shabbos Tzav

Motzoai Shabbos Parshas Shmini And Parah, Shabbos Mevorchim Nissan, 5738

Yud-Alef Nissan, 5738

Last Day Of Pesach, 5738

Parshas Acherei Shabbos Mevorchim Iyar

Parshas Emor, 5738

Lag BOmer, 5738

Motzoei Shavuos, 5738

Graduating Class Of Beis Rivka And To
The Staff Members Of The Girls Summer Camps
On The 13th Of Sivan, 5738

Parsha Shelach Shabbos Mivorcim Tammuz

3rd OF TAMMUZ, 5738

Motzoei Shabbos Parshas Chukas, 10th Of Tammuz, 5738

Yud-Beis Tammuz, 5738

Motzoei Shabbos Parshas Balak, 17 Tammuz 5738

Motzoei Shabbos Parshas Pinchas,
Mevorchim Hachodesh Menachem Av, 5738

15th OF AV, 5738

20th OF AV, 5738

Motzoei Shabbos Mevorchim Elul, 5738

Rosh Chodesh Elul, 5738

Supplement

Notes

Sichos In English
Excerpts of Sichos delivered by The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson
Vol. 1 5738


Motzoei Shabbos Parshas Balak, 17 Tammuz 5738

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  Yud-Beis Tammuz, 5738Motzoei Shabbos Parshas Pinchas,
Mevorchim Hachodesh Menachem Av, 5738
 

1. This farbrengen is a continuation of the farbrengen held on Yud-Beis Tammuz, celebrating the Previous Rebbes holiday of liberation. The intent of celebrating a festival is not merely to recall the past and remember something which happened years ago, but rather to relive the events of that time and cause them to produce practical results in our actions.

Likewise, the celebration of Yud-Beis Tammuz should motivate all of us toward increased activity in Torah and Mitzvos.374 Regardless of the nature of ones activity in Torah and Mitzvos until now, the possibility always exists for an increase immeasurably beyond the degree of ones previous activities since Torah and Mitzvos are infinite. A Jew possesses resources of infinite potential. No matter how successful his efforts have been until now, there is always room for further improvement. Yud-Beis Tammuz should charge him with the enthusiasm and excitement to stretch his physical limits further and further.

The above applies to every Jew. Yud-Beis Tammuz should influence, as the Previous Rebbe writes in his well-known letter, all those who love Torah, fulfill its Mitzvos, and even those who are Jews by name alone.

For the phrase and...those who are Jews by name alone, the Previous Rebbe used the Hebrew expression Kol asher beshaim Yisrael Yichoneh. The word yichoneh (or its noun kinui) denotes a secondary name, a nickname. In other words, when the Previous Rebbe includes in his letter even those who are Jews by name (yichoneh) alone he is referring to even those Jews who insist that their Jewishness is of secondary importance.

In truth, however, regardless of lack of awareness of his Jewish identity, he nevertheless remains a Jew in the full sense of the word. As the Gemara says (Although he has sinned) he is a Yisrael, i.e., fundamentally he is a Jew; it is his true being, his genuine identity.

Since his Judaism is his true identity, eventually it will be revealed. No matter what his present position, he himself will recognize his true identity and even cause the non-Jews around him to acknowledge it.375

Furthermore, an increase in the Torah activity of one Jew will be a positive influence on the entire Jewish people. The Jewish people are one collective entity. To communicate this concept our Sages often use the metaphor of the human body. Although the body contains many different limbs, it functions as one unified organism. Similarly, the Jewish people, regardless of the particular differences between individuals, all join together to form one entity.

Utilizing that metaphor, another concept can be learned. The elevation of one part of the body draws the entire body after it. Likewise, the efforts of one Jew to ascend in his service of Torah and Mitzvos affects all the Jewish people, even those who are Jews by name alone.

The above is particularly true concerning this Yud-Beis Tammuz which marks the beginning of the second Jubilee (Yovel) since the Previous Rebbe was released from prison. The Torah considers each Yovel an eternity. The transition from the first Yovel into a second must motivate each Jew to begin a new and more intensive degree of service.

Another reason which should cause added motivation is that this year Yud-Beis Tammuz falls on the same day of the week as the Yud-Beis Tammuz on which the Previous Rebbe was born. The fact that the Previous Rebbe was released on his birthday is understandable, since on ones birthday, one has a greater power to prevail over ones enemies. The similarity in chronology demonstrates an added potential to carry out the Previous Rebbes desires during this year.

Likewise, in this year, just as happened then, the seventeenth of Tammuz fell on Shabbos.376 In such a case, the fast usually held on that day is postponed until the next day. (Furthermore, the fast is replaced by the atmosphere of Shabbos, which must be celebrated as a day of pleasure). At that time the Chassidim remarked, since the fast is postponed, may it be postponed forever.

However, the postponement of the fast is only the first stage of the Geulah. Eventually these days will be transformed from days of mourning to festivals with the coming of Mashiach speedily in our days.

2. The Alter Rebbe commented, You have to live with the times adapt the events of the present to the teachings of the Torah portion of the week. This weeks portion, Parshas Balak, is highlighted by the prophecies of Bilaam, including his prophecy concerning the Messianic redemption. This prophecy is particularly applicable to our times, when according to all the signs given in the Tractate of Sotah, we are approaching the Messianic redemption.377

Bilaams prophecies abound in blessings. However, in order that those blessings be internalized and received in the proper fashion, the receiver of those blessings, the Jewish people, must respond with service to G-d. Furthermore, that service must be in a manner which would emulate G-ds blessings.

G-ds blessing includes the nullification of all obstacles, barriers and blocks which might prevent the Messianic redemption. Likewise, the service of a Jew must center on breaking down all the barriers to his complete performance of Torah and Mitzvos. Those barriers include any obstacles which prevent him as an individual from increasing his involvement in Torah and Mitzvos, as well as those influences in the world which hold him back from spreading Torah and Mitzvos to o hers.

The lesson is particularly relevant after Yud-Beis Tammuz. We should follow the example set by the Previous Rebbe, that all our actions should be with a renewed vigor, notwithstanding any barriers or obstacles that there might be.

When the Jews service is carried out in such a manner, (and particularly when ones dedication is accompanied by sincere joy in fulfilling that service), then G-ds promise to turn the curse into a blessing will be fulfilled. Bilaam sought to curse the Jewish people, yet G-d reversed his intention and summoned forth powerful blessings.378 Similarly, if nowadays we serve G-d in such a fashion, with joy, ignoring all obstacles, G-d will surely respond by hastening the redemption, speedily in our days.

3. The prophecy of Bilaam concerning Mashiach mentioned above is quoted at great detail in the Yad HaChazakah.379 The Rambam cites Bilaams prophecy as an explicit reference on the Torah to b4oshiach. He cites another reference, the verse then the L-rd, your G-d, will return your captivity, but brings the prophecy of Bilaam as an added reinforcement. Indeed, the prophecy of Bilaam is a more useful proof, conveying not only the mere fact of Mashiachs coming, but also details of the different stages involved (as elaborated on in detail in the farbrengen of Yud-Beis Tammuz).

In the Yad HaChazakah the Rambam emphasizes that the reference to Mashiach was a prophecy of Bilaams. He stresses the concept of prophecy because, as he states in his treatise on prophecy, a prophecy for good must be fulfilled. A promise from G-d, e.g., G-ds promise to Jacob, is given subject to a persons behavior. If the behavior is not virtuous, the fulfillment on the promise may be withheld, but a prophecy for good must be fulfilled.

Also, when explaining Bilaams prophecy, the Rambam explains that the first half of each phrase refers to David, the first Mashiach (anointed, redeemer) of the Jewish people, and the second half to Mashiach (the final anointed redeemer). The mention of the activities of King David serve a valuable purpose. As explained in the text, Mashiachs activities will parallel Davids in many ways. By demonstrating that in Davids time there existed a parallel to the activities that Mashiach will perform facilitates the acceptance and belief in the concept of Mashiach on the part of a Jew. The knowledge that similar events occurred in the past makes it easier for him to believe they can (and will) occur in the future. By mentioning David in the first half of the prophecy, the Rambam generates a strengthening and intensification of the Jews faith in Mashiach.380

4. A closer look at the above-mentioned passage in the Rambam evokes the following question:

The Rambam was very precise in the numbering and grouping of the laws he formulated. He was careful in deciding whether to group two laws together in one Halachah or to list them separately as two Halachos.

In our case, when citing the prophecy of Bilaam, he mentions another reference to Mashiach coming from the Chumash, the command, When the L-rd your G-d will widen your boundaries then you shall separate three more cities of refuge. These three cities of-refuge were not separated in the past. Since G-d always provides the opportunity for fulfillment of His commandments, it follows that there will come another time, when that command will be carried out. This can only refer to the period of the Messianic redemption.

The concept of the cities of refuge is the third reference to Mashiach brought by the Rambam. The first two references, the verse Then the L-rd, your G-d will return your captivity, and the prophecy of Bilaam are mentioned together in the first Halachah. The third reference the cities of refuge is listed separately in the second Halachah. On the surface, the third reference should have been grouped together with the first two, or each reference should have been listed as a separate Halachah, since ostensibly they are all references to Mashiach.

However, there is a profound reason for the Rambam listing the cities of refuge separately from the first two references. The reference to the cities of refuge serves a dual purpose. Not only is it useful as a reference to Mashiach, it also acts as an introduction to the Rambams third Halachah. That Halachah explains that Mashiach will not necessarily perform wonders or give miraculous signs. He will not change the natural order. As a proof to that argument, the Rambam brings the example of Rabbi Akiva (and the many sages who followed his opinion), who considered Bar Kochba the Mashiach even though he had not performed any miracles or given any wondrous signs that he was Mashiach.

(This Halachah is in accord with the Rambams theory that there is no difference between the present time and the time of Mashiach except the dominion over the Jews held by the other nations. He argues that the coming of Mashiach will not cause a disruption in the natural order of creation. Later sages have demonstrated that even according to the Rambams opinion, eventually the natural order will be disrupted. The Rambam himself places as one of his Thirteen Principles of Faith belief in the resurrection of the dead (obviously a disruption of the natural order). They explain that the Rambam divides the Messianic Age into two periods: a) A period in which _t he Jews .will be redeemed from exile, rebuild the Bais HaMikdash, etc.; however, the natural order will still prevail. This period is described in the Yad HaChazakah; b).A second period of tremendous miracles including the resurrection of the dead. This period is not described by the Rambam).

As a proof that even in Messianic times the natural order will prevail the Rambam brings the concept of the cities of refuge. The cities of refuge are intended for a person who kills someone else by accident (and as our Sages explain, there are no accidents. An accidental sin occurs because of the evil hidden in a persons heart381). The existence of evil (and its result in the death of a human being) is ample proof that Mashiachs coming will not transform the natural order.

The above explanation evokes the following question: After bringing the examples of the cities of refuge which demonstrates that the Mashiach will not change the natural order, why is it necessary for the Rambam to bring an added proof for this concept from the behavior of Rabbi Akiva? A proof from the Torah itself is more powerful than a proof from the behavior of the sages.

That question can be explained by a closer examination of the concept of the cities of refuge. The entire premise that they are a proof that Mashiach will not change the natural order, can be disputed. That premise is based on the idea that the cities of refuge will be used by those individuals who commit accidental murders in Messianic times. However, it is possible to argue that these cities will be set aside, not for the murderers of that time, but for those who committed accidental murders during the time of Golus (exile). An example of this principle can be seen from the behavior of Rabbi Yishmael who wrote (after committing an accidental sin) When the Bais HaMikdash is rebuilt, I will bring a sin offering.

The argument whether to interpret the intention of the cities of refuge as a haven for those who committed accidental murders before Messianic times or after can be tied to another Talmudic argument Is the revenge sought by the redeemer of the blood a mitzvah or merely a permitted act? According to the opinion that the redemption of the blood is a mitzvah, that mitzvah must also be fulfilled in Messianic times. If there were no cities of refuge then the redeemer of the blood would be obligated to kill the murderer (even if the murder occurred in the time of Golus before Mashiach). Therefore, the existence of the cities of refuge is no proof Mashiach will not disrupt the natural order. The need to flee to the city of refuge has nothing to do with personal feelings or the existence of evil; it is connected with a mitzvah of the Torah.

However, if the concept of the redeemer of blood is considered merely permitted, but not obligatory, then it can be proven that the natural order will prevail. It is obvious that the passions of the redeemer will not be aroused against the murderer, since a long time will have passed from the time of the murder, to the time of Mashiach. It follows, therefore, that if there is no direct mitzvah to kill the murderer, there will be no reason to do so, and so the whole reason for the cities of refuge falls away. The only explanation is that an inadvertent murder will be possible even in the times of Mashiach a proof that the natural order will not change.382

Since there is no way to prove either interpretation, the Rambam cannot rely on the concept of the cities of refuge as a proof that Mashiach will not change the natural order and must also bring the example of Rabbi Akiva and Bar Kochba.

A further insight can be gleaned from this chapter in the Rambam. Our sages disagreed on the question of whether the Messianic redemption will come suddenly or whether it would be a gradual process. The Rambam states that even though the supposed Mashiach is a righteous King from the House of David, who has caused the Jewish people to strengthen their performance of Torah and Mitzvos, and even fought the wars of G-d and been victorious, there is still no proof that that individual is definitely Mashiach. Only after he has successfully conquered all the surrounding nations, built the Bais HaMikdash on its proper place and gathered in the exiles only then will the true identity of Mashiach have been established beyond any doubt. Only then will the true Redemption have taken place. In other words, the Rambam maintains that the true redemption, as such, will take place suddenly, since it is possible for all the preliminary signs to occur only to have the final redemption delayed due to the unworthiness of the Jewish people.

This will explain why the Rambam and others like him predicted possible dates for the advent of Mashiach. The explanation is that if not for a number of delaying factors, the Mashiach would have indeed come any one of the predicted dates.

There are specific signs given in the Tractate Sotah, indicating when Mashiach will come. In those days of the Rambam and others, these signs were apparent only on a very spiritual level. Nowadays, however, all the signs have appeared in a very physical way and its is obvious that the coming of Mashiach is very near. All that remains is for us to repent completely and then immediately we will be redeemed in the true and complete redemption through the righteous Mashiach.

5. It is customary to explain Rashis commentary on one of the verses from the weekly portion. Since we are presently approaching the Messianic redemption, it is proper to choose a verse which deals with certain aspects of that redemption. The verse chosen, Bilaams prophecy beginning And he saw Amalek is appropriate because the destruction of Amalek will occur in Messianic times.

The verse reads And he saw Amalek. Rashi interprets the phrase And he saw figuratively and he looked at the retribution of Amalek. (Likewise, in the next verse and he saw the Kenite, Rashi comments, he looked on the greatness of the sons of Jethro. The question arises: Why doesnt Rashi interpret the verse literally? On the previous verse he saw Israel and he saw the furthermost reaches of the nation there is no question that the interpretation given by Rashi is literal. Why in these verses does Rashi use a figurative interpretation? The question is reinforced by the fact that the commentaries of the Ramban and the Rashbam do indeed interpret the phrase literally.

Another question arises from Rashis commentary. Generally, in his commentary Rashi intends to explain all the questions which a child would need answered to understand the text of the Chumash. If there is a point which would puzzle the child and arouse a question, Rashi either provides an explanation or acknowledges the question and admits his lack of knowledge of the answer. Rashi never ignores a question which a child would ask.

However, in our passage, an obvious question arises and Rashi does not mention it at all. In all Bilaams previous prophecies, he built an altar and offered sacrifices as a preparation to receiving the prophetic vision. However, before his final prophecy which is the one now under consideration, he did not build an altar. How did the last prophecy differ from the others? Why doesnt Rashi comment on this question?

Both of the points in question can be explained by focusing on Rashi`s commentary on the verse and now, behold, I go unto my people Rashi comments From now on I shall be like the rest of my people, i.e., G-d had departed from him. For that reason, he did not ask Balak to build any alter or offer any sacrifices. Altars and sacrifices were preparations in receiving prophetic visions. However, Bilaam was no longer fit for prophecy, therefore, he did not need any altar or sacrifices.

The question then arises, how was he able to deliver this final prophecy? However, that question was already answered by a previous commentary of Rashis. During the time previous to 114attan Torah, immediately after receiving messages from G-d, Moshe Rabbeinu communicated them to the Jewish people. In that portion Rashi comments, The Torah speaks Moshes praise. Instead of tending to his business he went directly from G-d to the people, and from the people to G-d. From that commentary it is obvious that a prophet (an authentic but not a praiseworthy one) could receive a prophecy, tend to his business and deliver the prophecy later.

The same applies concerning Bilaams prophecy. He heard the prophecy, communicated part of it to Balak, indulged in other matters, and then related the final aspects to him. (In fact, it is very possible that none of Bilaams prophecies were uttered immediately. Before reciting his prophecy, he went into the desert alone, heard the prophecy and returned to Balak. No mention is made of the extent of the time lapse in between).

With that preface, the first question can be answered. Since the prophecy was received before it was recited, the phrase he saw cannot be taken literally. At the time he was speaking, he couldnt be speaking about something he was presently seeing. For these reasons, Rashi chooses a figurative interpretation.


  Yud-Beis Tammuz, 5738Motzoei Shabbos Parshas Pinchas,
Mevorchim Hachodesh Menachem Av, 5738
 
  
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