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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

Shabbos Parshas Tazria

   3rd Day Of Nissan, 5749

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 Tazria
3rd Day Of Nissan, 5749
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  25th Day of Adar II, 574910th Day Of Nissan, 5749  

1

The Torah describes the month of Nissan as: "The head of the months, the first of the months of the year." From this, we can conclude that the month of Nissan contains unique and fundamental lessons relevant to a Jew's service of G-d throughout the entire year.

A basic lesson can be learned from the name, Nissan. Our Sages explain that a word which contains two nunnin indicates that "wondrous miracles (Nisai Nissim) will be performed." This is appropriate to the nature of the month of Nissan, the month in which G-d redeemed the Jews from Egypt with miracles and wonders, causing the month to be designated as "the month of redemption."

The description of Nissan as "the head of the months" implies that the relationship between Nissan and the other months of the year resembles that of a head and the other limbs of the body. Though Rosh HaShanah is also described as "the head of the year," this refers to the relationship between G-d and the Jewish people within the context of nature. In contrast, Nissan serves as "the head of the months" in regard to the aspects of that relationship that transcend nature and its rules.

This is alluded to in our Sages' statement: "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." G-d's "choice of the world" refers to the establishment of the laws of nature and His "choice of Ya'akov and his sons," the establishment of a relationship with the Jews which transcends nature.

This relationship can be seen in the exodus from Egypt which was totally impossible according to natural law. In that sense, the exodus from Egypt symbolizes the process in which the Jewish people as a whole and each individual Jew becomes free and rises above the limits of the worlds. [Indeed, the very name Egypt, Mitzrayim, is related to the word meitzarim, meaning "boundaries" or "limitations."]

This process parallels the exodus when the Jews were freed from Egypt with many miracles and wonders. There were a large number of miracles, including all the possible types of miracles. Also, the nature of these miracles were unique, a miracle within a miracle.

To explain the above: The difference between nature and miracles can be understood through an analysis of the Hebrew terms for these concepts: Teva which means "nature" also means "sunk" as in the verse, "her gates sunk into the earth." Thus, it implies that the G-dly-energy invested in the world is hidden, "sunken," and on the surface, it appears that the world follows its own pattern.

The word nais is associated with an uplifted and elevated state. Thus, we find the expressions: "I will lift up my banner," and "A banner upon the mountains." This refers to a miraculous order in which the G-dly-energy is in open revelation. {The mountains are above the earth and the nais -- banner -- is lifted upon the mountains. This implies miracles which transcend a miraculous order.}

These two approaches are reflected in our service of G-d. There is one approach that follows according to a person's nature. One studies because he is by nature diligent. One gives charity because he is by nature generous. Such a person's service is "sunken in the earth" for it is limited by his natural tendencies. Therefore, Tanya refers to such a person as "one who does not serve G-d."

In contrast, true service, being "a servant of G-d," involves changing and surpassing one's nature (not only one's innate tendencies, but also those habits which one has adopted), without any consideration for the limits of the world (a miraculous approach within one's own context of existence). To quote the Tanya:

A "servant of G-d" is one who studies his portion one hundred and one times, while "one who does not serve Him" is one who studies [his portion] only one hundred times.

[The Sages made this distinction] because, in their time, it was customary to review each portion one hundred times...Therefore, this extra one hundred and first time above the regular pattern to which he had become accustomed from his youth is equal to all of them and surpasses them with greater power and strength, warranting him the title, "a servant of G-d."

From this, it can be understood that after one becomes accustomed to studying each portion one hundred and one times, it is necessary to study each portion one hundred and two times in order to be called "a servant of G-d" for the level that was previously considered above one's natural limits is now contained within them. Just as there are a number of levels of miracles which transcend the limits of nature, similarly, a person must continually rise above his own individual limits.

This relates to the Baal Shem Tov's teaching that, after a miracle is repeated, it is considered as nature and an even greater wonder must be performed to be considered a miracle. Similarly, after transcending one's nature once, one must proceed to even greater heights in the service of G-d.

The month of Nissan begins a new year and a new order in the relationship with G-d that transcends nature. Each year, in the month of Nissan, a new dimension is added that surpasses the miracles of the previous years and transcends the way in which the Jew rose above his nature in that time. In this month, a Jew receives new energies which transcend nature that allow him to free himself and rise above the limitations of nature and his own personal habits and limitations, even those natural patterns and habits that stem from holiness. He has the potential to reach an entirely new plain and enjoy success that transcends nature entirely. He has the potential to carry out tasks that until this month of Nissan would have been considered as "miracles."

Nissan also serves as "the head of the months" and allows for this approach to be continued throughout the entire year. Not only is Nissan a wondrous month in its own right, it gives the potential for this miraculous approach to be continued until it becomes one's nature.

This concept is implied by our Sages' expression quoted above, "when the Holy One, Blessed be He, chose Ya'akov and his sons." This choice -- at the time of the exodus and in a more complete way, at the time of the giving of the Torah -- effected the nature of the Jews, lifting them above the limits of creation. When He gave the Torah to the Jews, G-d "chose us from among the nations and lifted us above all tongues," establishing us as "a kingdom of priests and a holy nation."

The word "priest" means "servant." Our Sages taught, "the servant of a king is a king." A king stands above the limits of nature and "a servant of a king" is endowed with similar qualities. Surely, this applies in regard to the Jews who are servants of G-d for He is not bound by any of the limitations of nature or miracles. Thus, G-d's choice of the Jews at the giving of the Torah established them as His servants and transformed their nature to be above the limits of nature.

How is this possible? Because the conception of nature and miracles as two different approaches is only from man's perspective [whether the G-dly-energy is revealed (miracles) or hidden (nature)]. G-d created both nature and miracles and, therefore, from His perspective, there is no difference between them.

When a Jew establishes a connection with G-d, his nature becomes above the limits of nature. Therefore, miracles and service above the limits of nature are not considered wondrous by him, just as they are not considered wondrous by G-d.

The intent is that a Jew reveal this concept through his service. While he is living in a physical body in this material world, with both his body and the world under the dominion of the rules of nature, he can show how his service of G-d is not limited by those restrictions and transcends nature. Furthermore, this approach should not be considered as a wondrous matter, but rather as his nature. Since he is a Jew, he can depend on miracles.

Though our Sages taught: "Do not rely on miracles." This refers to something which he, himself, would consider a miracle. However, after miracles have become one's nature, one can rely on such miracles in the future. Furthermore, one can proceed to even higher and more miraculous levels.

Each year, a new dimension of this service is revealed. This means that those matters which previously, one felt could only be accomplished by miracles are now normal matters of course which one can accomplish without being phased (even though others may wonder). This pattern rouses one to summon his energies to rise above this level and reach an even higher level of service. From the month of Nissan, this approach can be continued throughout the months that follow.

The lesson to be taken from the above is: Every Jew must proclaim to the entire world that he is beginning a new approach, that he carries out his everyday affairs in a miraculous manner. The entire world will look on in amazement, observing how the natural behavior of a Jew transcends nature and how the Jew is not excited by this, on the contrary, he regards it is normal.

When one asks a Jew: "How is it possible that a flesh and blood human being, living in a physical body that is apparently bound by the rules of nature, can rise above nature's limits?", the Jew answers that he was born a Jew a member of "a kingdom of priests." This is not only a point of past history associated with the giving of the Torah, but rather, a constant and eternal fact effecting all the Jews in all times. Thus, he is "a servant of a king," who is "a king." "The Holy One, Blessed be He, and Israel are one." Therefore, he has the potential for the above service.

This applies even in the time of exile and in the diaspora. Though G-d's wonders are not openly revealed as they were during the time of the Temple, there are, nevertheless, greater miracles revealed now than were revealed at that time for there is a connection between the highest levels and the lowest levels. Thus, one can appreciate the great powers which are granted to a Jew in exile, in the age directly preceding the coming of the Mashiach. The service of the Jews over the course of the previous generations has refined and elevated the world. Hence, it is much easier for a Jew to perform his service above the limits of nature.

To state the above in simple terms: A Jew must declare by showing a personal example (in addition to speaking about the matter), that because he is a Jew, his normal pattern of behavior is above the norm, beyond the limits of nature. Due to the influence of the month of Nissan, he will be able to rise even higher above those limits.

Each person has certain goals in the study of Torah, in gifts to charity, or in the service of prayer which he did not want to accept upon himself because he did not think that he had the potential to accept. Now is the best time to accept these goals. Surely, one will succeed in these endeavors.

Based on the principle, "Love your neighbor as yourself," it is proper that, in addition to applying oneself to the above-mentioned service, one should influence others to adopt a similar approach. Our concern for our fellow man must also motivate us -- for it is within two weeks of Pesach -- to give and influence others to give Maos Chittim and provide others with all their Pesach needs. (In particular, attention should be paid to the poor found in one's own community.)

The above is related to the weekly portion which begins: "If a woman conceives and gives birth to a male...." The relationship between G-d and the Jews, not only the Jewish people as a whole, but also each individual Jew, is compared to that of a husband and a wife. Thus, G-d provides each Jew with all his needs and gives him the potential for many types of positive and holy services. Furthermore, the two -- G-d and the Jews -- join in a dynamic union -- "the Holy One, Blessed be He, and Israel are one" -- which resembles the marriage bond.

This allows each Jew to "conceive and give birth" -- as our Sages declared: "The progeny of the righteous are good deeds." Furthermore, the offspring will be "male," as our Sages stated, "the tendency of a male is to conquer." With this service, one can conquer and transform the nature of the entire world.

2

The above receives greater emphasis on the third of Nissan which is associated with the Nassi of the tribe of Zevulun.

[Originally, the Alter Rebbe did not mention the custom of reciting this passage in his Siddur. However, afterwards, it was added to the different Lubavitch Siddurim. The omission of this custom in the Siddur should not weaken its observance. On the contrary, emphasis should be placed on its performance.]

In general, the Jews are divided into two groupings, Yissachar, those who study Torah (and whose behavior is thus associated with the miraculous order described above) and Zevulun, those who are involved with business (and thus, are involved with the natural order).

In a larger sense, the entire Jewish people, are associated with Zevulun because even those whose main occupation is Torah study are also obligated to give charity and perform deeds of kindness. Furthermore, since the ultimate level of Torah study will be realized only in the Messianic age, at present, the Torah study of all Jews can be considered as that of Zevulun. Particularly, on the day when the portion of the Nassi of Zevulun is read, emphasis must be placed on the relevance of Zevulun's service to all Jews and the positive qualities of this service.

In a larger sense, Zevulun's business activity can be seen as a metaphor for a Jew's service in the world in which he acquires the elements of the world for G-d. Similarly, he makes the public domain -- the place where business is carried out -- a private domain for G-d. This service generates a profit, i.e., the descent of his soul to this world causes it to rise to an even higher level of holiness.

Even though today is Shabbos, a day when business activity in the simple sense is forbidden, the business we undertake for G-d, involving our activity in holy matters, Torah study, and prayer is permitted on Shabbos. Indeed, it is desirable.

The month of Nissan contributes an added dimension to this service. Though one is involved with worldly things that are governed by the rules of nature, because one is "doing business for G-d," one is given the potential to transcend those natural limits. This will bring profits, "The L-rd, your G-d, will bless you in all that you do." This is particularly true when everything that you do is done in G-d's service.


3

Another aspect of this Shabbos is that it is the day following the second of Nissan, the yahrzeit of the Rebbe Rashab and the day on which the Previous Rebbe began his Nesius.

Among the important contributions of the Rebbe Rashab was the founding of the Yeshivah Tomchei Temimim. Ultimately, branches of this Yeshivah have spread throughout the world.

The unique aspect of Tomchei Temimim is that both Nigleh (the halachic dimension of Torah study) and Pnimiyus HaTorah (the teachings of Chassidus) are studied in a unified manner. Furthermore, this study is carried out in a settled (hisyashvus -- the Hebrew for "settled" shares the same root as the word, Yeshivah) and permanent manner. This study was able to motivate the students of this Yeshivah, their families, and the people they influenced, to make a commitment to the study of Torah, the performance of mitzvos in the most complete manner, and also service within the world in a manner of "all your deeds will be for the sake of heaven," with an approach of mesirus nefesh, self-sacrifice.

Though there were times when this service was involved with difficulty and challenge, particularly when the Yeshivah was located in Russia, at present, there are no obstacles. It is much easier to fulfill the desires of the founder of the Yeshivah in all areas in which the Yeshivah was intended to have an effect. Indeed, there is the possibility to increase and add to these goals which are, in general, the spreading of Torah and Yiddishkeit, and, in particular, the spreading of the wellsprings of Chassidus outward.

It is worthwhile for all those who studied in the Yeshivah -- or even if they did not study in the Yeshivah themselves, but sent their children to study there -- to meditate on the effect the Yeshivah had upon them and the effect it must continue to have in regard to the strengthening of Torah study (both Nigleh and Pnimiyus HaTorah), fulfilling the mitzvos in the fullest manner possible, serving G-d through prayer, and performing "all one's deeds for the sake of Heaven," and "Knowing Him in all your ways."

This is particularly true since this is the seventieth year following the passing of the Rebbe Rashab and the fortieth year after the Previous Rebbe's passing. This will add more to the service of the Jewish people over the course of the generations -- the service of the previous generations having paved the way for our service. In particular, spreading the wellsprings of Chassidus outward -- which was strengthened by the founding of Tomchei Temimim -- will bring about the coming of Mashiach and the ultimate and complete redemption.

Then, "as in the days of your exodus from Egypt, I will show you wonders." This verse can be interpreted to mean that G-d will reveal the wonders each Jew accomplishes in His service and also that the miracles of the Messianic redemption will be considered as miracles even in regard to the miracles of the exodus from Egypt. We will proceed together to Eretz Yisrael, to Jerusalem and to the Temple, where "we will eat from the sacrifices and the Paschal offerings."


  25th Day of Adar II, 574910th Day Of Nissan, 5749  
  
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