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Shabbos Parshas Terumah

Shabbos Parshas Tetzaveh

Shabbos Parshas Ki Sissa

Shabbos Parshas Vayakhel, Parshas Shekalim

1st Day of Rosh Chodesh Adar II, 5749

Shabbos Parshas Pikudei

Shabbos Parshas Vayikra, Parshas Zachor

Ta'anis Esther, 5749

Purim, 5749

Motzoei Shushan Purim, 5749

Shabbos Parshas Tzav, Parshas Parah

Machne Israel Special Development Fund

Yechidus

Shabbos Parshas Shemini, Parshas Hachodesh

   25th Day of Adar II, 5749

Shabbos Parshas Tazria

Shabbos Parshas Metzora, Shabbos Hagadol

Motzoei Shabbos, Parshas Metzora

Maamar Matzah Zu

Tzivos Hashem/Pesach

6th Day Of Pesach, 5749

Shevi'i Shel Pesach, 5749

Acharon Shel Pesach, 5749

Maamar Vehechrim

Shabbos Parshas Acharei

Yechidus

Shabbos Parshas Kedoshim

2nd Day Of Iyar, 5749

Shabbos Parshas Emor

Shabbos Parshas Behar,

Eve Of Lag Baomer, 5749

Evening Following Lag Baomer, 5749

Shabbos Parshas Bechukosai

Address To The Women's Convention

Shabbos Parshas Bamidbar

Rosh Chodesh Sivan, 5749

Eve Of The 4th Day Of Sivan, 5749

1st Day Of Shavuos, 5749

2nd Day Of Shavuos, 5749

Yechidus Following Shavuos

12th Day Of Sivan, 5749

Eve Of The 13th Of Sivan, 5749

Sichos In English
Volume 41

Shabbos Parshas Shemini, Parshas Hachodesh
25th Day of Adar II, 5749
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  Eve of The 22nd Day of Adar II, 57493rd Day Of Nissan, 5749  

1

Today's date, the twenty-fifth of Adar, is distinguished by the fact that, according to the opinion of Rabbi Yehoshua, it is the day on which the world was created.[4] Man was created on the sixth day of creation. That day was designated as -- according to the respective opinions -- the first of Nissan or the first of Tishrei. Thus, the first day of creation was the twenty-fifth of Adar or of Elul.

Furthermore, our Rabbis have explained that both opinions are correct. In thought, the world was created in Nissan, while, in actual deed, it was not created until Tishrei. Thus, the twenty-fifth of Adar possesses a unique advantage, being the beginning of creation in thought. Thus, the twenty-fifth of Adar possesses an advantage over the twenty-fifth of Elul parallel to the advantage which thought has over deed.

The beginning of creation in the realm of thought is particularly relevant to the creation of man since man's creation is the ultimate purpose of the creation of the entire world. For that reason, the day of man's creation is considered as the first day as we declare in the Rosh HaShanah liturgy: "This day is the beginning of Your works, a commemoration of the first day." In particular, this is relevant to the Jewish people for they are the ultimate intent of the world's creation.

This concept relates to each Jew's service in the following manner: Our Sages explained that man was created alone (in contrast to the rest of creation which was created in pairs) to emphasize how the totality of the world's population stems from one man. This allows a person to realize that even though he was not "created alone," but rather entered into a world that was already populated by others, he and every other human being is "an entire world" and is obligated to say, "The world was created for me."

Therefore, the twenty-fifth of Adar which begins a new cycle in the history of the world, should also mark a new beginning for each individual Jew. This "new beginning" must be expressed in the service of G-d for this is the purpose of man's creation as the Mishnah states: "I was created to serve my Creator." The twenty-fifth of Adar should motivate a radical leap forward in the service of G-d, advancing to a level incomparably higher than one's previous rung of service.

The above can also be related to each individual's birthday.[5] The soul of Adam, the first man, is renewed on the day of his creation. Since Adam's soul contained within it, the souls of the entire Jewish people, it follows that the day of Adam's creation -- and by extension, the twenty-fifth of the previous month which prepared for it -- can be considered as the birthday of all the Jewish souls. Therefore, on this day, each Jew must renew his service in a manner comparable to the renewal experienced on his birthday, adding immeasurably to his service as if he was born anew. He may reach very high levels, comparable to those experienced by Adam in the Garden of Eden for that is a Jew's true place. Were it not for certain undesirable influences, we would be living in the Garden of Eden while our souls are enclothed in our physical bodies.

A birthday is a day on which one's mazal (the spiritual source of one's soul) shines with great power. Thus, today the mazal of the entire Jewish people shines with great power. This is particularly true on the present day, for in general, the month of Adar is an auspicious time for the Jewish people.

This is particularly true in regard to those people whose birthdays are celebrated on the twenty-fifth of Adar. The celebration of their birthdays is relevant to their entire family. In particular, this applies to a woman. Since she is referred to as akeres habayis, "the keeper of the household," her birthday has a greater effect on her household. Also, the birthday of a woman has an effect on the entire Jewish people for the relationship between G-d and the Jewish people is compared to that of a man and wife. Therefore, the birthday of a woman (particularly, a righteous woman) has a greater connection to the birthday of the souls of the entire Jewish people.

In this context, it is worthy to reiterate the suggestion that each person use his birthday, a time when his mazal shines with great power, to advance in all aspects of Torah and mitzvos, reaching new levels. The particular customs associated with a birthday have been enumerated previously and need not be repeated. Effort should be made to make one's birthday a day when new resolutions are accepted amidst joy (and a happy farbrengen). This will add vitality and energy to all aspects of one's service.

The potential for this is granted on the twenty-fifth of Adar, the beginning of the creation on the level of thought, the source for the birth of all the souls originally and the source for the renewal of each soul on its birthday each year.

2

The concept of new growth mentioned above is particularly relevant this year when the twenty-fifth of Adar falls on Shabbos HaChodesh. This portion also teaches how we must begin a process of new growth. Since Rosh Chodesh Nissan is "the first of the months of the year," it is the source for the concept of new growth. Thus, it shares a connection to the twenty-fifth of Adar.

To explain the concept in greater depth: Our Sages taught: "When G-d chose His world, He established Roshei Chadoshim and years. When He chose Jacob and his sons, He established for them a Rosh Chodesh of redemption."

The beginning of this process is associated with the twenty-fifth of Adar, the beginning of the creation on the level of thought. This includes the inner intent for the entire creation, the Jewish people, who are related to the level of thought in contrast to the world at large which stems from the level of speech. Through their service of Torah and mitzvos, the Jews reveal within the world levels of G-dliness that transcend limitation, and in this way, fulfill the intent for which the world was created by making a dwelling place for G-d within these lower worlds.

In particular, the difference between the aspect of new growth associated with Rosh Chodesh Nissan and the aspect of new growth associated with the twenty-fifth of Adar is as follows: The twenty-fifth of Adar reflects the potential for new growth as expressed through the service of the Jews within the world, while Rosh Chodesh Nissan relates to the potential for new growth within the Jews themselves. Thus, the ultimate level is the fusion of the two, that the new growth experienced by the Jews be revealed within the world.[6]

The difference between the aspect of new growth associated with Rosh Chodesh Nissan and the aspect of new growth associated with the twenty-fifth of Adar can be explained in a slightly different manner: The twenty-fifth of Adar is associated with the days of the week, i.e., worldly matters, since often, it falls within the week, while Parshas HaChodesh is associated with Shabbos and thus, relates to holy matters.

In particular, there are a number of levels of contrasts between the holy and the mundane in our service: On the most basic level, during the week, a Jew is involved with the services of "All your deed shall be for the sake of heaven," and "Know G-d in all your ways," which requires involvement with material things. In contrast, on Shabbos, "all your work is completed," and a Jew is only involved with spiritual matters, Torah study and prayer.

In particular, during the week, the time in which a person involves himself in Torah study and prayer can be considered "the Shabbos" within the weekdays. In a more particular sense, the first and last three blessings of prayer which concern themselves with the praise of G-d can be considered "the Shabbos" of prayer, while the thirteen intermediate blessings which deal with requests for worldly things can be considered the mundane dimension of prayer.

Conversely, on the Shabbos, the services which are also carried out during the week, e.g., those prayers which are recited during the week as well, can be considered the mundane aspects of the Shabbos and the unique aspects of Shabbos, e.g., the Musaf prayers, can be considered as "the Shabbos Shabboson."

A parallel to the above can be seen within the mitzvos themselves, there are some mitzvos which are primarily intended to elevate a person and his surrounding environment, while other mitzvos are primarily concerned with developing a connection with G-d. In this context, we find two different statements made by our Sages: a) "The mitzvos were only given with the intent of refining the creations." b) "The Holy One, blessed be He desired to make Israel meritorious. Therefore, He gave them an abundance of Torah and mitzvos."

The Hebrew word, litzareif, "to refine," is also used regarding the process of refining metals and removing their impurities. Similarly, this refers to an approach to mitzvos that involves refining the creations which are on a lower level. In contrast, the word lizacos, translated as "to make meritorious," is related to the word zach, meaning "pure" or "shining." These mitzvos are not intended to remove impurities, but rather to add positive qualities. This approach to mitzvos involves people on a higher level. Therefore, the above-mentioned quote uses the name, Israel, which is the name used to refer to the Jews on an elevated level.

Nevertheless, even this approach to mitzvos has to do with refinement -- albeit on a level above removing impurities -- for the word lizacos can also be rendered as "make pure." There is an even higher approach to mitzvos which is implied by the verse: "A mitzvah is a candle and Torah, light," i.e., to reveal the Divine light in the mitzvos. The difference between these two approaches to the mitzvos can be compared to the difference between Shabbos and the weekdays. The approach to mitzvos that involves personal refinement can be compared to the weekdays and the higher approach, to Shabbos.

The highest rung of service involves not only renewing both approaches to the mitzvos, but that the new Shabbos-like approach to the mitzvos should also permeate and pervade the approach to mitzvos that is comparable to the weekdays. Revealing "the candle of mitzvah" and "the light of Torah" should also add a new dimension to the service of refining the creations.

The interrelation of these two approaches can be seen in the mitzvos themselves. Even those mitzvos which are intended to refine the creations are also G-d's mitzvos and create a connection with Him. Conversely, even those mitzvos which are primarily intended to establish a bond with G-d also refine the person who fulfills them.

The above concept can also be associated with the daily portion of the Mishneh Torah which involves the conclusion of Sefer Kedushah -- The Book of Holiness. The Rambam concludes Hilchos Shechitah with a discussion of the mitzvah of Kisui Hadam, covering the blood of slaughtered foul or wild beasts. The conclusion of those laws deals, not only with the particular mitzvah of Kisui Hadam, but also with the totality of Sefer Kedushah. The Rambam writes:

When one covers [the blood,] one should not cover it with one's feet, but with one's hands, a knife, or a utensil, so that he will not treat [the mitzvah] in a disrespectful manner and regard the mitzvos contemptuously.

It is not the mitzvos themselves that require honor, but rather He, Blessed be He, who commanded us [to fulfill] them and saved us from groping around in the darkness, setting them [the mitzvos] up as a candle to straighten crooked ways and a light to reveal the straight paths. Thus, [Tehillim 119:105] states: "Your words are a candle for my feet and a light for my paths."

Sefer Kedushah includes three halachos: Hilchos Isurei Bi'ah -- The Laws of Forbidden Sexual Relationships, Hilchos Ma'achalos Asuros -- The Laws of Forbidden Foods,[7] and Hilchos Shechitah -- The Laws of Ritual Slaughter. The laws of forbidden relationships and forbidden foods deal with material matters which are undesirable and which must be avoided, while the laws of ritual slaughter describe the process of elevating and refining those aspects of the world which can be refined and used for holiness.

A question can be asked: The concept of holiness does not involve merely separating oneself from undesirable influences, but also concerns the development of a connection with G-d, for ultimately, all holiness is associated with and depends on His essential holiness. Therefore, it is difficult to understand why the Rambam chose to call this book, "the Book of Holiness," when the first two subjects it contains deal with separation from the lowest aspect of material things and even the laws of ritual slaughter describe a process which merely allows the potential for food to be used in a holy manner, but even after ritual slaughter, the meat is not, in and of itself, holy.

Perhaps, the Rambam's intent is to imply that even the lowest levels of holiness are connected with G-d's essential holiness. This allows us to proceed to Sefer Hafla'ah which involves a higher level of holiness for the word hafla'ah also has the meaning "wondrous."

The Rambam's concluding statements are general in nature since all mitzvos are related to the concept of holiness. These statements also emphasize how even the mitzvos whose intent is to refine the lowest aspects of creation are related to the highest aspect of mitzvos.

The expression: "a candle to straighten crooked ways" refers to the laws of forbidden relationships and forbidden foods. These are associated with the service "avoid evil." The expression "a light to reveal the straight paths," refers to the laws of ritual slaughter and is associated with the service "do good."

The concluding quote: "Your words are a candle for my feet and a light for my paths" refers to all the subject matter described in Sefer Kedushah, explaining that the text in its totality is associated with "a candle" and "light." Even those mitzvos which involve themselves with the aspects of refining the creations are "candles" and "lights" to reveal Divine light.

In particular, the concept of "a candle" refers to a torch, while "a light" refers to the daylight and, ultimately, to the light that will be revealed in the Messianic Age when "the light of the sun will be seven times the light of the seven days [of creation]." On an even higher level, it refers to the revelation of the Divine light in that era when, "the sun will no longer serve you for [the purpose of] daylight..., [but] G-d will be an eternal light for you."

The directive for practical action that results from the above: The present day which is the twenty-fifth of Adar ("the beginning of Your deeds," in particular in regard to the creation of man as explained above), Parshas HaChodesh, and Parshas Shemini (which is associated with Rosh Chodesh Nissan) necessitates the beginning of a new phase of the service of G-d which transcends entirely one's previous realm of service. It must be as if one was born anew, i.e., one reaches rungs of service which are immeasurably higher.

To relate this to practical matters of immediate relevance, effort must be made in regard to preparation for the holiday of Pesach including: the study of the relevant laws, Maos Chittim and providing everyone with shemurah matzah.

Also, it is important to stress the importance of making an increase in Torah study, including the service of developing new Torah concepts. In this context, it is worthy to put new emphasis on the importance of the study of the Mishneh Torah. Those who study only one chapter a day should make an effort to increase their study to three chapters a day. Those who study three chapters a day should also increase the depth of their study. Previously, it had been suggested that they study at least one halachah a day in depth. They should increase that to at least two or three halachos.

Also, an effort should be made to compose and publish collections of halachic studies focusing on the Rambam's Mishneh Torah. Although in previous generations, the rabbis would print their Torah insights only after great hesitation, at present, it is necessary that more Torah insights be printed for, in this manner, more energy will be devoted to Torah study.[8]

A similar concept also applies in regard to Pnimiyus HaTorah. Effort must be made to develop new concepts in this realm of study, revealing these concepts, "spreading the wellsprings of Chassidus outward," and reaching out to those on the furthest extremes. [The two concepts are interrelated. Reaching new heights of understanding will allow these concepts to be spread further outward since it is those on a higher level which can descend further.]

These efforts to develop new concepts in Torah will hasten the revelation of the Torah of Mashiach when we will receive Torah insights that are genuinely new, for the Torah of the present age is considered as emptiness when compared to the Torah of Mashiach.

   

Notes:

  1. (Back to text) One might ask: How is it possible for the first day of creation to be the twenty-fifth of a month? That question can be answered as follows: Time is also a creation. Just as G-d can create the first day to have the qualities of the first of the month, He can create it with the qualities of the twenty-fifth of the month.

  2. (Back to text) Translator's Note: The twenty-fifth of Adar is also the birthday of the Rebbe Shlita's wife, Rebbitzen Chaya Mushka, ". Even after a person's passing, their birthday remains significant and, in Gan Eden, they rise to higher levels on this day.

  3. (Back to text) This concept is further emphasized when Shabbos HaChodesh and the twenty-fifth of Adar are, as in this year, associated with Parshas Shemini. The eighth day mentioned in Parshas Shemini was Rosh Chodesh Nissan. Our Sages state that this day "received ten crowns," being "the first of the months and the first of creation." Thus, on this day, the new growth of Nissan, the level of G-dliness which transcends creation, becomes associated with the creation itself.

  4. (Back to text) Here, we also see a connection to the weekly portion, Parshas Shemini, which also mentions the criteria to distinguish between kosher and non-kosher animals, fish, and fowl.

  5. (Back to text) The above also applies even when the publication of these new concepts is motivated by selfish reasons. Our Sages declared: "Out of [Torah study] for personal reasons [shlo lishmah] comes [Torah study] with the proper intent [lishmah]." We have seen much evidence of this.


  Eve of The 22nd Day of Adar II, 57493rd Day Of Nissan, 5749  
  
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